Death Cab for Cutie Discuss Chris Walla's Departure and Their First Album Without Him

Death Cab for Cutie Discuss Chris Walla's Departure and Their First Album Without Him
Photo: Kim Jay
Chris Walla recently left his post in Death Cab for Cutie, but clearly his former bandmates aren't dragging their heels. They've already started working on a new album, and they've shed some light on what it's like to be working without the longtime member.

Death Cab are now a trio, and their upcoming LP will be their first without Walla as a producer. In his place, Rich Costey (Interpol, Muse, Vampire Weekend) is behind the boards.

"I feel that this band has worn two different hats over the years; the albums tend to be fairly lush and atmospheric, and the live shows have tended to be rock shows. I'm really proud of how Rich captured us playing together," frontman Ben Gibbard told Rolling Stone. "Everything has an attack and a punch to it; the right things are crisp, and the right things are ugly, and he's done such a wonderful job of making high-fidelity sounds and low-fidelity ugly sounds exist together. There are keyboard elements on it, but this is more of a rock record than the last one."

Gibbard is clearly aware that Death Cab have a lot to live up to, and he's hoping that Walla's departure will usher in what he calls "a new period" in their career.

"Oh, there is undoubtedly a line in the sand here," Gibbard said. "The position we're in — it's a blessing and a curse — is that people feel very strongly about the period of this band in which they got into us. We're fighting against people who say 'Why can't you make a record like the one I heard when I was 20 years old?' And the answer is we can't. We can just move forward, and create a new period."

Evidently, he's not concerned about recreating past successes, and he compared their position to Wilco (who have also undergone changes over the years).

"Working with Rich exposed our strengths and weaknesses. This is the eighth record we've made as a band, and we're all at-or-nearing 40 years old, so I was fearful we'd think we knew better than the producer on how we should sound, or how a guitar part should go," the singer said. "But Rich was the kind of guy who will tell you 'Yeah, that's not working; you guys have to come up with something else.' And that really united us. We were united by the idea of 'Look, we want to make a really good record.'"

Even though Walla isn't in the band anymore, he hasn't left the fold completely: he played on every song on the new album. There will be 11 tracks on the record, which doesn't yet have a name or a release date.

"If this has done anything, it's galvanized the relationship between the three of us, and changed the dynamic of the band," Gibbard said. "And I would hope that our reputation is a function of the work we do moving forward. Chris was a huge part of this band for years, but a lot of bands have lost members and evolved in ways that are exciting and new. And we want to be one of them."

Stay tuned for more updates from Death Cab for Cutie. Below, watch footage of the band's last live show with Walla, which took place at Victoria's Rifflandia festival.