The Decemberists by Scott Compton

In case you're not hip to The Decemberists, they're a fantastic indie/folk/rock outfit from Portland, Oregon who took 15 years to become an overnight success. Their influences are diverse, from 1960s British folksters like Shirley Collins and Anne Briggs to 1980s modern rock songwriters like XTC, REM, and Morrissey. In January, the band released its sixth album, an epic work titled The King Is Dead and took to the road. When their wagon train came through Oakland's Fox Theater in February, Boing Boing pal and hypertalented video director Scott Compton made the scene. BB readers may remember Scott for directing the Swell Season interview/performance film in 2009 that quickly became a Boing Boing Video fave.

The Decemberists' timing was impeccable as it was Valentine's Day--and Scott, well, loves The Decemberists. Scott rallied his crack video team: the inimitable Bart Nagel and Chris Valente on Canon 5D cameras and Lauretta Molitor on sound -- for 20 minutes with the band and stageside access for a couple tunes. Then he took the footage back to his Remedy Editorial facility where editor Jeffrey Boyette and colorist Ayumi Ashley worked their post-production magic. The video team's passion and the band's talent gelled into the lovely piece you see above.

"In person, The Decemberists were humble, smart, and collaborative," Scott says. "For me, it was really interesting to hear singer/songwriter Colin Meloy talk about how Neil Young's seminal 'Comes A Time' album was a big influence. I discovered that album my freshman year of college, and missed a lot of classes sitting in my dorm listening to it again and again."

Credits: Scott Compton (director), Chris Valente (producer), Bart Nagel (camera), Scott Compton (camera), Chris Valente (camera), Lauretta Molitor (sound), Camilla Comanich and Stephan Hawk (production assistance), Jeffrey Boyette (editor), Ayumi Ahsley (colorist), Mike Lowe (visual effects), Marc Pittman (sound mix)

For more:

The Decemberists

Scott Compton, Director

"The Decemberists and Polaroid" (Boing Boing)

[YouTube link, and here's a downloadable MP4]


  1. amazing video and audio quality on this BBvideo take. you guys rock. and the Decemberists are fun, quirky and i love the sound. thanks BB!

  2. I’ve been enjoying their music for years, but I recently read an article about how so many of their songs are about abuse/murder/rape, mostly of women. Somehow I had never noticed this! And now it’s all I can think about, although I heard “The King is Dead” does not feature any songs of this theme.

    1. I read that essay, too; I’ve lost my tolerance for flat female characters serving as vehicles for more interesting characters’ sexual violence and mayhem, and the Decembrists have gone to that well too many times. If the new album has left that behind, that’s good news. I’ll give them another listen.

  3. Yeah, I liked the Decemberists when they were the Novemberists, but you probably don’t know anything about that..

  4. Great band, great sound. I can hear some guitar, that sounds as the Rickenbacker maybe 12 string model, I can hear the R.E.M influence also. I love the sound of a Rickenbacker guitar, someday I will have one of those plugged through a Vox AC-30 amp.

  5. Well, no sadly there is no Rickenbacker guitar only electric guitar is the Telecaster model with humbucker in the neck pickup, there is also a pedal steel guitar that sounds excellent and an acoustic Guild 12 string guitar.

  6. I read that article too and while it had a point I think it severer overlooked the act that EVERYONE in the Decemberists songs has a shitty,shitty time. None of the songs are pro-rape and their latest album is nasty-free (and quite delightful, their happiest album to date)

  7. Funny, I was listening to the Crane Wife when I saw this blog post. I hadn’t realized they released a new album this year. Purchased, downloaded, and now playing. Thanks boingboing!

  8. When “This is Why We Fight” comes on CBC Radio, I sing along at the top of my lungs and think of the Libyan rebels.

  9. Long live to new Decemberists! Great sound and beautiful video picture from
    By the way, gays, do you know the meaning of “decemberist” (=dekabrist) in Russia?
    Five of Russian decemberists were executed on July 13, 1826 in Saint Petersburg by Russian Tsar as the main conspirators again Russian autocracy. One of them was 25 years old Mihail Bestouzhev-Ryumin, the brother of my great great forefather Nikolay Mihail Bestouzhev-Ryumin.
    They were romanticist…
    I think and I am sure that your name as “Decemberists” will bring you more fortune!
    With Best’s regards,
    Andrew Shapovalov
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    March 18, 2011

    1. Oops!
      Excuse me! The second link was my mistake. It was a song with my Russian lyrics which took part in last year EuroVoice 2010 contest. I am afraid nobody in BoingBoing will understand it without translation. My translation is as follows:

      “How Much do You Love Me?”

      I know
      And you know the answer:
      I’m not your boyfriend
      Or your fiance
      There’s glass wall
      Between you and me
      And I don’t care
      With whom have you been!
      Hey you!
      How much do you love me?
      What is the price
      For priceless becoming?
      I’ll pay you and own you at once
      So take a breath
      And don’t loose your chance!
      I have more wealth than I can use
      Whenever lie gives birth to truth.
      Let us
      Check the sooner the better
      Our chances!
      Keep smiling,
      Pretending and shaming
      It won’t help you
      To gain any money
      There’s a peril
      And there is a gift
      You’re destiny’s plaything
      As fate has willed
      Tell me
      How much do I owe you?
      I owe you best thanks
      And my best folly
      And only today
      You hit the jackpot,
      You win the game!
      I have more wealth than I can use
      Whenever lie gives birth to truth.
      Let us
      Check the sooner the better
      Our chances!


  10. I love “The King Is Dead”, much less modern pirate music that the previous releases. I also love Sara Watkins, got my tickets for their show here, I can’t wait.

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