Originally published in The Irish Times, September 17th 2010
You’re the kind of band that seems to be constantly brimming with imaginative ideas, and the new album is no different. Yet you’ve been together for 14 years. How do you keep things fresh? I guess the thing is that I really don’t like my records very much.I just get bored with them, I think. I’m very happy when I’m making them – it’s very fulfilling to create them. But once they’re done I just want to move on and not think about them any more. So I think maybe on some level that helps. That pushes me to try to find something new.
False Priest is your 10th album. How does that make you feel? Old? (Laughs) Well, I kind of lost count a while ago, so it doesn’t feel like my 10th. I just thought “okay, I’ll make another album”.
Many of your albums have one overbearing and distinctive style about them – pop, indie, psychedelia, and so on. What kick-starts the ideas for a new album? Most of the time it’s just whatever I’m excited about. It happens pretty organically, shaping a new record. I’ve been listening to a lot of Parliament, so that definitely had some bearing on how this one sounds.
You can definitely hear that – there are a lot of funky tunes on there. Plus, you’ve got two massive r’n’b stars guesting on the album. Janelle Monáe returns the favour after you appeared on The ArchAndroid, and Solange Knowles also lends her talents. Yeah, Solange and I have written some songs together that may possibly end up on her next album. Janelle and I met backstage at a show we played in Atlanta, and she became my really good friend. She has an arts collective called the Wondaland Arts Society, and we really hit it off with those people. We’ve played a bunch of shows together, and we’ve been collaborating a lot on different projects. Unfortunately Janelle’s not coming to Europe with us, but we’re doing a big tour together in the US, and it’s going to be this really massive, theatrical event. So we’ve been spending all our time over the last few months building props and getting costumes together for that.
Of Montreal already have a reputation for pushing the boat out when it comes to live performances – arriving on stage on horseback and projecting hardcore porn on screens behind the stage, for instance. In retrospect, is there anything you wish you’d toned down – such as playing naked for half a set? (Laughs) No, I don’t care about any of that stuff. It doesn’t matter to me what people on the internet think.
You worked with renowned producer Jon Brion on parts of this album. Involving outsiders isn’t something you’ve really done before, is it? No, I’ve never really worked in a real studio. It’s always just been me in my bedroom, trying to piece things together one instrument at a time. But I went out there to work with him with pretty much a completed record – I had all the parts written already, so he just helped me expand the sound a bit, adding the elements that would make the record sound fuller and hit harder, and also with the mixing process. I don’t really have any technical knowledge or expertise, so it was great to work with him and see how “real” records are made.
Your last album, Skeletal Lamping, was innovatory in the sense that you released it as a package deal with various objects – T-shirts, paper lanterns and so on. How do you follow up something like that? Well, we thought about what we could do to develop that idea further, and we have this really good idea that we didn’t have time to execute for False Priest , so we’re going to do it for the next record. The funny thing was that we spent so much time and energy making the packaging, it was kind of revolutionary to give away all these different art objects with the record. But we felt like it wasn’t really that big of a story. A couple of people wrote about it, but it was no big deal. Then all of these labels started ripping us off and doing the same thing. But the next record is gonna be a really cool concept. No, I can’t tell you anything about it. I can’t give it away!