Since releasing its seventh album last year, Death Cab for Cutie has been touring the world.
Now the famed indie rock band is expanding its live show for one tour. They're adding a nine-member string orchestra to its upcoming tour, which includes a stop in Omaha.
Having used the Magik*Magik Orchestra on "Codes and Keys," they decided to bring the strings on tour, which will help expand songs such as "I Will Follow You Into the Dark," "Soul Meets Body" and "Meet Me on the Equinox."
We caught up with bassist Nick Harmer on the phone from Seattle just before the band headed to Denver to rehearse with the orchestra and then on to Omaha to perform.
Q. The band just played Asia and Australia. How was that?
A. It was incredible. We had such a wonderful experience. I'm still processing all of those shows. Certainly, the China shows were really fun. It was really great to play in four or five cities we've never been in.
Q. Since "Codes and Keys" released last year you've been on tour a ton. And this year, you're doing this upcoming tour with the orchestra, back out to Europe and then to festivals. Does it ever stop?
A. That's kind of what we do. I think we really like playing shows. We like that side of the band enough that it's worth continuing to do that.
We keep looking for new experiences and new challenges in the live setting. Every tour cycle, we'd like to play someplace new whether it's a state or city or country we've never been before. Thankfully, the world's big enough.
This year, we tour like crazy and then we circle the wagons and figure out the next ablum.
Q. The Magik*Magik Orchestra performed on a few "Codes and Keys" tracks. How did you decide to do a tour with them backing the band?
A. Minna Choi and the players she's recruited are really great, great people. I think that's always a key piece for us whenever we talk about doing something big: We all get along first.
At first, they were just doing the "Storytellers" show on VH1. That was the first time that she was able to write some arrangements for old material. It was the success of that plus it gives some interesting life to old material we hadn't thought about for a long time. That grew into a longer conversation about her attempting that for a whole back catalog and tour worth of material.
It's funny. A lot of people ask, "Is this the new direction?" It's really not. It's very much a fun thing to try to do. It also provides the immediate feeling for keeping it fresh, which is always a challenge with as much as we've toured over the years.
Q. How did you choose the songs for this tour?
A. A lot of that was left up to Ben. He made the first cut. "These are the songs that I want to sing, that I feel most connected to lyrically."
Then there's a second round of cuts where we all sit down and decide what we've always wanted to bring back into the set, but just haven't known how to present it.
I know there's a couple songs that we've never played live. There's songs we've talked about doing or "Wouldn't that be fun?" but we just haven't been able to do. The orchestra really frees your mind up from thinking, "Ah, I don't know if we could do that. But maybe with a string arrangement, it could work."
It wasn't easy. And there will be a little tweaking once we get into the actual shows.
Q. "Codes and Keys" in particular seems fit for this setup.
A. I hope so. But you just never know. I can hear it in my head, but then you play it and it's like, "That's so not what I had in my head." Then again, it could be, "I never thought it could be this beautiful."
Q. Are there any songs in particular you're looking forward to?
A. I've played "Soul Meets Body" a thousand times, but never with an orchestra. It will be really exciting to play some of these songs we've done the same way so many times.
For songs like "Codes and Keys," the string part that we recorded, we used a sample. It sounds great, but I really can't wait to hear some of these parts we've been doing with a full orchestra.
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