The Murder By Death Interview

Published On February 20, 2013 | By Kymbo Slice | Check It, Community, Interviews

MBDMurder By Death is known for their orchestral indie rock ballads and a career spanning over ten years that includes over 1,000 live shows. Their avid supporters appreciate their unique, consistent sound and conceptualized vision and their hands-on approach with their fanbase. Their recent Kickstarter campaign was a smashing success, funding their latest release and Bloodshot Records debut, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, which was written throughout 2011 and released in September 2012. No stranger to Pittsburgh, the band is appearing at Mr. Smalls this Sunday, and we had a chance to catch up with Adam, their lead singer and guitarist, to see how life has been treating them on the road.

Kymbo Slice: You’ve said frequently in interviews that you love camping. You also said you love food and eating at new places. What is your go-to camping food?

Adam Turla: That’s a good question. My latest favorite camping discovery is a pasta called puttanesca – which means “whore pasta” – a dish from Italy. The story is that back in the day, “whores” used to make this pasta because it smelled so big and flavorful. They were trying to attract the sailors who came in every day. It’s a dish that can be used with any kind of pasta and has tomatoes, capers, olives, anchovies, and hot pepper. It’s really conducive to camping because the sauce doesn’t have to cook for more than a couple minutes and it’s so flavorful and everything can come in a little can.


KS: Your 7” series has featured covers of The Builders and The Butchers, Sam Lowry Split, William Elliott Whitmore, O’Death, and Amanda Palmer – do you have any plans of doing more of these?

AT: It’s been on the back burner because of our new album and the fulfillment of our Kickstarter. We’ve been doing these things where we’ll take a friend’s band and cover one of their songs and they’ll take one of ours and cover it. Finally we can think of it again. For our Kickstarter, we had 15 cover songs to record and people got to pick the song they wanted us to cover. We’ve recorded them all and now we’re just working on getting them out to everyone. Basically that’s the focus for me after this tour. It’s been a lot of work. Doing covers is longer than any album.


KS: How has the band’s dynamic changed since Scott joining?

AT: He can cover so many bases because he plays so many different instruments. It’s forced us to pare down what each other is doing and focus on trying to do sort of the less is more approach.

KS: Even though he plays so many instruments?

AT: Well, when you add a number, there’s just less space in the way. It’s been fun to do, to try to make sure that everything we play counts. When you’re writing, you have to make sure that your parts matter to the group and make sure that what you’re doing is significant. That’s been a big focus for now.


KS: Your Kickstarter campaign was a huge success and reached 100K within 10 days of its launch and offered thoughtful, interactive gifts for your fans. What do you think are the benefits of releasing an album via crowd sourced funding VS funding a project via a traditional medium such as through a label?

AT: It’s a big question. I think that the benefit of doing something like crowd funding is that you get to interact with your fans in a bigger way than most people ever get to, and it forces you to actually do it yourself. A lot of people think crowd sourcing right now is – oh cool we should get one of our label guys to do this and get some more money – but if you’re doing it yourself, then you’re interacting with people in different ways. If someone wants us to do something special for their friend or husband or wife like we try to accommodate. We do make an effort to interact with our fans on that higher level. During the six months surrounding our Kickstarter, it was insane how much correspondence I had with people and how many emails I read where people were telling me their story and how the band has affected them. I think on a personal level it really excited me to read all that feedback, so that was really encouraging.

Also, money talks, and it does feel awesome to see those numbers racking up and thinking wow this many people really do put their money where their mouth is and they’re really supporting us and they’re taking their hard-earned cash and putting it into some silly idea that somebody had because they were trying to have a really fun Kickstarter as opposed to just asking for something. Every pledge level has an added value to it, so it was cool to see it succeed because we put a lot of time and energy into it and we wanted it to be something that didn’t just feel like another way of asking people to buy something.


KS: You have been touring for over ten years now as a band. How have your touring habits changed over the years? More/less partying? More less/hygiene? More/less homesickness? More/less ROCK N ROLL?

AT: When we first started touring everything was so new to us and we were also very young. We had no money and there was no money to be made, so we would just crash with people every night and we would meet people that we would never see again. We formed some really great friendships in those years and met some really great people and when we’d play their town we’d go back and stay with them. That doesn’t happen as much anymore because there’s not as much time. These days we find ourselves getting to the venue very early for sound check and try to be more professional. We didn’t get enough hours of sleep, let alone stay up late with a new friend and so, at some point I think anyone who is a touring musician has to make that transition, but you still try to have fun with it.


If you’d like to have fun with Murder By Death this Sunday at Mr. Smalls, tickets are still available for $15 here. Man Man and Damion Suomi will be opening. Doors are at 7 and the show starts at 8.

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