Why’d you create a track listing? Why not say it’s Thick As A Brick and cut it all as one thing?
It wasn’t my idea (laughs). The band had, before I joined, already done a 20 minute plus EP called The Tain. That one, when they released it, they insisted that it not have track listings, that it not be broken up. So they had already kind of done that and as I said the prime motivator wasn’t to put a sharp stick in the public eye and say you have to listen to this whole thing. We’re realists too. I think it’s an experiment, see how it goes over, you know. Colin is the songwriter, and he was psyched to try and do it. I think he’d been thinking about something like this for a long time, since he did the Tain, trying to revisit that theory.
There’s a couple of recurring themes, leitmotifs, particularly that big Black Sabbath-style fuzzy riff that come back at times.
Yeah, there’s little things that come up and they’re meant to let you know who is approaching and that sort of thing, who you’re listening to. I haven’t stopped to review it myself and say ‘Oh we messed up here or there with that’ and stuff like that.
The Crane Wife is a fable, The Tain is obviously taken from Celtic mythology. This is an original story but a similar style. I get this secular morality play feeling when I listen to these.
Well, I can tell you that Colin just got pretty wrapped up in British folk music starting with folk revival in the ’60s and ’70s. He started going deeper and deeper in these songs and came up with a lot of archetypes, and that’s where everything’s based. William and Margaret show up in a billion different songs in the course of English folk music history. I think his idea, where he started, is ‘There are certain things that keep coming up, I’m going to borrow them and glue them together in my own way.’ You can find all of these characters and a lot of the actions that take place in old songs. He’s kind of collected them and rearranged them and put music to them in a way.
I think a lot of the songs, there’s bad things happening to good people, and that’s sort of what happens on our record too (laughs).
The Decemberists perform The Hazards Of Love in its entirety at Radio City Music Hall on June 10. For more info, visit decemberists.com.