Murder By Death will be bringing their gothic Americana rock to Hangar 9 Saturday. With a new album just recorded with Explosions in the Sky producer John Congleton and an Australian tour slated for the end of the month, singer-guitarist Adam Turla took some time to talk with the Daily Egyptian about touring, recording and building a fan base.
DAILY EGYPTIAN: Have you played Carbondale before?
Adam Turla: No, this is actually our first time. … But we heard people saying, ‘come to Carbondale’ for years, and we finally found a way to do it. Nothing was keeping us away. It was more that it never happened. We’d never get the offer and then my friend told me about Hangar 9 and we decided to go for it.
DE: Do you have a preference between playing larger cities and smaller college towns like Carbondale?
AT: I don’t have a real preference. I mean, we’re from Bloomington, Ind., so sure, that feels more like home. Playing a big city for a ton of people and going to some great art museum or whatever you can do in a large city is really exciting, but then it is nice to come and do a smaller town and see people who are excited to see you in their town. They both have reasons I like them.
DE: How did the Australian tour come together?
AT: A promoter reached out basically. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and it’s very exciting for us because we are really interested in traveling all over. We’ll play just about anywhere as long as they can get together a show.
DE: Anything in particular about Australia that you’re looking forward to?
AT: Definitely the outdoors. We’re going and seeing the ocean and that sort of thing, the Great Barrier Reef.
DE: Have you used the Internet to build up a fan base in far-flung places like Australia?
AT: Sort of. Mostly it’s that we’ve been together for a long time and people eventually discover you. There’s a lot of word-of-mouth and the Internet certainly helps with that too.
In the U.S. we’ve done most of our work just through playing lots of shows and people talking about it, and the next time we go back it’s a little bigger and next time it’s a little bigger. So that’s been a big help for us, just getting out there and performing in front of people.
DE: About how many shows do you play a year?
AT: About a hundred. This last year we spent most of the time writing because we just finished recording a new record. We’d never spent so much time writing. I think we played 86 shows and that was a record low in 10 years. When we were first starting out, one year we almost hit 200 shows because we would make so little money for each show that we just had to do a ton of them to be able to pay our rent.
DE: So you guys enjoy touring quite a bit?
AT: We enjoy touring, especially going to new places. It’s awesome writing songs and traveling for a living. I feel like if you don’t enjoy the travel, you’re in the wrong business.
There’s a lot of places that the band is able to take us that we probably would have never gotten to on a personal trip. We’ve been lucky enough to go to Alaska twice. We’ve gone to some crazy islands like Sardinia, Mallorca, the Virgin Islands.
DE: Do you have a preference between touring and recording?
AT: When you’ve been on the road too long, you’re ready to write and when you’ve been writing all year, you’re happy to go play a show for the fun of actually getting in front of people and sharing your music.
We just finished making this album, which was really fun and came together really well, but I’m definitely ready to go out and play the songs now.
DE: What about touring don’t you like?
AT: There’s no freedom. You can’t take a day off. It has to be scheduled.
If you get the flu, if you cancel the show, all those people came to see you, they paid money, you drove there. If you’re one of the band members and you decide you don’t feel like playing, it’s not just the annoyance to the fans, it’s also the work that was planned for your bandmates and crew. So you just have to do whatever you signed up for.
DE: When can we expect the new album?
AT: We’re hoping for May or June.
DE: Was there any particular direction you took this new album?
AT: It’s really hard to describe. We definitely did some songs that are a little more like our first two albums. In a way, they’re desolate and dark.
The big difference on this album is we added a fifth member, Scott Brackett, who is playing accordion, trumpet, piano, percussion, backup vocals and it really adds a lot to the band and that’s been really exciting to have somebody else involved in the writing process and filling in all these sounds we were never able to do as a four-piece.