Death Cab For Cutie’s debut album for Atlantic, “Plans,” won’t be released until next Tuesday (Aug. 30), but the jump to a major label is already paying off. First single “Soul Meets Body” debuted last week at No. 86 on the Billboard Pop 100, while the track this week arrives at No. 39 on the Modern Rock airplay chart.
“It’s really blowing me away,” lead singer Ben Gibbard tells Billboard.com of the single’s success. “I had this idea that it would get played on the couple stations that have already played us. I’m really taken aback by how popular it is. I wasn’t expecting it to resonate this early. We’ll see what that means and how long we can ride this wave.”
Indeed, the act, which has released all four of its prior albums on Seattle-based indie Barsuk Records, is already prepping a follow-up single, the more peppy “Crooked Teeth.” Gibbard says the band labored over which single to deliver first, and went with “Soul Meets Body” because it has a slower build and lacks a traditional radio-friendly chorus.
“In ‘Crooked Teeth,’ the chorus comes in during the first 40 seconds,” Gibbard says. “So it fulfills that B.S. radio idea that you need a chorus right away, and that made it more of a conventionally laid-out song. We thought it would be better for us to let that be the second single so we didn’t come out too strong on the first single. We didn’t want to swing for the fences on the first round.”
While the brand on the CD packaging may be different, Death Cab For Cutie largely stayed within its comfort zone for “Plans.” The 11-song set is full of the group’s ruminations on anxiety and relationships, with Gibbard’s warm guitars blanketed with Chris Walla’s keyboard flourishes.
And while Walla handled production duties, the band isn’t ruling out future collaborations with other people. “I’d really like an outside producer to work on one of our records at some point, maybe the next record,” Walla says. “It’s just that there are so few producers who are making something that isn’t just product. At least that’s how it seems to me.”
As previously reported, Death Cab For Cutie will begin a fall North American tour with an Oct. 3-4 stand at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom. With likely a full year of world touring ahead, Gibbard says it may be while before new music is heard from the Postal Service, his popular electro-pop side project with Dntel’s Jimmy Tamborello.
“There will eventually be another [Postal Service] record,” Gibbard says. “But Jimmy and I have so many things going on that will hinder us from having a record out anytime in the near future. It’s planned. We’ll get around to it eventually, but Death Cab has a lot of touring to do for this record.”