The Postal Service

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This article is about the music duo. For other uses, see Postal service (disambiguation).
The Postal Service
PostalService color300dpi by Brian Tamborello.jpg
Ben Gibbard (left) and Jimmy Tamborello (right)
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Indie rock, indietronica, indie pop, electropop, chiptune[1]
Years active 2001–2005, 2013[2]
Labels Sub Pop
Associated acts Dntel, Death Cab for Cutie, Figurine, Headset
Members Ben Gibbard
Jimmy Tamborello
Jenny Lewis
Laura Burhenn

The Postal Service was an American rock musical supergroup composed of vocalist Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie), producer Jimmy Tamborello (of Dntel and Headset) with Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley) on background vocals/keyboards & samplers live. For the band's reunion tour in 2013, Laura Burhenn (of the Mynabirds) joined the lineup throughout the tour to provide additional vocals and instruments, with Jen Wood filling in for a few shows.[3][4]



The group formed after Gibbard contributed vocals for a song called "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan" from Dntel's album Life Is Full of Possibilities. The song sparked an EP of remixes by other artists, such as Lali Puna, The Flaming Lips, Safety Scissors, Barbara Morgenstern and Superpitcher, and was so well-received that the two artists decided that further collaboration was in order.

The band's name was chosen due to the way in which it produced its songs. Tamborello wrote and performed instrumental tracks and then sent the DATs to Gibbard, who edited the song as he saw fit (adding his vocals along the way) and sent them back to Tamborello through the United States Postal Service. The third member of the band, Jenny Lewis, lived in the same apartment complex as Tamborello and would record temporary vocals for several of the album's tracks before eventually becoming a full-fledged member of the band, sharing vocals and instrumentation in their live shows.

Give Up[edit]

The band's debut album, Give Up, was released on February 18, 2003. Several songs on the album feature guest vocals from Jenny Lewis, the solo artist and lead singer of Rilo Kiley, as well as vocals from indie rock musician Jen Wood. Dntel and Chris Walla produced the album.[5] Walla played the guitar and piano on several tracks. Though both artists' main bands were still active at the time, The Postal Service supported the album with a successful concert tour and stated its intention to tour again in the future. The album was the Sub Pop label's most successful release since Nirvana's debut album Bleach.[6] The album's most well-known single was "Such Great Heights", which is featured in advertisements for UPS and Kaiser Permanente. "Such Great Heights" was also the first theme song for ABC's Grey's Anatomy in 2005. The song was covered by Iron and Wine and was featured on the soundtrack for the film Garden State, as well as a commercial for M&M's. It was later covered by Amanda Palmer, Ben Folds, The Scene Aesthetic, Brack Cantrell, Streetlight Manifesto, Confide and Joy Kills Sorrow. The song "We Will Become Silhouettes" was covered by The Shins and the original version was featured in the trailer for the movie Funny People. The song "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" was featured in the soundtrack of the 2004 film D.E.B.S..

In August 2003, the United States Postal Service sent the band a cease and desist letter, citing its trademark on the phrase "postal service". After negotiations, the USPS relented, allowing the band use of the trademark in exchange for promotional efforts on behalf of the USPS and a performance at its annual National Executive Conference.[7] Additionally, at one point the USPS website sold the band's CDs.[8] In 2007, "Such Great Heights" appeared in the background of the "whiteboard" advertising campaign for one of the federal establishment's private competitors, the United Parcel Service.[9]

In January 2006, Josh Melnick and Xander Charity, who had produced the "Such Great Heights" music video, created a commercial for Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and Intel using similar footage.[10] While strikingly similar to the music video, the commercial did not contain imagery of the band or a recording of its music. On January 19, 2006, Gibbard stated on the band's website, "It has recently come to our attention that Apple Computer's new television commercial for the Intel chip features a shot-for-shot recreation of our video for 'Such Great Heights' made by the same filmmakers responsible for the original. We did not approve this commercialization and are extremely disappointed with both parties that this was executed without our consultation or consent." The band did not take legal action against Apple or the filmmakers.

Second album[edit]

On June 22, 2007, it was revealed that The Postal Service had begun work on a new album, though the specifics of the release date were vague. Gibbard stated, "We're slowly starting. We're crawling right now, and whether that crawl turns into a walk remains to be seen. But we'll know more towards the end of the year. I've just been touring so much and trying to find time to make it happen and make our schedules line up." Tamborello added, "We're talking about wanting to finish an album by sometime next year, because we have to work with Death Cab's schedule and stuff. I definitely want to do another one."[11]

On February 29, 2008, Spinner released an article stating that The Postal Service may not release a new album. Ben Gibbard stated, "Jimmy and I are still throwing ideas back and forth, but as time goes on, we find ourselves busy with our own music. ... We have some stuff, but it's been difficult to find the time and the drive to do the record. I'd love to finish it at some point and maybe even do some performances. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be."[12]

In May 2008, Gibbard stated that he and Tamborello were unlikely to release another album "before the end of the decade."[13]

In a December 2008 interview with Rolling Stone, Gibbard laughed off suggestions that The Postal Service's long overdue follow-up to their 2003 hit Give Up would be an indie version of Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy. Gibbard said that both he and Tamborello do not see it as a priority in light of their main projects, Death Cab for Cutie and Dntel. He said, "The anticipation of the second record has been a far bigger deal for everybody except the two of us... I don't know about it being the indie-rock Chinese Democracy, but now that Chinese Democracy has come out, I guess it just becomes the second Postal Service record that will never come out. There never really was a plan to do a second album. We work from time to time together but we have other things that take up all of our time."[14]

As of November 2012, Ben Gibbard posted on his Twitter account that there are "no plans" to produce another Postal Service record. He did not cite any specific reason for this statement, other than the fact that multiple fans questioned if there was going to be a second album.


In January 2013 Postal Service updated their website[15] to read "The Postal Service 2013," reigniting speculation that the band would play shows, or possibly release a new album. It was later confirmed that the image on the band's site portended that the band's debut, Give Up, would receive a ten year anniversary re-issue featuring a 15-song disc of rarities, including two new songs with Jenny Lewis[16][17] to be released on April 9, 2013.

In February 2013, Postal Service announced it will officially reunite for an extended world tour[18] with venues including Red Rocks Amphitheater,[19] the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April 2013,[20] the Primavera Sound Festival 2013 in Barcelona [21] Sasquatch! Music Festival in Washington in May,[22] and Free Press Summer Fest in Houston in June.

Along with the reunion, the band released their first new track in ten years called, "A Tattered Line of String" featuring Jenny Lewis.[23] On March 21, the band released a second new track titled "Turn Around". The track was released through 107.7 The End.[24]

On March 5, 2013, as a tie-in to the Give Up reissue, comedy website Funny or Die posted a parody video directed by Tom Scharpling set in 2002 in which the Postal Service's Jimmy Tamborello holds auditions for his musical collaborator. Guest stars on the video include, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Moby, Duff McKagan, Tom DeLonge, Aimee Mann, Jon Wurster, Page Hamilton, Nate Mendel, and Marc Maron.[25]

On August 3, 2013 Ben Gibbard tweeted that the Lollapalooza after show would be their last, and early in the morning of August 5, 2013 they played their last live song at the Metro Chicago.



  1. ^ Shaw, Jeff (May 25, 2006). "Music of the 8-bit variety makes a comeback". Niagara Gazette. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "The Postal Service Say Goodbye in Chicago". Rolling Stone Magazine. 2013-08-05. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  3. ^ Ambrose, Anthony. " Show Recap: The Postal Service / Mates of States @ NYC 6/14/2013". Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  4. ^ "Column: My picks for Lollapalooza including Postal Service, The Vaccines, more | Rock Candy". 2013-08-02. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  5. ^ entry on The Postal Service
  6. ^ "Postal Service's Give Up Goes Gold, iTunes Exclusive, And More!". Sub Pop. 2005-02-18. Retrieved 2005-02-18. 
  7. ^ Locklear, Fred (2004-06-11). "Postal Service delivers, and now rocks". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2004-06-11. 
  8. ^ "Product: Postal Service "Such Great Heights" EP". United States Postal Service. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  9. ^ "Postal Service's music promoting UPS' business". The State. 2007-01-19. 
  10. ^ "Apple - Intel Chip Switch". YouTube. 2008-01-04. Retrieved 2008-04-27. 
  11. ^ Montgomery, James (2006-06-22). "Postal Service Prepping Next Delivery: Second LP". MTV. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  12. ^ Luerssen, John D. (2008-02-29). "Postal Service Not Delivering New Album Anytime Soon". Spinner. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  13. ^ Teletext (2008-05-08). "Postal Service shuts?". Teletext. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  14. ^ "Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard Talks "Something About Airplanes," Obama, The Postal Service". 
  15. ^ Young, Alex (2013-01-21). "The Postal Service reunites for Coachella". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  16. ^ "The Postal Service to Reunite for Coachella, Release 10th Anniversary Edition of Give Up | News". Pitchfork. 2013-01-21. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  17. ^ "Jenny Lewis Sings on Both New Tracks on the Postal Service Give Up Reissue | News". Pitchfork. 2013-02-07. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  18. ^ "The Postal Service Extend North American Tour". 
  19. ^ "The Postal Service SOLD OUT - Red Rocks Amphitheatre - 5/30/2013". Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  20. ^ "The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Annual Festival – Event and visitor information, passes, photo gallery, FAQ, rules, and directions". Coachella. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  21. ^ "Primavera Sound". Primavera Sound. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  22. ^ "Sasquatch! Festival". Sasquatch! Festival. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  23. ^ "A New Track From the Postal Service, at Long Last: "A Tattered Line of String"". 
  24. ^ Pelly, Jenn (March 21, 2013). "Listen: New Postal Service Song "Turn Around"". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  25. ^ Scharpling, Tom. "The Postal Service Auditions". Funny or Die. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 

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