Death Cab's Chris Walla: Threat to Homeland Security?
"I Will Follow You Into the Dark" clearly about suicide bombing

Death Cab for Cutie seem like such nice boys. Calm, collected, clean cut (usually). Certainly not the sorts you'd peg as dabblers in international intrigue and matters of homeland security. Yet, as Cab guitarist/producer for hire/budding solo star Chris Walla told, that's exactly what happened to a hard drive, a courier, and a politically-charged solo project gone AWOL.

According to MTV, Walla's label Barsuk recently hired a courier to bring a hard drive containing rough drafts of Wall's oft-delayed solo LP from Canada (where Walla was working on it) to the States. "He got to the border and he had all his paperwork and it was all cool," Walla said, "only they turned him away, and they confiscated the drive and gave it to the computer-forensics division of our Homeland Security-type people." Now, Walla says, he "couldn't even venture a guess as to where it is, or what it's doing there. I mean, I can't just call their customer-service center and ask about my drive. There's nothing I can do. I don't know if we can hire an attorney... is there a black-hole attorney? You can't take a black hole to court."

Well, "Night Court", maybe...

On his blog, Walla offers the bright side: "It's not a Kafka novel, and I'm not a prisoner at Guantanamo. My life isn't so bad. But still, this situation is a concrete and real reminder of what fuels the world we live in: It's fear and mistrust and suspicion. And oil."

He adds: "You know what would would be great? If all the items seized in border searches were divvied up among the Senators to investigate. In my wildest dreams, my drive ends up on Arlen Specter's desk in Washington, and he studies the files with surgical precision. And maybe my little songs tip him forever away from the fence, in either direction.

He's a fencesitter, Mr Specter: They're the most dangerous, you know."

Fortunately, Walla still has backup tapes containing all of the songs intended for the record, MTV reports. He's working on the mixing and mastering at the moment, and hopes to have it out in January. And the record has a new title, Field Manual (it was called It's Unsustainable in our last report).

UPDATE: Field Manual now has a release date: January 29. But if you want a new Walla track sooner than that, check out Hard to Find a Friend's Peace on Earth benefit compilation.

And how's this for a weird spin on an already strange story? Field Manual, it seems, is "very political", with tunes about the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and contraception. One wonders just how a border guard might've gleaned all that from a sidelong glance at the hard drive from under the courier's arm. Scary...

Unphased, Walla's immediate plans include work on the next Death Cab LP. On his blog, Walla writes, "The DCfC record is in full swing; we're six songs in. Thus far it's pretty weird, and pretty spectacular; lots of blood. It's creepy and heavy...We've got a ten minute long Can jam, and had you suggested that possibility to me in 1998, I'd have eaten your puppy's brain with a spoon."

Maybe these Death Cab fellas get a little grislier than we thought!

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