INTERVIEW

“ The K West hotel looks like a sleazy 1980s Travelodge from its busy roadside. But as we find Kasabian propping up the lobby bar on our arrival, it soon becomes clear that this concrete block tucked behind Shepherds Bush Green is the current five-star choice for bands to grace when in town. Seattle’s Death […]

The K West hotel looks like a sleazy 1980s Travelodge from its busy roadside. But as we find Kasabian propping up the lobby bar on our arrival, it soon becomes clear that this concrete block tucked behind Shepherds Bush Green is the current five-star choice for bands to grace when in town.

Seattle’s Death Cab For Cutie aren’t sticking around for long though. Last night they kipped in Amsterdam, tomorrow night they’ll be in Oxford for the final date of their European tour and then it’s back to the States for a co-headline tour with Franz Ferdinand. “That’s going to be really fun,” says the band’s founder and front man, Ben Gibbard. “They always bring a really big production to their live shows, which we’re also bringing on this tour for the very first time. It will be like something we’ve never seen by leaps and bounds.”

As we found out at the band’s Astoria gig last week, changes to their production size are in no way needed. With five albums worth of emotional indie pop (quintessentially American in its imagery) to sift through and present, the ‘less is more’ approach seems to be perfect for Death Cab. But once you’ve toured for nine years, mixing it up a little for yourselves is surely the difference between keeping hold of your sanity and letting it go.

In the beginning, Death Cab For Cutie (who pinched their name from a Bonzo Dog Band song title) was a one-man show with Gibbard recording the band’s debut album alone – the cassette only release of ‘You Can Play These Songs With Chords’. Since recruiting guitarist Chris Walla, bassist Nick Harmer and drummer Jason McGerr, the band have conquered America’s indie world. Their music has become a staple diet on hit TV show, The O.C. and this year’s Grammys saw their first major label release, ‘Plans’, nominated in the Best Alternative Album category. The secret to the success as McGerr hints is due to not resenting, but embracing both touring and being in the studio. “Whether we’re in the studio or doing it live, that’s what we fully dive into.” And Walla whole-heartedly agrees. “They totally need one another as well,” say the softly spoken right-hand-man of Gibbard.

Fans of Brit Pop – and Gene in particular – perhaps it’s not so surprising that Death Cab managed to emerge from Seattle without the city’s grunge DNA seeping into them. Certainly if you had to put money on it, you’d guess at the band being Californians, for all their sun-kissed melodies. Or maybe that’s The O.C.’s external influence? Either way, listening to Death Cab makes you want to be in a better place.

Of their mushrooming UK fan-base, the band couldn’t be more pleased or complimentary. “The audiences here are great,” beams Walla. “It seems like you guys are tuned into rock’n’roll in a way that audiences in the States aren’t. The shows feel like more of an event, it feels like a particle accelerator here. The scene feels like its revving and shaking all the time.”

“Here there seems to be a culture of, ‘Oh, I’ve heard of that band, I’m going to go and see them’,” elaborate Gibbard, before the band head out of town to Oxford. “It’s not that you’re going there with three other people, there are two thousand people going there. It’s nice. I’d like more of that in the States.”

« Previous Interview
Next Interview »