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Kevin Barnes

Kevin Barnes in Göteborg, Sweden, 2005
Background information
Born May 30, 1974 (1974-05-30) (age 35)
Origin Rocky River, Ohio, U.S.
Genres Indie pop, Indie rock, Psychedelic pop, electronic, experimental
Occupations Singer-songwriter, Musician
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, piano, drums
Labels Polyvinyl, Kindercore, Bar/None
Associated acts Of Montreal

Kevin L. Barnes[1] (born May 30, 1974) is the singer and songwriter for the indie rock group Of Montreal, part of the Elephant 6 Collective.[2] Barnes started the band on his own and, although providing several stories as to the origin of the name, is said to have named it after a failed romance with a woman from Montreal. However, Of Montreal is similar to the name of the band Os Mutantes, who was a heavy influence on Barnes.[3] The group has recorded nine full-length albums, and numerous EPs and 7" singles.

His brother, David Barnes, is an artist and has designed most of the band's artwork for albums after the release of The Gay Parade.

In 2003, Barnes married Nina Aimee Grøttland, a former Ethnobabes member [4] as well as a graphic artist. They have one daughter, Alabee, born in Oslo on December 29th, 2004


Of Montreal

Of Montreal consists of musicians Kevin Barnes, Bryan Poole (the Late B.P. Helium), Dottie Alexander, Jamey Huggins and Davey Pierce. The group has recorded nine studio albums, beginning with Cherry Peel, and, most recently, Skeletal Lamping, which was released on October 21, 2008 on Polyvinyl.[5] While melodic pop has always been Barnes' primary vehicle, his style has managed to transform significantly since the 1997 release of Cherry Peel. The acoustic tendencies of early albums gradually transformed into a more electronic, funk, and overall eclectic sound. One of the features which often appears in Barnes' songwriting is his penchant for composing upbeat melodies to gloomy lyrics and morose subject matter. At different periods in the band's career he has dealt with subjects both personal and fictional. He is a prolific lyricist with a tendency to employ unusual words and phrases, as well as complicated wordplay.


Kevin Barnes' writing has encompassed many styles over the years. Of Montreal's first album Cherry Peel dealt mainly with personal issues of unrequited love, as in the songs "Baby" or "Montreal", or humorous mundane situations, as in "Tim I Wish You Were Born a Girl". His style then shifted to story-telling, often involving dialogues, as in "Good Morning Mr. Edminton" from the album Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse, or fictional characters, such as Rose Robert or Jacques Lamure, or even fictional mythological creature, like the Efeblum.[6]

The albums The Gay Parade, The Bedside Drama and the referred Coquelicot are constructed as concept albums, reminiscent of the works of some progressive rock icons of the 70's, such as David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust or Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

By 2004, though, Barnes was starting to revert to more personal lyrics, even incorporating the names of the people close to him and using them as characters in his own songs, not unlike what John Lennon or Ray Davies used to do:

  • Eva, a friend of Of Montreal's and resident of Athens, in "Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider".[7]

Kevin Barnes explained the reasons why he felt compelled to change his writing from personal to fictional and back to personal again in an interview with the music blog You Ain't No Picasso.[8], claiming the bad reviews his first album got prevented him from writing anything from a personal point of view until he got married and his wife gave him the strength to tackle his own issues again.

Sometimes construed as pretentious or far-fetched, his lyrics, though mostly concerned with dark themes, often portray a certain fondness for:

On Stage

With Of Montreal, Barnes has always tried to cross the bridge between his love of theatre, comedy, and music, often resulting in interludes between songs - skits, slow-motion sword fights and surreal interaction between band members. Since the release of Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, Barnes has been performing as his on-stage glam rock alter ego, Georgie Fruit, first mentioned in "Labrinthian Pomp". The second half of the album comes after the twelve minute dark epic, "The Past Is a Grotesque Animal", a track which stands out in the album and the rest of the Of Montreal repertoire because of how it succumbs to dark thoughts of suicide and chemical imbalance, themes hinted at more cheerily elsewhere on the album. Kevin has said that the album shows his transformation to Georgie Fruit, as is evident in the variation in musical style from in album leading up to "The Past Is a Grotesque Animal" and the two songs after. He has described Georgie Fruit as a black man in his forties who has undergone multiple sex changes. Georgie, Kevin told Pitchfork Media, was in a funk-rock band called Arousal back in the seventies.[9]

Other projects

  • A Pollinaire Rave is a comedy tour by Kevin Barnes, his brother David Barnes and his wife, Nina. A CD with the same name was sold, and five of the seven songs on the EP became songs on the Of Montreal album Satanic Panic in the Attic.
  • Kevin Barnes has recently been collaborating with Andrew VanWyngarden from MGMT, on a project called Blikk Fang (formerly Ocelot Fang).
  • He also played keyboard on "The Difference in the Shades", and did the background vocals on "A Poetic Retelling of an Unfortunate Seduction" on Bright Eyes' album Letting Off the Happiness.
  • Upcoming projects include acting in the next Joe Swanberg movie and producing an album for an as-yet-unrevealed French band. [1]




Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Kevin Barnes (born 1974-05-30) is the singer and songwriter for the indie rock group of Montreal.


  • Still I only feel alive when the view is flashing, alarms going off in my head...
    I want to grab you and just kiss you; maybe I should sit down. No sense in cashing us now.
    Yeah, I only feel alright when the view is flashing, bombs going off in my head...
    I want to grab you, want to scream at you, no icing me down. The party's crashing us now. The party's crashing us now.

External links

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