Wanted: Trail-Running Coordinator
My summer on tour, running trails with a rock star
Gibbard performs “We Will Become Silhouettes” in Los Angeles. Photo: Nick Triolo
The subject line read light and bouncy, like I was hearing back about a science camp counselor position. So, when I realized the sender was Ben Gibbard, lead singer for Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service, I was caught off guard. I opened the message:
Nick, I’ve got a proposition for you…
- Meet my band The Postal Service as we start our West Coast tour.
- Find the best trails to run within a reasonable radius from each venue.
- Arrange transport to and from the trailhead.
- Accompany me on your proposed routes.
- Make sure we don’t get eaten by a bear or anything.
- Get us back in time for soundcheck. Alive.
In return: Stipend, bunk on the tour bus, flights, hotels and catering.
The only thing more surprising than receiving this message was how I met Ben Gibbard. I was living in Mexico last winter, and the local music festival invited Ben as a special guest. During his stay, his manager contacted me to take Ben trail running. Now, make no mistake: Ben Gibbard is a trail runner. He’s no jogger or weekend warrior or an I-touch-dirt-once-a-month-only-so-I-can-wear-my-sweet-fanny-pack type of trail runner. The guy pounds dirt often, and fast.
While sharing Mexican singletrack, I learned that The Postal Service was going back on tour, 10 years after releasing their only album, Give Up. This record meant a lot to me—a nostalgic soundtrack howling its way in and out of synth and reverb, each track attached firmly to memories of unstable relationships and exploratory teen years. I was thrilled to hear of its resurgence and upcoming tour, and it was only weeks after our time in Mexico that Ben extended the unexpected offer to join his tour as Trail-Running Coordinator.