BioFormed in the tiny college town of Bellingham, WA, Death Cab for Cutie started out as a solo project from engineering student and committed indie rocker Ben Gibbard. Having turned a freshly broken heart into nine songs he wasn't embarrassed to share with someone else, he recruited fledgling four-track producer (and fellow Teenage Fanclub fan) Chris Walla and bassist Nick Harmer, the most amiable (and comic-book obsessed) musician on campus. The result was the 1997 cassette, You Can Play These Songs With Chords (finally released on CD in '02, expanded to include various DCFC rarities).
To set the record straight, the band's name comes from a song performed by British jazz/rock/comedy combo the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band in the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour film.
Generating a Seattle-area buzz, Death Cab for Cutie quickly became a proper band, releasing their official debut album - Something About Airplanes - in 1998 on the burgeoning area indie Barsuk. Then came touring. And new drummers. And more touring. And more albums - including 2000's We Have the Facts And We're Voting Yes and 2001's The Photo Album - each more successful, in content and sales, than the last.
Having created a substantial body of work as a band, Ben, Chris & Nick looked around and realized this wasn't a college extracurricular anymore, this was a life. So they did what all sensible people do: they took a break. Chris returned to his first love, producing, working on widely hailed releases by The Decemberists, The Thermals, Nada Surf, and Travis Morrison. Ben spent some time in the L.A. neighborhood of Silverlake recording electropop songs with his friend, producer Jimmy Tamborello. This little side project, called The Postal Service, yielded an album, Give Up, that has, to date, sold over 600,000 copies.
In 2003, refreshed and renewed by their time apart - and inspired by the recruitment of ace drummer Jason McGerr - Death Cab recorded and released the rave-spawning Transatlanticism. Milestones began to fall like dominos: sales that doubled those of any previous release, successful tours of Japan and Australia, magazine features, TV appearances (including a memorable spring '05 performance on The OC), and a personal invitation to join Pearl Jam on the Vote for Change tour.
… Death Cab's 2004 Transatlanticism tour is documented on the just-released DVD, Drive Well, Sleep Carefully, directed by noted filmmaker Justin Mitchell.
In the fall of 2004, Death Cab for Cutie inked a worldwide deal with Atlantic Records. The band's label debut, Plans, will be released August 30 2005.