Ben Gibbard

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Ben Gibbard
Death Cab for Cutie - Ben Gibbard 2015 (cropped).jpg
Gibbard performing with Death Cab for Cutie in 2015
Benjamin Gibbard

(1976-08-11) August 11, 1976 (age 46)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • guitarist
Years active1994–present
(m. 2009; div. 2012)
Rachel Demy
(m. 2016)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
  • drums
  • bass
Member ofDeath Cab for Cutie
Formerly ofThe Postal Service

Benjamin Gibbard (born August 11, 1976)[2] 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 whom he has recorded ten studio albums, and as a member of the indie pop band 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 Jay Farrar.

Early life[edit]

Gibbard was born to Allen and Margaret (née Flach) Gibbard[3] in Bremerton, Washington. His father was in the Navy and his family moved around the country, including spending time in Northern Virginia before returning to Washington.[4][5] Gibbard spent his early life there during the grunge music explosion of the early 1990s. He graduated from Olympic High School in Bremerton in 1994,[6] and studied environmental chemistry at Western Washington University.[7] He was raised Catholic and in 2007 referred to himself as an "indoctrinated Catholic even though I haven't been to church of my own volition in 10 or 15 years now."[8]


In 1996, while playing 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 guitarist Chris Walla, bassist Nick Harmer and drummer Nathan Good. 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.[9]

Gibbard had a minor role in the John Krasinski film Brief Interviews with Hideous Men based on the David Foster Wallace short story collection of the same title.[10] 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.[11]

In November 2014, Gibbard appeared as a guest on Foo Fighters' eighth studio album Sonic Highways.[12]

Gibbard (left) performing aside Julien Baker

Personal life[edit]

Gibbard became engaged to actress and musician Zooey Deschanel in 2008 and married in September 2009 near Seattle.[13] They announced their separation on November 1, 2011,[14] with Deschanel filing for divorce on December 27, citing irreconcilable differences.[15] The divorce was finalized on December 12, 2012.[16] Gibbard later married photographer and tour manager Rachel Demy on October 21, 2016 in Seattle.[17]

In a 2003 interview, Gibbard stated that while he had previously been a vegan, he recently became a pescetarian.[18] He reportedly gave up alcohol in 2008 and began running marathons.[19] He ran his first trail ultramarathon in 2013 and has since completed several each year.[20]

Gibbard is a lapsed Catholic who now identifies as agnostic:[21] "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."[22]

Gibbard has been a fan of the MLB's Seattle Mariners since the age of five[23] and has thrown the first pitch at two Mariners games.[24] When the Mariners traded Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees in 2012, Gibbard honored him by writing and releasing the song "Ichiro's Theme".[25] Gibbard's handwritten lyrics for the song are currently in the archive of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.[26]


Gibbard is an activist for gay rights and wrote an article in The Daily Beast explaining why the issue is important to him. He stated that when his lesbian sister got married, it was "the most beautiful thing" he ever saw. In the article, he voiced his support for Washington 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."[27]

Gibbard has been open about his political views, expressing his support of the Democratic Party.[28][29] 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 satirizes the fact he asked his father for a million dollar loan. Gibbard said of the song: "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."[30]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Gibbard live streamed daily concerts from his home after canceling shows due to the pandemic.[31] Gibbard played songs by his bands Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service and other artists such as the Decemberists, Radiohead, New Order, Depeche Mode and the Beatles while promoting local Washington non-profit organizations.[32][33][34][35][36]

Musical equipment[edit]

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.[37] In the past, Gibbard played 1980s Japanese-built Squier Bullets through a Sears Silvertone amp, which he immortalized in the lyrics to the song No Joy In Mudville.[38] He also used Fender Telecasters and G&L ASAT guitars.[39]

In January 2021, Fender announced the Ben Gibbard Mustang as part of their Artist Signature series,[40] designed to Ben's specifications and inspired by the 1970s Mustangs he uses on tour.[41] The guitar features several unique features including a chambered ash body, custom "Ben Gibbard" pickups, and simplified electronics.

In popular culture[edit]

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).[42] 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, April (Aubrey Plaza) attempts to promote a forest cabin to hipsters by claiming that "Ben Gibbard and Neko Case made out here once."[43]


Death Cab for Cutie[edit]

Ben Gibbard[edit]

The Postal Service[edit]

¡All-Time Quarterback![edit]

Kind of Like Spitting[edit]

American Analog Set[edit]

  • New Equation / All I Want For Christmas (7", backing vocals, 2001)

With Jay Farrar[edit]


  • Pinwheel (1996)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Profile Ben Gibbard". Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  2. ^ Anderson, Kyle (August 11, 2009). "Happy Birthday, Ben Gibbard: Wake-up Video". MTV News. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  3. ^ "Margaret Flach". LifeStoryNet. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  4. ^ "Ben Gibbard Opens Up to Director Lance Bangs About Seattle, the Postal Service and His Formative Years". Vice. June 18, 2014. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  5. ^ Litt, Annie (November 1, 2011). "Death Cab for Cutie". KCRW. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  6. ^ "Death Cab for Cutie to Play in Bremerton". Kitsap Sun. February 21, 2008. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  7. ^ Harrington, Richard (October 21, 2005). "Death Cab, Full Speed Ahead". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  8. ^ McGuire, Pat. "Learning to Love the White Noise With Death Cab for Cutie". Filter. Archived from the original on August 10, 2007. Retrieved September 3, 2010.
  9. ^ Connick, Tom (October 27, 2015). "So you think you know... Ben Gibbard". DIY. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  10. ^ "Benjamin Gibbard". IMDb. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  11. ^ "Ben Gibbard Gives Solo Concert". NPR. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  12. ^ Reed, Ryan (November 29, 2014). "Q&A: Ben Gibbard Talks 'Sonic Highways,' Grunge, Cobain". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  13. ^ "Zooey Deschanel Gets Married". People. September 20, 2009. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  14. ^ Ravitz, Justin (November 1, 2011). "Zooey Deschanel, Husband Ben Gibbard Separate". Us Weekly. Retrieved November 1, 2011.
  15. ^ Shira, Dhavi (January 4, 2012). "Zooey Deschanel Files for Divorce from Ben Gibbard". People. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
  16. ^ "Zooey Deschanel Officially Divorced". TMZ. December 17, 2012. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  17. ^ "Death Cab for Cutie blurs the line between truth and fiction on "Thank You For Today"". Salon. August 18, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  18. ^ Agrella, Will; Smith, Marty (September 4, 2003). "Death Cab For Cutie". IGN. Archived from the original on March 18, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  19. ^ "How Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard Got Sober". Spin. May 11, 2011. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  20. ^ "Benjamin Gibbard M39". Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  21. ^ Davidson, Chris K. (November 16, 2018). "The End: Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie". Under the Radar. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  22. ^ Studarus, Laura (September 13, 2011). "Death Cab for Cutie". Relevant. Archived from the original on June 20, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  23. ^ Handel, Sarah (July 27, 2012). "Thanks For The Mariners Memories: Ben Gibbard's 'Ichiro's Theme'". NPR. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  24. ^ Johnson, Eugenie (July 22, 2016). "Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard pitched for the Seattle Mariners. Again". DIY. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  25. ^ "Ben Gibbard – "Ichiro's Theme"". Stereogum. July 24, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2022.
  26. ^ "We've Got A File On You: Ben Gibbard". Stereogum. September 12, 2022. Retrieved September 14, 2022.
  27. ^ Gibbard, Ben (October 31, 2012). "Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie On Why He Supports Gay Marriage". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on May 5, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  28. ^ "Ben Gibbard on Gay Marriage". Spin. October 22, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  29. ^ Woodward, Adam (October 17, 2012). "Ben Gibbard - Why You'd Want To Live Here?". Huck. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  30. ^ Bowsher, Allison (October 11, 2016). "Death Cab For Cutie Come For Donald Trump With 'Million Dollar Loan'". Much. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  31. ^ Martoccio, Angie (March 17, 2020). "Ben Gibbard Announces Daily Livestream Shows From His Home Studio". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  32. ^ Rossignol, Derrick (March 19, 2020). "Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard Covers New Order During A Livestream Performance". Uproxx. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  33. ^ Droke, Carolyn (March 18, 2020). "Ben Gibbard Covers Radiohead's 'Fake Plastic Trees' During A Quarantine Live Session". Uproxx. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  34. ^ "Ben Gibbard Covers The Decemberists' 'Grace Cathedral Hill' in Latest Livestream Session". Spin. March 19, 2020. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  35. ^ Daly, Rhian (May 1, 2020). "Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard covers Depeche Mode during lockdown live-stream". NME. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  36. ^ Kaye, Ben (May 8, 2020). "Ben Gibbard Performs All-Beatles Covers Livestream". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  37. ^ Bean, Perry (May 27, 2015). "Rig Rundown: Death Cab for Cutie". Premier Guitar. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  38. ^ "Death Cab For Cutie – No Joy In Mudville Lyrics". Genius. August 6, 2020. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  39. ^ "13 unsung Telecaster legends". MusicRadar. April 14, 2010. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  40. ^ "Fender announces signature models for Ben Gibbard, Chrissie Hynde, Mike McCready, Joe Strummer, Dhani Harrison and Jason Isbell". | All Things Guitar. January 12, 2021. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  41. ^ March 2021, Sam Roche 02 (March 2, 2021). "Fender expands its Artist Signature Series with new Ben Gibbard Mustang". guitarworld. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  42. ^ Cohen, Ian. "Sun Kil Moon: "Ben's My Friend"". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  43. ^ Ozzi, Dan (August 9, 2018). "Ben Gibbard Ranks Death Cab for Cutie's Eight Albums". Vice. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  44. ^ Uitti, Jacob (August 13, 2020). "Chong the Nomad Pairs With Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie on "Provider"". American Songwriter. Retrieved September 30, 2022.
  45. ^ Paul, Larisha (August 26, 2022). "Nothing Lasts Forever on Noah Cyrus And Ben Gibbard's Country Ballad 'Every Beginning Ends'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 30, 2022.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]