Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla leaves group

After 17 years with the band, guitarist and producer of the cult rock group says he longs for ‘the unknown’

Chris Walla is leaving Death Cab For Cutie. After 17 years as the band’s lead guitarist and producer, Walla is exiting the group to make time for new musical projects.

“I think I long for the unknown,” Walla wrote in a statement. “It might be that simple.”

Walla has played with Death Cab for as long as they have been a band, joining singer Ben Gibbard in 1997. Although Gibbard has always been their principal songwriter, Walla was an important counterweight, co-writing songs and producing all seven LPs. “We will miss Chris and wish him all the best in the next chapter of his career,” Death Cab’s remaining trio said on Facebook. “We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished together.”

Walla’s departure comes at an awkward time: Death Cab For Cutie recently completed a new album, which they plan to release next year. Walla appears on the release and he will even perform with the group at an upcoming gig in British Columbia. But this eighth LP also marks a significant change of process: for the first time, Death Cab collaborated with an outside producer, Rich Costey. “Working with [Rich] in this capacity [was] one of the greatest joys of my professional life,” Walla said.

“I will miss being a quarter of this band, and will support whatever course Death Cab for Cutie chooses from here,” he went on. “Deciding to leave the band was not, and is not, easy. It’s really, really sad. I love my bandmates, and I’m proud of what we’ve done ... Moving forward, my plans are simply to continue making music, producing records, and erring on the side of benevolence and beauty whenever possible.”

To date, Walla has released only one solo album, 2008’s Field Manual. He has however been active as a producer for hire, working with artists including Tegan and Sara, the Decemberists, and Mates of State.

Death Cab For Cutie’s most recent LP, 2011’s Codes and Keys, reached No 3 on the Billboard 200 and came in at No 24 in on the UK chart.


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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