There were just two minor sticking points when it came to [artist id=”710356″]Death Cab for Cutie[/artist]’s new video for “Grapevine Fires”: It had to be animated. And they had to be in it.
“I’m a huge comic book fan, so there was that,” Death Cab bassist Nick Harmer told MTV News. “Plus, in my head, I couldn’t see any kind of live-action video that wouldn’t come off as heavy-handed or overwrought. So we knew what we didn’t want it to be. Plus, we knew we should do a cameo, which meant we’d get to be animated, so that was a bonus.”
And so, yes, the video is animated — by a two-man team known as Walter Robot . And yes, the guys in Death Cab make a quick cartoon cameo (they’re seen in the background loading a van as wildfires approach), which meant that everyone was happy. The fact that the “Grapevine” video turned out so oddly affecting — even Kanye West dug it — was sort of icing on the cake.
“I sort of handle the visual stuff for the band, so they let me go with it. And I spoke to the guys in Walter Robot on the phone and then didn’t hear from them again until earlier this year,” Harmer laughed. “So I had no idea how it was going to turn out. … I either thought they were going to nail it, or the whole thing was going to be a complete disaster. It was a total toss-up. Needless to say, they totally nailed it. We’re thrilled with the end result.”
In fact, the “Grapevine” clip has proven to be so successful that it has fans clamoring for even more — like, say, a follow-up to Death Cab’s “Directions” DVD, which featured a video for every song on 2005’s Plans. But, according to Harmer, that’s not in the cards this time around.
“We discussed it, but, to be honest, ’Directions’ wasn’t that well received, and the big thing was that we had been there and done that before. Narrow Stairs was a kind of sonic break from Plans, and that applied to every aspect of it,” he said. “The thing is, in hindsight, ’Directions’ has become this big sort of thing, where fans have started asking us for a follow-up, and now I’m sort of thinking we should’ve done it more!”
And while there won’t be a new DVD, Death Cab do have something up their sleeves: A new odds-and-sods EP called The Open Door, which will feature tracks that just didn’t fit the mood and temperament of Stairs.
“When we finished Narrow Stairs, there were four extra songs that, because we were trying to put together an album, we ended up not including them — it’s not like they’re castoffs or anything; they’re part of the Narrow Stairs experience,” Harmer said. “They needed to have a proper home, and the EP is it. There’s going to be four songs on it, plus the original version of ’Talking Bird’ that features Ben [Gibbard] singing and playing the ukulele. It’ll be out this year, I think. And then, you know, back to the grind again.”