To celebrate the 10-year reissue of Death Cab for Cutie’s debut record, Something About Airplanes, frontman Ben Gibbard opens up to Rock Daily about revisiting the 10-track set (and the bonus live album from Seattle in 1998), Barack Obama’s Presidential victory and why the next record from his much-adored electro-pop side-project the Postal Service might be the next Chinese Democracy.
How was the experience of revisiting this album for you and the band?
Well, from time to time, I’d put on these songs to reference something, a lyric or how I delivered a line. Because the further you travel away from the recording of the song, it will change drastically live. They become their own entity over the years and stray away from the original recording. For me, though, the thing that was the most pleasantly surprising was just hearing the live show [from Seattle’s Crocodile Café in 1998]. When Chris [Walla, Death Cab’s guitarist and producer] unearthed that, he was talking it up, saying, ‘Oh man, it sounds really good. We sounded really good back then.’ At first, I thought he was just being the cheerleader here. I couldn’t imagine us sounding as good as we did 10 years ago. Not to toot our own horn, but if you put that thing on, we actually sound pretty good.
Which tracks from the record have held up particularly well over the years?
I still really like “Your Bruise.” It’s the archetypal kind of Death Cab song, with arpeggiated guitars and the kind of boxy, broken-up drums. And “Pictures In An Exhibition” is kind of a pop song. It’s the most accessible on the record. I’m not saying it’s “There She Goes” by the La’s or anything, but it’s just a pop song in its very, most basic structural sense.
Do any of the tracks from the album make you cringe?
My singing voice has changed a bit over the last 10 years. When I first started singing in high-school bands, my voice was kind of nasal-y and twangy. There’s some remnants of that on the record. I’m not so much embarrassed by it but it’s certainly cringe-worthy.
Death Cab have been ardent supporters of Barack Obama. How do you feel about his victory?
Oh man, I’m over the moon with it. My girlfriend and I watched the returns and the acceptance speech at her parents’ house and I was just kind of a wreck, bursting into tears at random points and just overwhelmed with the significance of it all. It was incredibly cathartic.
Any updates with your side-project the Postal Service? Are there plans to follow-up your 2003 debut Give Up?
No update. It’s the record that never seems to want to come out. It’s also just never been a priority for either Jimmy [Tamborello, Postal Service co-founder] or myself. The anticipation of the second record has been a far bigger deal for everybody except the two of us.
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It’s the new Chinese Democracy.
Right. I don’t know about it being the indie-rock Chinese Democracy but now that Chinese Democracy has come out, I guess it just becomes the second Postal Service record that will never come out. There never really was a plan to do a second album. We work from time to time together but we have other things that take up all of our time.
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