Machinists! Sound off in the comments on what you’d like to see in the next year of the Machine Shop. I’ll still be doing covers and sharing demos, annotating songs and penning the occasional diary — but are there things you feel like I should be doing that I’m not? Songs you’d like taught? Secrets you’d like shared? Let me know down below!
Demos are great! But isolated instrument tracks to hear how the songs came together from the whole band through the recording process. The "Once In My Life" Song Exploder episode was awesome to hear the song come together!
On Instagram some time ago you went live with tapes you had lying around and didn’t know what was on them. While ultimately the most interesting was an interview with you and Janeane Garofalo, the whole bit reminded me of Found Magazine, and how some random bit of paper or an old tape can bring back memories. I think it’d would be interesting to see what random crap you’ve kept - whether physical or digital - over the years.
I’m also a subscriber to Jeff Tweedy’s “Starship Casual” and he has a reoccurring feature called “Gear Talk”, which, as the name implies, talks about particular guitars in his collection. It might be cool to learn about instruments you own or amps or pedals - how/when you got them, songs you used them on, etc
Bring in your bandmates and let us annoy them with questions
Muppet themed music videos
all of this is great, I have really enjoyed the machine shop as its been trucking along.
If I had to ask for more like a greedy little gremlin I would say I enjoy when you rec books and music recs and when you do covers so why not take it farther. What other art rattles your noggin? See a cool painting or try a banging recipe? maybe let us know. Or even try new art, get weird and draw something or try to crochet and keep it just between us nerds.
The guitar tutorials are great - would appreciate Oceanside or The Engine Driver if looking for specific song requests :)
If you're continuing to work on the new album this year, it could be interesting to see one song picked out to see how it evolves through the process, going from demo, to the daily tweaks you make in studio with the band to the final mixed product. I wouldn't recommend it for the full album, but for one song it can give everyone a bit of an insight into how things evolve in the studio and even involve some feedback from the community.
Another fun project/series would be to have a series of songs inspired by the Wildwood book series as the movie gets closer to launch. Since you released the vinyl last year for The Stars Did Wander Darlking I wondered what a similar treatment could look like for the Wildwood universe.
I would love to see the machine shop subscribers contributing to the upcoming album, either by taking a poll on what merch or designs to use, a contest to name a song by reading a plot and the band chooses their favorite suggestion in the comments, putting all our names in the sleeve of the vinyl, etc.
My favorite part of the machine shop so far has been the tour diary and the recording diary (so far).
I loved the studio diaries, so any insights and sneak peeks into the process of creating new songs / the next album would be super fun. Also super interested in the process of marketing an album - how you all come up with a concept, the artwork, etc.
Tell stories about past shows that went amazing and poorly. Was there a factor that played into it?
Reading Room Book Club - decide on a book beforehand, read within an agreed timeframe (say 3 weeks, 4 weeks), then some discussion in the forum
I don't know if this is too "big ticket" an item to give away, but are there any concert recordings kicking around in the archives?
I have some trouble following the pace of the song tutorials, especially with less common chords. It would be great if you were willing to do some chord annotation with those.
I would love to see more ephemera. Old flyers, set lists, album artwork, paste-ups, and the like.
I would love to hear about how your creative process differs depending on the medium you're working on. Also: work, life, parenting balance - how to even engage in a creative life when there's so much to do!
There is SO much to still learn. How often do you get a haircut? Do you occasionally wear mismatched socks? Do you ever read pure trash? How often do you change guitar strings? Do you change electric strings more or less frequently than acoustic? Favorite pasta noodle? How about pickle ball-have you given that a go yet? I mean, after the tennis video...We are privileged to have this sort of access to you and your creativity. You are truly a renaissance person.
I love the annotated songs because I am always trying to figure out what meanings are behind the lyrics. Also a huge fan of your tour diaries and hearing about your life on the farm. But honestly, I’m happy with everything you put here, because this is such a great concept, and I love it that you want to connect more personally with your fans.
Behind the scenes stuff on the new album. Process steps and other mechanical stuff would be fascinating to get a glimpse of. I realize you wouldn't want to spoil new songs or an album, but perhaps there's things that could be safely shared.
And more animal pictures!
Take up a new hobby. Maybe have your wife teach you to draw/paint. Learn a new instrument.
more pix of your handsome cat <3 :)
In addition to the demos, which are fantastic, it would be fun to hear
alternate takes or mixes of songs, unless of course some expanded editions of albums are in the works (Terrible World/Beautiful World, I'm looking at you...). Any interesting outtakes or cutting room floor material from Pendarvia? Cool and memorable places you found while on tour, e.g., record and book stores, cafes, etc. Good places for photography and hiking in Southwest Oregon (my wife is spending a few weeks there end of April, early May)... And just more of what you've been doing this past year. It really has been amazing!
Something about lyric writing. Music is not a problem, writing lyrics is a gyp.
I'd be interested to know how you go/went about deciding which cities (and even venues) to play when on tour. Living in Alaska for the past few years has made me nostalgic for concerts (not exactly on the tour bus route here).
The How to Play videos are my favorite. Make You Better defined part of last year for me. I'd love to see Red Right Ankle.
How to play A Record Year for Rainfall......please!
Intentional Listening is my favorite. I’m a music fan but in no way a musician, so tutorials don’t really mean anything to me. But getting to listen to a song the way you listen, and it’s your favorite songs and often not anything I’ve heard before, that’s a real treat. And also probably the most work of anything for you.
Many of us have or work with kids. How about a post or a cover that your youngest fans would be tickled to see and hear? (You have a couple of experts you could consult with at home possibly.)
I'm always fascinated by the songwriting process. Maybe there isn't even really such a thing, every song has unique origins? Or, when you've written a song, how can you ever be confident that you didn't just plagiarize something you heard once 11 years ago so you have no conscious memory of it? Do you decide you're going to write a song, and you just sit down and do it? Or do they come to you, unforced, unplanned?
I would love a few guitar tutorials on whichever songs you’d enjoy teaching.
And more cat content.
A tour that includes a stop at the Pines Theater at Look Park in Northampton, MA. 😬Lovely venue in a lovely city in a lovely river valley. I personally volunteer to be local tour guide.
I realize that’s just me being selfish but I know you’ve played Northampton before (in fact, I saw you solo there as well after the Moz ep).
Anyway...there are loads of good suggestions already so surely I don’t need to add anything. Hope all is well with everybody in the community✌️❤️
It’s always fun to hear about life on the farm, how are the chickens? And llama(s), or life in Astoria. Enjoy all. !
Would love to hear more history about Ds, Tarkio, etc
I would love to see The Decemberists working on a song!
Let us fund a release that will mainly be available to the members of the Machine Shop.
It might be a bit pricey, but a vinyl record with songs that can be included and do not cause problems with any record label (demos, covers, live recording of a streamed concert etc, a chatGPT album, renditions of older Colin Meloy related songs etc).
PS: Thank you for maintaining the Machine Shop and planning to keep it running.
Just saw a tiktok talking about how you ended up “fighting” with Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report persona, would love backstories on things like that or what it’s like when your songs are on shows or times you really enjoyed the use of your music.
I feel like you could get Lin-Manuel Miranda in here somehow, that would be fun and I feel like he would be tickled to discuss The Crane Wife
I really enjoy the variety. I will say I absolutely loved the mindful listening of Kanga Roo by Big Star and would appreciate more guided listening like that
Music theory of some of your more tricky songs; keep the how-to-plays coming.
Two words: Cat Videos
Chiming in again to remind you of the need for a cover of Margaritaville re: the 2 seconds of similarity in January Hymn.
I'd love more annotated songs!! Also, maybe some favorite album/musician discussions. Love hearing you talk about music
I really love hearing talented artists speak on other talented artists who Inspire them. Some favorite shows or moments with any other wonderful bands on tour etc are always fun.
U r very generous with this stuff already, so please take the request in the spirit - more tutorials! Too many candidates to mention….so always welcome writer’s choice!
I don’t know whether recordings including the other band members are tricky rights wise, but if it’s doable, an occasional series where you post a live track and ruminate on what that show was like would be a lot of fun.
For song demos and annotations, I'd love to hear more about Traveling On and Foregone.
As for song tutorials (a personal favourite of the machine shop), my wish list features Rox in the Box, Raincoat Song, and Record Year for Rainfall!
Thanks for all the hard work, this is all a good Decemberists fan can ever hope for.
You asked us a few weeks ago what we would like to hear in "Colin Meloy sings other people's songs..." and I think about this all the time. When I am listening to a song, I wonder what it would sound like if you sang it. I've made a collection from all over the place, here are a few for you to consider...
I Can Change - LCD Soundsystem
July, July, July, July - Billy Paul (It's in a playlist right next to "July, July!")
Zombie - The Cranberries
Just Breathe - Pearl Jam
Perfect Day - Lou Reed
Night Shift - Lucy Dacus
Cigarette Daydreams - Cage the Elephant
Ruby - Kaiser Chiefs
How about a monthly books bought vs books read... sort of like what Nick Hornby was doing?
Perhaps not a secret, though never have I seen this burning question addressed. I longed to ask it in a VIP Q&A before a show and I did ask it in a thread within the Machine Shop, but alas, my question wasn't selected in the Q&A nor on the "ask me ask me" thread. So without further ado: Why do the topics of water and drowning feature so often across your body of work? I suspect there's a story there and I'd love to know more!
I love book talk and what you made for dinner
Bring us along on the musical theatre development joyride!
How did you end up working with Tucker Martine, and what was the creative and technical process like from your vantage point recording music with him?