Some of you may have noticed that earlier this year we began posting widgets in our sidebar in support of rotating Kickstarter projects. A little over a week ago, the folks aspiring to finish up work on a film documenting the history of Stones Throw Records reached their goal just before their fund raising window closed (as seems to be quite often the case). When that ended, we switched their widget out for the one that we have up now, which is for a short film called “Watermelon Tears,” chronicling the real life tribulations and legal disputes between comedian Gallagher and his brother, Ron, who performs a strikingly similar act as “Gallagher Too,” in musical form and starring past Monster Fresh interviewee, Sean “Har Mar Superstar” Tillman. While I believe both of these to be extremely worthwhile projects to endorse and to definitely be worth our focus, it’s clear that, once I pick our project to post/support, I have been slacking on paying any further attention to what else might be popping up on Kickstarter in the interim, until it’s time to choose the next one. I mention this now for the obvious reason that I have recently become aware that some really amazing projects must be slipping past my radar. One particular Kickstarter campaign–also for a documentary film–is set to present the history of a band that actually asked Har Mar to open up for them on Halloween night two years ago.
“Song Dynasties” is a feature length documentary film concept about present day musical mastermind, Kevin Barnes and his Athens, Ga troupe of dayglo crazies, collectively known as of Montreal. Thanks to hundreds and hundreds of backers donating funds for the film’s completion, the project will now officially receive it’s funding 4 days from now (December 12th) and is anticipated to manifest itself into a full-fledged reality some time in March of 2013. The great thing about this film is that it’s being created with the intention of covering the entire span of the band’s development, from the early years when it was formed simply as a Barnes solo project (1996), and following the progression to what it has materialized into today: one of the most consistently engaging, intriguing, and extravagantly impressive music and art collectives in decades. While the recorded material is still primarily written and laid to tape with the frontman handling all of the instrumentation and production himself (with a few select exceptions), of Montreal, as a physical live entity, is very much a group effort.
To see them live is a true experience, with elaborate costumes, lighting set ups, projections, and numerous additional live performers entering and exiting the stage at all times throughout their sets. I actually took both the header image and the one directly above earlier this year, during a March performance at the Showbox in Seattle, with Deerhoof as the openers. It was pretty insane. When I saw them the year before that at the same venue, it was a completely different, although equally amazing, performance altogether. After they put on an incredibly high energy and visually compelling show–complete with winged figures in gold lamé, luchador masks, and simulated “professional” wrestling–and the band exited the stage one-by-one via crowd surfing, Kevin came out from the green room to humbly sign autographs and meet whoever was still hanging around at the merch booth. He appeared egoless, as if the show itself was the only real star. The Song Dynasties will attempt to consolidate and present 16 years worth of similarly remarkable material and happenings. Hopefully, it will prove to be the documentary that a lot of us have been waiting for, even if we were never consciously aware of it.
Here… check out the official video promoting Song Dynasties, as well as a short excerpt of it’s description, both of which were taken from the Kickstarter page:
THE STORY BEHIND SONG DYNASTIES
After the release of Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? in 2007, Kevin had the idea to record of Montreal performing back-to-back nights in Los Angeles at the Avalon.
With the help of friend Craig Zobel (Compliance, Great World of Sound), a crew was assembled and the first multi-camera professional quality shoot was attempted of the band.
The following fall, filmmaker Jason Miller began documenting the Skeletal Lamping tour. With a show featuring just as many non-musical performers as musicians on stage, this tour was far and away the biggest live production we had ever attempted to that point.
Jason rode on the bus for the first week of the tour, capturing moments on stage and off, and was in attendance for the now infamous show where Kevin took the stage on horseback. Following his week on the road, Jason assembled a crew and filmed our entire set at the Tabernacle in Atlanta.
Then we just kept filming. We had cameras rolling everywhere we went: music festivals (Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Culture Collide), on the tour bus, backstage, in the studio — nowhere was off limits.
We even just discovered a box of old camcorder tapes that date back to the very early days of the band. This is the earliest of Montreal footage known to exist.
Earlier this year, we realized that we literally had 100s of hours of footage. As 2012 comes to a close, we are finishing what has developed into a comprehensive, feature-length documentary showing of Montreal from the beginning to the present date.
[CLICK HERE to link to the Kickstarter page and donate now.]
Why Continue To Donate?
Like I stated previously, the Kickstarter campaign is now already over it’s target goal. The money that has been pledged will go towards various expenses that will allow them to “bring a crew on the road to shoot the final round of footage and conduct interviews, as well as pay for their flights, costly venue filming fees, digitizing dozens of old tapes, lots of hard drives to store the footage, editing” plus more. So, if they’ve already reached the goal, what’s the point of continuing to donate/pledge your money? Well… to understand that, it’s first important to understand exactly what Kickstarter is and how it works.
Crowd funding site’s like Kickstarter allow a person, or persons, to present a project that they need financial assistance for–whether it be the production of a film, recording of a new album, development for a technological breakthrough, financing an educational venture, or what have you–with the hopes that numerous folks might be enticed enough to hand over their hard earned cash to help out with said cause. Those who launch the projects set a financial goal that they are hoping to achieve from the donations and I believe that they have somewhere around 45 days or so to hit that mark through the site. The catch–beyond the fact that Kickstarter is completely unregulated and you need to be extremely comfortable before sending money to just anyone–is that, if the goal isn’t reached 100%, then anyone who donates has their pledge dissolved and the campaign doesn’t receive a dime. of Montreal‘s project set their goal at $75,000, but, it’s likely that they were requesting the bare minimum to avoid pushing their luck and coming up with nothing, which is a typical practice, for obvious reason. On the other hand, any additional funds that are received beyond the goal is still added on and delivered to the project. The extra money this time around will be going into further production costs allowing the film to be turned out as quickly as possible without cutting corners, but, for anyone that is really familiar with of Montreal, it’s pretty clear that every single penny will be utilized to help this film reach its full potential and come off as amazing as possible.
Apart from the occasional funding campaign that’s spearheaded by a non-profit organization, your donations for most Kickstarter causes are not tax-deductable. Song Dynasties is no different. So, as an added incentive to kick down some loot to these projects, there are rewards listed at various donation levels. Again, Song Dynasties is no different. The main difference with this particular project is the high level of quality with each of the rewards being offered for backers. There is some really impressive stuff up for grabs.
PBS or a public radio station will generally provide “incentives” during their fundraising drives, as well, but you usually get something along the lines of a DVD or sweatshirt at a $150 level, or a mug and/or bumpersticker by donating 75 bucks etc. Of course, you still get the benefit of the tax deduction in those situations. Kickstarter rewards are typically more comparable to and reflective of the actual donation being made. A lot of the time you may only get a “thanks” for a donation at $5 or less and then, with each donation level reached, you might actually get an official thanks on a film credit, all the way up to producer credit, depending on the nature of the project. You may get a CD or your donation might operate as a preorder on a product that’s looking for funding to go into production. So, if you donate $15 to someone trying to make a new album and that level provides you with a free CD once it’s created, it’s a pretty fair trade off. Of course, there are endless possibilities of what may be offered and the main goal is simply to help fund something that you believe in; sometimes the rewards line up better on some projects than with others. That being said, most of the rewards for Song Dynasties are insane. So, why should you continue to donate at this point? It’s simple: because you can still cash in on the rewards and get your hands on some things that are exclusive to backers and are likely worth more than the donation price.
Exclusive “Song Dynasties” Deluxe DVD
With as little as a $5 donation, you’ll receive an audiophile WAV download of any album in the of Montreal catalog released through the Polyvinyl label. For 20 bucks you’ll also receive a digital download of the film as well. I, personally, went with the $30 option, which provides both of those, as well as a deluxe DVD version of the film that is hand numbered with packaging that is exclusive to Kickstarter backers. It also comes with the promises that “this deluxe version of the DVD will never be available anywhere else” and that they will only manufacture “as many as people pledge for.” I figure that it’s a solid deal that will allow me to watch this thing right off the bat, instead of waiting around for it’s availability. Plus, if I really felt like trying to ebay that thing, I’m sure that it would most likely prove itself to be worth quite a bit more.
“Young Froth/Taypiss” Kickstarter Exclusive Vinyl
If I hadn’t made the promise to myself to only purchase things that I was planning to use, rather than getting sucked into the concept of trying to throw money at a bunch of shit to simply collect and/or resell, because of some supposed monetary value, at this point in my life, than I would have went for the following incentive rather than the DVD. Another limited edition release, the Young Froth/Taypiss vinyl is described as follows.
Kevin recently digitized some of his old four track cassettes and put together a collection of 14 of the earliest of Montreal recordings. None of these songs have ever been heard or released before…
We will be pressing Young Froth/Taypiss on 180-gram colored vinyl and are offering it exclusively on Kickstarter.
All of the copies will be hand-numbered and include a 320kbps MP3 download code.
You will never be able to buy this collection of songs on vinyl anywhere else. We will only make as many as people pledge for.
For $65, you can actually get both the DVD and the vinyl–a tempting option. Along with the details about the release, the following soundcloud recording was provided as a sneak peak to an album track called “Propaganda”
Since then, the following streams have popped up on the official of Montreal Facebook page, previewing additional songs from the exclusive Young Froth/Taypill release. This one is called “Dumb Acre.”
This one is called “Drachnids.”
You’re on Stage (50 total available)
There are additional rewards, like huge merch packs or old expired All-Access Vip Tour passes used by crew during the corresponding tours, but the $500 backing level is when shit really starts to get crazy and allows fans the opportunity to truly obtain access to things that they would otherwise never have. Here’s the breakdown of what this one is all about.
YOU’RE ON STAGE: everything in the $100 level + 2 guest list spots to any of Montreal show in 2013 + meet and greet with the band prior to show + You and a friend will be on stage during an of Montreal show (the band will dress both of you in costume and you’ll dance around with the band for a song)
The white label test pressings of vinyl recordings can go for a grip, depending on the particular release. Another $500 level option is a choice that includes an option of 1 of 3 different test pressings. oM has a fairly deep catalog at this point, but the 3 releases being offered are, arguably their 3 most successful for the group: Satanic Panic in the Attic (2 available); Sunlandic Twins (2 available); and Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? (4 total available). If you’re a collector… you already know what’s up.
oM is giving away 3 different one-of-a-kind props from throughout their career, each at the $525 level. This type of shit is for the super fans. Here’s what they are.
The 10 ft. dress Kevin wore in the “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” video & Hissing Fauna tour, including Coachella.
The tear-away jacket Kevin wore when they performed “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
The canoe used in the “Coquet Coquette” music video
This option comes with the following disclaimers:
“Because this item is so large, you have to come pick it up from Athens, GA.”
“P.S. We’re not sure if it floats anymore, but it does come with a trailer!”
WATCH SONG DYNASTIES WITH OF MONTREAL
So, this is the big one. There’s only one available for this at a donation of $2,500. Here’s the description.
We’ll pay for your flight (U.S. only) and a hotel room to come watch Song Dynasties with us! You have to supply the popcorn. (Just kidding — no popcorn allowed. We’re not letting your buttery fingers touch our furniture.)
Sample Recorded Footage
Beyond the 2 audio tracks, oM has released 2 chumks of video interview footage via their official Facebook page, now. This is material that may or may not make it into the final cut of the documentary, whether in full or edited, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t watch it now.
Here’s some really interesting insight provided by longtime oM guitarist, Bryan Poole (aka “BP Helium” also of Elf Power) where he’s discussing how close Kevin Barnes was to completely dissolving the group with the intention of trying to work a “real” job, years ago.
Here’s Kevin addressing the crazy, over the top costumes that the group often appears in on stage, as well as the time that he performed in nothing but a shimmering red cummerbund, during their February 13, 2007 show at the Art Bar in Las Vegas.
Again, if you’re still interested in donating and/or picking up one of the rewards, you can do so by linking to the Kickstarter page HERE. You’ve got about 4 days left!
This video of Barnes expressing his appreciation for all of the backers was recorded back when they were still on their way to achieving their campaign goal, but hadn’t quite met it yet.