William Munoz/Missoula Current

Rolling Stone Editor David Fricke has compared Colin Meloy, the lead singer and principal songwriter of The Decemberists, to Lou Reed, each accomplished song writers.

Where Reed was inspired by Beat Generation writer William Boroughs, Meloy's stories are more like Canterbury Tales.

“He’s trying to take the storytelling in popular music to a level that is both enjoyable and a bit fantastical, but doesn’t violate the qualities of good storytelling,” says Fricke.

Colin Meloy is a fifth generation Montanan born and raised in Helena. He got his first taste of the power of music while in high school. While attending the University of Montana, studying creative writing, he formed Tarkio, an indie rock alternative band that had a local following.

After graduating from UM he moved to pursue his music in the vibrant early 2000's music scene in Portland. In an interview in the Montanan, Meloy said, “You can only go so far as a band out of Missoula - not to be downplaying being in a band in Missoula. But just the amount of travel to get to your nearest metro area was really time-consuming and expensive.”

It was starting over, often playing in bars with few people.

Colin Meloy plays with the Decembrists at the Kettlehouse Amphitheater in Missoula. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)
The Decembrists at the Kettlehouse Amphitheater in Missoula. (William Munoz/Missoula Current)

“When I was in that position, with nobody to appeal to or scare away, I thought, ‘I might as well do whatever I want to do, and that created a new thing.'”

The 'new thing' was The Decemberists. His song writing is deeply rooted in his fascination with England and its folk lore, but the immensity of Montana is always there. The sense of place that fiction writers like Guthrie, Doig and Maclean bring to the page, Meloy brings to song.

The Decemberists take us on a journey of fantastical stories that make one feel free from the mundane.

Their concert at the Kettlehouse Amphitheatre opened the current tour - Arise From The Bunkers. This was the first time the band had played together since the beginning of the pandemic. Given the performance, this band has not lost any musical storytelling over the past two years.

The Decemberists in Missoula

The Decemberists play the Kettlehouse Amphitheater in Missoula on Aug. 3, 2022. (Photos by William Munoz/Missoula Current)