:: Bluebird Theater :: August 16 and 17 ::
By Lindsay Allen
Late this month when Murder by Death releases its sixth studio album, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, the Indiana-based indie rock quintet will start a new chapter of its career with a new band member and a new record label.
One of the most crucial elements of the group’s new chapter and what sets this album apart from the band’s previous five releases is the band’s newest member, multi-instrumentalist Scott Brackett (formerly of Okkervil River and Shearwater), who plays seven instruments on the upcoming record, including cornet and mandolin.
The addition of their newest member enables “a lusher sound, with a new spin,” vocalist Adam Turla said in a recent interview with The Marquee. “Usually, I do most of the writing and bring it to the band and they work on it, but on this one we also had Scott, our new guy, contribute a song so we had a real blend of different perspectives. It was really nice to get someone else to start up on an idea and I was able to develop it and sort of finish the song.”
In addition to that large change, though, Turla said that much of the entire process was different with Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon. When the band began writing they had already left Vagrant Records and rather than putting their mind to a new label, they put all of their efforts toward writing and producing the new album. “We spent most of the last year writing and working on it and it was really a seriously long period of time for us,” Turla said. “We’ve never spent so much time working and it just felt really good to be able to sit down and just take our time with this one, and I think sometimes they try to rush out records these days because that’s the best way of marketing your band. But we just wanted to make sure we gave plenty of time to work on it.”
Only after the album’s completion did the group — which is named after the 1976 Robert Moore film — begin marketing and looking for a new record label.
While doing so, the band launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds, but instead of offering t-shirt type packages to donors, the group went several steps futher by conjuring up gifts to donors that were way above and beyond most Kickstarter thank-yous. Among the long list that contributors could receive for their financial contributions were a Japanese globe lantern of their new album cover and the highly impressive package of a Cedar Point amusement park vacation day with the members of the band.
Their ideas for raising money were endless and obviously productive — the program had nearly reached the group’s goal of $100,000 after just 10 days.
“We’re hoping to exceed our goal. I’m optimistic that it’s going to keep going long,” Turla said of the Kickstarter program. “We wanted to do something that was fun and gave people a lot of options because we have many listeners that have been with us a long time that are big fans and that have bought some unique stuff, more than just music or shirts.” Even though the campaign is already live, plans for the Kickstarter program are still expanding and the group has added a few more ideas that might become reality soon. Turla also noted that they encourage audience participation. “We’re open to saying, ‘What do you want us to do? What do you think?’ I’m waiting to see if anyone comes up with anything crazy,” Turla said.
In addition to their six studio albums, Murder by Death is also working on their 7” series. These are projects that feature the band covering songs by other bands, and vice versa. They have already put out, and in some cases sold out of, these unique, often vinyl releases. They are still working on the final two, but so far have completed tracks with The Builders and The Butchers, Sam Lowry Split, William Elliott Whitmore, O’Death, and Amanda Palmer.
They have also collaborated with Gerard Way, My Chemical Romance’s lead singer, and Rasputina on different projects.
Murder by Death isn’t as concerned with notoriety as they are with their listeners’ symbol of love for the art that they create and the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve written something truly valuable. “I love just writing songs that people care about. I like to entertain but I also like to actually write valuable things that people care about and that help their life throughout difficult times or affect them in a positive manner,” said Turla. “For example, I got an e-mail today. They wrote me a very sincere letter today and they’re going be at our show tonight and they want to hear this one song because it tied into a really difficult part of their life and the song just sort of helped them through it… of course I’ll play that song.”
:: Murder by Death ::
:: Bluebird Theater :: August 16 and 17 ::
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I just loved this article, absolutely packed with intuitive interviewing, Thanks! Can’t wait for more!