|Defining the sound of American rock band Of Montreal is no easy task. Formed in 1996, Of Montreal has combined elements of 60s psychedelic pop, disco, funk, electronica and lo-fi that has made the band an indie treasure for two decades. As part of the Elephant 6 Collective, the band made waves in the late 90s along with experimental contemporaries such as Neutral Milk Hotel, Apples in Stereo, Elf Power and Beulah. With distinct singles such as “Id Engager,” “So Begins Our Alabee,” “Suffer for Fashion” and “Fugitive Air,” just to name a few, Of Montreal has become one of the most recognized experimental bands of the early 21st century. Buy your Of Montreal tickets now!
In the beginning
Of Montreal was created by singer and guitarist Kevin Barnes, who named the band after a relationship ended with a woman from the city in Quebec. In the beginning, Barnes was the group’s sole member and traveled the country looking for band mates. When he resettled in his hometown of Athens, Georgia, he teamed up with bassist Bryan Helium and drummer Derek Almstead of Elf Power. The trio released Of Montreal’;s debut, Cherry Peel, in mid-1997. By the end of that same year, the group had also released an EP titled The Bird Who Continues to Eat the Rabbit’s Flower.
As Of Montreal’s distinct sound began to catch on, Helium left the band in 1998 to focus full-time on Elf Power. Almstead stepped in to play bass, Jamie Huggins joined on to play drums and Dottie Alexander rounded out the lineup on the keys. That year Of Montreal released The Bedside Drama: A Petite Tragedy, which was mostly a solo project by Barnes. A.C. Forrester joined the band in 1999, contributing to Of Montreal’s praised concept piece and third album, The Gay Parade, which received widespread critical acclaim.
Into the 21st century
By 2003, Of Montreal had experienced more lineup changes and Barnes married Nina Grottland, who joined the group shortly thereafter. Of Montreal signed with Polyvinyl Records and then released one of its most commercially and critically acclaimed albums, Satanic Panic in the Attic, in 2004. The Sunlandic Twins arrived in 2005, but the next couple years proved to be a complicated time for Barnes. Not only did he go through a period of deep depression, but also spent time away from his wife and newborn daughter. His emotional struggle revealed itself in Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, Of Montreal’s eighth full-length album.
In 2008, Of Montreal released Skeletal Lamping, an album that tackled new musical territory and proved Barnes and his band mates weren’t done experimenting with genres anytime soon. To add to this point, Of Montreal released the album in 10 different formats, including tote bags, wall decals and T-shirts that all contained download codes for the album. As the band blossomed from indie treasure to mainstream recognition, companies began using Of Montreal songs in commercial advertisements, radio programs and television shows.
Of Montreal reached a major milestone in 2010, releasing its 10th album, False Priest, which included guest appearances by Janelle Monae and Solange Knowles. As the band’s creative focal point, Barnes had run a gauntlet of creativity and emotion, but proved he was nowhere near finished with the profoundly personal full-length, Paralytic Stalks, released in 2011. After putting together a compilation of B-sides and outtakes, Of Montreal released Lousy with Sylvianbriar in 2013. Following this album, Barnes and company began a rigorous touring schedule and composed 70s-style rock for the 2014 LP, Aureate Gloom. Of Montreal continues to wow audiences with an extensive catalog of remarkable work and theatrical, surreal live performances.