Music Interview: Death Cab For Cutie

By Logan Niehaus

Eloquence, vanity, precision and proficiency are just four words to sum up Atlantic Records’ newest powerhouse, Death Cab for Cutie. Like several other indie-pop bands of late, Death Cab, who are currently co-headlining a tour with Franz Ferdinand, have broken into mainstream acceptance. Dastardly imposing their brash personification of musical talent upon thousands around the world, the boys from Seattle have found ways to stay busy, selling out shows at every stop. Widely acclaimed for their unique, soft and balanced sound, they are making an easy transition into the mainstream.

Touring, like anything for Death Cab, has proven extremely beneficial and rewarding, allowing for opportunities once unimaginable. Although somewhat of an odd pairing, the tour with Franz Ferdinand has been hailed as a perfect balance between energy and emotion.

“They’re an excellent group of guys,” states drummer Jason McGerr. “They’re super sweet, good musicians and a really energetic band. It’s good to have two bands that are at the same level, but doing two really different things. It’s been a real compatible tour. Not just musically, but our crews and just everyone getting along. It’s all about the music but when you’re traveling with 30-plus people that have to work together the fact that everyone has been getting along is fucking awesome.”

With a significant surge in the indie scene of late, bands with little mainstream presence are now widely sought after, giving small bands a place in a more complex atrium of music. Death Cab have benefitted from this development but are also, at least partially, responsible for creating it.

“Everything comes and goes in music, and I think this ‘pop music,’ short for popular, is currently the fame,” explains McGerr. “I think it’s sort of this massive wave, this aesthetic of indie-rock that moved into more of a popular limelight. Of course, there was something before us and then there is going to be something after us. Something that is right now culminating in a basement somewhere, a brand of music that we never even heard of.”

Timing more than anything has always been a crucial aspect in the acceptance of any kind of music. Quite simply, certain music can be accepted or cast aside depending on the current trends, regardless of quality or social significance.

“Modest Mouse definitely broke down some barriers, but it’s funny to think they were making the same music 10 years ago,” McGerr says. “It wasn’t the right time, there wasn’t a large audience that was tuned in quite yet.”

Over the past few years, Death Cab has been followed by their involvement on the Fox drama, The O.C. Contributing a few songs and a guest appearance, the band, like several other indie bands, unintentionally found a new way getting their music to a broader audience.

“In the case of our band and the show we didn’t go after them, none of us had even tuned into the show before,” admits McGerr. “The creators of The O.C. had been fans of us for a long time and they found themselves in a unique position. When the show started off they were writing bands into their script and using music that people hadn’t heard. My hat off to them for giving these bands a chance. We need different avenues to get our music out there because it can’t always be on the radio. I would much rather be associated with a television show than being a poster child for Coca Cola.”

Whether it’s a television appearance, move to a major label or touring, Death Cab for Cutie remains true to what matters, the music. Consistency and hard work have paid off and now they are finally experiencing the long overdue benefits. Trend or not, indie rock has a powerful presence in the music world right now and, at least for now, has no plans of slowing down.


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