Interviews:: Decemberists - Nate

In support of their major label release, The Crane Wife, the Decemberists are currently touring and getting crticial acclaim for their work. So in support of the Filter Tourzine stop that we are covering, we sat down with Nate for a quick chat::

HH:: Obviously with the jump to a major label, a lot of fans were worried you'd comeback with a more radio friendly record.  Instead, you came up with one of your most diverse and in my opinion, strongest records yet.  What's the experience of being on a majot been like for you guys?
Nate:: Too be honest, not that different. I mean from the band's perspective it was less different than you'd think. But I'm not really sureif that is because we are on a less indie label or because we are more successful. In the end, we've had a great experience with Capitol because it really equated to a bigger recording budget and more time to actually record the album. We had the time to explore new ideas and to really go farther for the first time, which was great.

HH:: Well it really shows with this record. Musically it's so diverse. I mean you bust out the funk on Perfect Crime 2 and you jump into huge prog epics. Has it made the shows more exciting for you? 
Nate:: Oh man, it's really fun. That's the best way to describe it, fun shows. We are really trying to recreate the record and faithfully represent the songs, so every song has us switching instruments and playing different things. It's so diverse and dynamic now. Like the Island is a blast to play - we go from rocking out with Moog and Hammond 3 solos to a three-piece string quartet.. Basically we are playing and then Chris, "" and I are playing the violin, cello.

HH:: And how is the crowd reacting to the newer material?
Nate:: It's great. For songs like the Island and the Crane Wife, fans are really getting into it. I mean, in Texas, we had four girls at the front and during Sons & Daughters when the band broke into that four part round, each person sung harmonies with a member of the band. But in general, there has only been a little grumbling. Maybe I read to much into it on our message board, but very few fans are complaining about the shift from the Mariner's revenge. The snarky response has been much less than you'd expect.

HH:: You will always have people trying to knock you down when you get a bit of success, especially in this scene. Someone, I guess like us, with a tiny web site feels their opinion is the only one that matters. But in general, you guys eally seem to be embracing the music community and the internet with things like the Filter tourzine, but it brings up the question of how much has the music industry changed because of the popularity of blogs?
Nate:: I'm not sure if I can really comment on that much, because I don't read a lot of music journalism. I don't really like reading it, but we've always been lucky. I mean, from the first record people liked our sound and wrote about it. Pitchfork has always supported us and peopel were always able to track down our music. Whether it was a free MP3 on Kill Rock Stars. People have always had a pipeline to our music, which is great because our sound isn't really one that fit a mold. At times it almost seems too easy now. I mean, you can get your songs on myspace and have everyone hear them, but that is great when you start out. You don't need a press kit and a postcard for every booking agent. You can just send them to your myspace page and book shows.

HH:: It's weird to consider how popular you guys have become.  When you started, I remember seeing you play for like 50 people in Toronto and a couple of girls looked around the room and said, "Wow, there are a lot of nerds here!" Fast forward a year and almost everyone at least knows your name your music is played in Starbucks. How does the band react to that, considering you never had to change who you were to gain that appeal from critics and fans?
Nate:: It blows my mind actually. It's also very humbling. We had such modest goals for this band. We were all musicians in other bands and we were kind of drawn to each other. It seemed really fun. It took a while, but slowly people caught on. At every little turn we'd find a fan and that is hard to imagine since we are really such a niche band. But people seem to have accepted what we do.

HH:: Excellent. Well, one last question. What was it like working with Chris Walla and Tucker?
Nate:: Amazing. Tucker and Chris are both top notch engineers and they both just know what sounds great. They don't rely on fancy tricks. It was such a spontaneous process. We'd have an idea, and Chris would run with it. We didn't lose the vibe trying to set up new mics. We really moved at the speed of creativity. We never got bogged down and we couldn't be happeir with the result.

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