The title of Death Cab For Cutie's eighth album, "Kintsugi" is telling. Not only is "Kintsugi" the Japanese artform of crafting new pottery out of broken clay pieces, it's also representative of the band in its new form; for the first time in 18 years they are without producer and guitarist Chris Walla. Bassist Nick Harmer opens up about this transitional period for the band:
For outsiders, Walla's departure may seem abrupt, but Harmer tells us it wasn't as dramatic as fans may assume. "I think as time went on, the longevity of the band surprised us all and it just became a time for him to really concentrate on the other side of his musical life that was important for him, which was producing records," he says.
It also gave the band the chance to work with someone new, producer Rich Costey, who has also produced records with TV On The Radio, Santigold, Foo Fighters and Jane's Addiction, among others. "I feel like this is one of the best albums we've made in a long time and I really credit Rich for being the captain and steering us to that destination," Harmer says of the relationship.
Honest-songwriting is a cornerstone of "Kintsugi," as it's always been with Death Cab. With lyrics like, "Was I in your way when the cameras turned to face you? No room in frame for two," the album seems to be about singer Ben Gibbard's 2012 divorce from actress Zooey Deschanel. So, is it? "Even as a bandmate, I don't know where the line is between fact and fiction," Harmer says.
"All of Ben's songs are inspired by things that have happened to him and the people around him, but none of the songs are ever literally what happened. He's very good at taking feelings and weaving them into something bigger." For all their songs, Harmer stresses that it's more important about what it means to the listener than what it means to them.
Getting more than they've dreamed of
Instead of seeing the band's transitional period as draining, Harmer says they're invigorated by it and the band's two new touring members - Dave Depper and Zack Rae - have brought new energy to the group. The band is gearing up to play Madison Square Garden for the first time and Harmer says they're still pinching themselves.
"It's hard to call it a dream come true because it just feels like such a far-fetched dream to have," he says. "Sometimes a bit of change, not a lot, but a little bit of change is a good thing."
If you go:
May 10, 12 p.m.
Susquehanna Bank Center
1 Harbor Boulevard, Camden, NJ
New York City
September 12, 8 p.m.
Madison Square Garden
4 Pennsylvania Plaza, 866-858-0008
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