Fans of the Decemberists know the multi-instrumental ensemble for their fanciful narratives and scholarly lyricism. The band's departure into British folk, prog and metal sounds on their latest album, The Hazards Of Love, has been well-publicized. So when we got frontman Colin Meloy on the phone in advance of the band's Monday (August 3) Kool Haus (132 Queens Quay East) show, we used the opportunity to explore less charted waters. From his home in Portland, Oregon, Meloy broke down his band's obsession with Orangina, their responsibility for America electing its first black president and his kinship with country singer Keith Urban.
I read that Orangina is the official band beverage. What is it about the soda's cool, refreshing flavour that the band identifies with?
Well, it gives us the power to go out into the world with our music. There's actually cocaine in it. Not many people know that. Cocaine and the blood of Romanian street children, which gives it its orange hue and powerful boosting... power.
I was going to ask if the band had considered an Orangina corporate sponsorship, but then you said there was cocaine and children's blood in it.
We're just out there telling the truth. We feel like people should know what they're drinking.
The Decemberists were very supportive of Obama's campaign. How does it feel to be responsible for his win?
That's very kind. For the little part we played, it was exciting and cool to see it happening and to witness that movement. The jury's still out on what will happen now that he's in office, but I'm happy with the job he's done so far.
Besides guitar and percussion, you play the bouzouki.
You know who else plays the bouzouki? Keith Urban.
Who's Keith Urban?
He's a country singer. He's married to Nicole Kidman.
Oh, Keith Urban. He plays the bouzouki?
I didn't know we were bouzouki brothers. I'll have to reach out to him - see if he wants to jam sometime.
Colin Meloy replies to the question "how are you?"
Meloy describes the weather in Portland, Oregon on the day of the interview
On how he came to work with his musical hero Robyn Hitchcock
On whether The Decemberists have considered the direction of their next album
On why he covered Sam Cooke on his latest solo EP
On the state of his band's ongoing beef with Stephen Colbert