Weekend Recall: Dave Depper of Death Cab for Cutie (And many, many others)

by Sid Feddema

Our Monday Morning reminiscence of the Weekend past

Dave Depper must be one of the hardest working men in indie-rock, one of those indispensably reliable gears turning in the background that supports the machinery of the whole edifice. During his long career he has played a crucial supportive role for a glut of influential Northwestern bands including Menomena, Fruit Bats, Mirah, Corin Tucker, and Laura Gibson--and, most recently, he has become a full-time member of Death Cab for Cutie. But ideas were bubbling in the background, and Dave found his voice among the many that he had to adopt for all the acts he had supported: "Throughout my career, though I'd played with so many different people, I constantly struggled to find a style of writing and voice that seemed authentically my own. Suddenly, and almost by accident, it found me."

Amazingly, amongst all the travel and recording, Dave found time to put together a solo-album, Emotional Freedom Technique, out June 9th.  The album is "a letter to the broken heart that won’t mend but still beats. It is a portrait of what happens when someone is flung across the world on tour - grateful to be there, grateful for the success and the adventures, but ultimately lonely." Depper recorded the entire album himself, playing every instrument. 

After pouring so much blood, sweat, and tears into his deeply personal project, this Portland boy has earned some time to relax, and he took the opportunity to treat himself to a well-deserved vacation in Iceland. Depper was kind enough to invite Flaunt along for the trip and frankly, how could we refuse?

I've done an incredible amount of traveling over the past few years, but it's all been for work! And to quote an adage: on tour you get to see everything, and yet you see nothing at all. 

Looking ahead at a busy year that includes the release of my solo record Emotional Freedom Technique, as well as the recording of a new Death Cab for Cutie album, I took advantage of a tiny lull in my schedule and decided to take my first proper vacation in... four years? Five? I've lost track.

I arrived in Reykjavík early in the morning, around sunrise. Even then tourists were out and about, snapping photos by Hallgrímskirkja, the striking church that towers over the city.

I had time to kill before checking into my lodgings, and paid a visit to Harpa, Reykjavík's beautiful concert hall.

My companion for this trip is my dear old friend Raúl. A native of Spain, he lived in Portland for a long while and we've collaborated on numerous projects together. He makes gorgeous, nearly unclassifiable music of his own as Rauelsson - check some of it out here: https://rauelsson.bandcamp.com

We're both lifelong Blur fanatics, so when we heard that Damon Albarn owned (or used to own) a bar in town, of course we had to pay a visit to Kaffibarrin. It proved a great spot to plan the rest of our trip while sampling some of the local beverages (they were excellent).

As you've probably heard, Iceland is the most geothermally active country on Earth. We began the day with a hike through Reykjadalur, a major geothermal hotspot. Here's Raúl standing in a cloud of sulphur-laden gas, or as we came to call it throughout the course of our trip, "Elf Farts."

The reward for the steep, 5km hike was an epic series of hot springs at the top, complete with throngs of people bathing in them. The temperature was hot-tub perfect.

Onward we traveled. We were sad to see that Björk has fallen on hard times and has given up music in order to operate a lonely truck stop about two hours east of Reykjavík. 

Every square inch of the landscape was so beautiful that taking pictures became almost redundant. Here I am in front of some perfect, giant, snowy mountain thing that's so mundane by Icelandic standards that it probably doesn't even have a name.

After a six hour drive, we make it to today's big destination: Jökulsárlón, an enormous glacial lake. Okay, seriously: this is hands-down the most beautiful, otherworldly place I've ever been. I mean, I'm standing on an iceberg! In a glacial lake! I can't describe this experience with mere words. I will say that if you ever have the opportunity to visit Iceland and you only have time to visit one spot, make this the place. When we left, I was welling up. It physically ached to turn my back.

The weather turned violent today, but that didn't stop us from our goal of traversing the Golden Circle, a popular sightseeing route. The highlight of this for me was Gullfoss waterfall, which this picture barely does any justice to. It was like Niagara Falls on top of another Niagara Falls, on the moon. My facial expression reflects the fact that it was about 20 degrees out with 60mph winds. 

Our faithful steed, rented secondhand from a company called SadCars. I wasn't convinced it would last the trip, but she came through with flying colors. Here she is perched fetchingly astride a majestic frozen lake on the top of a mountain pass that I don't even remember the name of. Reader, that's how commonplace this kind of beauty was in Iceland.

This day, as well as the next few, involved a visit to the dazzling Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which is often called "Iceland in Miniature" due to the vast amount of legendary Icelandic sights contained within its relatively small area. It's also home to a charming spot called Hotel Búðir. Here I am in its conference room, contemplating the gravity of life and the vastness of eternity and also wondering if I'd locked the keys in the car.

Another amazing mountain thing. What else do you want me to say?

I've had coffee all over the world, and I'm from Portland, Oregon, so I don't say this lightly: Reykjavík Roasters might have the best cuppa joe that I've ever quaffed. 

I can't believe that it's taken me this long to get to Iceland. I already can't wait to go back. Thanks for coming along!

Check out the first single from Depper's new album here: