Of Montreal is currently on tour to promote their new album, Hissing Fauna, Are You’re the Destroyer? Founding member Bryan Poole took some time out of his busy schedule to talk tunes with Daze.
Daze: Hissing Fauna is Of Montreal’s eighth full-length album in ten years, and if you count compilations and EP’s, it’s your 19th release in 10 years. How do you guys continue to put out so much music?
Bryan Poole: It all starts with Kevin [Barnes, frontman] because he writes the songs, so he has blessed the band with being an insane workaholic. I’ve never known him to have a letup in the songwriting process; he always has plenty of ideas in mind, and generally, by the time that one of the records comes out, he’s already in his head plotted out the next record or the next couple of records. It’s pretty amazing.
It’s actually pretty hard for him, and for us, I guess, that when we have a record released and we go out on tour that we’re playing songs that aren’t necessarily new to us anymore. That’s the hardest thing. Definitely for Kevin, since he’s written the songs and a lot more. Sometimes you want to live in the now and you want to live in the present, but its hard for him to play a really old song.
Daze: The album itself is split into two parts. One is more Kevin and the other is Georgie Fruit.
BP: Yeah, yeah. Georgie comes out of the madness. It’s just that things get so crazy that for some reason the Georgie Fruit personality shows up. It’s kind of like his breakthrough into this other world, this fantasy realm where he can leave his troubles behind. He has another character to talk about the things that are upsetting him.
Daze: When and how did Georgie come into existence? Is Georgie Kevin’s first alter ego or are there more?
BP: Kevin has tons of alter egos. Probably the first alter ego was Claude Robert. Claude showed up during The Gay Parade. And then Claude was in full force on the Coquelicot [Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse] record, because he was the bandleader of Coquelicot. And Claude might have been somewhat around for Aldhils [Arboretum,] because Aldhils was more stuff that the band had had for quite a while. So the band put out the fifth album, and at the time, it was the singles record. Then Claude disappeared after that.
He has another character called … (chuckles) … what is it called? I think it’s called Lisp Crispy? I don’t know if its L-I-S-P? Crispy … I can’t remember the exact spelling. It’s a very new character. Lisp Crispy writes very delicate songs. Like there is a song that we’ve been playing live, called “Eminent Effects,” which is a brand new song. It’s more like early ’70’s songwriter, works well on piano. I like that he’s getting him more contemplative, but in the past year, he has another set of songs that are more like little mini-operas, or even more so just jam-packed, little movements of songs. The last song on the EP, “No Conclusion,” is similar, so it’s another song that has all these movements. So it’s gonna begin as a three-minute pop song that may turn into six, seven, eight minute pieces.
Daze: Who is the Late B.P. Helium? Is he synonymous with you or is he different? Is he an alter ego also?
BP: He is slightly an alter ego. There’s a couple things with that. I was Bryan Helium when I played in Elf Power. And when I first put out a record, my first solo thing, as kind of a joke, I didn’t want to be Bryan Helium anymore, so I killed him off in the Late BP [Helium]. It was just a single thing, then I thought, well I don’t have to keep this name, I’ll just put that album in that name. But everybody kinda liked it and then so when it came to put new records out, I thought, ‘Well, I’ll change the name,’ but then all my friends were like, ‘No, it’s a great name.’
I kinda wish I had a simpler name that made sense when you’re trying to tell somebody because it’s like, ‘Oh, what’s your band’s name? The Late B.P. Helium? What did you say?’ They don’t really know what you’re talking about.
It also does have a more personal significance. I kinda [sighes] … oh about eight, nine years ago, I met a girl [chuckles,] and I really though she was “the one,” as they say, and she … We worked really hard to make things work, but she left me. I went through this month-long trying, and I’ve never experienced anything like it. But I’d never really opened my heart as much as I opened it to her, and I kind of in a weird way felt … a little … dead inside since then.
BP: That’s the darker more … I made you go ‘Oh.’
Daze: That phrase carries a lot with it.
BP: I’ve met a lot of great girls that I’ve dated, but I never had the connection that I had with that one girl. It’s left a void in me in a weird way.
Daze: You guys have been playing slightly bigger venues this time around — possibly because of your being featured on The OC soundtracks, and maybe even the commercials that you’ve licensed “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” to. How has that affected things for the group?
BP: It’s cooler. We enjoy playing the bigger venues. But then it’s kind of a trade-off because the bigger venues — they have a bigger stage so we can do more, which is awesome, they have better sound systems so the sound will be good, they’re more comfortable for the audience. But sometimes if we ever move to really big venues, you might lose a little bit of intimacy with the band.
Getting us onto things like The OC, or just little things, video games or MTV2 or something like that and there’s a lot of things that I had no idea about there. “You’re on so-and-so compilation, I heard you on this TV show, I heard your music on this’ … ‘I didn’t know anything about that, but I guess that’s cool.’
Sometimes it is kind of shady with those kinds of things, like you’re saying commercials and stuff like that. Like Outback commercials because that was like not what we wanted at all. But I’m sure that was something that Kevin could cover normally, and it’s … not that cool. They’re changing the song. We regret that and it kind of makes us sad. The Outback commercial, it’s weird but, I mean, in this day and age, that’s fine. It brings money for the record so it helps us survive.
Of Montreal will be playing dates at Hamilton College Wednesday, March 7, Philadelphia March 8, and New York City March 9 and 10. Their album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? is available on iTunes, Amazon.com, and in most major music outlets. Visit www.ofmontreal.net for more information.