September 18, 2019

Winnipeg
17° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

A whole lotta thanks

Death Cab for Cutie's evolution aided by new members

The members of Death Cab for Cutie would end each day in the studio thanking each other for their work by saying, ‘Thank you for today.’ The band headlines the Winnipeg Folk Festival tonight.(Atlantic Records)

The members of Death Cab for Cutie would end each day in the studio thanking each other for their work by saying, ‘Thank you for today.’ The band headlines the Winnipeg Folk Festival tonight.(Atlantic Records)

Dave Depper didn’t think many people would hear his debut solo album.

The Portland, Ore., musician figured 2017’s Emotional Freedom Technique might be released on a small independent label and be heard by some of his friends and other curious music fans in the Pacific Northwest.

Then he was hired as a touring guitarist with veteran indie-rock band Death Cab for Cutie, and the spotlight was suddenly shining bright.

“That record started years before Death Cab was a sparkling in my eye. I was just recording a sad bedroom pop record and had no expectation a wide audience would hear it,” Depper says.

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Dave Depper didn’t think many people would hear his debut solo album.

The Portland, Ore., musician figured 2017’s Emotional Freedom Technique might be released on a small independent label and be heard by some of his friends and other curious music fans in the Pacific Northwest.

Event preview

Click to Expand

Death Cab for Cutie

Winnipeg Folk Festival

Birds Hill Provincial Park

Thursday, July 11

With Taylor Janzen, Larkin Poe, Tim Baker

Thursday single-day tickets $60 (youth/senior) and $75; Friday to Sunday single-day tickets $75 and $95; four-day passes $164 and $258; weekend passes with quiet camping $204 and $298 at winnipegfolkfestival.ca, gate

Then he was hired as a touring guitarist with veteran indie-rock band Death Cab for Cutie, and the spotlight was suddenly shining bright.

"That record started years before Death Cab was a sparkling in my eye. I was just recording a sad bedroom pop record and had no expectation a wide audience would hear it," Depper says.

"By the time I was done, I was a guitarist for Death Cab for Cutie and I had a built in, if not audience, many more eyes and ears who were paying attention."

Fans who were paying attention and listened to the release would hear the music Depper was composing was not out of the wheelhouse of Death Cab’s emotionally charged, often melancholic, stylings.

What Depper did have to live up to as a new member of the band was the legacy of not only joining the veteran Seattle group responsible for such musical touchstones as Transatlantic and Plans, but of replacing Chris Walla, a longtime member, songwriter and producer who announced his departure from the band in 2014.

Multi-instrumentalist Depper and keyboardist/guitarist Zac Rae were originally recruited as touring members, but were made into full-time members prior to the recording of last year’s Thank you for Today, Death Cab’s ninth album.

Ben Gibbard (clockwise from left), Dave Depper, Jason McGerr, Zac Rae and Nick Harmer. (Atlantic Records)

Ben Gibbard (clockwise from left), Dave Depper, Jason McGerr, Zac Rae and Nick Harmer. (Atlantic Records)

"There was a lot riding on this record. Fans of the band were holding their breath waiting to see if it was going to be a disaster. We had to honour the legacy of the band while moving forward," Depper says during a phone interview prior to the band’s headlining slot Thursday night at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Death Cab for Cutie — named after a song performed by the Bonzo Dog Band in the Beatles’ movie, Magical Mystery Tour didn’t even start out as a band, but a solo project for vocalist-guitarist Ben Gibbard in 1997.

He soon recruited other musicians and went on to release four more albums on respected Seattle indie label Barsuk Records before signing to major label Atlantic and helping define a style of emotive indie-pop in the 2000s, aided notably by an appearance on American teen drama The O.C. in 2005 (the band was a favourite of one of the television show’s main characters).

The group’s music was also featured on other TV shows of the time, including Six Feet Under and Californication, and movies such as Easy A and Wedding Crashers, exposing them to even more people.

Death Cab went on to be nominated for eight Grammys over the years, hit the top of the U.S. alternative and adult alternative charts with singles such as I Will Possess Your Heart, You are a Tourist and the new song Gold Rush and score a No. 1 album in Canada and the U.S. with 2008’s Narrow Stairs.

During the recording of their eighth album Kintsugi, Walla announced his departure from the group after 17 years, setting the stage for the next phase of the band.

Depper had been a member and/or hired gun with various musicians in Washington and Oregon throughout the years and had met most of the members of Death Cab at various points in time.

He was friends with Gibbard’s girlfriend — now wife — and the two musicians started running together whenever Gibbard was in Portland visiting.

Main Stage Schedule

THURSDAY
Opening Blessing, 5:45 p.m.
Taylor Janzen, 6 p.m.
Larkin Poe, 6:50 p.m.
Tim Baker, 8:10 p.m.
Death Cab for Cutie, 9:30 p.m.

THURSDAY
Opening Blessing, 5:45 p.m.
Taylor Janzen, 6 p.m.
Larkin Poe, 6:50 p.m.
Tim Baker, 8:10 p.m.
Death Cab for Cutie, 9:30 p.m.

FRIDAY
Mdou Moctar, 6 p.m.
The Devil Makes, 7:10 p.m.
Mt. Joy, 8:20 p.m.
Jason Mraz, 9:30 p.m.
K’naan, 11 p.m.

SATURDAY
Eileen Ivers, 6 p.m.
Devon Gilfillian, 7:10 p.m.
The Lone Bellow, 8:20 p.m.
The Sheepdogs, 9:30 p.m.
Half Moon Run, 10:50 p.m.

SUNDAY
Kathleen Edwards, 6 p.m.
Colter Wall, 7:20 p.m.
Kacey Musgraves, 8:40 p.m.
Finale, 10 p.m.

 

BIG BLUE @ NIGHT

Friday
Living Hour, 7:30 p.m.
Car Seat Headrest, 9 p.m.
Alvvays, 10:45 p.m.

Saturday
Altin Gün, 7:30 p.m.
Mammut, 9 p.m.
FM Belfast, 10:45 p.m.

"We just started seeing each other and going out on runs and it was during one of those 18-mile runs together he mentioned the band had some personnel changes coming up. It was very organic and natural and very surprising. I was kind of the last person I expected them to choose. It came through friendship and mutual respect," Depper says.

Depper and Rae played with the band — Gibbard, bassist Nick Harmer and drummer Jason McGerr — for two years before it was time to record a new album, just around the time Depper was releasing his solo effort, which he played every instrument on.

"I did it, number one, just to see if I could, I guess, and it was also such a personal record, I guess, thematically it was important to me that I had performed everything on it to fully express what I was feeling," he says.

When it came time to write with the band, no one knew what to expect since he had never collaborated with them and they had worked with Walla for so long.

The two years they had spent on the road together helped with the process, Depper says.

"It was hard, but I’m glad it went that way instead of instantly being a full collaborator. I don’t know if my brain or skill set would have been able to handle it," he says with a laugh.

"Joining as a guitarist was intimidating enough knowing I was stepping into this situation with this iconic band and filling in for an iconic member of an iconic band."

Depper admits to being initially intimidated, but warmed up as the sessions continued and everyone got more comfortable sharing their opinions with Gibbard, the main songwriter.

"I didn’t know how to be in those first few days in the studio where I could tell him if I liked something or didn’t like it. He’s also an intense guy — I love him for that. He will always hear you out no matter how strongly he agrees or disagrees with you, and once I could wrap my head around it, it was easier to voice my own opinion," Depper says.

“Joining as a guitarist was intimidating enough knowing I was stepping into this situation with this iconic band and filling in for an iconic member of an iconic band” -Dave Depper

The album seems to have hit the marks the band was going for by keeping its core emotionally centred melancholic indie-pop elements intact while bringing some flourishes of electronic sounds to the forefront.

The bonding that took place while recording the album with producer Rich Costey is reflected in its title, Thank You for Today.

Prior to working with Death Cab, Costey was working with a Scandinavian band who would say "Thank you for today" at the end of every recording session, Depper says.

"We might say, ‘Hey, good hanging with you,’ and they say, ‘Thank you for today,’… and that was enduring to him, and we would end the day saying it," Depper says.

"We would say that as a joke and it ended up not being a joke."

rob.williams@freepress.mb.c a

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us