In a recent stop at WFUV's Studio A to play songs from The Decemberists' upcoming album The King Is Dead, Meloy jokes that the band had reached the "zenith of excess" on 2009's The Hazards of Love, so a more stripped-down approach marked a deliberate change of direction.
Yet Meloy tells me he found the process of recording a simpler album far more complex than expected: "I thought [recording] would be a lot shorter," he says. "This was simple. Hazards was very cerebral... academic. That felt very time-consuming, and this one was just as hard. It just goes to show you that no music is easy."
Meloy didn't choose an easy recording space for The King Is Dead, either, opting for a barn in Portland, Ore. The farm's owners are great supporters of the arts, having held a community folk festival there, but Meloy says the barn wasn't an easy place to work: "It rained on us a lot. It was a very rainy May, with no heat or indoor plumbing. It wasn't luxurious in any sense."