Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard Opens Up About Zooey Deschanel, Celebrity + ‘Kintsugi’
Last week, Death Cab for Cutie returned with their eighth album, Kintsugi, their first since 2011’s Codes and Keys. Ever since the band began previewing songs from the new album back in January -- especially cuts like “Black Sun” and “No Room in Frame” -- more than a few people have wondered aloud if Kintsugi addresses frontman Ben Gibbard's 2012 divorce from New Girl actress and She & Him frontwoman Zooey Deschanel. Of course, Gibbard isn’t exactly doling out specifics, but he admits that his inspiration should be “fairly obvious.”
“I’m not going to change the way I’ve always written for fear of people correctly or incorrectly assigning a name and face to these songs,” Gibbard said in an interview with Billboard. “I’ve always written about my life and the lives of people around me, and how everything intersects.”
While many listeners will interpret Kintsugi as a reflection on Gibbard and Deschanel’s three-year marriage, the Death Cab singer-songwriter says it deals more generally in the strangeness of celebrity and fame.
“The person I’m singing to is an amalgamation of people I came across living in Los Angeles,” he said. “Being around people in entertainment who are fairly well-known, I noticed all these neuroses and psychoses.”
Specifically, Gibbard says he wrote the song, “Good Help (Is So Hard to Find),” from “a point of biting empathy. [Celebrity] is a strange way of living one’s life.”
Even without the added limelight from Gibbard's relationship with Deschanel, Death Cab have achieved their own recognition over the course of eight beloved albums. However, with the increasing accessibility of new music and an over-saturated market, Gibbard says the band has reached a happy medium.
“This wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago,” he explained. “People wouldn’t know Animal Collective existed. In the ‘90s, if I wanted to buy weird music, I had to take a ferry to Seattle. It’s better now. You give people all these choices, and there’s an audience for weird.”
“We’re on a major label, we have a platinum record -- all the standards of success,” he added. “But I never get bothered when I walk around Seattle. We’re in the sweet spot: We’re successful but we’re not famous.”