The Decemberists

Silent Uproar: From what I have read, “The Crane Wife” was an experiment of sorts to take the folk tale you had read about and convert it into music. Is that accurate?

John: Yes, that is correct.

SU: Is this approach of having an album based around a theme something you hope to continue with subsequent releases?

John: Well, to be clear, the "theme" or story is only for the songs with the title "The Crane Wife". So, no.

SU: So what prompted the move to Capitol – had things just run their course with Kill Rock Stars?

John: Our contract was up and we were offered the opportunity to move to a new label. Those opportunities don't come up that often as you can sign a recording contract for 3 - 6 records which could be the life of a band. It was really just a chance to try something new and keep "growing" as a band, whatever that means. More just wanting to try something new. KRS was great to us and continue to be.

SU: What is something new (musically or stylistically) you were able to accomplish or present with this record that you haven’t done before?

John: The idea of reduction. Using less tracks and trying to create the songs as if we were playing live, at least that was a "theme" in the back of our heads as suggested by our producer Christopher Walla.

SU: The band has always had a pretty interesting art direction on your albums. Where do the art ideas come from?

John: From the world of Miss Carson Ellis.

SU: Do you think album art is becoming more or less important in the world of digital downloads and iTunes?

John: I think more important, for me at least. Though for a 10 year old music fan it probally doesn't matter that much.

SU: Is the digital single killing the concept of an ‘album’ and driving the focus back to singles?

John: I think it probally bring people back to the album actually. That is, if they hear the single perhpas they will check out the album...I hope at least.

SU: Does that affect the way the band approaches working on an album or a song?

John: Not this band, no. We still think in terms of "Side A, Side B".

SU: Do you feel that music moving to a more digital world is working to increase the commoditization of it and perhaps reinforce the ‘consume and dispose’ culture that seems to be creeping into music?

John: In the sense that when I was getting into buying music, the culture was go and find music you love. And one did this via fan zines and underground record stores. So when you found an artist you identified with, I think it was a bit closer to your heart and it became your culture. Now you can share random bands over your computer, and then therefore just random sounds which I suppose is also a good thing for learning about new bands however the "ownership" idea gets a bit diluted I imagine.

SU: What is the best thing about living in our current digital age?

John: My digital guitar tuner?

SU: What is the worst?

John: My out of tune guitar?

SU: Do you feel that MySpace is just kinda lame or is it a great tool for bands?

John: No, I think it's great. Basically a free web site for new bands? Pretty cool. People spend to much time on that site. I look around at the coffee shop by my house, peer over folks shoulders and it seems like almost everyone is on that site. Crazy.

SU: Do you feel that tools like this enable bands to become or at least appear to be more connected to their fans?

John: More connected if they choose to use it, the bands that is.

SU: If this ended up being your last record, would you be happy with the success the band has achieved or do you still feel like you have something to accomplish or prove to yourself and other people?

John: I really love this record, so yea, I'd be happy. However I think we sort of just "became" the band we were always unknowing trying to be. Like we just got our voice, and the choir just added some new members and the congregation is really filling up, so it would be a drag to let the church burn down tomorrow.

Nov 13 2006