Ben Gibbard has today announced his own new signature Fender Mustang guitar – which he says is also inspiring the sound of the new Death Cab For Cutie album. Watch our video interview with Gibbard above.
Gibbard told NME about how he grew up seeing many “anti-hero” heroes from his native Seattle and the grunge scene playing a Mustang – including the likes of Mudhoney, Nirvana and Sonic Youth – before he finally got one himself over a decade ago for his first tour with The Postal Service.
“When I was a kid growing up in the late ‘80s, I was really discouraged from playing guitar in public because at that time, at least in America, the only people you saw playing guitar were just shredding it,” he told NME. “It was the height of the hair metal era. That was everywhere. I remember thinking that ‘I can’t play in a band until I can play like that’. It’s crazy to think like that now. But then I discovered music of my own, and what was happening here in the North West was huge for me.”
Speaking about the “honour” of now having his own signature model, Gibbard explained how he looked to overcome similar problems experienced by Kurt Cobain that made it difficult to play and be a frontman.
“All of the modifications I’ve made to my stage guitars were done so because when I’m playing and singing, I want as few distractions as possible,” he told NME. “In designing this guitar, I wanted to make something that was really bare bones that would suit my personal needs, but also that someone could just pick up off the rack at a guitar shop and just intuitively know how it works.”
Now, Gibbard has said that he is using the guitar to write the follow-up to Death Cab’s 2018 album ‘Thank You For Today‘, with the new material sounding “reminiscent of the first half of the band’s existence”.
“[Having this guitar] was nostalgic and exciting in a way,” Gibbard told NME. “It was cool to be playing guitar in a style that felt familiar but to filter it through new ideas.”
He continued: “We were hoping to be over on your side of the water making a record right now, but we live in four different cities with the ever-changing stakes around vaccines, new variants and things like that. Obviously I’d love to be in the studio right now and about to get back on the road, but I just think that for us it’s probably going to be something that we push into next year.
“We’ve got a lot of songs and I’m really happy with the material. I’m sure a lot of musicians say that their new material is the best thing they’ve ever done and try to hype it up. I don’t want to give it that weight, but I can say that I’m really excited about it. I think it’s going to be a really good record.”
Gibbard went on to explain how the new songs were seeing him reflect on his own life and mortality given the global situation with COVID-19.
“I find myself in an interesting position in my life that is being strangely mirrored by this time we’re living in,” he told NME. “As I move into my 40s, my relationship to my city and my friends has gone through some interesting changes just due to people’s lives drifting a little bit. There is a theme of the loss of time and the finite amount of it that we all have. This last year of our lives has put a fine point on the fact that we are all mortal and only here for a brief period of time. It goes by quicker than you think.
He added: “Love and death are always big things for me, but there’s a new component about how quickly time moves and how impermanent our existence here truly is.”
Watch our full video interview with Gibbard above, where he tells us more about the features of the guitar as well as his thoughts on the future of The Postal Service.
Death Cab For Cutie recently released ‘The Georgia EP‘ – covering songs by TLC, REM, Neutral Milk Hotel and more.