of Montreal, Touring With Soul
of Montreal mastermind, Kevin Barnes, has grown notorious during the span of his musical career for the organic production of his collective body of work, the majority of which he has recorded out of his own home. The eccentric songwriter and multi-instrumentalist switched gears while producing of Montreal’s tenth full-length studio album, False Priest, which he recorded at the world-renowned Ocean Way Recording studios. The LP, which was released last September on Polyvinyl Records, represents of Montreal’s strongest sound to date.
The False Priest tour has been one of the band’s most elaborate productions in fourteen years. Concerts featured individual acts with props and obscurely costumed actors for the performance of each song, subsequently landing the band on SPIN Magazine’s 25 Best Fall Tours list in 2010. of Montreal also booked dates with Janelle Monaé, who made a guest appearance on three tracks of False Priest.
The conclusion of their last tour hardly meant a break for members of the band. of Montreal bassist, Davey Pierce, has been busy touring with a group of five musicians who comprise two bands, Yip Deceiver and Sugar and Gold. Yip Deceiver, an electro-dance pop duo, also includes of Montreal’s Nicholas Dobbratz. The group is prepping the release of their debut LP on April 12 after nearly a year of preparation between of Montreal tours. Pierce met with Ethos to discuss of Montreal’s upcoming tour and his work with Yip Deceiver.
Catie Keck: of Montreal’s last tour was more of a production than just a concert. What can be expected of your forthcoming tour?
Davey Pierce: On the Skeletal Lamping tour, every show was exactly the same. We wrote one gigantic show and gave it to everyone. We wanted the False Priest tour to be more organic and constantly evolve. Every show, everyone was getting something different. The upcoming tour will be more of a stripped down, intimate kind-of-thing.
We have a little bit of a touring formula where we’ll do the biggest, most lavish over-the-top production that we can and go for as long we can do it. The next one, we go out and do a more intimate tour that’s more about the music than the tour circus.
CK: There are a number of new collaborations that happened during the production of False Priest. What are the details about these?
DP: For this album, [Barnes] brought in special musicians to play the drums because he wanted a big, produced sound to this record, whereas all of his other stuff has been recorded in his home studio. On this one, he went in with Jon Brion to Ocean Way Recording in [California], which is a multi-million dollar studio, and re-recorded everything. All of the gear that he had been trying to emulate, he’d do it again with the real instruments.
He also brought on Janelle Monaé and Solange Knowles. It’s weird. With Janelle, I woke up one day and she was one of our good friends. I can’t remember how it happened; she just became a part of the family. With Solange, we were playing at the music hall in Willamsburg, and Solange came out to see Janelle’s show, and she and Kevin kept in touch. Eventually she decided to be on the record, too.
DP: I know he’s been really influenced by funk, like Parliament and Curtis Mayfield. It shows on this new record cause there’s a lot of R&B and funk whereas the other records were very synth-pop. It’s a departure, and people are coming around to it, which is good. At first a lot of people were unsure about it because it’s so different.
I think his songwriting style and the way he sings is influenced by Prince. In the live show, there’s overt sexuality and over-the-top everything.
CK: That element of ‘overt sexuality’ seems to be present on all of Montreal’s albums, particularly on False Priest.
DP: It’s a running theme on these records for a reason. He’s a very outgoing sexual person in that way. I admire him for being able to do that because a lot of people might have these thoughts or feelings, but Kevin shares it with the world.
DP: I would say so. I’m not the most outgoing person in the world in my normal life, but on stage I’m getting paid to give people a good time and give people a show. I don’t like when bands just stand there and play, or look at their shoes. It’s not fun. And plus, that’s the only time I get exercise. I try to get my exercise in then.
CK: What do we have to look forward to on Yip Deceiver’s upcoming album?
DP: It’s dancey and fun. We like to make music that makes people happy. For us, it’s just about getting up there and enjoying ourselves every time. There wasn’t an intended, ‘This is going how it’s going to turn out,’ but we’ve been listening to a lot of early ’90s R&B and Bobby Brown and New Edition, and the album’s been getting a lot of that lately. Whatever we’re listening to gets incorporated. There’s been an evolution from synth-pop to R&B and dance, so there’s a little bit of everything.