Death Becomes Them – An Interview With Adam Turla


Remember those creepy as shit tales an elder relative (usually the one with a jacked up eye or bum leg) would tell you as a kid right before bedtime?  The kind that give you dreams filled will ill-fated children and anthropomorphized, trippy animals?  If there is a band perfectly poised to soundtrack that experience, it’s Murder by Death.  This Bloomington outfit noses around the underbelly of all things strange and twisted, while simultaneously honing in on their odd beauty and allure. Singer and guitarist for the band, Adam Turla, entertained a few questions about such things and a monster he’s still in the middle of  slaying, a wildly successful Kickstarter project.

Donkey Jaw: You guys have been around since 2000, what’s the most interesting and/or important lesson you’ve learned over the years about playing music for a living?
Adam Turla: Hmm. There’s so many things. I think the most interesting thing is that there are so many different definitions of “success” in the music industry today. I know bands that hoss it out like us doing the blue-collar routine, making almost all their money on tour. Then there are bands that get their success from song placements in commercials or movies, and bands that play all the hot festivals. There’s also bands that get really big really fast and disappear versus the ones that grow incredibly slowly, but have a long career.  It’s just interesting to see all the combinations and how we all try to make it work … and still most folks playing music out there don’t have the luck or the work ethic or whatever it is, and they never feel like it was a success.

Your Kickstarter project ranked as the third highest music project on the site to date.  What did it feel like to meet and ultimately surpass your goal?
It was an exciting ride! We’re still working on all the order fulfillment stuff like the book club. It was a huge undertaking, especially since it was really just me running the whole thing, with one friend, J. helping me mail stuff. 

That was hands down one of the most creative campaigns ever put together for Kickstarter.  Are you guys really going to ride roller coasters with some backer?
Thank you! I busted my butt on it. We did the rollercoaster trip in September with a couple from Oklahoma. It was a riot!

Speaking of interesting marketing, whose idea was it to create both MBD long johns and skateboard deck? 
That was me, we had done them both before and thought they were fun and different ideas. It’s more exciting than another t-shirt.
The artwork for this album was elaborate to say the least and a very beautiful, big deal. What are some of the most memorable album covers for you?
Thank you! I’m glad you like it. Sarah, our cellist, actually found the artist in a food magazine and got us connected to do the album art. I like all the covers for different reasons- a lot like the music on the albums. This band has been with us our entire adult lives, so it has been fun to grow with it.

Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon is a rather dark collection of songs.  For a band that loves to wax poetic about beasts, birds, and other assorted macabre subjects, you also seem have quite a sense of humor.  Tell me about that balance.
Yeah, that’s a big part of MBD- writing often serious material, but through a lighter filter. We try not to take ourselves too seriously, but want to put all our all into our writing. I feel like rock n roll should be fun, even if it’s dark.

You just released it late last year, but we have to ask if there is any new material in the works?
I’ve just started writing some new stuff, but barely getting into the recording yet. It’s been so busy touring and planning tours … and filling all the Kickstarter orders!

Your bandmate Scott Brackett just had emergency surgery. How is he doing?
He is doing ok, but recovery is gonna be a couple months.

David Fountain will fill in during his absence.  What do you think he’ll bring to the live show?
He’s really talented, so i’m sure it will be great.  Scott’s injury was so last minute, we have not gotten to practice yet, so I will find out tomorrow! Crossing my fingers.

Speaking of folks joining you on this co-headline tour with Man Man, Samantha Crain will be opening some of these dates.  How do you guys know each other?
A friend introduced me several years back and we hit it off as friends and fans of each others music. Fun girl with a great voice,and a great songwriter too!

What are you most looking forward to this time out on the road?
I’m excited to see finally see Man Man live. I think this tour is gonna be packed and a riot. There’s gonna be some folks hangin’ from the rafters!

Lastly, a very important question – beer, wine or whiskey?

Whiskey is the most common, but we ain’t choosy.

Murder by Death kicks off a co-headlining tour with Man Man tonight in Washington, D.C. at the Black Cat.

Thu 2/7 Washington, DC – Black Cat
Fri 2/8 Charlottesville, VA – The Southern Cafe & Music Hall
Sat 2/9 Wilmington, NC – The Soapbox Laundro Lounge
Sun 2/10 Charlotte, NC -The Pour House
Mon 2/11 Jacksonville, FL -Jack Rabbits
Tue 2/13 Tallahassee, FL – Club Downunder
Thu 2/14 Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon
Fri 2/15 Birmingham, AL – The Bottletree
Sat 2/16 Oxford, MS – Proud Larry’s
Mon 2/18 St. Louis, MO – Firebird
Tue 2/19 Champaign, IL – Highdive
Wed 2/20 Grand Rapids, MI – The Intersection
Thu 2/21 Newport, KY – The Southgate House Revival
Fri 2/22 Cleveland Heights, OH – Grog Shop
Sat 2/23 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
Sun 2/24 Pittsburgh, PA – Mr. Smalls Theatre
Tue 2/26 Ithaca, NY – The Haunt
Wed 2/27 Northampton, MA – Pearl Street
Thu 2/28 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
Fri 3/1 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
Sat 3/2 Philadelphia, PA –  Union Transfer

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