Death Cab For Cutie: Ben Gibbard has a sting in his tail

AT a recent gig in San Diego, Death Cab For Cutie singer Ben Gibbard got more than he bargained for – being stung by a scorpion.

The frontman for the Seattle-based indie rockers was putting on his show pants backstage when he felt the venomous creature sting his leg – not once but twice.

The band's bassist, Nick Harmer, explains, "Ben got stung by a scorpion. Twice. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried – file this under 'Things that really happen on rock tours'.

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"We were worried because the scorpion was a little guy and when it comes to the wonderful world of scorpions, the smaller the deadlier."

But Harmer insists that Gibbard hasn't been left emotionally scarred by the terrifying encounter – joking that the scorpion stings have given his bandmate superhero powers.

"I'm still not convinced that he is 100 per cent fine because nobody eliminated the possibility that it was a radioactive scorpion and that Ben will now develop super powers, so I'm keeping a close eye on him just in case."

Fans will be relieved to know medics have since given Gibbard the all clear, meaning the band will play their first Scottish gig for two years at the Corn Exchange this evening.

Formed in 1997 as the solo project of Gibbard, the now-four-piece – who are named after a song by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, written by Neil Innes and Viv Stanshall in the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour film – reached number one in their homeland with their sixth studio album, Narrow Stairs.

For the band's drummer, Jason McGerr, it was the defining moment in a long career.

"It's nice to know that after playing the drums for 23 years I could still do that," he says. "We were only at number one for a week but in the scope of how many thousands of records are released every year it's pretty incredible.

"It definitely comes from hard work and living on the road as much as possible."

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The last time they were out on tour, the band had the honour of opening for Neil Young.

"He's a 63-year-old legend who still manages to get up and play two hours every night," gushes McGerr when asked about supporting the great man earlier in the year. "He and his crew are total road warriors and there's no shyness when it comes to the volume. The guy cranks super-loud."

Looking ahead to tonight's gig, Gibbard says that, outwith America, Scotland is always the band's favourite place to play.

"Scotland is always my favourite place to play in the UK, hands down," he says. "I feel more akin to Scottish fans and bands.

"I think Scotland's indie sounds more similar to American indie than London indie. There is more of a common language with bands from Scotland than London – and the crowds are always absolutely phenomenal."

Gibbard, who voted for Barack Obama, is as excited as millions of other Americans and can't wait to find out what people over here think.

"There seems to be a sea of change," he explains. "I don't think Obama is going to solve all our problems overnight, but I think people realised we needed a turnaround in America.

"We really sent a message to the world that we recog-nised our failure as a country and our leadership," he adds.

Death Cab For Cutie, Corn Exchange, New-market Road, tonight, 7pm, 17.50, 0131-443 0404

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