The Decemberists perform in The Current studio

The Decemberists perform "Make You Better" live in The Current studio. (MPR)
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The Decemberists perform in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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  • The Decemberists perform in The Current studio (full session + interview) 26:23
  • The Decemberists - Make You Better (live on 89.3 The Current) 04:59
  • The Decemberists - Wrong Year (live on 89.3 The Current) 03:40
  • The Decemberists - Carolina Low (live on 89.3 The Current) 03:40

The Decemberists have done a Theft of the Dial, and they headlined at Rock the Garden 2009. But they'd never done a proper in-studio session at The Current until this week. Jill Riley welcomes the Portland, Ore., indie rockers into the studio for a live session and interview.

This year, the Decemberists released their seventh studio album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. It had been four years since the band's previous release The King is Dead, which isn't a terribly long time, but front man Colin Meloy regrets calling the gap a hiatus. "That was not a good idea," he says. "Don't ever say the H word."

The gap did allow Meloy to take a more relaxed approach to songwriting. "It took me back to the days when I had a day job and writing songs was just a pastime," he says. "We were easing back into it without a deadline or label expectation. It was just for the love of it."

In the meantime, Jenny Conlee battled breast cancer and has come out the other end with a bright prognosis. The experience also gave her a renewed outlook on aging. A nurse told her, "Getting old is good, the other option is just not as good," Conlee relates. "So I keep that in my heart."

The Decemberists are joined on tour by Chicago artists Kelly Hogan and Nora O'Connor, who also join the band in the studio.

Listen to the complete session by clicking the audio player above.

Songs Performed


"Make You Better"
"Wrong Year"
"Carolina Low"
All songs off the Decemberists' latest album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, out now on Capitol Records.

Hosted by Jill Riley
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark and Henry Ingber
Web feature by Luke Taylor

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9 Photos

  • The Decemberists perform in The Current studio 2
    The Decemberists perform in The Current's studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • The Decemberists in The Current studio
    The Decemberists perform in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Chris Funk of The Decemberists
    Chris Funk of The Decemberists in The Current's studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Kelly Hogan and Nora O'Connor with The Decemberist
    Kelly Hogan (L) and Nora O'Connor are touring with The Decemberists and joined the session in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Colin Meloy of the Decemberists singing
    Colin Meloy of The Decemberists performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists
    Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Nora O'Connor is touring with the Decemberists
    Chicago singer Nora O'Connor is touring with the Decemberists right now; she joins the band -- including bassist Nate Query, background -- in The Current's studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Colin Meloy of the Decemberists performs
    Colin Meloy of the Decemberists performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Colin Meloy's guitar
    Colin Meloy of the Decemberists strums his guitar in The Current's studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)

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