From across the planet, Portland Oregon’s finest, The Decemberists, the hugely successful and inspiring indie folk rock band will be making their Bluesfest debut in 2016.
Their career spans more than a decade and with their songs ranging from upbeat pop to instrumental ballads. The Decemberists have charmed audiences all over the world with their eclectic live shows.
The Echo grabbed an interview last week with frontman Colin Meloy who played along on his guitar during a phone hook up to the US.
Colin, you have been at the helm of the band for 16 years – is it hard to keep up the momentum?
There is sort a mysterious thing about momentum. Having had a career in music for as long as I have, there are ups and down and ebbs and swells in momentum. At this point I have learned to not pay attention to those things and just do the best that I can. It’s a different beast from what it was when we started out and no-one knew knew who we were. Then it was always about us; now it’s always about creating the best work that you can and challenging yourself not to get complacent and to keep it fresh.
The hiatus that you announced in 2011, – did that serve its purpose?
The purpose was primarily to work on other projects. We have been a band for 10 years and that point we had been on a record–release–tour cycle. The hiatus was a chance to work on our own projects – it allowed us to return reinvigorated with a different perspective and a different relationship.
The band plays a wide variety of instruments and covers a broad range of musical styles. Is there a defined reason for that? Is that about boredom or fun having?
It probably has a lot to do with all that. The only reason to get into any sort of music is a sense of boredom. You want to contribute something that hasn’t been done. With our eclectic mix we all like the history of music, we are all scholars and into music.
What makes the band is a cross-section of our record collections and trying to incorporate all our styles in any way we can.
Your last album was realised a year ago today. When can we see a new one? Or is that too much pressure?
I am working on songs now. I am always writing and working on other projects and some books. We are getting away from that album-a-year thing. It helps to take a little more time and just make sure we are putting out good work into the world. The world has amassed quite a bit of Decemberists material so we don’t want to put out anything out unless it’s really worthwhile.
How many times have you been to Australia? What do you like about it?
Just once we came over and did Big Day Out. I really loved it. I thought the audiences were sweet and generous and receptive.
Is there anything here that could influence your music?
Certainly – there’re a lot of people we are sharing the bill with at Bluesfest. The great thing about festivals is you can stand side-stage and absorb what everyone is doing and quietly seethe about everyone’s abilities – and hopefully it will fuel your own work.
This will be your first encounter with Bluesfest. Had you heard about the festival?
I hadn’t. I am not super up on my Australian festivals.
Do you have anything new for Bluesfest audiences? What can they expect?
We are excited to introduce our new material. There will be a lot of new material for our audiences to hear and some new songs depending what shape they’re in when March rolls around.
The Decemberists play Bluesfest this Easter long weekend.
For tickets and program info go to bluesfest.com.au.