Ben Gibbard is a singer/songwriter best known as frontman for Pacific Northwestern indie rockers Death Cab for Cutie. Gibbard was raised in Washington and got interested in music due in part to the explosion of grunge and its roots in his region during his formative high-school years. Gibbard's first band was the fledgling Pinwheel, who released one self-titled album in 1996. Pinwheel's Justin Kennedy would go on to front Army Navy. Gibbard began Death Cab for Cutie as a solo project in 1997, taking the name from a song by cheeky classic rockers the Bonzo Dog Band. He released a cassette of his sentimental acoustic-leaning songs called You Can Play These Songs with Chords under the new moniker later that year, and the reception was warm enough to merit expanding the project into a full band.
Death Cab for Cutie would go on to enormous popularity and release records for years to come, but Gibbard's itch to work solo continued. Between 1999 and 2002, he worked on several solo releases under the name ¡All-Time Quarterback! Collaboration became standard for Gibbard early on as well. In addition to joining friends Pedro the Lion as a bassist for one tour, Gibbard has collaborated in some form or another with the Long Winters, Jenny Lewis, Jay Farrar, Styrofoam, Andrew Kenny of American Analog Set, and others. Perhaps his most fruitful collaboration came in the form of adding guest vocals to the Dntel song "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan" on the 2001 album Life Is Full of Possibilities.
From that meeting, Gibbard began trading sound files with Dntel beatmaker Jimmy Tamborello for what would become the immensely popular project known as The Postal Service, thusly titled because the two would send each other song ideas through the mail. The Postal Service's 2003 debut, Give Up, was well received critically as well as in terms of sales, going gold in two countries. Gibbard married actress/singer Zooey Deschanel in September of 2009 and the couple remained together for two years before divorcing in the fall of 2011. In 2012 Gibbard issued Former Lives, the first collection of songs under his own name.