Void of pretentions and static creative trajectory, Murder By Death has garnered accolades and appreciation with their approach to making records and blending different genres. Through their resistance to the sonic whims of their content, MBD leads the opposition against the notion of indie-rock bands to "stay in their lane" and "stick to what they know". Catch them at the Shaky Knees Music Festival May 5th at the Masquerade, and read our Q&A with lead-singer Adam Turla to find out what you'd be getting into, if you weren't aware already.
BANG! While there have been many contributors to your albums and evolvements in the sound, how do you keep the themes relatively the same? There seems to be a constant of whiskey, spaghetti western, the devil and struggles between good and evil etc..
Adam Turla Well, I guess I think that every band has themes and messages they portray in their music, however conscious it might be when writing the lyrics. I do a lot of songs about underdogs and antiheros- people who want to believe they can change and do their damndest to turn themselves around.
BANG! Would you say that the macabre sense of humor conveyed is more of an afterthought of the music created or an inspiration?
Adam Turla It's a big part of the band-I think it is one of the things that makes us unique. When we started MBD we noticed that very few bands were making dark music that wasn't heavy. There were a few "artsier" bands out there doing it, but not many that either rocked or were able to go between moody dark stuff and more aggressive music. We tried to be that band.
BANG! So, that kickstarter campaign worked out nicely. Which covers were the hardest to muster and why?
Adam Turla There were a few songs that fans picked that we were not into- so we had to find a way to make those work that was still satisfying to us. Certain songs were much harder to cover than we expected, for example "Just Dropped In" by Kenny Rogers and the new edition has two key changes, and lots of strange little nuances. We wanted to keep as many of the moments as possible while also putting our own spin on it. We decided to make it psychedelic in a different way than he had, while also nodding to its awesomeness.
BANG! It’s been said that Murder By Death brings to mind hard drinkin’ in the corners of cross town bars in rural America. Is that where a lot of the material was written?
Adam Turla Yeah living in southern Indiana certainly has colored us. And we definitely do a lot of drinking.
BANG! Many characters from different walks of life are interpreted in the music. Where do all these people come from? That’s a lot of walks of life.
Adam Turla I am interested in all kinds of people, good and bad- however broad that sounds.
I feel like so many bands today write about being a suburban person living in an ipod generation- having fun, that kind of thing. I can't imagine writing about stuff like that, so they can handle those songs- I would rather write about the bigger questions and heavier subjects.
BANG! Murder By Death has a cult-like following. What’s the strangest experience with a devoted fan?
Adam Turla We try not to act like fancy-pants rock stars and I think fans respond to that. If you don't act like you are better than someone, usually people don't creep out on you as much thinking you are a rock god. I think because we don't nurture creepy behavior, we get dedicated and reasonable fans! The worst it gets is being bombarded with a dozen shots now and again.
BANG! Is the genre blending a conscious choice or just a natural byproduct?
Adam Turla Both. We wanted to be unique and not attached to any "scene". I have a short attention span and am not a big fan of groups that only do one thing.
BANG! Do you ever get tired of the Johnny Cash comparison?
Adam Turla Yeah, it kind of kills a part of me every time I hear it, because it was not intentional and I have always been extremely individual and independent. That being said, many people use it as a compliment too, so i benefit from that.
BANG! When’s a good point to call it quits, if there is one at all?
Adam Turla Well, every year has been better than the one before, so not sure how long this will last. I think we will know when our time has come.