Led by Colin Meloy, the Decemberists are a five-piece outfit whose pop sound has been compared to the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel and Belle & Sebastian. Meloy, who hails from Missoula, MT, is the main songwriter for the group, whose initial lineup consisted of Ezra Holbrook on drums, Nate Query on bass, Jenny Conlee on keyboards and accordion, and Chris Funk on theremin and pedal steel guitar.
Frontman Meloy, who also held a degree in creative writing, previously devoted some time to an alternative country group before breaking off to pursue his craft as a singer/songwriter in the city of Portland, a period that eventually led to the Decemberists’ formation. Before Hush Records released the Decemberists’ first album in 2002, the group put out an EP of five tracks.
Their full-length debut, Castaways and Cutouts, was re-released that same year on the Kill Rock Stars label, and the band began to accumulate a serious fan base. After adding organist and keyboardist Rachel Blumberg to the group, in 2003 the Decemberists released Her Majesty, another fine collection of theatrical indie pop with British folk sensibilities that further cemented their growing reputation as a band to watch. The next year the five-part epic EP The Tain, based on the eighth century Irish poem of the same name, came out, followed by their third full-length, Picaresque, in 2005.
The group, who at this point consisted of Meloy, Conlee, Query, Funk, and drummer John Moen, made the move to the majors (Capitol Records) for 2006′s The Crane Wife, which managed to hit number 35 on the Billboard 200, and even grabbed the attention of comedian/actor Stephen Colbert, who challenged Funk to a guitar solo competition during a live taping of his show, The Colbert Report. – Linda Seida