What are you looking at right now?
I am looking out the window at my next door neighbors' yard. It's funny, because as soon as all the leaves were shed from the trees we could get a straight shot into their backyard. It looks like it's from 1920s Okies. They got this really old, beat up rusty Ford in this tin shack-shed, and the entire yard is covered with debris and fallen trees, and ivy has taken over everything. It's really wild.
What can you tell us about your new EP The Tain?
It's an 18-minute long song based very loosely on the Irish mythology cycle called the Tain, based on The Cattle Raid of Cooley.
From your songs to the very name of the band, you express a very strong interest in history.
It's nothing really studied. It's mostly just literary figures rather than any actual historical fact. I am sure I am wrong in several cases.
If you could be born in any era of history, what would it be?
It's hard, because I think we live now in one of the easiest, most carefree eras in history, as far as I know. So it's always sentimental longing to be born in any other historical setting. If you just wished to be in any sort of time, more than likely, the chances are you would be poor and diseased and have a very unfortunate lot in life. So I am pretty happy where I am right now. But I pretty fondly, sentimentally romanticize past eras. Really, I would say Edwardian England, maybe between Victorian and Edwardian England. That's my geeky fascination ... Oh my god! My next door neighbor just came out. He's wearing dirty, orange overalls and [is holding] an axe while spitting on the ground. What was the question?
You answered it. He has an axe? Does he normally wield an axe?
I have never seen him before. He's sort of a scrawny, bearded black man in really dirty, orange overalls.
How has growing up in Montana informed your songwriting?
I don't know. I haven't not had a childhood in Montana, so I have nothing to compare it to. I only have my childhood, which was spent in Montana. That may or may not have contributed to my needing to get lost in my imagination. I read a lot and spent a lot of time outdoors sort of trying to entertain myself and writing stories.
There definitely is an imaginative scope you wouldn't get from artists who were doing lines of cocaine on the streets of Manhattan at the age of eight.
Yeah, I could only imagine what doing coke was like. Definitely not gonna come by an eight year old in Montana.
Are you really tired of being compared to Jeff Mangum [of Neutral Milk Hotel]?
I think it's lazy journalism. No offense. Whatever. People need some flag to tell them what to think and expect. Whatever.
What are your plans for the rest of the weekend?
Try to enjoy as many comforts at home before I spend the next 30 days in a large red van with six other people.
What kind of comforts?
Sleeping in, hanging out with my cat, watching movies, drinking wine, painkillers. Things like that.
What's the name of your cat, and what's your favorite painkiller?
Albert, and I'd rather not talk about my favorite painkiller.
Catch The Decemberists and Clearlake at The Khyber (56 South 2nd Street) on Wed, March 24 at 9 p.m. $10. 21+.