Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes Talks Touring, Depression, and Song Dynasties Documentary
By comparison, Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes pens melodies while doing the dishes.
"I know that Murakami, and certain authors, will dedicate a certain chunk of time every day to writing," Barnes says. "I've never really tried to do that. If a melody line pops into my head while I'm dong the dishes, I'll write it out."
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Barnes recently spoke with Crossfade from his home in Athens, Georgia, where Of Montreal is gearing up for the umpteenth leg of its latest tour. The 18-city trek kicks off Wednesday, November 28, at The Stage in Miami.
"We've had a couple extended breaks," he says. "But we've basically been busy since around March."
In fact, Barnes has been busy much longer.
"Before I discovered songwriting, I'd write songs in my head," he says. "My mom always told me that when I was a little kid, I was constantly singing and making up songs."
Barnes was born in Ohio in 1974. His dad was an accountant, and mom worked at a bank. "They encouraged [my creativity]," he says, "but I couldn't see through them that [a career in music] was possible."
For Barnes, it was a long, personal path to becoming a professional musician.
"No level of encouragement would get me to the point that I'm at now," he says. "You need people along the way to make you feel okay about what you're doing. You need people to tell you that you don't suck. But at the same time, no level of encouragement is going to make an artist out of somebody."
Persistence and passion paid off when Of Montreal released its first studio LP, 1997's Cherry Peel, as a three-piece indie pop-rock outfit on Bar None Records.
"Through my songs, I add beauty and mystery and happiness and love and new landscapes and sadness and laughter to a life that's not very interesting by itself," Barnes wrote in Cherry Peel's Bar None bio. "My life is elevated to a better place through my songs."
Nevertheless, Barnes doesn't perform songs from that record. Or any Of Montreal release predating Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, the group's 2007 breakthrough album.
"It's awkward to even think about Cherry Peel, or 1997," Barnes says. "It doesn't really feel real. It almost feels like a dream. I can still remember writing the songs, performing the songs, and I can remember the way it felt, but I don't feel that connected to them. That's why I don't play any songs from records that were made before 2007."