To call the Decemberists prolific is an understatement. The group has been steadily putting out their own particular brand of indie pop for over a decade now. And now, following the release of 2015’s “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World,” they’ll also be releasing an EP of leftover songs from the process called “Florasongs,” out Oct. 9.
“We went in to record this record and dint’ have a clear picture of what it would be. So much of our lore and our album-making history became albums that were very focused on themes, just to sort of focus us,” explains Chris Funk, who plays a range of stringed instruments for the group, and was a founding member alongside lead singer Colin Meloy. “I often call it a sort of greatest hits sound of the Decemberists. I can point to every record in our history and say that kind of comes from here, that comes from there, which is refreshing, because it just means we have arrived at a sound.”
Of course, not having a uniting principle meant that a bigger quantity of songs might be considered for the album. “We discussed just putting it all out and giving people what they wanted as a double album,” says Funk. “But we still think of how we market ourselves as albums, even though it’s a singles driven world these days, at times. I think we wanted to rein it into one record, and that being ‘What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World,” as a result, we had to chop away some songs. These are those [songs].”
The result is the five song “Florasongs,” which has a similar broad reach as the album. But don’t go thinking just because they didn’t make the first cut, there’s anything wrong with them. “Often, you get to hear outtakes, and people are like, these are a kind of a peek behind the curtain of the ones that aren’t as good as the album,” says Funk with a laugh. “I think we’re just as proud of these songs.”
Given the huge wave of indie bands that hit it big in the early 2000s, the Decemberists stand out for their longevity, if nothing else. While many of those bands flared out after a few albums, the group has managed to make it last for some pretty simple reasons. “I think we’re good communicators and we’re good friends and we’re good working partners, and it makes for a good recipe to have longevity,” explains Funk.
Funk jokingly calls himself “a folk nerd that happened to join a rock band,” and he’s become a jack of all trades for the group, playing a huge range of instruments. “It’s almost novel for me to play the electric guitar.”
He says his interest in being a multi-instrumentalist is pretty longstanding. “I had a job at a folk music store in Indiana where I grew up. I actually would sit around and play a bunch of instruments all the time. I think that’s where my real interest in stringed instruments and stringed instrument diversity came up.”
And did that mean he was playing more than he was selling things? “I think I was at the time. Fortunately, the shop is still open.”