IF YOU GO:
* What: Of Montreal with The Wild Moccasins
* When: 9:00 p.m. today, Jan. 16
* Where: Rhythm & Brews, 221 Market St.
* Admission: $20
* Phone: 423-267-4644
* Website: www.rhythm-brews.com
When it comes to the state of his career, Of Montreal lead singer Kevin Barnes doesn’t mince words.
And at first, his description of the last few years sounds pretty gloomy.
“I’m past that point in my life where I’m thinking of my career in terms of being commercially successful and having that be something I want,” Barnes says. “My career arc is definitely on a downward swing right now, which I don’t really care about.”
Barnes and his bandmates in the Athens, Ga.-based indie pop darlings Of Montreal, flirted with commercial success with 2007’s “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?” but Barnes says he would rather fail while trying something new than attempt to refill the mold time and again.
“There would be no joy in that, and I wouldn’t get any fulfillment out of it,” he says. “I might be able to trick people into thinking it was genuine or just as authentic, but that’s phony.
“I have to do whatever I feel like doing, even if it ruins my career or messes things up for me commercially.”
Of Montreal was one of a handful of bands to emerge in 1997 from Athens’ indie cauldron and crowded under the umbrella of The Elephant 6 Recording Co., which also spawned acts such as Neutral Milk Hotel and Elf Power.
Since then, the band’s music has bounced chaotically between styles, from lo-fi pop and synthy psychedelia beats to funk and prog rock, all tied together by Barnes’ often dark and intensely personal lyrics.
The band’s latest release, “Lousy With Sylvianbriar” released Oct. 8 and was hailed by some, including Paste Magazine, as one of the band’s best and most accessible following the dour jumble of 2012’s “Paralytic Stalks.” The country and folk inflections on “Sylvianbriar” came courtesy of a massive lineup change that saw Barnes bring in new blood to replace several longtime bandmates in an effort to, yet again, change Of Montreal’s sound.
“This group of musicians, just like the last group, is very capable, and can do anything,” he says. “Every one of them has their passion, and that’s all you can ask. I just want to be around passionate people.”
This newest Of Montreal incarnation will take the stage at Rhythm & Brews tonight, Jan. 16, as one of a handful of U.S. dates before the band begins a five-week world tour in Japan.
And even with the shrink wrap still cooling on copies of “Sylvianbriar,” Barnes says he’s thinking ahead to the next project.
“I still feel deeply connected to it, but I’ve also started working on a new record and am about five or six songs into that,” he says. “It’s in my nature to move on pretty quickly.”
Contact Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @Phillips CTFP.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...