Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Was Going to Write About Iceland Last Week, but I Didn't Have Enough Time, so This Is Still a Purely Of Montreal Blog

I listened to this BBC interview/performance with of Montreal. It was interesting, because I felt a little embarrassed while listening to it. The interviewer obviously knew nothing about the band, and I suppose I just felt a kind of sympathetic awkwardness - I would feel so embarrassed if I were supposed to be somewhat well-known and got interviewed by people who knew nothing about me.

I have, of course, been reading and listening to a bunch of of Montreal interviews lately, some of which have been heavily criticized by fans of the band. In general, though, the interviews I've read and heard seem to involve interviewers who know quite a lot about the band's history and background (example of a radio interview here). I feel like it's not so awkward for the band members to answer a question about a potentially touchy issue like Kevin's creative domination of the band when everyone's starting from the awareness that that's true. Even if the question is hostile, the interviewer and the interviewees all know what the situation is, and the interviewees can just casually deflect and say something along the lines of: "We know you think this is bad for us, but, just like we've said a million times before, no, we don't mind it." But I feel like the situation is different when the interviewer really genuinely believes that maybe everyone in the band takes a creative role. I feel like the answer to this question in the BBC interview was more awkward for Kevin to give, because the person asking the question isn't starting from the premise of knowing anything about the band. Even in bands that tend to have one dominant creative force, they usually aren't as dominant as Kevin, who basically makes the entire album himself and only gets the band to play on the live shows. So I feel like Kevin would have to really shock the interviewer if he was to give the whole truth - which is why he kind of hedges in this interview, at least in my reading of it.

Maybe this is actually perfectly comfortable and non-awkward for Kevin, since he's presumably at least somewhat secure in his decisions, as, one would hope, are the rest of the band. But I'm not. If I were to start a band, I'd feel really, really weird about saying, "Okay, I am going to define the sounds of these songs precisely, and your only job is to recreate them when we do a tour." Our perceptions of bands are shaped by groups where often there's a dominant creative force but all of the other members at least get to play their own instruments and affect the sound that way. I'm hardly trying to say that I think Kevin is wrong in what he does. Actually, I think he's a brilliant genius and that if this is the best way for him to make music than, Jesus, he should go for it, and I'm glad he's found a bunch of people who are happy to support him. But I think it makes me feel slightly insecure, because it's out of the ordinary, and thus I feel embarrassed for his deviation, even if he doesn't, and even if I support him.


Jon Jucovy said...

But what about Iceland?!!!!!

Grace Mulligan said...

It was far too lengthy a post to actually write now - basically, explaining that I simultaneously value diversity of societies while at the same time having personal preferences about which kind of societies I myself am most interested in living in, citing the UN Human Development Index as something I've used as a reference for thinking about these issues, and considering the recent troubles of Iceland in this context.