(July 2004 Issue)

Bellingham, Washington’s emo band Death Cab For Cutie is as famous for its revolving-door drum throne as it is for recording album after album of critically acclaimed melodic pop. As its fourth drummer in as many albums, Jason McGerr may finally be the “perfect fit behind the kit” that has previously eluded Death Cab. On the band’s latest, Transatlanticism, McGerr’s performance shines, as he blends a variety of feels with traditional rock beats, such as drum ‘n’ bass.

Before joining Death Cab in 2003, Jason recorded two albums with Seattle’s Eureka Farm and kept busy as an in-demand session drummer. “When anyone asks me to be in the studio, I’m always there,” he says, “whether it’s recording one song or a whole album, or just teching.” Jason is also on staff at The Seattle Drum School Of Music, where he’s taught for over seven years. “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if it wasn’t for the school,” he says. “It’s great, because all the teachers there are also players, and you’re constantly feeding off each other. It’s a great environment for sharing creative ideas.”

Jason’s teaching experience also helped him step into such a well-established gig. “I love to transcribe,” he says, “so when I got Death Cab’s catalog, I wrote out all of the drum parts so I could play the songs note-for-note. At first, it was hard to make the older songs feel the same for the guys in the band, since several previous drummers had played the parts. There was a lot of push and pull. I worked out the parts as close to the originals as I could, but I eventually pulled them into my own feel.”

Gail Worley