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The Postal Service's 'Give Up': An oral history of the indie side project that became an aughties touchstone -- and a platinum seller

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Last week, the Postal Service released Give Up: Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition, a two-disc version of their platinum-selling (it only took nine years!) sole album, and they celebrated by kicking off a new tour that includes a prominent slot at Coachella.

EW caught up with all the principals involved in the creation of Give Up for an oral history that appeared in issue 1255/56, but we couldn’t get it all in in print, so enjoy this expanded version here.

2001 Jimmy Tamborello releases his first full-length album as Dntel, Life Is Full of Possibilities. The acclaimed indie electronic collection features a song called “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” with vocals by Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard.

JIMMY TAMBORELLO One of my roommates was in a band that went on tour with Death Cab for Cutie, so Ben and my roommate had become friends. Ben was going to come stay at our house for a couple of days for fun, and it was right when I was working on this album with different guest vocalists. So I asked him if he’d be up for it, and I sent him the instrumental and when he came to visit he recorded it. We hung out and had fun, and that’s where it started.

BEN GIBBARD It wasn’t as if we really connected personally all that strongly when we first met. It was just an interesting arrangement that he would send me this music and he would let me put whatever I wanted to put on it. “Evan and Chan” came together really quickly, and the only thing I had on it was vocals.

TAMBORELLO Ben brought up the idea of doing more together—like an EP or something.

GIBBARD Initially the idea I pitched to him was an EP, and it was only when Sub Pop started sniffing around that it turned into an album.

TONY KIEWEL, Sub Pop A&R Jimmy and I went to college together. He told me they were thinking about doing an EP based on the experience of “Evan and Chan.” I had just started doing A&R, and I had recently learned how the world treats an EP as opposed to an LP. Why would you waste time making an EP? If you’re going to do it, do a full album. People will review it, and you can sell it for three times as much. I told them for sure Sub Pop would want to do it if that was something they wanted to do.

GIBBARD The music has always been the more difficult thing for me to write, so the idea of somebody basically turning in what were mostly finished beds of music and then I could sprinkle other things on top of it and write melodies and lyrics was really appealing to me. He was nice and easy-going and a kind of shy quiet guy, and I’m a little more gregarious, so I think that worked too.

2002 Operating out of Los Angeles, Tamborello begins the process of sending Seattle-dwelling Gibbard music, which Gibbard would then send back with his additions—which included guitars, keyboards, and additional vocals by friends Jen Wood and Jenny Lewis. READ FULL STORY

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