Death Cab Blasé Over Big Chart Debut; Say Next LP Will Be 'Complicated'

It's essential that Plans follow-up is different, Ben Gibbard insists.

When Death Cab for Cutie learned that their latest album, Plans, had debuted at #4 on the Billboard albums chart last month (selling more than 89,000 copies in its first week), they celebrated big-time — just like any long-in-the-tooth, hard-workin' rock and roll band would. Well, sort of.

"We kind of woke up in the morning and were checking our e-mails and someone was like, 'Hey, you guys are #4!' And we were like, 'Great!' — and took a slurp of coffee and ate some cereal," DCFC frontman Ben Gibbard laughed. "So it was pretty much just like every other day."

"I was in the middle of doing data-transferring and had been spending the entire day doing that," guitarist Chris Walla added. "And all of a sudden, our manager interrupted me to tell me that we had the #4 album, and I was like, 'Great, that's awesome. I have to get back to this.' So nothing really changed."

Okay, so strippers and champagne it ain't, but if the guys in Death Cab are anything, it's humble. And whether it's Gibbard's lyrics — honest yet wide-eyed ruminations on life and death — or Walla's earnest guitar playing (see "Death Cab For Cutie Living Up To The 'Death' Part On Next LP"), clearly a lot of people are listening: sales of the album have already soared past the 240,000 mark. And so, with the video for the album's first single, "Soul Meets Body," currently rotating on MTV, they're doing what any big-label rock act would do: trot out a second single.

"We're going to shoot a video for 'Crooked Teeth.' We're choosing a treatment and director right now, but it'll be difficult because the song is kind of a tough one to figure out," Gibbard said. "I'm fascinated with how people end up in the situations they're in, and the obstacles that they basically put in front of themselves to stay sedentary in that position. So that's what the song's about: skylines like crooked smiles, state lines being like the Berlin Wall. It's like there's no way to get over those boundaries, though there clearly is. It just takes a bit of dedication to change one's position in life."

And though Death Cab still have about a month left in their North American tour (see "Death Cab For Cutie Plan Fall Tour, Even Though That Goes Against Their Nature"), they're already thinking about getting back in the studio to record a follow-up to Plans (we told you they were hard-workin'). And while both Gibbard and Walla have a whole lot of ideas about just what that new record will sound like, there's one thing they both can agree on: It's going to be different.

"I'm incredibly proud of [Plans], but I feel we had to make it exactly when we did. It's a transitional record for our transitional time. I think we'll make the free-jazz record next time around," Gibbard laughed. "I think it will be essential for the growth of the band to do something different next time, whether that means bringing in an outside producer or making the album only six songs long. Who knows?"

"Ben's been talking off and on about concepts for the next record. Like, maybe they're a bunch of pop songs but all strung together, like some old Yes record or something," Walla added. "I don't know what's going to happen, but I think everyone's ready to do something complicated."