Skip to content

Ben Gibbard Announces First Solo Record ‘Former Lives’

Ben Gibbard / Photo by Wendy Redfern/Redferns

Since the last Death Cab for Cutie record Codes and Keys came out last May, Ben Gibbard has endured a series of significant life changes, like cutting down his drinking and ending his marriage, while also maintaining his marathon-running and sustaining a gigantic, year-long, multi-legged world tour with his band. We may have presumed Gibbard will be chilling out when that tour ends this weekend. That, however, is untrue! This fall, the runner with a questionable playlist will embark upon his first solo album adventure. His debut solo album Former Lives will be released October 16 via Barsuk (October 15 in the U.K./Europe, via City Slang).

“It certainly wasn’t a reaction to any sort of dissatisfaction to recording with Death Cab or anything like that,” Gibbard tells Stereogum. In his 20-plus-year career, Gibbard has never seemed artistically constrained: He’s been in everything from punk bands to Internet-born electro duos. He’s recorded solo tracks for compilations like the split LP Home V with American Analog Set frontman Andrew Kenny, and his collaborative Kerouac concept album One Fast Move or I’m Gone with Son Volt’s Jay Farrar; his 1997 one-off project ¡All-TIme Quarterback! was also technically solo, but this will be the first time he’s releasing a full album under his own name. “I think as we were recording all these tunes, number one we didn’t necessarily know we were making a record, and two I think that to kind of put the record together and sequence it and everything else, I had kind of recognized that all of these tunes are kind of very different from each other and it’s only my voice and songwriting that ties them all together,” he said.

Written over the course of eight years (basically in the years since Death Cab’s Transatlanticism), the record will consist of 12 tracks and will be followed by “limited touring,” according to his camp. Things it will probably feature: songs about divorce. Things it probably won’t feature: Gibbard’s very Death Cabby cover of Stars’ “Set Yourself on Fire.” Things we wish it featured: a cover of “Born to Run.” (The track list itself is yet to come.)