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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Death Cab and Franz to invade Centennial

    A small band with a weird name, Death Cab For Cutie visited Tucson five years ago to play intimate downtown venue Solar Culture.

    Tonight, the band makes its heralded return to Tucson, co-headlining a show with Franz Ferdinand at Centennial Hall.

    Although the band’s name is still as strange, something has definitely changed.

    “”It seems improbable and bizarre. I never really imagined it would be like this five years ago,”” said Death Cab guitarist Chris Walla about the band’s increased fame. “”Now, we’re loading our gear into hockey arenas.””

    In 2001, lead singer Ben Gibbard and company were doing pretty well for themselves in the indie-rock world, coming off a standout album in We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, released on the small label Barsuk Records.

    In 2006, they are MTV staples fresh off the Recording Industry Association of America gold-certified album Plans, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Album charts.

    Death Cab’s rise to stardom can be attributed to plenty of exposure on Fox’s TV show, “”The O.C.,”” Gibbard’s popular electronic side project The Postal Service and the band’s first commercially successful album, 2003’s Transatlanticism.

    Although Death Cab now has a catalog that includes five full-length albums, Walla said the band knows that most fans have discovered the band recently. They take this into account when choosing a setlist for a show.

    “”We lean pretty heavily on Plans and Transatlanticism. It depends from night to night,”” Walla said. “”Particularly in big rooms, you run the risk of getting some blank stares if you lean heavily on the older stuff.””

    The band they’ll be playing with tonight only has two albums to select cuts from, but they won’t be hurting for material. Scottish group Franz Ferdinand gained instant popularity with its first single, “”Take Me Out,”” and a unique sound that blends post-punk and danceable garage/indie rock.

    “”They’re a great band. We were wondering how it was going to work because we’re so different musically. But the counterpoints are really nice,”” Walla said.

    Walla knows quite a bit about great bands, as he has become one of the most sought-after producers in indie rock. Aside from the Death Cab albums, Walla has produced albums for the Long Winters, Nada Surf and the Decemberists.

    Now Walla has been bitten by the songwriting bug with Plans’ “”Brothers on a Hotel Bed,”” his first songwriting credit in recent history.

    “”When Ben and I first started playing together, we were playing some of his songs and some of my songs,”” he said. “”Recently I’ve been going back through my old songs, and I’ve decided I need to make a run at it. I’ll probably record in August or September.””

    Add this to the long list of side projects that Death Cab’s members are a part of.

    The most recent project is helmed by bassist Nick Harmer. “”Directions”” is a collection of short films and music videos inspired by and featuring music from the twelve songs on Plans. While there’s a different director for each song, the results are consistently solid.

    “”It started as such a small, weird idea and turned into something so great. It took three or four entries before we realized how serious the directors were taking it. Everybody just met the challenge,”” Walla said. “”It’s a testament to what happens when you let artists just create.””

    Stepping back and giving artists room to create seems to be one of Walla’s producing principles.

    “”It always seems to me that records turn out best when you follow your nose. As soon as you try to get in and move that stuff around, things get weird,”” he said.

    Death Cab’s continued evolution from album to album is a testament to this belief. Plans is no different, as it seems to be a more adult album, with more keys and less rocking.

    “”There are a whole bunch of small factors that conspired to make (Plans) a departure. One is that Ben wrote most of the songs on the piano. … One is that I injured myself and I couldn’t play as much guitar,”” Walla said.

    Although the musicians recently played two of the tracks off Plans on “”Saturday Night Live,”” they aren’t letting recent success go to their heads. Walla even remembers Tucson five years after their last visit, albeit not on the best terms.

    I never got a
    bagel. But I got my money back and the police escorted us out. It’s unlikely we’ll be going there again.
    – Chris Walla,
    Death Cab guitarist

    “”I almost got arrested at the Bruegger’s Bagels. I ordered the sun-dried tomato bagel with veggie cream cheese. I ordered three of them because we had a long trip to New Mexico ahead of us,”” Walla explained. “”I got to the table and they forgot to put yeast into them or something. They were rock hard.””

    As Walla was bringing the bagels back, the tour manager was getting into it with a cashier about the price of a bagel with hummus. Overwhelmed when Walla asked for new bagels, the bagel-master took drastic action.

    “”He called the police. I never got a bagel. But I got my money back and the police escorted us out,”” he said. “”It’s unlikely we’ll be going there again.””

    Death Cab For Cutie plays tonight at 7 p.m. at Centennial Hall. The Cribs open the show with Franz Ferdinand up second.

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