The name Death Cab for Cutie might get you prepped for a shot of death-metal decadence, but don’t be misled. Despite its obscure-sounding name and dark lyrics, the Seattle-based group Death Cab for Cutie is one of the quickly rising stars in the indie-rock scene.
The members of Death Cab paused to speak with The Hatchet before a show at Black Cat on Nov. 1, two-thirds of the way through the band’s most recent tour.
“The ‘rapid rise’ thing has been four and a half years,” bassist Nicholas Harmer said, reflecting on the group’s progress. “We’re just on this weird sort of wave and who knows how long it’ll last.”
The scope of Death Cab’s success has undoubtedly reached D.C. area emo fans, which is evident in the popularity of past appearances at area clubs.
“The last time we played D.C. (Metro Cafe last spring), the crowd was crazed,” vocalist and guitarist Ben Gibbard said. “I don’t think we ever had a room that packed. We’ve never had that kind of response outside of Seattle.”
Despite their rigorous recording and touring schedule, all four band members consistently take time to work on individual side projects, playing in other Northwest bands like Pedro the Lion, The Revolutionary Hydra and The Prom. Drummer Michael Schorr will head straight to the studio when Death Cab’s tour winds down in December to record with the Portland band Tracker.
Although no one is looking to sideline opportunities to focus on Death Cab entirely, the band members insist the quartet remains their priority.
Added success has not only brought the band longer and farther-reaching tours but has also given the band the chance to play bigger and more prominent venues.
“It’s scary as hell, is what it is,” Harmer said about the move. “When you play a bigger room, there’s more responsibility, and there’s more pressure to fill it.”
Even so, Harmer said that the upgrade in venues has benefited both the band and the band’s fans.
“I just want people to be able to have a comfortable show,” he said. “I would rather play in a room that’s big enough that it maybe doesn’t sell out, but there’s some space, rather than being uncomfortably packed into a place. Or even worse, playing a place where people can’t even get in and see you.”