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Murder By Death Hit the Road to Celebrate the Big One-Oh

Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Updated: Thursday, July 26, 2012 13:07

Murder By Death proudly hail from Bloomington, Indiana, a small college town where singer Adam Turla met the Dali Lama while majoring in East Asian Studies at Indiana University. It’s also the town that has proudly embraced and fostered the band for 12 years.

After years of mutual respect and good times, it’s easy for Murder By Death to be confident in their devoted fan base. The group has become the soundtrack to its fans’ lives over the years and Turla says he is honored to have such amazing supporters.

This current tour is their biggest yet, and Turla said he couldn’t see himself doing anything else, which is good because the band is quite busy this year. Not only will they be releasing their sixth studio album Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon this fall, but Murder By Death is also celebrating the 10 anniversary of their debut, Like The Exorcist, But More Breakdancing.

Fans will pleased to know the band is pre-selling Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon through fundraising website Kickstarter. Fans who donate to the album fund can win custom prizes and opportunities to bring them closer to the band, including cover songs, book club privileges, and one lucky person gets to pick out drummer Dagan Thogerson’s next tattoo.

College Times caught up with Turla before their show at Webster Hall in New York City.

College Times: Tell us about your new album.

Adam Turla:It’s kind of an interesting tour because the album doesn’t come out till September 25, so what we’re doing for this tour is previewing some songs for people from the record and then we’re also doing the 10th anniversary of our first album coming out. So we’re playing about four songs from the old record and then four songs from the brand new one. It’s sort of like a career spanning thing in a way, which is pretty fun to do because a lot happens in 10 years. And so [with] this new record we spent all of last year working on it. We were basically holed up in my basement and just wrote and wrote and wrote songs and remolded songs and just tried to think about what we wanted to do with the album. We recorded it in January in Texas with our producer John Congleton and had a really great time working on it. He’s a hell of a character. We’re really proud of the songs. I don’t think we’ve ever put nearly so much time into a project.

And you have Scott Brackett on board for this album.

That’s right. Scott Brackett joined the band. He was in Okkervil River and Shearwater. He’s joined us and is playing trumpet, accordion, piano, theremin, percussion, lots of backup vocals, mandolin. He’s all over this new record and he wrote it with us. He’s done every show now, and he’s a full member of the band. He’s a good dude.

How is it playing the new songs and the old songs live?

It’s interesting because we wrote the songs for our first album about 12 years ago when we were 18 and 19 years old. We were kids so it’s funny to revisit the songs in a way, because some of them seem juvenile and not necessarily bad, but y’know … Then there are songs that I still really like – songs that I am so proud of in a way. You look back and you think, “Oh, we actually did a really good job crafting that.” So it’s fun to experience them each night and remember the feel of playing them at old shows and thinking back to them. We’re playing this giant theater in New York tonight, a big beautiful theater, and it’s crazy to think what we were doing when we were playing those songs 10 years ago to 15 people. It’s pretty cool.

Did you ever plan on being together this long?

No, we never ever thought we’d be as successful as we are, even though we’re not that successful. [laughs] We just never really intended anything for this band. We never set out to be rock stars or popular. Our whole career has been validated by the fans, the entire walkway. We’ve never been a big press band. We’ve never done a late night TV show. We have always just played because people kept telling us to doing it. We had devoted, loving fans who encourages us all along the way and have tried to support us anyways they could. It’s really beautiful in that way because we have such a direct connection with the people who support us.

What are your plans after this tour?

A lot of it we’re still learning about because we’re just starting to work on promoting the record. It’s kind of interesting because we’re kind of doing it backwards. When you’ve been a band for this long and you know people are going to buy the record, at least your fans are, it doesn’t really matter if you’re touring after the album or not. We’ll be back eventually next year playing the same cities and people know that we’re going to be around. That being said, I don’t know when I’ll be in Phoenix again, so they should come out.

Murder By Death w/Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons, Ha Ha Tonka, Crescent Ballroom, August 1, 8 p.m., $14 to $16

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