Postal Service: Special Delivery
story by tim mcmahan
Lazy-i: April 24, 2003
w/ Fizzle Like a Flood, Cex
Saturday, April 26
13th and Martha
Service is Ben Gibbard, the mastermind behind dreamy indie pop band
Death Cab for Cutie, and Jimmy Tamborello, the mastermind behind
electronica-style indie project Dntel. Together, with just the U.S.
Postal Service as their ally, they made a long-distance recording
that mixes the best of both their worlds to create something altogether
who has his hands more than full keeping Death Cab for Cutie on
the road (seems like they were just in Omaha a few weeks ago), says
keeping pace with two bands is killer, but the work couldn't be
been in Austin three times in the last two months," he said.
"I'm feeling the treadmill this year, going on tour in the
spring, and then going out again on tour in the spring."
morning guy, Gibbard is already up and at 'em by 8 a.m., huffing
it up a Nashville street trying to find coffee. You can hear the
traffic whizzing by in his cell phone, the wind distorting his voice
like a space-bound astronaut.
"Time wasn't an
issue at all for this project," he said. "Jimmy just sent
me stuff in the mail as he put it together, and I worked on it in
whatever spare time I had. It was just a fun project. And Death
Cab is in this place where we're not doing a band seven days a week.
We make sure we schedule out time for other things. Chris (Walla,
Death Cab guitarist / organist) is working on Travis Morrison's
(Dismemberment Plan) solo record. It worked out that I could do
this tour now and Death Cab later."
The project began when
L.A. resident Tamborello asked Seattleite Gibbard to lay down some
vocals for a track on the 2001 Dntel album Life Is Full of Possibilities.
It worked out so well, the two agreed to cut an album together
but separately. Every few months Tamborello sent a CDR loaded with
his electronic wizardry to Gibbard, who added melodies, lyrics and
a few other touches.
The final product is
the Postal Service's debut CD, Give Up, released by Sub Pop
Records in February. Death Cab for Cutie fans will liken it to an
electronica version of that band's last couple CDs. Instead of Death
Cab's warm, tonal guitars, you get bleep-bloop electronic noises
that dance from speaker to speaker and percussion that sounds more
like tiny explosions than drums. Still, there's plenty of Gibbard's
cooing, yearning vocals singing not-so-sad lyrics about relationships
and love. Backing him up is the warm voice of Rilo Kiley's Jenny
Lewis, who also is part of the Postal Service touring band.
"I thought it would
be cool to have a girl do the harmonies," Gibbard said about
making his acquaintance with Lewis. Though her band now records
for Omaha's Saddle Creek Records, back when it first formed it shared
the same label as Death Cab for Cutie -- Seattle's Barsuk Records.
"So I knew her from our label connection. She lives in L.A.,
and so does Jimmy, so I cold-called her and she said she'd love
to do it. We met the first time last July and hung out."
Also touring as part
of The Postal Service is Death Cab bassist Nick Harmer, who will
be in charge of the band's visuals, which include small films for
each song. Live, the band features Tamborello behind a laptop and
keyboards, with Gibbard and Lewis handling guitars and a small drum
So will all of Tamborello's
electronic doo-dads make their way somehow onto the next Death Cab
CD? "Not at all," Gibbard said. "Death Cab is a militantly
analog band. We'll continue moving forward with our sound, but there
will be no crossover."
Look for a new Death
Cab for Cutie CD next fall.
Cab is a militantly analog band. We'll continue moving forward
with our sound, but there will be no crossover."
live show is like watching me paint a picture in front of
a crowd. I'm not an entertainer."
the show will be an ensemble version of Omaha's ultimate one-man
act, Fizzle Like a Flood. Joining singer/songwriter
Doug Kabourek are bassist Travis Sing (ex-Darktown House Band),
keyboardist Bobby Carrig (ex-The Movies), and drummer Matt Bowen
(Race for Titles).
Kabourek said the combo
came together quite naturally. He and Carrig both were in The Movies,
while Bowen is an old pal from the Omaha scene. "I want to
do a concept album filled with songs about Bowen," Kabourek
said. "One song will deal with how he spent forever one time
playing the Dance Revolution video game."
His connection to Sing
goes all the way back to Kabourek's days as drummer with Iowa City
power-pop trio Matchbook Shannon. "A long, long time ago, Dark
Town did a gig with Matchbook Shannon," Sing said. "I
went online and downloaded some Fizzle Like a Flood songs and said,
'Wow, someone's actually making real pop music around here.' It
was very melodic, not just guitar, bass and drums. And it had real
keyboard parts. It was pop with a capital P."
So shortly after moving
back to Omaha from Portland, Maine, Sing contacted Kabourek and
the rest is history.
The band will be playing
new arrangements of songs from Fizzle Like a Flood's full-length
debut on Earnest Jenning Records, Flash Paper Queen, a collection
of mostly acoustic "demo tracks" recorded for an imaginary,
never-released CD, along with a "radio single," "Like
Wind Like Rain," which features Kabourek's multi-layered recording
technique, heard on his self-released LP, 2000's Golden Sand
and the Grandstand.
With a band in tow, will
Kabourek actually try to tour? Don't count on it. "I don't
like playing live. Never have, never will. I have stage fright,"
he said. "My live show is like watching me paint a picture
in front of a crowd. I'm not an entertainer."
Also opening the show
is Baltimore laptop rapper Cex, a.k.a Rjyan Kidwell, who has the
reputation for putting on truly dance-worthy shows. Says The
Seattle Stranger, "Cex is the Ferris Bueller of lo-fi,
white-kid computer rap; the nerds, the geeks, and the freaks all
worship him, in part because he raps about stuff like being a 20-year-old
virgin and working at the one-hour photo store."
I can't wait.
Portions published in The Omaha Weekly-Reader April 24, 2003. Copyright
© 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.