Ben Gibbard has been a part of several successful musical projects including The Postal Service, ¡All-Time Quarterback!, and, his first band, Pinwheel. However, the most popular and well-known of his bands is Death Cab For Cutie, an American indie band formed in 1997. Gibbard took the band name from the title of the song written by Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall and performed by their group, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, in The Beatles’ 1967 film, Magical Mystery Tour.
The group consists of Gibbard (vocals, guitar, piano), Chris Walla (guitar, production, keyboards), Nick Harmer (bass), and Jason McGerr (drums). At first, Gibbard was the only member of the band, releasing his first album, You Can Play These Songs With Chords, as a demo which lead to a record deal with Barsuk Records. It was at this point that the lead singer decided to expand the project into a complete band and recruited members to join.
Since they were founded in Bellingham, Washington, Death Cab For Cutie has released seven studio albums, five EPs, and one demo. The band’s first LP, Something About Airplanes, released on August 18th, 1998, was favorably reviewed in the independent music scene, leading to the group’s release of We Have The Facts and We’re Voting Yes in 2000.
The indie music quartet did not consist of its four current members until 2003 when McGerr of Eureka Farm joined the band as the drummer on their album Transatlanticism. Tracks from this album appeared on the soundtracks for the television shows The O.C., Six Feet Under, CSI: Miami, and Californication, and the films Wedding Crashers and Mean Creek.
In November 2004, Death Cab For Cutie signed a “long-term worldwide deal” with Atlantic Records. Their first album under the new label, Plans, was released in August 2005. It was well received by critics and fans, and received a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album of 2005. The album achieved Gold Status in 2006 after charting on Billboard for 47 consecutive weeks and was certified Platinum by the RIAA at the beginning of May in 2008.
Since then, the band has released two albums and one EP. The first of these albums, Narrow Stairs, was nominated for “Best Alternative Music Album” and the first single off the album, “I Will Possess Your Heart,” was nominated for “Best Rock Song” at the 51st Grammy Awards. Death Cab For Cutie’s next release was an EP entitled The Open Door which contained tracks left off of Narrow Stairs as well as a demo for Talking Bird. The EP received a nomination for “Best Alternative Music Album” at the 52nd Grammy Awards.
The band’s latest album, Codes and Keys, was released on May 31st, 2011. Gibbard told Shave Magazine that the album was written in four different studios in four different sittings “to keep the creative progress moving forward” and prevent stagnation. Both the vocalist and bassist Harmer have been quoted as saying that the album was “a much less guitar-centric album than we’ve ever made before.”
Death Cab For Cutie will be performing at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in Columbus on Wednesday, July 27th with opening act Frightened Rabbit. Tickets cost $32 in advance and $34 at the door the day of the show. The show will be outdoors rain or shine and the gates will open at 6:30 pm for admission.