“The Past is a Grotesque Animal”…Yes, yes it is.

kevinbarnes

Over the weekend I had finally watched the long awaited of Montreal documentary, The Past is a Grotesque Animal. I was hesitant to view this film for quite some time, as I thought it would destroy my perception of front man and songwriter Kevin Barnes. This proved to be an eye opening experience for sure. The film highlights the band’s career from the very start. Seeing all of the old footage of how the group came to be was rather charming and delightful. The behind the scenes footage was certainly a treat as well. Their vibrancy and quirkiness definitely shined straight from the screen. Every aspect of the band was touched upon. From troubling relationships, to the brilliant artwork and stage performance antics of brother David Barnes and co., it proved to be truly insightful. 

Throughout all of the good times and struggles the band often continued with, the film focused quite a bit on Kevin Barnes’ inner demons. The depression, the anxiety, the need to make ‘good art,’ no matter at what cost. The one problem though, is the need to make ‘good art,’ lead to the departure of longtime and key players Dottie Alexander, James Husband, Bryan Poole (B.P.), alongside Matt Dawson and Davey Pierce respectively.

The thing that struck me most was how easily Barnes removed himself from them to make a complete musical transformation. What came to be one of the most celebrated band of the 00’s, has changed into so many forms that there feels like there is something missing, especially in a live setting. The ever exciting line up during onstage dance parties are something that I, as well as many fans, truly miss. Though change can be good sometimes, The Past is a Grotesque Animal, made Barnes out to have villain tendencies. Whether or not this was the intention, it was an extremely fascinating look into a phenomenal band that has hit home with so many listeners over the past several years. 

I don’t think I will ever stop buying of Montreal records. Kevin’s songs have always struck a chord with me. This certainly gives me a different perspective into the world of of Montreal.

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Interview: of Montreal vs. Yip Deceiver


Interviewer: Bella Questions: Melissa Nastasi / Bella Photos: Cienna Willis

Last weekend at Webster Hall we had the chance of sitting down with members of an old favorite and a new favorite. Davey Pierce and Nick Dobbratz from of Montreal and Yip Deceiver. The guys gave us a whole new insight on what it takes to put on an oM show, and just what exactly a Yip Deceiver is. Give it a read. It’s a good one!

So how has the tour been treating you so far?


Davey: It’s been really good actually.

Nick: Yeah, it’s been lots of fun.

Davey, you worked on some props for the False Priest tour. Was that something new? Do you plan on doing it in the future?

Davey: I probably will do it in the future. It’s kind of something that fell into my lap. We needed somebody to make these props and I like doing stuff like that. I kind of just took it over.

Everything is different since you joined during Hissing Fauna, how do you keep up with all of the change?

Davey: It’s pretty easy actually. I mean because it’s kind of a natural progression you just sit back and watch it happen basically. You get so caught up in playing the shows and everything and you don’t even realize that everything’s changing so much.

Recently you can tell that the actual band members have been a lot more involved in the theatrics than usual. Is that something you guys plan on doing? Or is that something you enjoy doing?

Davey: I love it personally. I mean like it adds this whole kind of sense that it’s not just two different things going on on stage. Which in the past it has been. It’s been a bunch of people set up playing music while something else is going on in front of them. Whereas now it’s more like the performance lines and the music lines have blurred so much that it’s actually just one big thing.

Nick: I feel like it was a concious decision on this tour ahead of time to do exactly what Davey’s saying. As opposed to having two different things. I enjoy it, I like it. It’s changing every night right now.

When it comes to theatrics is it just David Barnes right now or do you all have a say in it?

Davey: He takes ideas from everybody. It is like Dobby(Nick) was saying. It’s a big evolving kind of thing. If you have an idea you can be like “Hey, what if we did this?”. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. And David’s very open to suggestions like if I walk up to him an I go “I really hated this one thing” He’ll be like “Okay, let’s see if we can make it better” It is his thing but he’s definately open to critism which is given.

Nick: And he likes to work with people’s personalities too. Whatever someones comfortable with.

You recently went on tour as Yip Deciever with Sugar & Gold. How was that tour?


Davey: It was great, it was really fucking fun.

Nick: Yeah.

Where did the name Yip Deceiver come from?

Davey: It’s actually, um, it was Clayton. We were actually drunk at a bar at like noon and we were trying to come up with a name for it. And we started making anagrams of my name. Yip Deceiver is what we came up with but we left an ‘A’ out and put an extra ‘I’. It’s a failed anagram of Davey Pierce basically.

How did you two come to working together on this project?

Nick: I joined of Montreal almost a year ago and during the time on the first tour I already heard Davey’s stuff. We kinda just started talking and we shared a lot of the same interests and influences. It inspired each other to keep working on stuff so it just happened.


Speaking of influences, you can tell that Yip Deceiver is very different from Inkwell. What influences do you have in this project that are different from Inkwell?

Davey: It’s pretty much all over. I’ve been listening to a lot of old 80’s and 90’s R&B, actually Dobby’s kind of the one that got me back into it. It does kind of come through in a way. The sounds that they use speak to me so much to me. The Inkwell stuff was kind of worn out of necessity. It was like we own guitars and a drum set and so that’s what we had to work with. And it was also like blatant punk rock, all the crap I used to listen to when I was 12. Getting the rest of that out of there so I can move on.

Yip Deceiver gained a lot of attention, which was mainly positive, for the Coquete Coquette remix. How did to feel to that feedback and that attention?

Davey: I mean obviously I was cool with it but I found just as much negative attention as positive attention. As you will with any remix. “This sucks compared to the orginial” Well it’s like thank you I guess, it’s not suppose to be the fucking orginial. But whatever, it was fun to do. I love the song. It was basically just me in my apartment with a bottle of wine and a drumset. I’d do it again, well, I probably will do it again. But I also did a remix of Sugar & Gold’s “It’s All Over You.” It’s on their new EP, it’s fantastic. Not the remix, but the EP.

Nick: The remix is fantastic. Which actually now that I think about it is one of the moments where we realized that we should be working together. It was kind of something that I written and Davey reproduced it; and it kind of the first thing we worked on together.

Davey: Actually the first thing we worked on we never actually finished. We’ve just been working on it for like a year now.

Davey, you had prior expierience playing two sets in a row with Jamey’s project, James Husband- and then again with Yip Deceiver, who had opened up for of Montreal for a few shows. Do you find playing sets in a row exhausting?

Davey: In some ways. It can be really physically exhausting but at the same time it’s like this is what we do. It’s kind of like we’ve been training our entire lives to do this. It’s so rewarding that it doesn’t really matter how exhausted you are because you can have such a great time doing both things. Especially if they’re so different. Playing with James Husband and playing with of Montreal are two totally different animals. I was on two totally different insturments and it was always fun.

Nick: For me it has a time limit. It got to a certain point on the last tour where I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. But for the most part it’s not like you have a slightly different role so you make due.

What do you find most rewarding about it?

Davey: For me it’s just like, it is the thing we’ve been working towards. To be on stage with all these people that are my best friends. There are all these kinds of personal jokes that you don’t want to say during the set. I look over at Dobby and fucking crack up. There’s one thing that he does that makes me laugh or it’s Clayton or Thayer or Dottie. It’s rewarding because every night I get to do the thing that I’ve always wanted to do.

Nick: That’s true, I forget that sometimes.

Davey: It is actually really easy to forget that sometimes. Like when you wake up and you’re just like “I just wanna get a job and wear a tie”

You have those moments?

Davey: Every once in a while. The grass is always greener sometimes. Where it’s just like I wouldn’t mind being home. We haven’t really been home for more than two weeks in the past seven months now?

Nick: Yeah.

Davey: So I wouldn’t mind being home for a year but at the same time if I’m home for more than week I get really tired of being home.

What’s in the future for Yip Deceiver?


Davey: We’re working on a full length right now actually. Hopefully it’ll come out October-ish?

Nick: That’s what we’re shooting for, yeah.

Davey: We’re doing a video for a song called Get Strict starting in May. There’s gonna be all sorts of nice little surprise guest stars. It’ll be a big dance video.

Dance video? Will you guys be dancing?


Davey: There will probably be a little bit of us dancing in it, yeah.

Nick: There will be a lot of other people dancing in it too.

Davey: Mostly other people dancing in it.

New York has always been a great crowd for you guys. But, truthfully, what is your favorite city to play in?

Davey: Surprisingly, Mobile Alabama has very recently taken that spot. Just blew everyone outside of the water. They’re insane down there, they’re amazing. The crowds are so into it. They’re having so much, they’re just so nice. It’s incredible actually.

False Priest did great on both the CMJ and Billboard charts. How did it feel as a band to do that great?


Davey: It felt really good. Where were we when we got the CMJ thing? Was that Stockholm?

Nick: Yeah, I think so.

Davey: I’m pretty sure it was Stockholm. It was like “We’re number one on the CMJ charts!” And it was kind of this weird feeling. It was like, well we’re not even really home and no one knows what CMJ is over where. But it feels really cool to know that you’re doing something that people really want to hear. I guess that’s kind of the ultimate goal, is to have an audience that’ll listen to your insane ramblings for the most part.

One last question, is it blackmail domination or black male domination?

Davey: Blackmail.

Nick: What do you want it to be?

Davey: Yeah, that’s a good point too.

Davey: There are teams now. It is a very polarizing issue.

Nick: Blackmail or black male?

Davey: Yeah.

Nick: -chuckles-

Davey: I’m on Team Blackmail. But at the same time he(Nick) has a point, it’s whatever you want it to be. It doesn’t really matter too much.


See more interview photos HERE!

of Montreal @ Webster Hall, NYC – April 30, 2011


More Photos HERE.
For those who know of Montreal might know them as a super flamboyant troupe that can round up a crowd of sweet smelling pretty girls and boys who lust after lead singer Kevin Barnes’ sexual copiousness. It wasn’t always this way, but as time went by members disbanded, got married, rehabilitated, and regrouped. In between, I guess you could say they found the voice they were looking for all those years. With over a decades worth of albums, of Montreal have traveled a lengthy journey to where they are now. Ten years ago you could listen to Kevin sing about fairies living life through an unconscious slumber (see album Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse) and before that of Montreal was part of The Gay Parade. (The album is a personal favorite of mine, but it’s narrative style seems to be a bit much for newer of Montreal fans. I still say it would make for a great play). It wasn’t until their 2004 release “Satanic Panic in the Attic” that the pieces started to stay glued together, and the songs became more like a journal for Kevin Barnes’ personal afflictions and affections . Now, of Montreal are an unstoppable traveling circus, and you’d better hope you have tickets to the greatest show on earth when they come to your town, because it is a show not to be missed!

The show featured opening band Painted Palms, a dreamy synth-pop collective that started the night amidst yellow, green and blue lights. Their psychedelic bass thumping tunes from their current release Canopy will get you lost in the woods on a breezy summer afternoon right by a water fall, even in a hot stuffy music venue in New York City.

The follow up to this scene was quite the opposite. It began with the entrance of of Montreal aficionado and Kevin’s brother David Barnes revving up the crowd in a suit. This was followed by some scantily clad ladies in flesh-tone unitards, and men baring capes and colors of the American flag. The set started with the tune “L’age D’or” off their latest E.P. thecontrollersphere. “For Our Elegant Caste” followed as Kevin sang the first line “We can do it softcore if you want/but you should know I take it both ways”. It’s actually Kevin’s alter ego “Georgie Fruit” who is the protagonist in the story, not Kevin himself, but that doesn’t stop the girls and guys from screaming their heads off.

The theatrics continued through out the night as they performed songs mostly from Skeletal Lamping, and “False Priest”, with an interlude of “My Bloody Valentine” performed by drummer Clayton Rychlik. You name it, it was on the stage, Painted Palms even joined in for a few songs and skits. Some of the stagecraft includes lucha-libre stylized mask and wrestling matches, a reenacted wedding, men in nude big breasted costumes, pig faces, booty shaking girls (and boys), balloons, streamers, and that’s not even everything!

Even with all antics on the stage, they performed an unyielding set without missing a beat.
Towards the end of the encore Kevin threw on a mask and pinned down some opponents which was followed by members of the band crowd surfing. Finally, at the end of the show, multi-instrumentalist K Ishibashi performed “America the Beautiful” solo on the violin while the audience sang only to have it turn into an official hoedown on the stage moments later. Though the photos capture a play by play of the show, it is nothing compared to the spectacle everyone witnessed. Wherever this journey continues to take of Montreal, I will be right there with them, and from the looks of it they are going to continue to flourish no matter where it is the freak train drops them off. Perhaps I should invest in a feathered boa and some glitter huh?

Words and photos by Cienna Wills

Of Montreal Announce Spring Tour (Yay!), Talk New Album


Though we are in the midst of awaiting another snow storm in New York, our favorite glam rockers Of Montreal are already warming things up by announcing their spring tour. The band has a few more dates coming up this month and then the party kicks off all over again in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Like all other Of Montreal tours, there will be plenty of costumed players and stage props around that will fill the stage. What new chapter the tale will take is up in the air but we are sure that Kevin’s brother, the infamous David Barnes, has something great cooking up as usual.

After this tour, Barnes and co. will head back into the studio to start working on the follow up to last years’ False Priest (Polyvinyl), in their “never rest,” fashion. New songs are already slated to be played on tour as well as old favorites, and covers. The next record Barnes admits to being inspired by the newest Sufjan Stevens release The Age of Adz. Go figure. The band will release the EP The Controller Sphere (Polyvinyl) which will be available on tour. Check out the tour dates below and get out your glitter!

Of Montreal 2011 Tour Dates

1/11, Mobile, AL (Soul Kitchen)
1/12, Tallahassee, FL (The Moon)
1/13, Orlando, FL, (Firestone)
1/14, Ft. Lauderdale, FL (Revolution)
1/15, Tampa, FL (The Ritz)
4/2, Halifax, NS (Halifax Multi Purpose Centre)
4/28, Washington, DC (9:30 Club)
4/29, Philadelphia, PA (Theatre of Living Arts)
4/30, New York, NY (Webster Hall)
5/1, Boston, MA (Paradise)
5/2, Montreal, QE (Metropolis)
5/3, Toronto, ON (The Phoenix)
5/4, Cleveland, OH (House of Blues)
5/5, Chicago, IL (The Vic)
5/6, Omaha, NE (The Slowdown)
5/7, Lawrence, KS (Liberty Hall)
5/8- Denver, CO (The Ogden Theatre)
5/9, Salt Lake City, UT (In The Venue)
5/11, Seattle, WA (Showbox Market)
5/12, Portland, OR (Roseland)
5/13, San Francisco, CA (The Fillmore)
5/14, Los Angeles, CA (Avalon)
5/15, Phoenix, AZ (Marquee Theatre)
5/17, Austin, TX (Mohawk)
5/18, Dallas, TX (South Side Music Hall)
5/19, Memphis, TN (Minglewood Hall)
5/20, Atlanta, GA (The Buckhead Theatre)

MERRY MIXMAS Revamp!


The holidays are soon approaching and we here at Modern Mystery have just the right thing to get you into the Christmas spirit! Holiday music is one of the best things about the season and we hope you enjoy this little, well, er, big mix. It’s our second Mixmas and we went all out with 38 songs this year. Everyone from Matt Pond PA to Of Montreal, you have to check it out below to believe your little eyes. This is the one gift you can peek at this Christmas!

Dressy Bessy- All the Right Reasons
The Sixth Great Lake- Always After Christmas Boring
Asobi Seksu- Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)
Belle and Sebastian- O Little Town of Bethlehem
Blitzen Trapper- Christmas is Coming Soon
Bright Eyes- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Casper and the Cookies- Kiss Me Beneath the Christmas Tree
Ladybug Transistor- Christmas Extravangza
My First Keyboard- Christmas is Only Good If You’re a Girl (Boy)
Of Montreal- Christmas Isn’t Safe for Animals
Essex Green- Deck the Halls
Denison Winter- A Christmas Song
Drive-By Truckers-Mrs. Claus’ Kimono
The Features- Christmas Wish Book
Felice Brothers- Murder by Mistletoe
The Music Tapes- Freeing Song for Reigndeer
Frightened Rabbit- It’s Xmas So We’ll Stop
Fun.- Believe in Me
Gentlemen Auction House- Don’t Want Another Christmas Like Last Christmas
Marbles- Gift for You
Fabulous Bird with Bill Doss-It’s Christmas Time Again
Long Winters- Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas
Low-Just Like Christmas
Matt Pond PA- Holiday Road
My Morning Jacket- Christmas Time is Here
Of Montreal- My Favorite Christmas (In a Hundred Words or Less)
Reigning Sound- If Christmas Can’t Bring You Home
Rilo Kiley- Xmas Cake
Robbers on High Street- Seasons Greetings
Ryan Adams- Hey Parker, It’s Christmas
Summer Hymns- Santa Couldn’t Fit You Under My Tree
Slow Club- Christmas TV
Sufjan Stevens- That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!
The Wedding Present- White Christmas
The Raveonettes- Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
The Wombats- This is Christmas
The Damnwells- Xmas Eve
The Knife- Christmas Reindeer