Published May 30, 2011Death Cab for Cutie have got a bum rap, at least in the indie world. After a string of four excellent albums of heart-on-sleeve, Pacific Northwest indie pop, the Washington foursome signed a major label deal for the release of 2005's Plans to an overwhelming chorus of "sellout" from naysayers. While the band have made some questionable decisions since then (see: writing a song for the The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack), they've hardly stopped making the brand of heartfelt tunes they garnered an audience for, and the same goes for their newest offering, Codes and Keys.
In a recent interview with Exclaim!, lead singer Ben Gibbard opened up about why he thinks his band have got the gears from fans in recent years.
"There was a period in this band," he explains, "certainly before The O.C., which is the obvious thing, where we were certain people's secret, favourite band. There were 20,000 people in the world who bought [2000's] We Have the Facts, and we were, to some of them, I'm sure, their favourite band that not a lot of people knew about. When they start to go see this band and there are people in the audience that weren't there the last time, they lose a sense of ownership over that band. We've all done that before and felt that before, where a band that we've liked has reached a larger audience."
But Gibbard is far from wanting to rehash his band's early material: "We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes -- I love that record," he enthuses, "but I don't want to make it again. We're all different people, I'm a different person. I'm not a 22-, 23-year-old person going through the things that I was going through at that time, listening to the music I was listening to then, wanting to emulate these other kinds of records; it just can't happen."
He continues: "Naturally, whatever album somebody's entry point to this particular band was, it's going to most likely define the sound that they want us to have. I feel fortunate that, for the most part, if you go on our message boards, there are people who argue about every record we ever made being the best one. If it was unanimously [2001's] The Photo Album, I'd be like 'Okay, that's kind of bad,' but because this band has so many entry points and has grown the way it's grown, people have their favourites and that's the sound that they most closely recognize as being us."
Gibbard's keen to point out that Death Cab for Cutie have grown, rather than committed some approximation of "selling out." With half the band now fathers, and the other half married, he explains, things aren't the same.
"I remember, years ago reading a quote from the band Low -- one of our favourite bands -- and somebody was giving him grief about selling a song, licensing a song to Target. It was a Christmas song they were licensing to something, and somebody was giving him grief about it, calling them sellouts and stuff, and he said, 'You know, we just had a kid; it doesn't get much more DIY than that.' You know, like, 'Your idea of what we should be no longer means anything to me, because I have this little person I have to take care of. If you feel you don't want to patronize this band anymore because we sold a song to Target so we could feed this person, I don't know what to tell you.'"
Codes and Keys arrives tomorrow (May 31) via Atlantic.