Five questions: of Montreal

Indie rock band of Montreal
Kevin Barnes founded indie pop group of Montreal in 1996. The whole group hits the stage at Union Transfer on March 6. | Image: Christina Schneider

Indie pop band of Montreal has been around since Kevin Barnes founded it in 1996. Along the way, members have come and gone – except for Barnes.

Now the group is headed out on tour to support its latest album, “UR FUN.” Kicking off today in Georgia, where the band is based, the tour will take of Montreal to the Union Transfer stage on March 6.

“UR FUN” is getting rave reviews, including reaching No. 1 in the college charts. Critics credit the success of the album to having all of the fun and surreal vibes that of Montreal is known for, while also diving into new subjects – marriage, anxiety and more.

PW recently caught up with Barnes as he was preparing for the tour to talk about the new album and how the music business has changed over the years.

Your current tour kicks off on Feb. 27 and will run through May. How is life on the road these days? Has touring gotten easier or harder over the years?

I’d say it’s gotten a little easier, just because we’re more used to the lifestyle and we understand how to take care of ourselves a little better than we did when we were first starting out. 

of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes talks about the group’s new album and upcoming Philly show on March 6. | Image: Christina Schneider

The new album, “UR FUN,” is off to a terrific start with success on the charts and praise from critics. Can you talk a little about how the album came together and what separates it from your previous work? 

I wanted to make a very catchy and engaging album with lots of little pop twists and unexpected diversions. I was very inspired by Cyndi Lauper and Janet Jackson’s mid ‘80s work, as well as some more “artsy” stuff from that period like New Musik and Blancmange. 

My goal was to create something positive and buoyant feeling to help people through these difficult times. I wrote and recorded it by myself in my home studio because I wanted it to have an intimate vibe.

How has technology – the internet, social media, streaming services, etc. – changed the way you distribute your music and connect with your fans over the years? Are the changes in technology more of a blessing or a curse?

I think there are pros and cons to how people access music these days. In some ways, it’s great because artists aren’t as reliant on record labels or publicists or journalists to get their music heard. The big negative is that people seem to be more inclined to playlist songs and not really listen to full albums as much, and that creates a more disposable situation for songs and artists. 

The fact that people can access hundreds of thousands of songs on their phones makes music seem a little less special. I feel like it creates a scenario in which people like a lot of music but don’t really love any, because they’re not connecting as deeply to the artists as they would have if they had to invest the time/money into choosing a CD/cassette/LP at a record shop. It’s kind of annoying to have to change CD’s/cassettes/LPs, so a person is more likely to let the whole album play.

What’s the show look like on this tour? What can your fans expect to see when they show up at Union Transfer on March 6?

We’ve created a very theatrical and visually immersive production for this tour. The set is very dancey and fun but also has lots of dynamic. We’re going to be playing songs from the last 10 years and also throwing in some covers. It should be a lot of fun! 

We’re super excited to be coming back to Union Transfer where we’ve had some of our best shows!

What’s ahead for the band in the coming years? 

Hopefully more music and laughter and good ol’ fashioned posi-vibes!

 of Montreal | Friday, March 6, 8 p.m. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St. $20. Tickets and info:

  • Eugene Zenyatta was raised on old-time Memphis 'rasslin' and strongly prefers the company of dogs to people. His greatest heartbreak came in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic.

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