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Chris Walla

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Subject: Narrow Stairs, Field Manual, Prove My Hypotheses, Title and Registration, Meet Me on the Equinox
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Chris Walla

Chris Walla
Background information
Birth name Christopher Ryan Walla
Born (1975-11-02) November 2, 1975
Bothell, Washington
Genres Indie rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer
Instruments Guitar, Vocals, Piano, Bass
Years active 1994–present
Labels Barsuk
Associated acts Death Cab for Cutie, Martin Youth Auxiliary

Christopher Ryan Walla (born November 2, 1975) is an American musician and producer, best known for being a former guitarist and songwriter for the band Death Cab for Cutie. Walla is a prolific producer in the Indie rock community, having earned production credits on dozens of albums, and is also a former DJ for radio station KCWU, 88.1 The 'Burg.

Musical career

Early bands

While at Bothell High School in the early 1990s, Walla started a program called Open Microphone with creative writing teacher Laura Drumheller, as a noon-time forum for the arts, which allowed any student to take the stage and perform. Walla regularly performed at these shows, as well as serving as MC. One performance by Chris included a song by PJ Harvey. These early Open Microphone shows proved popular and continued for over twenty years, moving from Bothell High School to Inglemoor High School when teacher Drumheller transferred there.[1] Walla was in a short-lived band called The Wallflowers (not to be confused with The Wallflowers of California). Later, in 2001, he was an early member of the Seattle band The Long Winters.

Death Cab for Cutie

Walla joined Death Cab for Cutie in 1997, while attending Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. Eventually releasing seven albums, four EPs and two live EPs with band, he co-wrote many of their hit songs, including "Title and Registration" and "I Will Possess Your Heart".

On August 13, 2014, after 17 years with Death Cab for Cutie, Chris Walla decided to part ways with the band, stating that he plans to "...continue making music, producing records, and erring on the side of benevolence and beauty whenever possible."[2] Walla's last performance with the band occurred on September 13, 2014 at the Rifflandia Music Festival in Victoria, British Columbia.[3]

Solo projects

Walla has recorded a variety of solo material, and released his debut solo album, Field Manual, in 2008 on Barsuk Records. The song "Sing Again" became available for free download from Barsuk's website. Before the release of Field Manual, it was reported that two tracks recorded for Death Cab for Cutie's 2005 album, Plans, would be featured, but this is unconfirmed. Some of Walla's solo work has been released as Martin Youth Auxiliary, and has played several shows under this name. One cassette, under the name was recorded and released in 1999, on Elsinor Records. In the past, Walla has stated plans to release a Martin Youth Auxiliary record, but his first solo album was eventually released under his own name. Much of the solo material consists been quick low-quality recordings, which have never been intended for release.[4]


In addition to being a musician Walla has a long career as producer, earning production, engineering, and mixing credits on over thirty albums and EPs. His first credit was as the producer for Death Cab for Cutie's debut album, Something About Airplanes, released in 1998. Walla has produced all releases by Death Cab for Cutie to date, with the sole exception of the 1997's You Can Play These Songs with Chords EP, which was produced by Ben Gibbard. However, Walla earned production credits on the 2002 re-release of You Can Play These Songs with Chords, which featured 10 new songs.


Walla founded his own recording studio, located within his home in Portland, Oregon, named the Alberta Court. Prior to moving to Portland, from 2000 to 2005, he was the owner/proprietor of Seattle's legendary recording studio, the Hall of Justice, where Death Cab for Cutie and many Pacific Northwest bands such as Nirvana recorded over the years. In 2012, Walla began rebuilding the Hall of Justice after moving back to Seattle.[5]

Personal life

Walla married knitwear designer and illustrator Dianna Potter in February 2012, at the Swedish Cultural Center in Seattle.[6][7][8]



Selected credits


  1. ^ Nystrom, Andy. "Death Cab for Cutie rocker turns up the giving volume for Northshore YMCA". Bothell Reporter. Retrieved 17 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Reed, Ryan. "Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla Leaves Band After 17 Years". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Minsker, Evan. "Chris Walla Performs Last Show With Death Cab for Cutie: Video". Pitchfork. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  4. ^ 'Chris Walla'. (1970-01-02). Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  5. ^ 'Q&A: Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla on the Obama Campaign, New Solo Album'. (2012-09-09). Retrieved on April 30, 2013.
  6. ^ "Paper Tiger". Paper Tiger. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  7. ^ Shapiro, Nina (2013-11-11). "Seattle News and Events | Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla Recruits for". Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  8. ^ "Potter - Walla - Life". 2013-03-10. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 

External links

  • 20 Questions to Christopher Walla from 2000.
  • Hall of Justice Recording
  • Review of Chris Walla's "Field Manual" 1
  • Review of Chris walla's "Field Manual" 2
  • Chris Walla interview, Jan. 2008
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