A veteran of countless tours since the band formed
in the late '90s, Barnes knows just how uninspiring a typical rock show can be
-- both for the fans and the musicians on stage.
"We want to make something
that's less predictable," he said. "We've done so many tours, it gets
boring playing 14 rock songs and saying 'good night.' Doing skits breaks it up."
can also make for some interesting challenges. Just the night before, the 7-piece
band found themselves struggling to pull off their skits on a tiny stage at Asheville,
N.C.'s Vincent's Ear. But they soldiered on and made it work.
pretty flexible," Barnes said. "We roll with the punches. If the skits
don't go off like we want, it doesn't matter. The point is trying to do something
special. Most people familiar with our music know we have an unconventional sense
of humor and expect to see it."
The "unconventional" is just
what those Of Montreal fans have received since the band burst onto the indie
scene in 1997 with their playful Bar/None debut Cherry Peel. They were
quickly identified as part of the Elephant 6 collective -- a gathering of bands
and artists whose sound reflects a love of '60s California sunshine pop from such
icons as The Beach Boys, Van Dyke Parks and The Turtles. Other Elephant 6 acts
include Apples in Stereo, Elf Power and Neutral Milk Hotel.
the ties, though he said the Elephant 6 concept has faded over the years. "It's
not really an active collective anymore," he said. "It's always been
difficult to describe what it is. It's abstract -- a bunch of people who live
in town who play similar music. It's not like a cult -- we don't have meetings."
do, however, share musicians and other resources, but no more than any other active
scene, Barnes said. "Pretty much every scene that's thriving at all will
have that communal experience that comes from working together," he said,
citing Omaha's Saddle Creek "collective" as an example. "I'm sure
Detroit, New York and every big music scene has a group of musicians that work
together, whether they have a name for their scene or not."