They've released seven albums in 15 years, but Death Cab For Cutie have never performed in New Zealand. Until now.

The Washington-based four-piece are set to play at Wellington's Town Hall on Wednesday night as part of the New Zealand International Arts Festival.

And they're promising their Kiwi fans something special.

"We're going to play as long as we can, and as much as we can," bassist Nick Harmer told


"I'm excited about sharing all of that music live for the first time, and that will make it feel like the first time for us too."

Harmer - who is joined by front man Ben Gibbard, guitarist Chris Walla and drummer Jason McGerr - has helped take Death Cab from cult indie darlings to a chart-bothering, Twilight-soundtracking concern.

That's thanks to their emotionally-charged anthems about failed romance, perfected on 2008's Narrow Stairs and songs like You Can Do Better Than Me and I Will Possess Your Heart.

That album wore its bleeding heart on its sleeve, but they lightened up and didn't lose any of their impact on last year's Grammy-nominated Codes and Keys, which proved to be their most successful album yet.

But Harmer says the band's four members never want to be so big they're performing in stadiums to tens of thousands of people.

"We've got to the point that we can play in some nice theatres, and people seem excited about seeing us play. None of us want to be a stadium rock band like U2.

"I don't know what else is out there that we're really desiring."

Despite the emotions behind their songs, Harmer says they've never been a band to attract the attention of stalkers.

"We've never really seen someone who's followed us to every show. We don't have any encounters that are stalkerish or illegal, so we don't get crazy violent obsessive fans.

"The music obviously connects with people but it brings out their sentiment more than their aggression."

And he called it "shameful" that they haven't performed in New Zealand before.

"It's really exciting that this many years into a career we can find ourselves in new countries and new cities. We're really looking forward to it.

"However the tours and schedules have been booked, we've never had the time or maybe the interest for us to get over there.

"It feels like the stars have aligned finally."

What: Death Cab For Cutie
Where: Wellington Town Hall
When: Wednesday, February 29