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Death Cab for Cutie finds ‘Keys’ to success

30 p.m.

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In an always-changing music industry, indie rock group Death Cab for Cutie is very much alive even after nearly 15 years as a band.

Death Cab is set to kick off its latest tour at The Lifestyles Communities Pavilion in Columbus Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m.

And while the band has been a figure in the music industry for years, Wednesday night’s show, and the other shows on their tour, will give fans a glimpse at a different side of Death Cab, bassist Nick Harmer said in an interview with The Lantern.

“I hope they get to see a little different side of our band,” he said. “Our albums are a little more introverted and our shows are more extroverted.”

Still, Harmer said that although no two shows are the same, the band remains true to its roots even as they introduce new music.

“No new costumes or anything like that,” Harmer said. “It’s still the four of us playing our music.”

Harmer said touring with the band and crew members is something he is excited about.

“I love touring with these guys. They’re my best friends,” he said.

The band also makes an effort to work with “the same crew guys and same crew girls,” which Harmer said has created the feel of a touring family.

Death Cab for Cutie consists of Harmer, singer/guitarist Benjamin Gibbard, guitarist and producer Chris Walla and drummer Jason McGerr, who first joined the group on the album “Transatlanticism,” released in 2003.

The group formed at Western Washington University in 1997, and in 1999, Death Cab released “Something about Airplanes,” their studio debut.

In 2004, the band signed a major label deal with Atlantic Records and released the Grammy-nominated albums “Plans” and “Narrow Stairs” in 2005 and 2008, respectively.

The quartet released their seventh studio album “Codes and Keys” in May.

Death Cab used a slightly different recording process on “Codes and Keys” than they have on other albums, recording the album bit by bit instead of all at once, Harmer said.

Despite the change in their practice, though, the band didn’t set out to change the style of their music. Harmer said that though Death Cab’s music has evolved and grown over the years, no concerted effort was made to experiment with their sound.

“We don’t really sit down and say, ‘Let’s really change things up,'” Harmer said. “Ultimately, that doesn’t feel genuine to us.”

Instead, Harmer said Death Cab uses a “pretty organic process” to arrive at their finished album.

“It kind of grows more than follows a plan.”

The band does not sit down and create a list of goals for their music or a particular album, Harmer said. Instead, the band starts with the music itself.

The band members take a group of songs they like and weed through them until they find 11 or 12 songs that they feel belong on their record, Harmer said. They find inspiration for their music from other bands, literature and film.

“We kind of draw from that whole landscape of pop culture.”

Harmer said that in spite of the acclaim the band has received, Death Cab’s greatest accomplishment has simply been remaining a band.

“I’m really proud of the fact that we’ve been a band this long. We released our seventh album, we’re still touring, we still love each other,” Harmer said. “Being in a touring band is a hard thing.”

And, Harmer said, Death Cab has no intention of leaving the scene when their tour is completed. They will be touring for the remainder of 2011, but he expects the band to discuss recording again when the tour is over.

“I’d imagine we’ll try to get back in the studio sooner rather than later,” Harmer said.

For now, though, Death Cab is focusing on starting their tour and enjoying each other’s company.

“I’m just really excited to get back on the road,” Harmer said.

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