Growing success and zealous fans are changing the way Decemberists visionary Colin Meloy plans on approaching the group's next studio project, the follow-up to its recently released and critically acc

Growing success and zealous fans are changing the way Decemberists visionary Colin Meloy plans on approaching the group's next studio project, the follow-up to its recently released and critically acclaimed Kill Rock Stars album "Picaresque."

That set reached No. 5 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart and No. 9 on the Top Independent Albums tally. It has sold 64,000 copies in the United States since its late March release, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"By the time 'Picaresque' came out, 75% of the record could be put together with the bootlegs," Meloy tells Billboard.com. "Up to this point, our [modus operandi] has been to always be working new songs into the set but I think now that we have a much bigger audience recording and trading shows, what we want to try to do is keep those new songs a little bit more veiled this time so they are new and exciting for everyone when the record comes out."

Creatively titled The Flight of the Mistle Thrushes tour, the Decemberists' second American touring leg begins Sept. 11 in San Francisco. The Portland, Ore.-based band plans on entering the studio in early 2006 to record the new album, which it hopes will be out by late summer.

As far as material is concerned, Meloy has a half-dozen songs written with "a bunch more unfinished." One completed track is "Valencia," which has been getting set time during the frontman's occasional solo acoustic shows, including a date this past weekend in Cape Cod, Mass..

While it's much too early to talk stylistic direction for what will be the Decemberists' fourth studio album, Meloy offers fans a little creative insight. "It's still in such a gestation process," he says. "I keep going back and forth. There have been moments where I want to make a metal record and then other times, I just want to make a straight folk record. And I imagine it might be somewhere in between the two."

In the meantime, the group is finishing its first DVD, which is currently without a street date. Directed by Aaron Stewart, who helmed the Decemberists' "16 Military Wives" video, the upcoming project is slated to feature the obligatory behind-the-scenes band footage and concert material. Also in the mix are all of its videos to date, including unreleased clips for "The Bachelor and the Bride" and the 18-minute long EP title track "The Tain, Pts. 1-5."

"You don't want to just rush," Meloy says. "It is kind of the thing these days to put out the DVD and the temptation to just put out whatever is pretty great but we want to make it as good as possible. We really want to put out something that fans will really, really love."

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