Of Montreal (stylized as of Montreal) is an American rock band from Athens, Georgia. It was founded by frontman Kevin Barnes in 1996, named after a failed romance with a woman from Montreal. The band is one of the bands of the Elephant 6 collective. Throughout its existence, of Montreal's musical style has evolved from vaudeville and Beatles-influenced psychedelic twee pop to a mixture of electronica, funk, glam, and afrobeat music influenced by Prince and David Bowie. The group has a style that is typical of many Elephant 6 bands due to its interest in combining musical experimentation and the basic tenets of pop, such as catchy melodies and sing-along choruses. The band's style has been influenced by not only more conventional indie pop and psychedelic music, but also by vaudeville and music hall on their earlier releases and by afrobeat, funk, and krautrock in their more recent releases.
Barnes was the only member of the "group" prior to his relocation to Athens, Georgia. There, he met Derek Almstead (Circulatory System, M Coast, Elf Power) and Bryan Poole, who also performs as The Late B.P. Helium. Together, they recorded their debut album, Cherry Peel, and subsequent releases The Bird Who Ate the Rabbit's Flower and The Bedside Drama: A Petite Tragedy. After production on The Gay Parade, the band's third album, began in 1998, Poole left the band to focus on his duties with Elf Power, another Elephant Six band. Barnes then recruited James Husband and Dottie Alexander, who had been performing together as Lightning Bug vs. Firefly.Derek moved from drums to bass, and Marshmallow Coast's Andy Gonzales joined soon after. Prior to the release of The Gay Parade in 1999, of Montreal released a number of singles and a re-release of The Bird Who Continues to Eat the Rabbit's Flower.
Following the release of The Gay Parade, the band signed with Kindercore Records,
who released a number of singles and compilations. In 2001, the concept album
Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse was released,
again featuring contributions from across the Elephant Six spectrum.
In 2002, Aldhils Arboretum was released. This album marks the beginning of the change in of Montreal's sound, with more danceable rhythms than before, particularly on the album's closer, "Death Dance Of The Omipapas and Sons For You". A successful tour ensued, including the band's first trip to the UK, along with a tour-only EP.
Kindercore Records would fold shortly after the release of Arboretum, and Andy and Derek
left the band. Released by Polyvinyl Records, it became one of their more
successful efforts to that point. In 2003, Kevin was married to Nina Grøttland, who would
also play some bass for the tour.
In recent years, the band has lent its songs many times to commercials, television programs, and films. The song "Wraith Pinned to the Mist (And Other Games)" can be heard on radio and television commercials (with words changed) for an advertisement for Outback Steakhouse. Similarly, their song "Every Day Feels Like Sunday" was used in television commercials for NASDAQ. "A Sentence of Sorts In Kongsvinger" was used in a Comcast commercial. "Gronlandic Edit" was used for a T-Mobile commercial which also featured the band as actors.
Teaming up with Grammy-nominated producer Jon Brion (Kanye West, Fiona Apple), Of Montreal's mastermind Kevin Barnes traveled to famed Ocean Way Recording (Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra) to record False Priest. False Priest is speaker-rattling heavy on the low end and features appearances by Janelle Monae and Solange Knowles (Beyonce's sister). The album also marks the return of organic instruments-with live drums, strings and pianos replacing the midi sounds and sequencers of previous albums. The artwork features a 10-panel booklet containing paintings and re-interpretations of paintings by David Barnes, Nina Barnes, and Kevin Barnes. The tape was pressed on a red cassette, matching the artwork, and included MP3s and FLAC audio.