Colin Meloy Epitomizes Portland’s Eccentric Spirit

The Decemberists frontman remains influential as both a musician and a writer of children’s books.

Colin Meloy (Courtesy of Colin Meloy)

Age: 48

Occupation: Lead singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of the Decemberists; author of children’s books

Why He Matters: The Decemberists are one of the most striking rock bands of the new millennium, with dense, literary lyrics that reflect both frontman Colin Meloy’s interest in history and folklore and his sideline in writing children’s books such as Wildwood, which made the New York Times bestseller list in 2011. (It’s being adapted as an animated feature by Laika, with a voice cast that includes Carey Mulligan, Awkwafina and two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali).

Arcane but accessible, head-spinningly proggy yet packed with hooks, the music Meloy and the Decemberists have made across nine albums and two decades epitomizes Portland’s eccentric spirit.

Biggest Influence: “My wife, Carson, who is an illustrator and artist, has been a pretty powerful influence on my work since we’ve known each other.”

Greatest Personal Achievement: “I could point to some Grammy nominations or having a No. 1 record, but I think just making a living as an artist, as a musician and a writer, which were my two childhood dreams.”

Favorite Guilty Pleasure: “Video games. They pull me away from my work. I can point to the Dark Souls games as being the things that potentially derailed my career in the last 15 years.”

Best Quote About Him: “The Decemberists came around in at a time when a lot of indie rock was about attitude and cool and not giving a fuck, and the Decemberists really gave a fuck.” —Larry Fitzmaurice, music critic and author of the Last Donut of the Night newsletter

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