Death Cab For Cutie drummer, Jason McGerr, out of all Australian cities, has a particular fondness for Perth.
“Perth is always wonderful to visit. It’s funny, I’ve celebrated a few birthdays in Perth, oddly,” he says.
Known for being one of the most quintessential indie bands of the last decade, Death Cab For Cutie are currently touring their eighth album, Kintsugi, playing shows around Australia in July and August, including the Splendour In The Grass festival. During the recording of this latest album, founding member Chris Walla stepped down as resident producer and, before it was released, amicably parted ways with the band.
McGerr is focussing on the positives, saying bringing in outside producer, Rich Costey, who has also produced for the likes of Sigur Ros and Muse, was what Kintsugi needed.
“He was very demanding,” he says of Costey. “He was not easily impressed, but his holding high standards was exactly what we needed. He had us play live a lot as a band. Previously when Chris was there producing and engineering he had to be in the control room, he couldn’t be on the floor with Ben (Gibberd, vocals/guitar) and Nick (Harmer, bass) and I. So it allowed us to play more live as a four-piece, but also gave us that un-biased set of ears. He only accepted the best sounding performance and I think that allowed us to make a better album then we would have made had we done it on our own.”
With a substantial back catalogue and fans collected from over 15 years of writing and playing music, McGerr says Kintsugi does have a common thread with all their albums.
“Kintsugi has a dramatic thread that can be connected to everything that we’ve done. I feel like there are pieces of this new record that lean towards our history in a good way and a positive way, yet also show that we’re very much pointed forward and not backward.”
McGerr and the band are excited about touring and he says they’re keen to show audiences a bigger and better live show.
“We lost a founding member, Chris Walla, who decided to make a change after we made this record. He chose not to tour or be a member of the band anymore. We added two people to replace his one set of hands and it has allowed us to fill out the live show with a lot of the sounds that we were able to record in the studio. Whereas if we were back to a four-piece we’d have to make some decisions about what comes across live. Technology offers so many options these days but we still, rather than just run everything off of a computer or a playback, are actively performing all the parts you’re hearing on the record.
“By adding a fifth person on stage it’s no longer a two guitar thing, it’s a three guitar thing and that just adds a whole other layer of sounds and it has a much bigger presentation. People have had some questions about how we’re going to go on without Chris Walla, ‘he was a founding member, how’s it going to work and is everything going to be okay?’. And I feel like every night I step out I’m like, ‘I’ll show you how it’s going to work’ and I literally play with more confidence and energy than ever because I want people to know and understand that we haven’t changed. We’ve become something different, but this is who we are now, we’re very proud, very confident of what it is.”