When Colin Meloy moved from Montana to Portland in 2000, the seeds of the Decemberists began to sprout. There, he met Nate Query and Jenny Conlee, then Chris Funk. The group played a hotel gig to earn the money to record a five-song demo turned EP which was self-released in 2001 as 5 Songs.
The band's first full-fledged record was Castaways and Cutouts via Hush Records before a move over to Kill Rock Stars. Castaways was re-released in 2002 and followed by Her Majesty the Decemberists in 2003 and Picaresque in 2004.
In early 2005, the Decemberists used bit torrent to release a video for “16 Military Wives” and later that year made the leap to Capitol Records. The next year, the group headed into the studio with producers Chris Walla and Tucker Martine from Death Cab for Cutie. They emerged with The Crane Wife which saw daylight in October of 2006.
Having the clout of a major label behind them, the Decemberists appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien to launch the release. They then kicked off The Rout of the Patagons Tour in their hometown of Portland. A mock feud with Stephen Colbert surely helped bring the band to a wider audience. The Crane Wife was voted album of the year for 2006 by NPR listeners.
After spending much of 2007 and 2008 on the road, the Decemberists used the fall of 2008 to fill out their Always the Bridesmaid set issuing one single per month. They also spent a good bit of time and energy supporting the candidacy of Barack Obama in the presidential election.
Then, in 2009, came The Hazards of Love. The collection is something of a concept album featuring appearances by Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden contributing two female vocal leads. Also in the liner notes are My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Robyn Hitchcock, and The Spinanes’ Rebecca Gates.
Supporting the release, the Decemberists set out on their A Short Fazed Hovel Tour which ended at that year's Bonnaroo Festival.
Spending the better part of 2010 in the studio, the band did step out to play Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival opening for Neko Case and Bob Dylan. The King Is Dead, the album resulting from their time spent recording, was set for a January, 2011 street date and featured R.E.M.'s Peter Buck on three tracks.