Kevin Barnes Outtakes: On God, Radiohead and The Leftovers



When Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes spoke with Boise Weekly earlier this month, he offered up lots of colorful remarks and quotes—as one might expect from such an eccentric character. There was so much good stuff, in fact, that it couldn’t all fit in tomorrow's music feature on Of Montreal.

So, for a taste of what to expect at the band's headlining performance on Sunday, March 25 at the Treefort Music Fest, here are some outtakes from the interview, including some of Barnes' rather eloquent thoughts on God, reality and Radiohead.

Barnes on the existence of God:

I think every human has some concept of a deity in some form, but not necessarily the old man in the white beard or the Earth mother or whatever it is. Anybody with any sort of imagination probably has some concept of a god figure. But it’s easily rejected, you can go, “Oh, God doesn’t exist,” or "There’s no loving god that cares about humanity." Obviously, there’s no god like that because there’s just so much suffering and needless barbarism. It makes no sense, because if there is a god that cared about humanity none of this would happen. In the back of your mind, you’re still thinking, ”I could be wrong, there could be a god.” But it’s obviously not a compassionate god. It’s kind of funny to me when people believe in a compassionate god, just kind of disregarding everything in reality and thinking, “Oh, no, but there is a compassionate god. God cares, somehow.” It’s just kind of absurd. So I guess a lot of people just need it to not go insane, to not totally lose their grip on reality. Like they need to have that structure. But I don’t really need that structure because I’m more of a realist.

On the concept of reality:

The way reality works, everyone has their own perceptions and its totally real. I’ve actually had periods of delusion where I thought something was real and then I had an awakening and realized it wasn’t. So I think people definitely have periods like that, and I’m not going to criticize someone and say that they’re shallow or phony because they have a belief system that’s not what I believe in. I think it’s important for us all to support each other and not choose sides in that way; not divide people in that way.

On darker styles of music:

Even if I’m in a bad state of mind, I’m not the kind of artist that’s going to make really minor sounding recordings. I’m not going to make something that just sounds like Radiohead, or I’m not going to make any sounds that are just dark. That kind of darkness to me, or the sounds of those records, they don’t appeal to me at all because there’s nothing that lifts your spirits.

On Radiohead:

I can appreciate what they do on certain levels. And I’m happy they exist because so many people like them, but I’ve never had a breakthrough with them. ... To me, that darkness on some of the Radiohead records is very empty. It doesn’t touch my spirit or make me feel alive at all. It makes me feel kind of empty and kind of bored.

And an excerpt from an existential discussion about a book Barnes is currently reading, Tom Perrotta’s popular apocalyptic novel, The Leftovers:

It’s something I find interesting—just the idea that if some major event happens that’s unexplainable, how we just sort of grapple for reasons. Like, “Why did it happen to me and not them?” It’s just how we are. It’s kind of like the ant pile getting messed with and all the ants are going crazy trying to put it back together and you just sort of realize what simple creatures of habit we are, and that we get so set in our ways. ... What if aliens did come? What would it actually mean for us? Or if God did present himself to us, how would that actually change things? Would we still have Entertainment Weekly? Would we still have MTV? Would we care about those things anymore? Or are all of those things just substitutes for the bigger thing that we really want that we can’t ever receive?