Death Cab for Cutie’s Name Is a Regrettable Reference to a Beatles Movie

Death Cab for Cutie has an interesting band name that references a Beatles movie. During an interview, one of the members of the band explained why Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard chose that moniker. Gibbard also revealed why he regrets choosing the name.

The Beatles' Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and George Harrison
The Beatles | John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images

The Beatles weren’t the only band that performed in the movie ‘Magical Mystery Tour’

While they weren’t as cinematically prolific as Elvis Presley, The Beatles starred in a handful of movies. One of them was the surrealist television film Magical Mystery Tour. Like some of the other Beatles films, Magical Mystery Tour is a musical.

In the film, The Beatles mostly perform their own songs such as “I Am the Walrus” and “Blue Jay Way.” Another band called the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band appears in the film. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band performs their darkly humorous doo-wop song “Death Cab for Cutie.” 

The track is a parody of then-popular teenage tragedy songs, which often involved teenagers dying in road accidents. Some of the more notable teenage tragedy songs were The Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack” and “Ebony Eyes” by the Everly Brothers. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band also parodies the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s vocal stylings on the track. While the song “Death Cab for Cutie” appears in the film, it doesn’t appear on the film’s classic soundtrack album. Instead, the song appears on the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s album Gorilla, an obscure album that did not chart on the Billboard 200.

RELATED: The Beatles Movie That ‘Infuriated’ the Band

How the movie inspired Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie

According to Digital Spy, former Death Cab for Cutie member Chris Walla explained why Gibbard named his band after a song performed in Magical Mystery Tour. “Ben was in a Magical Mystery Tour all-the-time kind of phase,” Walla recalled. “He made a grand proclamation from the couch at one point that if he ever had another band, he was going to call it Death Cab For Cutie.”

Another member of Death Cab for Cutie, Nick Harmer, said the members of the band joke about changing their name. “Knowing what we know now, Ben has said that he would have loved to have shortened it somehow to a snappier name,” he said.

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Ben Gibbard was asked if he wishes he chose a different Beatles reference for Death Cab for Cutie’s name

During an interview with Time Out, Gibbard was asked if he wished he chose a different Beatles reference to serve as his band’s moniker. “The name was never supposed to be something that someone was going to reference 15 years on,” Gibbard replied. “So yeah, I would absolutely go back and give it a more obvious name. But thank God for Wikipedia. At least now, people don’t have to ask me where the f****** name came from every interview.” The Beatles’ movies had an impact on popular culture, and without them, Death Cab for Cutie might have a less regrettable name.