Death Cab for Cutie
interviewed by R Hunter
Additional Reporting/Photography and Tour Bus Security
by D. Boe and his lovely wife Jen Boe
Death Cab for Cutie is the coolest band ever! If you are into music with a mellow and melodic side but still possessing the ability to bounce around, they are your new favorite band! Also I'd like to apologize for the shitty pictures, but hey man, that's the amateur journalism gig.
Death Cab for Cutie are:
- Ben Gibbard - Vocal/guitar/keyboards
- Jason McGerr - Drums/percussion
- Chris Walla - Guitar/Keyboards
- Nick Harmer - Bass/Toy freak
I sat down with Ben for a rare heart-touching interview. To my dismay
their tour bus was very clean and there was no lunch meat littering the walls.
MPb: What is the worst part of touring?
Ben: Everything that is not playing the rock show. After six years of touring now, the worst part is sitting around all day waiting to play the show. "Hurry up and wait" gets excruciatingly painful.
MPb: You don't dress in Red and White and you are not from Sweden so how do you distinguish yourself in this gimmick-laden market...or do you just not care to?
Ben: The gimmick-laden market ...(reflects thoughtfully)... Maybe you can suggest a gimmick for us? We've been to busy making music to come up with a gimmick.
MPb: Wear those masks from the movie Scream! And then you have kilts...perhaps fluoresce socks...knee high?
Ben: nd we can each have a different color. So people will know...
MPb: For you, what differentiates Transatlanticism from The Photo Album ?
Ben: We made the record in the studio without playing anything live [before hand]. The fact we were able to just have a good time making the record with no boundaries.
MPb: Does Big Brother MTV represent a chance for growth or certain alienation for your core fans?
Ben: At a certain level it becomes a necessity for growth, like it's the nature of the beast. But that's not to say there aren't bands that sell a lot of records that aren't on MTV. Like Wilco for example, sells hundreds of thousands of records and never had a video on MTV.
MPb: Can you confirm or deny your side project with J.Lo?
Ben: It's too early to confirm... Our lawyers haven't squared away ...so off the record, Yeah it's on. But officially-
MPb: Yeah , no no I won't print that. It's off the record. It won't go in the interview.
What is the Seattle music scene like post-grunge?
Ben: It's good. It's kinda gone back to being a small little music scene. Seattle is like a big small town.
MPb: I totally dug that video you guys did with Madonna. Or was that just a dream I was having?
Ben: The Madonna video... we just got a call one day and she was like "What's up! I heard the new record...the jams are just fucking there!" And so she was like "Let's get together and do some stuff". You've seen the video so you know that it was kinda intimidating at first.
MPb: You did have the shy, deer in the headlights look.
Ben: You know when we were in the KY-Jelly tub and it was the whole wrestle scene, I was a little nervous at first...but she made me feel really comfortable. We had fun with it. She was like "You know there are a lot of cameras around but this is just between you and me"...and we kinda shared some moments. It was nice.
MPb: I think that comes through in the video.
MPb: If you were the Fantastic Four who would each of you be?
Ben: Who's in the Fantastic Four? [Ed note: BLASPHEMEY!]
MPb: The Thing (he's the rock-like creature), Mr. Fantastic (he stretches), The Human Torch, and the Invisible Woman.
Ben: I think Nick would be [the Thing], he's stocky-like, strong and focused... bass player. I think Chris Walla would be stretch....er....Mister Fantastic cause he can be in multiple places at different times [ED note: Not Nightcrawler you dolt!], Human torch.....I think Jason would be the Human Torch...
MPb: Cause he's a flamer...is that what you are saying?
Ben: He's totally a flamer! ..Ha Ha....No cause he's a fiery drummer! ...And I guess I am the invisible woman just by default.
MPb: If you could push one song on the new album to our audience, what song would you choose?
Ben: I think "Title and Registration." It's short enough to hold someone's attention. It's quirky enough in the arrangements but still pretty straight forward.
MPb: Can you confirm the rumors of your plans to collaborate with popcorn and soda for a viewing of Kill Bill vol. 2?
Ben: Hmm...Hmmm...I haven't seen Kill Bill 1. I've been on tour the whole time...[there is] sort of a cultural void on this [tour].
MPb: What was it like working with P. Diddy?
Ben: It was amazing! He threw out a lot of really good ideas! I really felt like it was a collaboration, even though he took 90 percent of the publishing.
MPb: Do you make groupies wrestle each other?
Ben: No I think we'd have to have groupies to be able to make them wrestle each other. We are pretty tame guys. We all have ladies back home and we'd like to keep those ladies.
MPb: Well it's less cab-fare to divvy out in the morning. Which one of you has the crack addiction?
Ben: Luckily, Chris, as you saw on the way in, is eating some food...he's getting it under control. There was a time when he got really thin...He'd show up to practice with no amp! Just a pile of crack... You can not plug into that, that will not amplify the guitar. He's weaning off it now...but once an addict always an addict.
MPb: When can we expect the Death Cab action figures?
Ben: We will try to get them together for Christmas next year. Maybe you'll get a free CD with purchase (joke).
MPb: Who was your favorite character in GI Joe?
Ben: I'll go with like, Cobra Commander. The whole idea of someone who just knows they are pure evil. [It appeals to me,] the idea of being like "We are going to go out and stop the sun from shining. .... Why?.... Just to do it!"
At this point we move forward into the front of the tour bus to confront the residential toy freak of Death Cab for Cutie, Nick Harmer
MPb: So I hear you love Lord of the Rings figures?
Nick: I love Lord of the Rings by Play Along [Ed note: No lie he really said this]. The Battle of Helms Deep is a great playset! I collect all kinds of crazy toys.
MPb: What have you bought recently?
Nick: I found the great Hasbro re-issues for Transformers. I got the Soundwave in Japan. The Hasbro ones that are released domestically are not as great, but still cool.
MPb: What else?
Nick: Most of my collection is the Playmates' Simpsons, then I do a lot of the McFarlane toys....Not the Spawn stuff but their other stuff like Akira. I like the new Marvel Legends line, that stuff is great. I am [looking forward] to the DC block figures [Art Asylum's mini mates].
MPb: How do you explain this fascination?
Nick: The toys I end up buying are sort of representations of all the pop culture things that influence me. It's also stuff I had growing up and now I am re-buying my old toys.
MPb: So you keep it Mint On Card or tear it open? [Ed note: At this point Ben is totally lost]
Nick: I am definitely an un-wrapper. It's totally fascist to leave your toys in prison.
MPb: One last question: Millionaire or Playboy?
Ben: It's one in the same!
Death Cab for Cutie put on one hell of a rocking show! It was totally killer. Don't be fooled by the relaxing waves you get from listening to them at home (that also might be the mickie I slipped you *wink* *wink* ) these guys put a lot of energy into it and move around as much as state law allows. A big thanks goes out to DCFC, Mark, Sheila and that weird sweaty girl who was definitely on Ecstasy. (see if you can guess which one)
More info about Death Cab for Cutie is available from their label Barsuk Records
Check out their albums on Amazon.com:
Images and article © 2003 MillionairePlayboy.com