Benjamin Gibbard (born August 11, 1976) is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. He is best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist of the indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie, with which he has recorded nine studio albums, and as one half of the electronica act the Postal Service. Gibbard released his debut solo album, Former Lives, in 2012, and a collaborative studio album, One Fast Move or I'm Gone (2009), with Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt's Jay Farrar.
Gibbard performing with Death Cab for Cutie in 2008
|Birth name||Benjamin Gibbard|
|Born||August 11, 1976|
|Genres||Alternative rock, indie rock, synthpop|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, guitarist|
|Instruments||Guitar, vocals, piano, drums, bass|
|Labels||Barsuk, Atlantic, Sub Pop, Wawa|
|Associated acts||Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service, ¡All-Time Quarterback!, Pinwheel, Dntel, Pedro the Lion, Kind of Like Spitting|
While performing guitar in the band Pinwheel, Gibbard recorded a demo cassette under the moniker Death Cab for Cutie, titled You Can Play These Songs with Chords (1997). After receiving a positive response to the material, Gibbard expanded the project into a full band, with the addition of Chris Walla (guitar), Nick Harmer (bass) and Nathan Good (drums). The following year, the band released its debut album, Something About Airplanes (1998), on Barsuk Records, and released its follow-up, We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes, in 2000.
Life and career
Gibbard was born to Allen and Margaret (Flach) Gibbard in Bremerton, Washington, where he spent his formative years, during the time of the grunge music explosion in the early 1990s. He graduated from Olympic High School in 1994. He also cites Jack Kerouac as a major influence. He studied engineering at Western Washington University. He was raised Roman Catholic and referred to himself as "this indoctrinated Catholic even though I haven't been to church of my own volition in 10 or 15 years now." In a 2003 interview Gibbard stated that while he had previously been a vegan, he had recently become a pescetarian.
He had a small role in the John Krasinski film Brief Interviews with Hideous Men based on the David Foster Wallace short story collection of the same title. He completed a solo tour through the US in the spring of 2007 that featured David Bazan of Pedro the Lion and singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice.
Gibbard became engaged to actress and musician Zooey Deschanel in 2008. The couple married in September 2009 near Seattle, Washington. They announced their separation on November 1, 2011. Deschanel filed for divorce on December 27, 2011, citing irreconcilable differences. The divorce became final on December 12, 2012. Gibbard married photographer and tour manager Rachel Demy on October 21, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.
He reportedly gave up alcohol in 2008 and began running marathons. He ran his first trail ultramarathon in 2013 and since then has completed several each year.
Gibbard is an agnostic, lapsed Catholic: "I don't want to falsely believe in something solely so I can jump to the front of the line for whatever this awesome place is we go after we die. [...] The vastness of that idea is so beyond my comprehension that I feel like if there was a God, then that God would accept me saying I'm not able to believe because it's so outside of my ability to understand it. I understand that's where faith comes into play."
Gibbard is an activist for gay rights and wrote an article in The Daily Beast voicing why this issue is important to him. He stated that when his lesbian sister got married, it was "the most beautiful thing" he had ever seen. In the article, he voiced his strong support for Referendum 74 and discussed raising money for the issue. He stated, "I would just feel so much pride for my state if we could pass it by a popular vote and show the rest of the country that this is the direction we are going in."
Gibbard has been very open about his political views, stating that he is part of the Democratic Party. On October 10, 2016, Death Cab for Cutie released "Million Dollar Loan," the first song in the Dave-Eggers project, "30 Days, 50 Songs." The song targets Donald Trump, as it makes jabs at the fact that he asked his father for a million dollar loan. Gibbard says: "Lyrically, 'Million Dollar Loan' deals with a particularly tone deaf moment in Donald Trump's ascent to the Republican nomination. While campaigning in New Hampshire last year, he attempted to cast himself as a self-made man by claiming he built his fortune with just a 'small loan of a million dollars' from his father. Not only has this statement been proven to be wildly untrue, he was so flippant about it. It truly disgusted me..."
As of May 2015, Gibbard tours with four modified 1970s Fender Mustang guitars. Additionally he uses two custom-built Acme Silvertone amplifier heads. For use on acoustic songs he relies on two 2008 Gibson J-45 Acoustic Guitars with B-Band pickup systems. As of 2016, Gibbard has since began using Supro amplifiers. In the past, Gibbard used Fender Telecasters and G&L ASAT guitars.
In popular culture
Gibbard is the subject of the song "Ben's My Friend" by indie folk act Sun Kil Moon. The track appears on the project's sixth studio album, Benji (2014). On Sun Kil Moon's follow-up album, Universal Themes (2015), primary recording artist Mark Kozelek again refers to his friendship with Gibbard on its closing track, "This Is My First Day and I'm Indian and I Work at a Gas Station". Gibbard previously made a guest appearance on the band's third studio album, April (2008). Gibbard is also referenced in "The Cones of Dunshire," an episode from the sixth season of Parks and Recreation. In the episode, one character attempts to promote a forest cabin to hipsters by claiming that "Ben Gibbard and Neko Case made out here once."
Death Cab for Cutie
The Postal Service
- 2003 Give Up
Kind of Like Spitting
- 2002 Bridges Worth Burning (Drums, Vocals)
With Jay Farrar
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