Wordsmith

A game of artful dodgeball with Of Montreal.

I take a chance and offer up two more words: "Sergeant Pepper." Barnes gives me "ugly mustache."

"For a long time, I only listened to records made in the '60s, mostly psychedelic pop," he recalls. "But in the past couple of years, I've realized there are so many great bands making music right now. Touring has exposed me to indie music from all over the world."

In addition to the many musical influences that Of Montreal absorbs, Barnes nourishes his innate desire to innovate and create with stimuli from literature and film, from visionaries like Welsh author Roald Dahl and pioneering surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel."Last night we were in New York, in this really great bookstore," Barnes explains. "In a good bookstore, I get overwhelmed by how many incredibly creative people there've been throughout history, and I'm just feeding off that energy."

Montreal exposure: Jason Nesmith (from left), Nina Barnes, Kevin Barnes, Dottie Alexander, Bryan Poole and Jamey Huggins are Of Montreal.
Montreal exposure: Jason Nesmith (from left), Nina Barnes, Kevin Barnes, Dottie Alexander, Bryan Poole and Jamey Huggins are Of Montreal.

The inspired Of Montreal feeding frenzy is now so enormous that it threatens to overtake the boundaries of the usual CDs-and-tours paradigm. The artistic collective is considering branching into other media."We're talking about starting a very ambitious animation project," Barnes says. "I'm really excited, because it seems like you can do everything at once, and the possibilities are limitless." They're already envisioning the distribution of this latest project over the Internet.

"The hardest part is getting started with the first image, the first sound," Barnes concludes. "A record is much easier. You just write fourteen songs and string them together."

If putting together a record as impressive, masterful and enjoyable as Satanic Panic is "easy" for Barnes, I can see why he's ready for the challenge of a new medium. Most artists toil for years attempting to create an album as rich and complete as Panic, and most never succeed.

As it turns out, there's only one word that can truly describe Kevin Barnes and Of Montreal: brilliant.

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