It should be a worry when your interviewees get distracted half way through your conversation, but as tonight was 5th November and there were fireworks going off all over London I didn't mind when Arbouretum's Corey Allender (bass) and Brian Carey (drums) were thrown by the Hackney Downs display, which was just about visible out of the pub's window. The Baltimore band have been having fun on this short English tour, with scenic places like Bath, Bristol and Brighton on their itinerary as well as a date with Damo Suzuki in Oxford. This is the only night off on the tour, and they are spending it in a Stoke Newington pub doing a string of interviews.

"We are doing a little tour, we did the first one in Winchester last night, a very nice, very English place, we had a great time," says Dave Heumann, the man whose guitar playing and singing has defined Arbouretum from the beginning. Brian adds, "we just missed the Knights of the Round Table in Winchester but a friend got photos of it."

It is easy to imagine Arbouretum existing in a different time. Their music has roots in folk, country and classic progressive rock, yet they have managed to fuse these elements and still draw in a wide audience. They have been lauded by the likes of Mojo magazine yet they also receive acclaim from people who wouldn't typically be into folk-influenced pieces complete with long melody lines and epic guitar parts. Strangely for a band steeped in both Americana and the US alt-rock underground, the name Arbouretum seems to mean more in the UK than it does in the States, and despite this being their second visit of 2012, they are already planning to tour here again in the new year.

"The touring situation in the States is not as much of a self-sustaining thing for us as it can be," explains Dave, "we all have other things going on to stay afloat," as Corey smiles at the fact that the longest drive on this tour is from London to Manchester, "and Bristol to Bath is only ten miles, that just wouldn't happen in the States."

"We will be back in the UK in the Spring when the new album Coming Out of the Fog is actually released, so this is more of a pre-release jaunt in connection with the Thrill Jockey 20th anniversary show at the Lexington in London (alongside label mates Alexander Tucker, Radian and Kandodo) which we are honoured to do," says Dave. "We've been with that label since theRites of Recovery album in 2007, and that was the also the first time we were able to tour the UK, we still play some of those songs in the set too." No-one around the table knew it at the time, but the Thrill Jockey show would also feature a live collaboration between Arbouretum and the Malian musician Sidi Toure, fresh off the plane from west Africa for his very first UK appearance.

So what about the history of Arbouretum. There isn't a lot of information online, including a very bare wikipedia page, but I did read one biographical piece that linked them with Bonnie Prince Billy and the early days of Cass McCombs, amongst others.

Dave sighs, "I did play with Will Oldham, but it was, like, eleven years ago. All this time later something like the Bonnie Prince Billy connection gets stuck in the biography and you can never shake it. It was a very valuable experience, it was an amazing time and I have a huge amount of respect for that guy and very fond memories of playing in his band and it was a huge help in understanding how all this stuff worked, but it was very long ago. The first ever Arbouretum show was on December 25th, 2002, so in name only this band has existed for nearly ten years."

Brian wades in to clarify the Cass story: "We are all from Maryland and Will Oldham, Cass McCombs all lived in Baltimore for a while and musicians interact and play together so that's the connection there."

As I mentioned, their fifth full length album and their third release with this line-up, Coming out of the Fog, is all ready to go and has been given a January 2013 release date. I've heard it and although it is unmistakably Arbouretum, it has a sharper focus and the songs are shorter. The melody lines and the solos are what we have come to expect, but there are softer introspective moments as well. So what has changed from their point of view?

Keyboard player Matthew Pierce explains: "This time the studio that we used for one, gave it some depth and dimension that maybe some of our other records didn't have, just as far as the fidelity, it still has the deep heavy Arbouretum band sound but maybe more… depth this time around."

Dave picks up the story. "It was produced by Steve Wright at Wrightway studios, and our friend (and multi-instrumentalist) Walker David Teret did more of the 'coach' like aspects of the production, although to be honest Steve did a fair amount of that too. Walker had a unique perspective on it from having previously been in the band. I thought it would be a valuable experience having him involved as sort of a bridge between Steve and the band, and we knew Steve was a very talented engineer but we hadn't worked with him before, so Walker bridged that familiarity gap, and both of them did a great job. As for other stuff, yes, the songs are a little shorter, we kind of set out to make a record where there weren't any throwaway songs, not that we really do throwaway songs, but this time we wanted to make them all very direct, and have a bunch of songs that were kind of equally powerful but had different aspects of the range of types of Arbouretum songs. We didn't spend a whole lot of time on any of them in the sense of actual 'playing' time, I think they are all under seven minutes, if you compare that to The Gathering which had an eleven minute and a nine minute song, this is a little different, it's not because we were consciously trying to make it that way for radio or anything, but I think we had just said to ourselves, almost as an experiment, let's try to make songs that aren't quite as long."

Does that mean that the writing process was different this time? How do you work out new songs

"Sometimes Dave comes in with stuff he has done at home…," says Brian, before letting Dave continue, "but then it's never a complete thing, it's like "hey I've got this little melody which we can mess around with, or let's make this part twice as long" and then we work on the arrangements together. The melody is just a little piece but it is a piece that contains a framework for everything and then we just collaborate on the nuts and bolts of stuff, and there are some that just happen, we have an instrumental track on there that came out of nowhere, we were jamming and came upon this riff... we actually finished recording Coming out of the Fog in July, and in a way it's good to have it finished so far ahead of release, as we are able to do this tour."

Previous album The Gathering was inspired by the Red Book by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, which contained some of Jung's most personal work and developed ideas such as active imagination and collective unconscious. The context of "losing one's way and finding it again" is something that completely fits the songs on The Gathering. Is there any underlying literary influence or concept behind Coming out of the Fog then? A lot of the songs suggest endurance, struggle and survival.

As Dave is the main lyricist he takes this answer. "There really isn't anything directly," he thinks for a second. "well there is this one song 'Renouncer' that is influenced by a book I read called The Afterlives of the Saints by Colin Dickey (which details a lot of specific saint stories including the one where Simeon Stylites goes up a pole to pray and stays there for 37 years) but other than that there wasn't any literary or philosophical direction driving the process of the record. This record is really about making the songs a little bit more direct, less heady, more based on life experience. A lot of times in the songs, when I use first person narrative, that's a character, in fact it's about imagining yourself in a certain situation and then writing a song about it."

Brian picks up, "Music-wise, we were just coming off a tour and we only had two months, if that, to write and record this album. I think we originally had a month but we had to ask the label for a few more weeks to finish it. We had just come off the road so maybe some of the more upbeat stuff is a result of us coming straight from that. I think this album goes from one bookend to the other, it's quite diverse."

As well as that I imagine you had to fit it around Aureola, your collaboration with Hush Arbors, which came out in April this year. It's a curious coincidence of two bands both having variations of the word "Arbour" in their name, although both spell it incorrectly –it should be Arboretum and Arbours according to the Oxford English Dictionary. I decide not to play the pedant and I just let them talk about the collaboration.

"It came about kinda quickly didn't it? Dave remembers. "We recorded it in late February and it came out in April, it was a very fast process, the artwork even came together quickly." Brian continues, "Well, we already knew Keith Wood (from Hush Arbors), but really why it came about was that we were going on a European tour together and we wanted something to be out there, and those songs were written pretty quickly, and we recorded it in two days," says Brian.

So are they tempted to collaborate with anyone else?

"We've now done two split LPs which is more than the average band! They both came about for different reasons so we've no plans to do any more at the moment, no-one is knocking at the door right now," says Dave.

The band come across as a affable bunch and we spend the rest of the conversation discussing what current music they like (Future Islands, Om, the new Neil Young album and the obscure English psych band Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats all get mentioned) and my earlier, slightly foolish twitter-based experiment to try and get some extra quick-fire questions for them. All we learnt from that was that Dave's "super-nasty" guitar playing comes from" just practising a lot and having a good ear" and Corey's impressive beard is his replacement for a "soul patch". I also get Corey interested in doing the Black Sabbath walking tour if they get to Birmingham on the next tour.

It was curious to find Arbouretum in the middle of a tour whilst the new album had not been launched, but one of the great things about this band is that their reputation in the UK has been based on some fantastic gigs. They played a storming set in the Lexington which can only have consolidated their reputation. Hopefully they will take Coming out of the Fogto more of the UK in the new year, and Corey can have a bit of a longer drive on our roads the next time around.