View Full Version : The Decemberists Sign to Capitol Records

12-12-2005, 08:11 AM
from www.pitchforkmedia.com (www.pitchforkmedia.com)

Amy Phillips reports:
Confirming a rumor that has been floating around the indie world for weeks, Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy revealed to Pitchfork this weekend that his band has indeed signed to Capitol Records. The deal follows a successful run with the beloved independent label Kill Rock Stars, which culminated in the release of the Decemberists' third (and best) album, Picaresque, earlier this year.

"The idea of reaching a wider audience has become really attractive," Meloy said. "It just felt like we had tapped out the resources of Kill Rock Stars. We could have stayed on that label until the end of time, putting out proper Decemberists records that sold x amount of copies. But there was a general thought after this last tour that the music and the stage show were evolving. We felt like there was an opportunity for something bigger."

"We adore Kill Rock Stars and we're profoundly lucky to have worked with such a wonderful group of people and to have been elbow to elbow with such an amazing roster of artists. That's one of the things that breaks my heart to move away from, saying that Deerhoof are our labelmates." Perhaps being in the company of the Beatles, Beach Boys, Radiohead, Coldplay, LCD Soundsystem, the Band, and Frank Sinatra will help ease the pain.

Meloy said that longtime fans shouldn't be shocked by the Decemberists' decision. "We've never been the sort of group that has lived and breathed indie-ness. Even after we recorded [2003's] Her Majesty the Decemberists, it was pretty clear that we would probably be at a point after the next record that we would be moving on to something bigger."

"We totally recognize the risk that we're taking. In some ways, that risk is kind of exciting."

When asked what he thinks Capitol wants out of the Decemberists, Meloy replied, "I have no idea! That's what's so winsome about them. Capitol bent over backwards for us, even knowing the kind of band that we are. We're not Franz Ferdinand. We're not making new wave Gang of Four music. We're kind of the opposite of that. We have this penchant for moldy, dusty 60s British folk music and songs about chimney sweeps."

Meloy assured Pitchfork that we won't be seeing the Decemberists working with the Matrix and duetting with Kelly Clarkson any time soon (not that either of those would necessarily be a bad thing). "We're the same band and we'll create the same music, if not stranger," he said. "We've never been a band that can churn out radio hits, and I don't think that Capitol sees that either. They were able to meet us on our own terms more than any other label we talked to, and were also the most forward about making sure that we don't change for this deal."

"Having grown up seeing what major labels do in the early 90s, I was skeptical about it all along. I've been steeped in that mythology, Steve Albini essays and things like that. But the whole idea about selling out seems like such an antiquated notion. I don't just say that out of defensiveness. A lot has changed since Fugazi in the 90s. People have come to realize that that's a really difficult standard to maintain."

He continued, "The contract that we have with Capitol is peppered with the words 'band approval'. It's really as good a contract as we could hope for. If they do have a nefarious agenda, it's completely hidden on me."

Meloy added that the Decemberists will remain on Rough Trade in the UK, since Rough Trade is "pretty much the coolest label on the planet right now."

The band will begin recording their Capitol debut in their hometown of Portland, Ore., in April, with Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie behind the boards once again, and Tucker Martine (Long Winters, Jesse Sykes) helping out. "The plan is to find a mansion to move into and take a little bit more time than we did for Picaresque," Meloy said. "Walla is intent on recording it exclusively on 24-track, rather than the 80 tracks that we used recording Picaresque. In some ways, we're scaling back a little bit."

A new record isn't the only thing Meloy is expecting in the spring of 2006. He revealed to Pitchfork that his girlfriend, artist Carson Ellis, is pregnant with their first child. (That high-pitched moan you hear is the collective wailing of a nation of heartbroken indie girls.)

In the meantime, Meloy has a solo tour scheduled for January, and he intends to record a set of covers of songs by 60s British folkie Shirley Collins for a tour-only EP. All of the shows will be recorded for a future live album release on Kill Rock Stars.

As previously reported, here are those Meloy solo dates:

01-18 Seattle, WA - Showbox *
01-19 Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater *
01-20 San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall *
01-21 Los Angeles, CA - El Rey *
01-23 Chicago, IL - Park West *
01-25 Boston, MA - Paradise *
01-26 New York, NY - Town Hall *#
01-27 Philadelphia, PA - Theater of Living Arts *
01-28 Alexandria, VA - Birchmere *

* with Laura Veirs
# with Amy Annelle

As for that long-anticipated Decemberists DVD, which has been in the works for over a year, Meloy said, "It's kind of in a holding pattern. We filmed our last show in Portland, at the end of our national tour, but my voice was kind of shot. I have a feeling we're not going to keep that show, which means we'll probably end up filming another show and putting off the release date. This whole DVD project has been an epic journey. But it will come out eventually on Kill Rock Stars."

In addition to a full live show, the DVD will contain backstage footage and all of the Decemberists videos, including a previously unreleased one for all eighteen minutes of the band's 2004 EP The Tain. Created by filmmaker Andy Smetanka, who resides in Meloy's native Missoula, Mont., The Tain video is made entirely from "silhouette crepe paper stop motion animation," according to Meloy.

Meloy and Decemberists drummer John Moen also appear on the forthcoming self-titled Minus Five album, due February 7 on Yep Roc. Meloy sings on the song "Cemetery Row". "I've been a Young Fresh Fellows fan from eons ago," Meloy said, referring to Minus Five leader Scott McCaughey's former band. "It was really exciting to meet him. Right before we left on this last tour, I just went over to Scott's house, sat in his living room and recorded the song.

"That was one of the crowning achievements of my life, to be on a Minus five record. I'm very serious."

As if all of that wasn't enough to keep a man busy for three lifetimes, Kill Rock Stars also plans to release an anthology of recordings by Meloy's college band, Tarkio on January 24. The two-disc Omnibus collects Tarkio's 1998 album I Guess I Was Hoping for Something More, 1999 EP Sea Songs for Landlocked Sailors, and various demos and outtakes.

Meloy said listening to Tarkio's music after all these years felt "good and kind of scary." He added, "I feel proud of a lot of them, and I feel like a lot of them stand up to what we're doing now, though a lot of them kind of show a bit of a gestating songwriting ability. Some of it's kind of silly and embarrassing. It's just fun to get it out there."


Disc 1:

01 Keeping Me Awake
02 Caroline Avenue
03 Neapolitan Bridesmaid
04 Save Yourself
05 Better Half
06 Eva Luna
07 Kickaround
08 If I Had More Time
09 Sister Nebraska
10 Helena Won't Get Stoned
11 Your Own Kind
12 Candle
13 Standing Still

Disc 2:

01 Devil's Elbow
02 Weight of the World
03 My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist
04 Mountains of Mourne
05 Tristan and Iseult
06 Never Will Marry
07 This Rollercoaster Ride
08 Following Camden Down
09 Slow Down
10 Annabelle Leigh
11 Carrie
12 Am I Not Right?
13 Mess of Me
14 Goodbye Girl

Meloy ended the conversation by sheepishly asking Pitchfork, "Will you guys will still like our records, even if we're on Capitol?"

As long as your records are good, we'll like them, Colin. Don't worry.

Jonny Z
12-12-2005, 08:17 AM
i'll stick around, for sure

12-12-2005, 08:29 AM
Good for them. I was just listening to 'Her Majesty...' the other night. I'm excited.

12-12-2005, 09:08 AM
I'm not surprised. While it is kind of sad that everyone jumps from KRS like it's a sinking ship, I definitely understand, since I think the Decemberists have an incredibly bright future ahead of them. Plus, now people can give them shit for selling out! Hooray!

12-12-2005, 09:11 AM
DRM and RIAA here we come.

12-12-2005, 09:21 AM
well, i suppose it could help them gain some exposure... an aquaintance of mine mentioned she thought this would happen soon.

as an aside, I am looking forward to seeing Meloy in Chicago... it will be interesting to see what he chooses to cover in his solo act...

Dannñ B
12-12-2005, 10:33 AM
It's a good move for them. Now they can have an animatronic whale on their tour.

12-12-2005, 10:36 AM
It's a good move for them. Now they can have an animatronic whale on their tour.

ahh, then they lose the cheesy appeal of the paper one!