The Postal Service was an American indie electropop band which formed in Seattle, Washington in 2001. The group consisted of Ben Gibbard (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Jimmy Tamborello (production, programming, synthesizers) and Jenny Lewis (vocals, guitar). The band released one album "Give Up" in 2003 and were active until 2005. The band reunited in 2013 for a reunion tour before permanently disbanding that August.
The band started life as a side project for singer Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie and producer Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel, Headset and Figurine. The group formed, in 2001, after Gibbard contributed vocals for a song on Dntel's album Life Is Full Of Possibilities called (This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan.
The band released their debut album Give Up on 18 February 2003 on the Sub Pop label. The album was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and is the second best-selling record in the history of Sub Pop Records after Bleach by Nirvana.
Several songs on this album feature guest vocals from Jenny Lewis, the lead singer of Rilo Kiley, a band which was once on the same label as Death Cab (Barsuk Records) and vocals from Jen Wood, an indie rock solo artist. Chris Walla recorded some of the songs and played the piano on Nothing Better. Lewis' membership in the band was unclear during the "Give Up"-era, although she appeared with Tamberello and Gibbard in the music video for "We Will Become Silhouettes". By the time of their 2013 reunion, Lewis had become a permanent third member of the group.
The group's name comes from the manner in which their songs were written, due to the fact that the two of them lived too far away to be able to work together in person. Tamborello would create beats and mail them to singer and lyricist Gibbard, who would then edit them and put his melodies over the tracks and mail them back. Gibbard didn't write any of the lyrics until the tracks were completely finished.
In August 2003, the United States Postal Service sent the band a cease and desist letter, citing its trademark on the phrase "postal service". After negotiations, the USPS relented, allowing the band use of the trademark in exchange for promotional efforts on behalf of the USPS and a performance at its annual National Executive Conference. Additionally, at one point the USPS website sold the band's CDs. In 2007, "Such Great Heights" appeared in the background of the "Whiteboard" advertising campaign for one of the federal establishment's private competitors, the United Parcel Service.
The Postal Service contributed a cover of Against All Odds to the soundtrack to the 2004 motion picture Wicker Park, and the band has worked on several remixes of other artists, including Do You Realize?? (Postal Service remix) (from Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots) and Little Girl Blue (Postal Service remix) (from Verve Remixed 3) and Mushaboom (Postal Service remix). Gibbard doesn't sing on these remixes (except for Feist's Mushaboom), and it is likely that he granted Jimmy Tamborello permission to work alone under the name The Postal Service.
On June 22, 2007, it was revealed that The Postal Service had begun work on a new album, though the specifics of the release date were ambiguous. Gibbard stated, "We're slowly starting. We're crawling right now, and whether that crawl turns into a walk remains to be seen. But we'll know more towards the end of the year. I've just been touring so much and trying to find time to make it happen and make our schedules line up." Tamborello added, "We're talking about wanting to finish an album by sometime next year, because we have to work with Death Cab's schedule and stuff. I definitely want to do another one."
On February 29, 2008, Spinner released an article stating that The Postal Service may not release a new album. Ben Gibbard stated, "Jimmy and I are still throwing ideas back and forth, but as time goes on, we find ourselves busy with our own music. … We have some stuff, but it's been difficult to find the time and the drive to do the record. I'd love to finish it at some point and maybe even do some performances. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be."
In a December 2008 interview with Rolling Stone, Gibbard laughed off suggestions that The Postal Service's long overdue follow-up to their 2003 hit Give Up is an indie version of Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy. Gibbard said that both he and Tamborello do not see it as a priority in light of their main projects, Death Cab for Cutie and Dntel. He said, "The anticipation of the second record has been a far bigger deal for everybody except the two of us… I don't know about it being the indie-rock Chinese Democracy, but now that Chinese Democracy has come out, I guess it just becomes the second Postal Service record that will never come out. There never really was a plan to do a second album. We work from time to time together but we have other things that take up all of our time."
As of November 2012, Ben Gibbard posted on his Twitter account that there are "no plans" to produce another Postal Service record. He did not cite any specific reason for this statement, other than the fact that multiple fans questioned if there was going to be a second album.
In January 2013 Postal Service updated their website to read "The Postal Service 2013," reigniting speculation that the band would play shows, or possibly release a new album. It was later confirmed that the image on the band's site portended that the band's debut, Give Up, would receive a ten year anniversary re-issue featuring a 15-song disc of rarities, including two new songs with Jenny Lewis.
In February 2013, The Postal Service announced it would officially reunite for twelve tour dates including the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April, the Primavera Sound Festival 2013 in Barcelona, Sasquatch! Festival in Washington, and Lollapalooza 2013 in Chicago. The band played a Lollapalooza aftershow on August 4, 2013 to 1,200 people at Wrigleyville's Metro, in which Ben Gibbard prefaced the night's second rendition of "Such Great Heights" by saying "not only is this the last song of the tour, this is the last show we will ever do." At the song's conclusion, Gibbard stated that "The Postal Service is closed."