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Personnel change energezes Death Cab For Cutie
Chris Walla's departure from Death Cab For Cutie last year "did not come out of left field," according to bassist Nick Harmer.
But the multi-instrumentalist left a big hole to fill, especially since he was also produced the Washington State modern rock group's albums -- a career path he wanted to pursue more than to be in an active touring band..
"There was a moment where we had some big question marks about finding new players and how that transition was going to work for us," says Harmer, 40, who co-founded Death Cab in 1997 with frontman Benjamin Gibbard. "But as soon as we had a conversation and started playing with the new guys (guitarist-keyboardist Dave Depper and keyboardist Zac Rae) we started to feel a whole lot better about our ability to kind of move through the shift in our band.
"I wouldn't say it's been easy or an effortless transition, but I think we've all been working really hard to make sure that the material and the songs are sounding really good if not better than they ever have. And I feel really confident that we're in a great place now with these guys."
Also part of the transition was recording Death Cab's eight album, "Kintsugi," which debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 in early April, with an outside producer for the first time ever. Walla was actually still with the band when recording started but bowed out of the production role, feeling that "maybe somebody else is gonna be able to pull more out of us and we'll benefit from some outside perspective on this material," according to Harmer. Death Cab went with Rich Costey, who's worked with Muse, Foo Fighters, Foster the People and Jane's Addiction, among others, and did exactly what Walla hoped he would for the band.
"All my credit in the world goes to Rich as a guy who was really able to allow us and encourage us to be the band we sort of naturally are," Harmer says, "and not kind of question the music that comes out of us naturally. but he also pushed us in areas and asked us to kind of challenge ourselves to push some things a little further along than maybe we had in the past.
"It's funny; Ben said in some interview that most bands make record with producers who AREN'T in the band, and we never have. So it's kind of funny to feel like the way that most bands work is a novel approach to us, but it really was and it was, and one I think we're excited about."
89X Birthday Bash with Death Cab For Cutie and The Antlers
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 5.
Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit.
Tickets are $30-$45.
Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
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