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Gibbard found unexpected success early this year with The Postal Service, a collaboration with indie-tronic artist Dntel, a.k.a. Jimmy Tamborello. The two swapped music through the mail (hence the name), with Tamborello sending Gibbard his poppy, New Wave electronic constructions, and Gibbard then adding vocals and the occasional guitar. The Postal Service's precious Sub Pop album Give Up spread to a wider audience than any Death Cab for Cutie release had at that point.
"None of us would have imagined it would do as well as it has," Gibbard says. Yet Transatlanticism should shortly eclipse the Postal Service's popularity. "I think in the last three weeks we've sold almost as many [copies of Transatlanticism] as The Photo Album has in the last two and a half years," Walla says.
While the band members may be surprised by those numbers, they do their best not to act overwhelmed -- "I want to be the band that people see, and not just 300 people," Gibbard told GQ in a fawning blurb.
"It's kind of a weird quote to read, it sounds weird," he says now. "The whole idea of putting out records is because you feel you have something special and you want to share it with people. The real question is, why should there be a cap on that number of people? There seems to be such a stigma with indie-rock. It's okay for 2,000 people to like us because they really know music, but if a million people bought our record, that wouldn't be cool."
As for the attention being lavished on Death Cab for Cutie and Transatlanticism, Gibbard is circumspect about praise from the fashion rags.
"It's hilarious. Who doesn't like being validated by taste-making magazines?" he says. "We're all just at our core kind of humble, simple people. We're all fuckin' dorks, y'know. There's nothing cool about us. It's like we're pulling the wool over somebody's eyes. You actually think we're cool? What the hell's wrong with you?"