Death Cab for Cutie plays in Vail Saturday night
Guitarist Dave Depper talks about classic rock influences and love for mountain lifestyle ahead of show at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
With the leaves changing colors, flannel coming back in style and the smell of pumpkin spice wafting in the open air, what better time is there for some indie rock?
The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is closing out its summer live concert season strong with two more weeks of exciting performances, and is welcoming cool weather vibes with Bellingham, Washington, indie rockers Death Cab for Cutie Saturday night.
Death Cab, for short, is composed of founding frontman Ben Gibbard and bassist Nick Harmer, along with drummer Jason McGerr, guitarist Dave Depper and keyboardist Zac Rae. The group formed in 1997 and has been nominated for eight Grammy awards, including Best Rock Song (“I Will Possess Your Heart”), Best Rock Album (“Kintsugi”) and three nominations for Best Alternative Music Album (“Narrow Stairs”, “The Open Door EP” and “Codes and Keys”). But many Death Cab fans would argue that 2003’s “Transatlanticism” is the band’s most coveted work. And guitarist Dave Depper would agree that the album’s title track is still the most fun to play for the crowd.
“ ’Transatlanticism’ is just a magical song to me,” Depper said. “It’s just like a beautiful, modern hymn. It’s the perfect distillation of Ben’s songwriting approach combined with a really beautiful, slowly-evolving musical landscape. It starts off so minimally and it turns into the loudest, most intense part of the set … It’s transcendent every night, I’ll never get tired of it.”
Depper, at time of interview, was outdoors before their Ogden, Utah, performance and had to quickly take shelter as a sudden, violent hail storm rolled in.
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“It was blindingly sunny when we started talking. Just picture me cowering in a doorway right now,” he laughed.
Under duress, Depper spoke candidly about Death Cab’s formula for compelling songwriting.
“I think it combines very honest, emotionally direct lyrics with a powerful rhythm section and a lot of attention to sonic detail.”
While Death Cab’s modern sound has always appealed to the alternative scene, Depper’s list of influences nods to notable classics.
“I was definitely raised in a Beatles household. I think Ben and I share that in common, for sure. As a guitarist I love David Gilmore (Pink Floyd), Graham Coxon (Blur), Peter Buck (REM), Prince, stuff like that,” Depper said.
Despite being slightly distracted by a chaotic storm, Depper affirmed that the band’s Pacific Northwest roots make acclimation a non-issue.
“Jason is into snowboarding. Ben and I are trail runners … a lot of us are into backpacking. We’re all pretty mountain-obsessed in this band. So it’s always a treat to play in parts of the country that feature them prominently,” Depper said.
“I’m excited to finally see Vail in person. The band has never played here, and I’ve never been there either, so we’re all excited.”
The show starts at 7 p.m. Seattle pop-rockers Deep Sea Diver will get the night started before Death Cab takes the stage. For tickets and more information, visit grfavail.com/death-cab-for-cutie.
What: Death Cab for Cutie with Deep Sea Diver
When: Saturday, September 11 at 7 p.m.
Where: Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater
Tickets: $65 – 89.50 for Pavilion; $44.95 for lawn GA
Tickets and info: grfavail.com/death-cab-for-cutie
Important: New proof-of-vaccination requirements for adults, and mask requirements for children, are in place at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Learn more at vilarpac.org/covid-policy. Your proof of vaccination can be a hard copy or digital COVID-19 vaccine record or state-authorized immunization records.