Interview: See Death Cab For Cutie play Brighton Dome!

Interview: See Death Cab For Cutie play Brighton Dome!

The 8 x Grammy Award-nominated rockers have announced “Asphalt Meadows” (Acoustic), a stripped-down take on their studio album of the same name, out last September via Atlantic records. Co-produced by Andy Park (Pedro the Lion, Joseph, Noah Gunderson) and Death Cab For Cutie, the 12-track acoustic LP is due out March 10th. With an extended tour stopping in Brighton in March, we chat with Nick Harmer (bass) about the band’s latest material, touring & more….

XYZ: Congrats on the album – so which are your current favourite songs from the record to perform live on stage?

Nick: Thank you very much! I’m loving performing so much of the new album, it’s really hard to narrow it down. I love the bombast of “Foxglove Through the Clearcut”, the energy of “Roman Candles” and the calmness of “Rand McNally”, to name a few.

XYZ: What’s different for you then, (if anything) about performing live post Covid vs pre-Covid?

Nick: For me, a real difference is in the energy of live music. I think everyone in the crowd and on stage all share a palatable feeling of joy and relief that we are all able to gather in groups and celebrate music in this way. There was such sadness and anxiety when the pandemic first hit and lock- downs were everywhere that the world might be forever fundamentally changed and live music as we had known it would never be the same. And while a lot of the world is changed from the pandemic and won’t be the same, at least we have the safety and ability to stand in a crowd and celebrate music together again.

XYZ: The album has been hailed as the result of newly restored creativity in the life of the band, it’s been called your “best album in years”, “revitalised” and “a restoration of their creative momentum when a mere ‘return to form’ would have sufficed”. The hardest times are often said to yield the best creative outcomes – and it’s certainly been a hard couple of years for all; so is there any truth in that for you?

Nick: I think there is truth in that for sure. The pandemic forced us to change our process and find new ways to work; ourselves and with each other. Change is hard, but it sometimes can yield powerful results, I think the key for us was to not fight against it and just allow ourselves to be open to new ways of being creative. We might not always work in the exact way we did moving forward, but we all learned some great lessons on how to push and adapt to a changing environment. I know we’ll carry the best parts of that forward.

XYZ: How have recent events impacted the outcome of the album?

Nick: A huge impact for me was that I was reminded how special and fragile this thing I get to do for a living is, how quickly it can be taken away and how much it needs nurturing in order to thrive. During the pandemic, especially the early months, where everything was closed down and we were asked to keep social interactions small and infrequent, if at all, I really rediscovered how important playing, making and listening to music is to me. And I think that informed my entire approach to my contributions to “Asphalt Meadows”.

XYZ: For most of us the sacrifices we’ve made, the life that we experienced during Covid, has forced us to reassess what’s important to us personally – and helped us to see what’s valuable to us. What’s important to you, and what journey did you go on in this respect, during lockdown?

Nick: This absolutely rings true for me. My journey through Covid changed my life. I have a renewed love and reverence for the power of music, I acutely felt how fragile life and love is and how important real human interaction is for nourishment and growth, and I was reminded of my social responsibility to sacrifice for the greater good.

XYZ: Back to the tour now – you end up in London, with your first ever show at the iconic Royal Albert Hall – what have been your fave on-stage moments during your career in its entirety?

Nick: Very tough question to answer! I’ve been lucky to have countless impactful on-stage memories over my career playing live music. I think two that immediately come to mind are the first time we played a show at this small Seattle venue called The Crocodile. Growing up, The Croc, as we called it, was THE place to see all kinds of touring bands and local bands and in my eyes bands that were ‘real’. When we played our first show there, I felt this proud sense that we were a ‘real band’ and had made it. I never thought I would be in a band that would play The Croc and when I did, I just couldn’t believe it, I’ve never felt so lucky and grateful in my life. A second memory was playing in Shanghai, where I stood on stage and was overcome with the trajectory of our band. I felt as far from home as I had ever felt and yet, there were fans of our band there waiting to see us play our music. Our music had travelled farther than even I had. It was a powerful moment for me.

XYZ: What’s your message to us Brit fans ahead of the UK tour?

Nick: I am so beyond thankful for your support. Our band has never been one of those American bands the British press has fawned over, so it takes some work to find our music and discover who we are. Over the years, we have been lucky to cultivate a dedicated group of fans who appreciate what we do and I’m forever thankful for that. We’ll play our hearts out for you when we get there.

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