Ben Gibbard: Folks' Obsession With My Personal Life Is Disappointing
Amidst a divorce with Zooey Deschanel, Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard soldiers on, focusing on a solo project, following baseball blogs, and jogging. Though the first single from his recently-released solo album "Teardrop Windows" has folks assuming that he's jumped back on the emo train, this is not the case.
Ahead of his solo show Wednesday at Wilshire Ebell, we spoke with Gibbard about his side project The Postal Service's 2003 album Give Up finally going platinum and the public's obsession with his divorce.
Congratulations on Give Up going Platinum. Did you ever think that would happen?
Oh of course not. When we were getting ready to put the record out and talking to Sub Pop about what the game plan was, I think, the liberal projection was 20,000 copies or something. And you know that seemed reasonable to me. I think at that point the largest selling Death Cab record was about 50,000 or something.
I know that you and Jimmy Tamborello hadn't been talking about a reunion. Does this change anything?
You've said your solo album, Former Lives, spans eight years, three relationships and drinking. Would you say that you use music as a therapeutic release?
I think that music is certainly a part of therapy. I also think actual therapy is therapeutic [laughs]. I think therapy is the most therapeutic. I think the one thing that music provides is that not only are you able to work through these things in your life that maybe have been molding under the surface for awhile, but you're also able to kind of create fiction out of it...I think that being able to take events from one's real life and being in complete control by making them into varying degrees of fiction is really empowering, and therapeutic as well.
From first listen, it sounds like Former Lives is about Zooey Deschanel, but you've said that you think people would be surprised about when these songs were written and who they were written for.
I would be a little bit disappointed that for all the efforts that I put into making the album and trying to express a number of things about elements of our lives, that it would feel almost sort of hurtful that someone would immediately go to the TMZ corner of it. I think also it's important to point out that no writer writes directly about one person. That's not how writers work. They don't write book reports about their lives. They pull from their experiences and the experiences of people around them, and they create new stories.
Tabloid media seems more popular than ever right now.
I think this might be stepping a little into the "Get off my lawn" territory, but I find it kind of disappointing that a lot of people I know can tell you more about me, or what they see as me, and what's happening in other people's personal lives than they know what's happening in Syria. People read Gawker and TMZ and god knows what else, but they don't read the New York Times, they don't read the L.A. Times, they don't read the L.A. Weekly and other alternative newspapers. And, you know, that's just a bummer...It's just filling up the corners of your brain that you should really be filling with actual, helpful information about how the world works. And that's just kind of disappointing that there's such a large population that knows more about celebrity divorce than they do about world politics.
When your divorce was going on, you didn't even look at any of the press surrounding it. Was it hard to be put in the spotlight like that?
No, because I didn't pay attention to that stuff before. It's not hard to avoid that stuff when it's not a part of my morning Internet routine. Unless they're talking about it in the New York Times or The Stranger, or a baseball blog, I'm not going to see it [laughs], but it's impossible to avoid.
Ben Gibbard plays Wednesday at Wilshire Ebell
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