By Brian F. Johnson
With all of the baby steps that it takes for a band to grow into a successful entity, it’s often damn-near impossible to pinpoint one moment, one step, one project, that changed everything. Indiana’s Murder By Death is one of the lucky few who can. Granted that there were still baby steps before and after, but as the band approached the tenth anniversary of the release of their album Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them, lead singer/guitarist Adam Turla said that it was clear that that album was a turning point for the group. So, with the anniversary upon them this month, the band is making sure that they properly recognize the moment with not just a special show, but an extravagant weekend centered around Who Will Survive.
“I’d been looking for a place to do a special event around the anniversary of that record, which was a monumental event for our band. When we put it out we were a tiny band, playing DIY shows and the occasional opening slots,” said Turla, in a recent interview with The Marquee. “But a year later we were doing club dates and opening for all sorts of tours. So it’s the record that got us started actually taking this band somewhere, and for a lot of people it’s how they discovered us. The thing about that album is that when we were heavily touring on it, we were such a tiny band then. It became a cult record as we grew, but nobody knew it when it came out. It was over the years that people discovered it, but never had the chance to see some of those songs live.”
The quirky, somewhat gothic, somewhat dark folk band began thinking of places to host a proper honorary event for Who Will Survive when Turla remembered The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park (famous for being where Stephen King wrote The Shining, but, for the record, where only the TV miniseries of “The Shining” was filmed, but not the location for the famous 1980s Stanley Kubrick film version).
Just as the band was getting ready to announce the intimate 300-person-per-night shows, the September floods occurred and Turla said that he was concerned about announcing a more expensive ticket in the midst of that. “It’s a pricey ticket for one of our shows and I thought, ‘Oh my god, are people going to think we’re assholes to announce that in an area that got hit with a natural disaster?’ But, as it turned out, and The Stanley agreed, we’re helping people and helping the town by bringing our people and their money to the town when they need it,” said Turla.
The band announced two shows, both of which sold out in two hours, and when they added a third show it took less than 24 hours for that to sell out.
The group will play the shows in The Stanley’s gorgeous concert hall, next door to the hotel, and Turla said that they are bringing in a huge amount of gear to make the venue, which usually hosts chamber orchestras, into more of a club atmosphere. “We’re bringing in a projector and have assembled this old black and white movie footage to be projected on a screen behind us. We have some intimate, lo-fi lighting to give it a spooky feel, and we rented a big P.A. system,” Turla said.
Before each show, the band, which will be formally dressed for the shows and is encouraging attendees to do the same, will re-create the old black and white group photo that ends the Kubrick movie. The band will then play Who Will Survive in its entirety followed by another hour-long set of material from their other five albums. Murder By Death will also record the shows, and Turla said that the recordings will most likely be available for free streaming or as a package for folks who buy merchandise on the band’s site. “I don’t want to turn it into something that you have to pay a bunch of money for,” he said.
Murder By Death will take much of 2014 as a writing year. Having made it through 13 years of playing a minimum of 100 shows a year, the band, who earned nearly $200,000 through a Kickstarter program for their latest album Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, will take much of the year off to write and as Turla said, “maybe record something by the end of the year.”
:: Murder By Death ::
:: Stanley Hotel :: January 17 – 19 ::
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