Portland indie-folk collective the Decemberists polarized their fanbase with their increasingly ornate concept albums--like 2006's song cycle The Crane Wife and 2009's especially lavish rock opera The Hazards Of Love--but with their most sixth full-length album, The King Is Dead, they've made a conscious effort to go back to the sparser sound of their early Kill Rock Stars output, and even to their 2001 Hush Records EP.
Influenced by the '80s and '90s college rock that changed band leader Colin Meloy's life (the album title itself is a loving nod to a certain iconic album by the Smiths), the rustic and Americana-tinged release was recorded in a barn at Oregon's Pendarvis Farm, strongly evokes R.E.M., and features collaborations with alt-country goddess Gillian Welch and...wait for it...none other than R.E.M.'s Peter Buck himself.
The Decemberists recently visited Yahoo! Music's studios, where Meloy and strong-but-silent guitarist Colin Funk (who you may recognize thanks to his Stephen Colbert "Green Screen Challenge" guitar duel from a few years back) sat down to discuss their new album's back-to-basics approach and why they're still starstruck by Peter Buck after all these years. Check out their interview below, along with three performances by the indie kings from The King Is Dead!