It seems wherever you turn these days, there’s a new band sprouting its roots in the indie scene, claiming they’re better than the rest. In a genre in which every band sounds like the next, the Decemberists have found a formula to succeed.
Front man Colin Meloy, along with the multi-talented Chris Funk, keyboardist Jenny Conlee, bassist Nate Query and drummer John Moen never thought they would get this far nor have the fan base that they have now. The group hailing from Portland, Ore., always thought the band would just be another side project in their life. Their new tour brings them to Upper Darby for a stop at the Tower Theater to show the East Coast what make these rockers so unique.
Conlee said she’s proud of the band’s history, from their beginnings to the challenge and duel they had with Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.”
“I grew up playing piano,” Conlee said. “Throughout college I was in a band, nothing big, and I used to work in a bookstore with Colin.” Meloy moved to Portland from Montana in late 1999 and started playing solo shows. “Chris was the first to meet him, and then Nate, and I was a good friend of Nate’s at the time. When we started this band we didn’t know it would be this big.”
After Meloy’s solo run, the band came together in early 2000. Following four full-length albums and two EP’s, the band landed a deal with Capitol Records.
Their major label debut, “The Crane Wife,” released under Capitol Records last fall.
“The Crane Wife” is the name of an old Japanese fairytale about a man who finds a wounded crane outside his house and nurses it back to health. Days later, a beautiful woman comes to his door and they fall in love. The man later finds out that she is actually the once wounded crane and when he confronts her, she flies away. “[‘The Crane Wife’ story] is such a beautiful
piece and we wanted to do something different for this record.
There are a couple of longer songs, like ‘The Crane Wife,’ and also ‘The Island,'” she said. “Both are filled with vivid imagery and we wanted there to be a story to be told.” Bands have different methods of writing, while some may write better on the road; others find full inspiration at home.
“Colin works really well with his time off,” Conlee said. “Everyday he would go to Chris Walla’s (one of the producers of ‘The Crane Wife’) house and write as if it was a regular job.”
There’s been much controversy surrounding
what happened with Stephen Colbert
and the Decemberists. Conlee had no problem telling the story behind the controversy.
“We were unhappy with the green screen animation for one of our music videos,”
she said. “So we had a contest in which the fans created an animation for the background of the music video. At the same time, Stephen Colbert had his green screen challenge for his show. During a segment of his ‘Who’s Riding My Coat Tails,’ where he addresses those who copy him, Colbert told his fans to create a green screen animation of him attacking us in our video.”
In return, Colin challenged Colbert to a guitar duel. “Colbert cheated,” Conlee said. “He had Peter Frampton the guitar legend play for him.” Conlee admitted that the animosity seen on television doesn’t translate to real life.
“It was a big silly thing, and good press for us. He’s actually real down to earth guy.”
The Decemberists with My Brightest Diamond
Tuesday, 8 p.m.
Tower Theater 69th and Ludlow streets
Kyle Marino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.