Listen to Death Cab’s latest, ”Transatlanticism,” and you’ll find that the moody Seattle-ites have a penchant for morphing pop melodies into epic songs. But give ’em a hundred dollars’ worth of tequila, beer, and vodka martinis — as we did at Manhattan’s Pioneer Bar — and they’ll spill their guts about losing their virginity, the Emerald City’s grunge heyday, and a much-needed pee. Par-tay!
ROUND 1 Oh, to Be Young!
BEN GIBBARD (singer-guitarist), Glenfiddich on the rocks I moved back to Seattle in 1991, just as everything was popping. It was really amazing to be young and not jaded.
CHRIS WALLA (guitarist-keyboardist), Pernod That feeling I had as a kid was what every record-company executive drools about: 16-year-old kids freaking out about something. It was great for a few years. But Seattle bands are terrified of being pigeonholed now, because we all saw what happened at the tail end of grunge.
ROUND 2 Pillow Talk?
CHRIS, Brooklyn Lager At one point, my mom’s favorite record was Rod Stewart’s ”Greatest Hits.” You know, the one where he’s wearing that hot pink shirt? To this day, when I open my Gibson guitar case with the pink lining, all I can think about is ”Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”
BEN, Stoli martini, dirty My girlfriend and I found this album by Peter Frampton, ”I’m in You.” She was just like, ”No, you’re not, buddy.”
ROUND 3 Karaoke Time!
BEN, Stoli martini, dirty Last year I worked on this electronica album [the Postal Service’s ”Give Up,” with Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel], and it taught me a lot when it came time to do the next Death Cab record. You learn how to take songs apart and also how to leave some things out.
CHRIS, Brooklyn Lager With ”Lightness,” the second song on Transatlanticism, we had to strip it down until there was nothing but bass, drums, and vocals. The reason for that is because Ben’s singing is the most compelling thing.
BEN For me, ”Lightness” is the highlight of the record because everything is taken away.
CHRIS Take ”Need You Tonight” by INXS. There’s six guys in the band and almost nothing going on. It’s cool; they’re so key for us.
BEN [Starts singing INXS’ ”Listen Like Thieves”] This is a really good way to do an interview.
ROUND 4 More Pillow Talk? You Got It!
BEN Patron on the rocks There’s a Jesus and Mary Chain reference on the album. I actually lost my virginity listening to them.
CHRIS, Brooklyn Lager [Laughing] A couple of days ago, actually. I know ’cause he’s in the bunk above me on the bus.
BEN Best 15 seconds of the whole tour.
CHRIS [Switching gears] I think I could use a pee break.
ROUND 5 Okay, Call These Two a Cab!
BEN, Patron on the rocks Maybe this is just drunk talk, but there aren’t any cool DIY bands in the U.K. Even bands playing to eight people have, like, full road crews. It’s weird.