Chris Walla on 'Tape Loops' EP & Life After Death Cab: 'There's Never Been a Moment of Regret'
"There have been a lot of moments that have been difficult, but there's never been a moment of regret," Walla tells Billboard.
And while the stark, spectral ambience of the five pieces on Tape Loops are a far cry from, say, "Soul Meets Body," it doesn't represent a direction Walla ever felt he wanted to go with Death Cab.
"This is just very, very natural to me," the producer and multi-instrumentalist says of his latest music. "If I'm left to make music in, like, a vacuum with nothing else influencing me, that is the kind of music that comes to me naturally, and it just falls ot of me. If I'm focused on what I want to do and what I like to hear and how I like working, this is it. I wouldn't say this is something I wanted my band to do or it's why I left the band or anything like that, no. This is my expression."
Walla -- who's currently splitting his time between Seattle and Norway, where his wife is studying linguistics -- worked on the Tape Loops material from late 2013 to the middle of 2014. And he kept it old-school, cutting and splicing actual tape rather than working digitally. "It certainly requires a level of commitment and probably some significant and not altogether easily acquired skill," he explains. "Certainly these days it's probably hard to even find somebody to teach you how to do it anymore. But I've been making tape loops off and on for 20 years, so it's pretty second-nature for me. And it's really quite fun. It's more fun than opening up ProTools and grabbing a mouse. It's such a cooler, blank canvas to me."
Walla has stayed busy writing and producing for other artists as well, including Rocky Votolato's Hospital Handshakes album, Fences' Lesser Oceans and a new album for the Thermals. He's also immersed in his first movie score, for the Matthew Ogens thriller North, which is due in 2016. But he plans to make more Tape Loops type of projects in the future. "I think I'm a better record producer and probably a happier person when I'm able to carve out time and space for this kind of work outside of what is usually my day job, I guess," he notes.
As for Death Cab, Walla remains in touch with his former bandmates "to a degree -- infrequently and a little cautiously, still." But all parties remain relatively friendly. "It's been amicable, but that doesn't mean it's been linear, if that makes any sense," says Walla, who last performed with the group on September 13, 2014, in Victoria, B.C. "It's been really difficult. It's a little challenging and sad and staticky. Despite everyone's best intentions, there's hurt and difficulty and anger and confusion inside all that. We were so close for so long and we all respect each other enough that it's been civil and it's been respectful, but it hasn't been without difficulty. I do miss playing music with my friends for other people who want to watch us playing music, but I don't miss very much else."