Chris Walla

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Chris Walla
Walla in 2014
Walla in 2014
Background information
Birth nameChristopher Ryan Walla
Born (1975-11-02) November 2, 1975 (age 48)
Bothell, Washington, United States
GenresIndie rock
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, guitarist, record producer, film score composer
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals, piano, keyboards, samples, bass, audio sequencer
Years active1994–present
Formerly ofDeath Cab for Cutie

Christopher Ryan Walla (born November 2, 1975) [1] is an American musician, record producer, and film music composer, best known for being a former guitarist and songwriter for the band Death Cab for Cutie.

Musical career[edit]

Walla playing guitar

Early bands[edit]

While at Bothell High School in the early 1990s, Walla started a program called Open Microphone with creative writing teacher Laura Drumheller, as a noon-time forum for the arts, which allowed any student to take the stage and perform.[2] Walla regularly performed at these shows, as well as serving as MC. One performance by Walla included a song by Talking Heads. These early Open Microphone shows proved popular and continued for over twenty years, moving from Bothell High School to Inglemoor High School when teacher Drumheller transferred there.[3] Walla was in a short-lived band called The Wallflowers (not to be confused with The Wallflowers of California). Later, in 2001, he was an early member of the Seattle band The Long Winters.

Death Cab for Cutie[edit]

Walla joined Death Cab for Cutie in 1997, after moving to Bellingham, Washington where guitarist/singer Ben Gibbard and bassist Nick Harmer were attending Western Washington University. Eventually releasing seven albums, four EPs and two live EPs with the band, Walla co-wrote many of their hit songs, including "Title and Registration" and "I Will Possess Your Heart".

On August 13, 2014, after 17 years with Death Cab for Cutie, Chris Walla decided to part ways with the band, stating that he plans to "continue making music, producing records, and erring on the side of benevolence and beauty whenever possible."[4] Walla's last performance with the band occurred on September 13, 2014, at the Rifflandia Music Festival in Victoria, British Columbia.[5]

In a 2015 interview, Walla explained that he left the band because he found himself uninterested in the music they were working on for the band's eighth studio album, Kintsugi. He critiqued the songs as "flat," none of his ideas seemed to be sticking, and he felt the band needed an infusion of fresh blood; "I was really dissatisfied with where the Death Cab stuff had gotten to when I quit as producer, and that’s why I quit."[6]

Solo projects[edit]

Walla has recorded a variety of solo material and released his debut solo album, Field Manual, in 2008 on Barsuk Records. The song "Sing Again" became available for free download from Barsuk's website. Before the release of Field Manual, it was reported that two tracks recorded for Death Cab for Cutie's 2005 album, Plans, would be featured, but this is unconfirmed. Some of Walla's solo work has been released using the name Martin Youth Auxiliary, such as a cassette was released in 1999 on Elsinor Records.[7]

A solo instrumental album, titled Tape Loops, was released on October 16, 2015.

On October 6, 2023, Walla released the EP 2002 on Bandcamp, consisting of three previously unreleased songs written and recorded by him in the year 2002.[8]


In addition to being a musician Walla has a long career as a producer, earning production, engineering, and mixing credits on over thirty albums and EPs. His first credit was as the producer for Death Cab for Cutie's debut album, Something About Airplanes, released in 1998. Walla produced all releases by Death Cab for Cutie until Kintsugi except 1997's You Can Play These Songs with Chords EP, which was produced by Ben Gibbard. However, Walla earned production credits on the 2002 re-release of You Can Play These Songs with Chords, which featured 10 new songs. It was announced via Kelly Porter's Facebook Page Walla would be doing guitar work for her upcoming recording work.[9]


Walla founded his own recording studio, located within his home in Portland, Oregon, named the Alberta Court. Prior to moving to Portland, from 2000 to 2005, he was the owner/proprietor of Seattle recording studio, the Hall of Justice, where Death Cab for Cutie and many Pacific Northwest bands recorded over the years. In 2012, Walla began rebuilding the Hall of Justice after moving back to Seattle.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Walla married scholar, knitwear designer, and illustrator Dianna Potter in February 2013, at the Swedish Cultural Center in Seattle.[11][12][13] Since leaving the band, Walla and his wife moved to Montreal, Quebec before later settling in Trondheim, Norway.[14]


Selected credits


  1. ^ "Chris Walla | American musician | Britannica".
  2. ^ "The Death Cab Connection". McMenamins Blog. September 23, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  3. ^ Nystrom, Andy (February 8, 2010). "Death Cab for Cutie rocker turns up the giving volume for Northshore YMCA". Bothell Reporter. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  4. ^ Reed, Ryan (August 13, 2014). "Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla Leaves Band After 17 Years". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  5. ^ Minsker, Evan (September 14, 2014). "Chris Walla Performs Last Show With Death Cab for Cutie: Video". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  6. ^ Fink, Matt. "Chris Walla on Leaving Death Cab For Cutie and His Latest Solo Album, "Tape Loops"". Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  7. ^ 'Chris Walla'. (January 2, 1970). Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  8. ^ Chris DeVille (October 6, 2023) 'Stream Chris Walla's New EP Of Previously Unreleased 2002 Recordings'
  9. ^ 'Very Excited to Announce' (September 4, 2004) Retrieved on January 17, 2015
  10. ^ 'Q&A: Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla on the Obama Campaign, New Solo Album'. (September 9, 2012). Retrieved on April 30, 2013.
  11. ^ "Paper Tiger". Paper Tiger. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  12. ^ Shapiro, Nina (November 11, 2013). "Seattle News and Events | Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla Recruits for". Archived from the original on December 17, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  13. ^ "Potter – Walla – Life". March 10, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  14. ^ "What Goes On S2 Ep25 - Chris Walla". YouTube. December 1, 2020. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  15. ^ "Victoria singer-songwriter's song featured on American Idol". Victoria Times Colonist. March 18, 2019. Retrieved November 17, 2022.

External links[edit]