Murder by Death
Bigger is better
Murder by Death knows only one size.
"I tend to be more interested in big things," explains singer-songwriter Adam Turla. "I feel like so many people write songs about simple stuff. One of the reasons why I do write such big, theatrical songs is that there’s not as many people doing it."
Epic struggles between good and evil fill the lyric sheets, and the meaty Americana that saddles up beside it gallops through sonic peaks and valleys. It could be called alt.country-noir, or cowpoke indie rock, but either way, the scent that wafts past your nostrils is robust.
Turla's deep voice adds depth to the dark themes present in the lyrics. But in the band's early days, he couldn't take advantage of his natural range. "I think I started singing a little higher on our first two albums because we were playing basements all the time," Turla says. "If you sing low in basements, you can’t hear the vocals. It was kind of pathetic."
Turla describes Murder by Death's first LP, Like The Exorcist, But More Breakdancing, as "pure eclectica." Three albums and six years later, Turla says he and his bandmates had chipped away at their sound. The only thing left, Turla says, was a "concise rock record that told one story."
"I don’t sit down and think, I’m writing a concept album."
Adam Turla, Murder by Death
That record is 2008's full-length Red of Tooth and Claw, a concept album about an Odyssey-inspired journey. "I don’t sit down and think, I’m writing a concept album," Turla explains. "What usually ends up happening is I start writing songs and then I start seeing a theme between them. I’ll write the rest of the songs with that in mind and suddenly, I have an album that all fits together."
For Murder by Death's current tour, the band reunites with keyboardist and original member Vincent Edwards. Ironically, Edwards left the band in 2004 because he hated touring. Turla says there are no post-tour plans to reincorporate Edwards into the band, but it's nice to be back on the road with his friend. "It's been fun for us and we knew that our fans would have fun with it, too," Turla says.
After Edwards departed the first time, coping with one less set of hands allowed Murder by Death to grow. "You go from five to four members and suddenly you’ve gotta keep it interesting," Turla says. "Everybody's gotta do something a little more exciting."
Edwards' absence also helped Murder by Death get through the lean years. "I don’t know if we would have financially survived if there were five mouths to feed," Turla admits. "There were times over the last few years that we were absurdly poor."
With less than a month before the one-year anniversary of Red of Tooth and Claw's release, Turla says he's in no hurry to get cracking on a new record. Sometime this summer, he expects the wheels will start turning, but he refuses to rush the creative process. "I like to give albums a lot of time to breathe," Turla says. "I don’t like to jump the gun and just write because we need a record out. I'd rather wait until it sounds good."