Best of 2015
Line up changes, tours, a new album – 2015 has been a non-stop year for Death Cab For Cutie.
Words: Tom Connick.
“Everybody’s feeling really positive,” says Death Cab For Cutie bassist, Nick Harmer halfway through a year-ending UK run. Given they’re a band who, to many, are the archetypal tragics, it’s a hell of a contrast.
Death Cab’s reputation has never affected much, though. “We’ve got a really good core fanbase that reacted really well to the record,” he says of ‘Kintsugi’, their latest LP that signalled the departure of founding guitarist Chris Walla, “but I also think it’s been a late discovery for a lot of, either casual fans or people who’ve maybe forgotten about us over the years – like, ‘Oh yeah, I haven’t checked in with what Death Cab’s done’, and they find ‘Kintsugi’ and are like, ‘Woah, this is what they’re doing now?!’”
“It feels like it’s had a long life already and people are still finding it and connecting with it. Even some of my closest friends, I feel like just now they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, your record’s really good!’” he laughs. “I don’t feel like there’s a lot of people left who haven’t necessarily heard of us, but I do think it’s nice that people are still finding our music relevant and are able to discover what we’re doing.”
Walla’s departure brought a fresh perspective with it though, and it’s that which seeped into Death Cab’s cracked exterior, smoothing over what could’ve been a disastrous split. Replacing the founding guitarist with two multi-instrumentalists, Dave Depper and Zac Rae, the Death Cab of today have a much wider horizon.
“We have yet to sit down and start writing music together,” says Nick, “and figure out what that stuff is gonna feel like and sound like, but so far the shows have been among some of my most favourite shows we’ve ever done. I’m very optimistic about what it’ll feel like to write music and record together.”
Moving forward, there’s a feeling of anticipation – an eagerness to keep evolving as they approach year nineteen as a band. “We’ll always miss Chris,” he admits, “and we had some amazing experiences with him, but I think all of us are really still focussed on the future and what’s to come. I think there’s a lot of music left in us to make together. I can’t wait to see what we do with five people in the studio versus four.”
The end of 2015, then, feels like a full stop on Death Cab’s most extreme disruption to date. Nick enthuses about the new members’ abilities to re-invigorate their back catalogue – an extra two pairs of hands helping them bring the records’ “little flourishes and counter-melodies” to life on stage – but it’s in the future, not the past, that Death Cab look to really shine. “It won’t be as intense as this year,” he says, eagerly anticipating a little time to unwind, “but we’re definitely gonna work pretty solidly in 2016, and start thinking about another album at the same time.”