of Montreal Documentary Now Available Online!
by Maggie Danna on June 28, 2014
Posted in: Music, News
of Montreal’s documentary, “The Past Is a Grotesque Animal,” is now available as of June 24th! It includes extensive interviews with the main of Montreal members, as well as interviews with others including Andrew VanWyngarden from MGMT, Jonathan Rado and Sam France from Foxygen, Solange Knowles, Janelle Monáe, and Susan Sarandon. It’s also full of old photos of the band and great footage from past shows. Parts of the film, where Kevin and other band members are lamenting problems in relationships between band members, remind me of reality TV shows (ex: Kardashian family drama), but better because of Montreal has more substance. It can be interesting even in you have no prior knowledge of the band. If you aren’t familiar with of Montreal, they’re led by frontman Kevin Barnes and have developed in style from Beatles-esque, whimsical, twee pop in their first 1997 album, to dancey psychedelic synth funk. They even have a bit of a country/folksy touch on their latest album, “Lousy With Sylvianbriar.” And of course, if you aren’t familiar with them, I’d recommend you check them out as soon as possible. They’re just so good.
Named after one of the songs on their most well-known and well-received album, “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, the documentary chronicles the band’s formation and its evolution over the years, focusing mainly on Kevin. “The Past Is a Grotesque Animal” is easily one of their most emotional, intense, and troubled songs, displaying Kevin’s struggles with his depression and relationship difficulties. Using this song’s name as the title pretty much sums up Kevin’s feelings about the past. In the film he explains that he tends not to get nostalgic or feel too attached to the past. Making music is the main focus of his life, and this is what he pours his energy into. He wants to move forward with this no matter what, stating he would “almost always choose art over human relationships,” though he also admits this might not be such a good thing. The audience sees this in action as Kevin leaves his old band members and friends for completely different musicians to explore new styles for “Lousy With Sylvianbriar.” This album was originally going to be a side project since he was doing it by himself. He decided to release it as of Montreal though since, as he states in the movie, he is of Montreal despite the fact that there will always be other members. This might sound narcissistic, but it’s actually pretty true. He writes all the music and leads nearly every facet of the band. While it is tough to sympathize with Kevin for leaving his friends like he does, it is also justifiable in a way. He’s truly brilliant musically, knows what he wants to create, and has the determination to get it done.
Naturally, since of Montreal is my favorite band, I was beyond excited to see this documentary. I had supported the project on Kickstarter and pre-ordered the film, but did not know exactly what to expect. It ended up being an enlightening experience that helped me better understand where the music and lyrics were coming from and made it easier to view Kevin as a person, complete with his own flaws, and more than just the flamboyant persona he displays on stage.
Here’s a link to view the trailer or buy and download the film. There are also screenings in a few cities: