As Death Cab For Cutie gears up for the second leg of its North American tour behind new album "Codes and Keys" later this month, the Washington rockers can't quite shake the notion of taking a string quartet out on tour.
"The idea is still on the table," DCFC guitarist and producer Chris Walla tells Billboard.com. "It would be really fun to take Magik*Magik Orchestra out. But unfortunately, it is kind of a nightmare to try and figure it out."
Walla continues, joking: "It's sort of turned into the Polyphonic Spree dilemma. You can make a living or you can play with an orchestra. They're totally mutually exclusive -- you almost can't do one and the other. But, I do think that we'll be able to do some shows with Magik*Magik somewhere at some point, even if it's not a full tour."
Death Cab's upcoming jaunt -- which kicks off July 27 in Columbus, Ohio, and wraps nearly a month later in Chicago -- sees the bandmates of nearly 15 years keeping things in the proverbial family. Not that Magik*Magik -- the small San Francisco orchestra that, earlier this year, made an album alongside DCFC chum John Vanderslice -- is far from a friend of the family. Its members appeared on Death Cab's recent VH1 "Storytellers" episode, performing the string parts they originally brought to life on "Codes and Keys."
Magik*Magik's contributions to "Codes and Keys," which arrived May 31, were certainly not the only experimental touches that found their way onto Death Cab's seventh proper album. Synthesizers permeate the record, dancing alongside the usual six-stringed suspects and lead singer Ben Gibbard's precise vocals. To say the least, the band went in a different direction while still keeping its signature indie rock base.
After just a month of its release, "Codes and Keys," which bowed at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 the week of its release, has sold 177,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Meanwhile, lead single "You Are a Tourist" sat atop the Alternative Songs chart last week for a second week -- the band's first No. 1 song of any kind.
Video: "You Are a Tourist," Death Cab For Cutie
"[2009's] 'Narrow Stairs' was really well bound because it was live, it was immediate, and it was just a really easy extension of what we were doing on stage," Walla says. "But this record is so many different things all at once. There are so many different moods and personalities over the course of sixty minutes. It's a book."
While making the unhinged record, Walla (who produced "Codes and Keys") and company did not let the pressure of live recreation inhibit their ideas.
"It's one of my personal pet peeves when bands ask [in the midst of the recording process], 'It sounds really cool, but how are we gonna recreate this on stage?'" Walla says. "The first part of that sentence is your answer. We're making a document, not a live record. I was less interested in making recordings and more interested in making a record."