In their latest video for Kintsugi's "The Ghosts of Beverly Drive," Death Cab for Cutie corrals a group of celebrity-obsessed gawkers and leads them through a disquieting guided bus tour of tall ivy walls and eye-catching mansions in Los Angeles.
Robert Hales, who was responsible for their "Black Sun" music video as well as working with fellow musicians Kid Rock, Nine Inch Nails and even Britney Spears, helmed the clip. Front man Benjamin Gibbard narrates the tour through some of California's most illustrious neighborhoods, while bassist Nick Harmer takes on the role of bus driver and drummer Jason McGerr collects tickets for the occasion. If the looks on the trio's faces seem a bit creeped out and confused, there's a good reason for that.
"For every great thing about the city and the experience of living there, there is an offsetting negative that, for me, makes my feelings about L.A. a net zero in terms of personal connection," Harmer said, notes Rolling Stone. "The culture of celebrity tours feeds into this...it leaves me feeling cold and indifferent, and we wanted to make a video that captures that feeling of detachment."
The Death Cab led tour of course wasn't authentic, but "Doing a fake tour was icky enough," Harmer said. Hales drew inspiration from personal experiences while participating in an actual celebrity home bus tour, specifically the scene where a security guard drenches the band and tourists with a hose.
"That was staged, but it came about as a result of an actual celebrity tour that Robert took while doing some research for the video," Harmer says. "He said that the bus he was riding on was actually sprayed a few times by local residents, and it happens quite often."
— Death Cab for Cutie (@dcfc) March 31, 2015
Harmer defended the video, pointing out that their intents weren't to craft a "judgemental [sic] or negative" clip, but rather to highlight the societal differences within the City of Angels.
"I will say, according to the guy who ran the real celebrity tour company we rented the bus from, there are definitely a few celebrities on the tour who actually come out and say hello, so it's not all gross all the time I suppose," he added. "Still, it's definitely not for me. I guess I'm not that interested in houses, much less celebrity landscaping. I can confirm, however, that there are a lot of really nice gates and tall, manicured hedges in L.A., so it's got that going for it, which is nice."
This isn't the first time the band has represented the seemingly schizophrenic shifts in Los Angeles, as they did with 2001 hit "Why You'd Want to Live Here." Gibbard told Billboard in April, "The person I'm singing to is an amalgamation of people I came across living in Los Angeles." He added, "Being around people in entertainment who are fairly well-known, I noticed all these neuroses and psychoses."