Death Cab's Ben Gibbard and games bands playMay 10, 2012 @ 3:03 pm (Updated: 6:45 am - 5/11/12 )
Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard performing Tuesday May 8, 2012 at the Fox Theater in Oakland(SF Weekly photo)
When you're a big time musician like Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie, there's a lot of time to kill on the road between shows; and the Bremerton-native reveals the band has created a unique way to keep themselves entertained.
"We invented a game called 'Celebrity'," Gibbard tells co-host Chris Kornelis, Seattle Weekly music editor, and me in an interview for Seattle Sounds, airing Sunday at 3 p.m. on 97.3 KIRO FM.
"When you're stuck in traffic somewhere you just kind of will look over at somebody at a car, and you'll go 'Oh my god it's Robert De Niro' and you look over and realize he looks nothing like Robert De Niro and everybody laughs and then somebody goes 'Oh my god it's Wesley Snipes' and you look over and it's a white guy," Gibbard laughs. While the game can be played anywhere, Gibbard says it works best in LA.
"There's always the possibility you're going to go 'Oh my God it's Tom Selleck,' and Tom Selleck's actually in the car next to you. That is always a possibility in Los Angeles, so it's better to play it there than in Osh Kosh," Gibbard says.
But Death Cab isn't the only band that's come up with its own game for the road. Chris says he got the idea for a regular column about games bands play after hearing repeatedly about how they pass the time.
"I think every band has a creative way of keeping themselves occupied on the road. I mean every band spends so much time in a bus or a van or a Gulfstream jet or whatever," he says.
Among his favorites is "Radio Baseball."
"The pitcher is the one sitting in the front seat. He hits scan on the radio and the batter has to guess the name of the song, the name of the artist, give a little trivia about the artist and depending on how many you get right you get a single or double and if you know nothing it's a strike and they keep score and it can be very elaborate."
The grossest game award has to go to Seattle's own Duff McKagan of Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver and Loaded fame, who admits to favoring a mean game of "Fart Tennis."
"Somebody will let one rip and that will be the service, and then somebody else across the bus has to rip right back and send the ball back, if you will, and you just keep going and whoever drops the ball, so to speak, lets the rally fall is the loser of the point."
I asked if it would be hard to keep a game going for any period of time, but Chris reminded conditions are "ripe" to sustain such an endeavor.
"If you've been living off of Taco Bell and 7-11 junk food for six weeks I think you can pretty much make it happen. Plus, they're conditioning for this game. These aren't amateurs, they're keeping themselves sharp," Chris laughs.
As for the least original? Chris says it has to be one of his favorite bands, Wilco. He learned Jeff Tweedy and crew prefer a staid game of Scrabble. But given the bands gravitas in the music world, he wasn't surprised.
"I just can't imagine Jeff Tweedy saying 'Yeah, I was playing fart tennis.'" Ben Gibbard, on the other hand, I have a feeling next time he and Duff get together they're going to get a set going."
You can hear more of our interview with Ben Gibbard on Seattle Sounds Sunday at 3 p.m. on 97.3 KIRO FM.
Death Cab for Cutie appears Sunday night at the Paramount in Seattle.
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