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Kevin Barnes on fatherhood and brotherhood


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You've already heard a little bit from Kevin Barnes in this week's print edition, when we excitedly inquired about his upcoming tour with Bloomington's Diane Coffee, who opens for the band tonight at Old National Centre and continues on with them for a 20 or so-date tour. 

We're always happy with of Montreal comes back to visit Indy, because it usually means they stop in to Joyful Noise (who has released many of their records) and get up to something in their space. And Shaun Fleming of Diane Coffee is stoked. He said in our pre-show interview: "You're hard-pressed to find a bad of Montreal record. They're all so inspired. I mean, talk about prolific." 

Here's more from our chat with Barnes, whose newest release with of Montreal is the spastic, '70s-inspired Aureate Gloom, which unspools into 10 tracks made in the period after Barnes' separation from his long-term partner. He's referred to the album as an "open journal" of his post-divorce journey. 

On Aureate Gloom being so personal, and taking those songs to stage every night: 

"I think that when I was working on it, when I was writing it, it was directly connected to what was happening at that moment in my life. And then of course, time goes on, things evolve, relationships evolve and change, and your perception of things changes. Naturally, the songs that felt really personal and important a year ago have been replaced by new songs that feel personal and important. So they kind of lose a bit of power, but at the same time, since they came from a very pure place intially, they still maintain that POV and importance. It's like, I'm not going through that anymore, I'm going through something new. 

And was it any more difficult to write because of the connection to a difficult time in your life? 

I am a writer, so there's no level of difficult or not-difficult, really. It's just what I do. So sometimes it's about something that maybe I would potentially feel insecure about sharing with the world. But I don't really think that way. I don't really have that self-consciousness normally when I'm writing. I'm just trying to explore my psyche and try to heal myself, or help me get over whatever issue I"m dealing with. It's basically a cathartic, therapeutic experience. 

On preparing stage shows for new tours: 

"To be honest, most of that stuff is my brother's [David Barnes] work. So he comes up with all of the animations and the majority of the visual side of the production, and the theatrical side of the production. Some of the theatrical stuff, the costuming and the skits, I have a hand in. But for the most part it's his baby, it's his side of it. I give him free reign to do what he wants. It's always great, it's always fun and it always fits, so that's never been a problem, like, 'No, we can't do that! It's wrong.' To be honest, I can't even see what's going on most of the time because it's all happening behind me. 

On sharing music with his brother: 

"[I share music] really from the beginning. Once I start working on a new record, or recording a new song, I tend to send it to him first. It's been like that really since we were both living at our parents' house and I was just making cassette four-track recordings just for fun. He was basically the only person I would give it to back then, and I still do it that way — give it to him first, get his reaction first. Since he does the artwork for the LPs as well, and for the album stuff, it's good for him to hear what direction I'm going in so he can get a sense of it and kind of be immersed in that spirit as well. 

On being a dad: 

"Musically, I don't think it's affected me at all. Maybe lyrically. It's just given me a richer understanding of the human experience, what it is to be a human and have people rely on you. Having a kid makes me feel way more rooted in reality. It's harder to maybe just kind of lose yourself in insanity because you've got a dependent now, who you've got to look after. You can't be as self-centered. I think that maybe just on a personal level, on an emotional level it's affected me. But I wouldn't think like, 'Now I don't use as many minor chords!' It just really doesn't go like that." 


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