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Chris Walla Leaves Death Cab for Cutie

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(Autumn de Wilde for Atlantic Records)

(Autumn de Wilde for Atlantic Records)

By Marissa G. Muller

As Death Cab for Cutie continue working on the followup to 2011’s Codes and Keys, guitarist Chris Walla has announced his departure.

Walla, who’s been with frontman Ben Gibbard since the beginning — as a producer for DCFC’s first release, 1997’s You Can Play These Songs with Chords, which was then Gibbard’s solo project that he decided to expand into a band — broke the news today in a goodbye letter on Seattle’s Stranger blog.

Walla’s reason for departure? He “longs for the unknown” and wants to continue building his music career outside of Death Cab for Cutie — which he’s already had success with, having produced for The Decemberists, Tegan & Sara, Nada Surf, and the Postal Service, among others.

“Deciding to leave the band was not, and is not, easy,” he wrote. “It’s really, really sad. I love my bandmates, and I’m proud of what we’ve done, and mercifully, those things don’t change with my departure. Moving forward, my plans are simply to continue making music, producing records, and erring on the side of benevolence and beauty whenever possible. Darkness may find me, but I shall never choose it.”

As for his former bandmates, there’s no word on who will replace Walla but they have showed their support for his decision to leave. On their Facebook page, they issued the statement: “We’ve had an incredible 17 years of making music with Chris. We are very proud of what we’ve accomplished together, including our eighth studio album which we have just put the finishing touches on. We will miss Chris and wish him all the best in the next chapter of his career. We are excited about sharing new music, and seeing all of you very soon.”

That new album, produced by Rich Costey, is slated for an early 2015 release.

The band will play a handful of final shows with Walla, the last one on Sept. 13 at Rifflandia Festival in Victoria, British Columbia.

Read Walla’s letter in full below.

Short version: I’m leaving Death Cab for Cutie. My last show with the band will be September 13, 2014, at the Rifflandia Festival in Victoria, BC. I hope you guys can make it.

Longer version: I think I long for the unknown. It might be that simple.

I will miss being a quarter of this band, and will support whatever course Death Cab for Cutie chooses from here. I am profoundly grateful to Ben, Nick, and Jason, for the experiences that define my adult life. Truly grateful, beyond words. Thank you.

I am also grateful to, and deeply humbled by, all of our fans. Without you, music would be mere ‘content’, and nothing could possibly be sadder than that. Thank you all, so dearly.

We’ve just finished our eighth album, which is our first with an outside producer. That producer is a fellow named Rich Costey, and working with him in this capacity is one of the greatest joys of my professional life. Thank you, as well.

There are so many others to whom I am grateful—our crew, our management, our families, the Atlantic, Barsuk and Elsinor labels, the Billions team. Thank you all.

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, and mercifully, those things don’t change with my departure. Moving forward, my plans are simply to continue making music, producing records, and erring on the side of benevolence and beauty whenever possible. Darkness may find me, but I shall never choose it.

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