One particularly thoughtful line from the Postal Service's wildly popular electronic pop album Give Up (Sub Pop) has PS and Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard admitting in his gentle boys-choir croon, "I want life in every word/To the extent that it's absurd." Considering what the last few months have been like for Gibbard, let alone the past few years, maybe Gibbard ought to be a little more careful what he wishes for.
To wit: The Postal Service, Gibbard's two-man band with Dntel's Jimmy Tamborello, have just returned from a weekend excursion in Spain, playing gigantic European music festivals. Before that, Gibbard's primary band, Death Cab for Cutie, spent most of the summer playing shows in Australia. Hell, I was exhausted after just reading the long list of Death Cab tour dates from the last three years. If Gibbard's words had any more life in them, he could probably get them to drive the van for himor at least man the merch table.
When I tell him that the Postal Service got the most votes in the Indie Pop category of the Weekly's Music Awards, it turns out he scarcely knew they had even been nominated.
"I just found out about [the contest]," says Gibbard over the phone. "I've been gone all summer, so when I heard, I was like, 'We won something? Cool!'
"I don't think I've ever won any kind of raffle contest or anything," he says when I ask if he considers himself a lucky guy. "When I was a Cub Scout for a few years, we'd do those raffles to win a basketball signed by someone or other, and I was always like, 'Oh, I hope I win' but it was always the kid next to me who got it. And then sometimes you get those e-mails where it's like, 'Click here: You won a free trip to Tahiti!' and it always takes me a second to figure out that it isn't even addressed to me. But I guess I did get some ribbons for swimming years ago. . . ."
Still, the Bremerton-raised songwriter must feel pretty fortunate just the same.
"Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Beat stuff, and I feel like this is the closest thing to that: breezing into town, getting drunk with all your friends there, and then leaving again 'We gotta go!,'" he says laughing and affecting the frantic tipped hat of a world traveler.
"But I don't think I want to do this for the next 30 years. Now having someone in Seattle who I'm totally in love with, it's going to be harder to leave again," he says, speaking sweetly of his recently relocated girlfriend (and new Crocodile promotions agent) Joan Hiller and their "fairy-tale story," before explaining how they're about to jet off to Chicago, where she'll retrieve the rest of her belongings and he'll play a solo show.
Jeez. Doesn't he ever sit still?
Well, yes. Sometimes. "When we're not on tour, Chris [Walla, DCFC's guitar player and noted producer/engineer] is in the studio or off recording somewhere, so whenever I'm hereunless there's a show I really want to seeI just hang out at home or around the corner at the Summit Tavern," reports Gibbard. "We tend to travel outside of the Cha Cha scenenot out of real defiance, but I'd rather be at a bar with a bunch of randoms: crazy lesbians with their dogs doing card tricks and stuff.
"I had this weird revelation when we did the Postal Service shows at the Crocodile," he continues. "The whole time we were saying that Jimmy and Jenny [Lewis, of Rilo Kiley, who sang backup on the band's last tour] could have the entire guest list in L.A., since that's where they're from, and I could have it in Seattle. But then when we got here, I realized I didn't have any friends to put on it."
He may not have a bunch of cheap friends. He might not even know whose door to knock on if he needs to borrow a cup of sugar. But Ben Gibbard's got cohorts he doesn't even know all across the globe. And with a new Death Cab album slated for release in October and the Postal Service record showing exactly no signs of relenting in its quest to take over the indie worldnot to mention his new SW trophyI don't think we need to feel sorry for him.