Death Cab For Cutie on how Yoko Ono and gentrification inspired their single ‘Gold Rush’

Death Cab For Cutie have revealed how a Yoko Ono sample, the US election and the gentrification of their native Seattle led to the creation of their recent single ‘Gold Rush’.

Watch our ‘Song Stories’ video interview with the band above

Taken from their upcoming ninth album ‘Thank You For Today‘, the band’s comeback track had its origins when frontman Ben Gibbard ‘flipped’ a loop taken from Ono’s song ‘Mind Train’ from her record ‘Fly’.

“If I’m on a campaign for this album, it’s for people to actually spend time with her music before they feel like they know what it is, because her music spans a much wider spectrum than people give her credit for,” Gibbard told NME.

  • Death Cab For Cutie’s ‘I Dreamt We Spoke Again’ is on the NME Audio playlist. Click here for information on how to tune in to NME1 and NME2

From there, a reluctance to take on the State of politics in the wake of Trump’s rise to President saw the track take another turn.

“After the election in the States, despite all of my instincts to not write about any of that stuff I found myself writing about it a little bit,” Gibbard continued. “None of it made it onto this album thankfully, because a lot of it was terrible, but one of the songs that was lyrically pretty terrible was the song that became ‘Gold Rush’. When I was turning in demos to the band and our producer Rich Costey, he asked about this song.”

He continued: “I was like ‘ah, that’s just this bad Randy Newman-esque political song, I don’t think it’s very good’. I told him the story of where the sample came from and he was like ‘you should really do something with that’. At the same time, I had written three or four songs that were related to the role that geography plays in our memory – and specifically in my memories.

“Being a band from Seattle and having lived in Seattle for 20 years, I have seen Seattle change so rapidly over the last 20 years because of the rise of the tech industry, the shifting demographics, the landscape, the skyline, and creative communities and people of colour being pushed out – it’s becoming a fairly monochromatic city. Even more so than it was before.”

Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard

With that, the lyrics were repurposed along with several others to portray a once great town slowly losing its identity – and the video follows suit.

“The video came out of a collaboration with director Alex Southam, who’s British,” said Gibbard. “We initially wanted to do a video that we weren’t in for a number of reasons, but mostly we just didn’t want to be a band playing in the background of some other storyline. Often one of the things we find difficult is that the songs are so narrative that the video treatments are just to reinforce the narrative of the song.

“What I just become enveloped by people? That’s what it feels like living in a city that’s seen it’s population explode and shift over time. We played with the visuals so at the start of the video people are dress in ’50s garb, then over the course of the video the signature look changes to the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, then ends with this scene where everyone is on their phone and I’m just disappearing into this crowd.”

Gibbard added: “This is our worst nightmare. Collectively, this drives us all insane – walking down a busy street in the city, with people looking at their phones and not paying attention. Like, walking and texting. I know I sound like a luddite, but it’s super fucking annoying.”

Guitarist Dave Depper joked: “It’s better than last week in Amsterdam when literally everyone was texting and riding [on their bicycles] though.

Watch our ‘Song Stories’ video with the band above

Death Cab release their new album ‘Thank You For Today’ on August 19.

Death Cab For Cutie tour dates and tickets

The band’s upcoming UK and Ireland tour dates are below. Tickets are available here.

January
24 Dublin Olympia Theatre
25 Manchester Albert Hall
26 Glasgow O2 Academy
28 Nottingham Rock City
29 Leeds O2 Academy
30 Bristol O2 Academy

February
1 London Eventim Apollo