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Throwback Thursday, V

February 18, 2010

While researching this book, I pore over as many relevant articles as I can.
Every Thursday, I’ll highlight one of the good ones.

Finally, a Throwback Thursday that isn’t about Neutral Milk Hotel. NMH is undoubtedly important to this story, but there are a lot of other people, other bands, other ideas to explore.

This week, we throw it back all the way to November of 2007, just as the of Montreal Outback Steakhouse backlash was coming to a head. Long story* short, Kevin Barnes licensed the rights to the band’s song “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” to Outback Steakhouse. Outback then rerecorded the song with a Barnes soundalike and a didgeridoo and put it in a bunch of commercials. This made a lot of people very angry, and they made no attempt to hide their displeasure.

Apparently fed up, Barnes penned this missive to explain his actions and the motivation behind them. It’s a well-argued piece and provides a lot of insight into Barnes’s idea of art, but the main reason I’m posting it is because it illustrates some of the key differences between of Montreal and the rest of the Elephant 6, to the extent that many argue that of Montreal doesn’t really have anything to do with E6 anymore. Here, Barnes embraces the power of the internet to interact with his fans and detractors, whereas so many other E6ers remain cloistered away, unwilling to even do regular interviews much less address their listeners directly. Further, you have a musician willing to actively ply his creativity for financial gain, while the large majority of these people seem content never to see that much cash in their lives. This is by no means a value judgment (I feel compelled to mention I supported Barnes’s decision from the start and never really understood all the outrage), but the differences are stark.

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*It will be much longer in the book, but most of it is off the record at this point.

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