Over the last few months, there have been rumors going around that The Decemberists might be calling it quits. The talks were mostly sparked by front man Colin Meloy mentioning a “long hiatus” in an interview, and the fact that the band will be taking some time off after finishing their current tour. However, he silenced all speculation by assuring that the band has no plans to split up.
Speaking to the Associated Press this weekend while at Bonnaroo, Meloy was quick to deny the rumors, saying “With this record I feel we have a whole world in front of us with plenty of options and I’m excited to continue writing music for The Decemberists and performing with The Decemberists.”
The sudden news that accordian player and keyboardist Jenny Conlee had been diagnosed with breast cancer early last month has, no doubt, contributed to the band having to adjust their plans. While the band will play as scheduled without Conlee for most or the rest of their tour, which include a return to Stubb’s in Austin on August 8, they have no plans to hit the road this fall.
Instead, Meloy will be promoting the young adult novel “Wildwood,” which he wrote in collaboration with his wife, artist Carson Ellis. He also plans to spend more time at home with his family and work on other creative projects. Several of the band’s other members, including Conlee, guitarist Chris Funk, and bassist Nate Query will continue to write new material with their bluegrass project Black Prarie during the time off.
These breakup rumors never seemed entirely believable for several reasons. First, the band is still only a few months removed from debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 with The King Is Dead. It is very hard to think that the group, or any band for that matter, would fold at the height of their popularity. Secondly, there have been no tensions between band members, or any other external forces besides Conlee’s cancer, that would warrant a breakup. The Decemberists are easily one of the most tight knit groups out there, largely keeping the same roster for the 10 plus years they’ve been together. Additionally, the band sounded in top form when they played Stubb’s at the end of April, so any sort of speculation that the band had lost their vitality was out of the question.
In the end, though, it’s good to know that the band will get some much needed rest after what has been a whirlwind year. The King Is Dead was another great outing for them, and it gained them an even larger following than many of their longtime fans could have ever hoped for. Besides, the band has taken long breaks between albums before, so I think it’s safe to say that most will be willing to wait until they announce a follow up.