Murder by Death wants to be taken seriously. The Bloomington, Indiana-based quartet has been at it for the better part of a decade, and its efforts are finally starting to see results exceeding the cult status afforded its namesake. New Times caught up with lead singer Adam Turla to discuss the group's burgeoning success. Turla took the opportunity to wax philosophical about the state of the music industry, dispel some common assumptions about his band, and compare notes on foreign films.
New Times: You guys recently moved to label backing. Has your live experience been considerably different from when you were pretty much on your own?
Adam Turla: I don't know, it hasn't changed that much. We really just, uh, we've been plugging away, just playing as many shows as possible, to just get the music out there.
You hear that term bandied about — blog band — which I don't know that that quite fits for you guys.
Ha. No, we're the exact opposite.
With that in mind, do you think the Internet and digital media are just as legitimate a proving ground as the more traditional method of record an album, release the album, tour for the album, repeat?
I think the idea of the quickly successful band is something that is very short-lived. I think the attention disappears as quickly as it came. My experience has been the complete opposite, so I can only speculate.
In addition to that sort of [Murder by Death] signature sound, there are also a couple of signature elements that creep into your work in terms of influences, bands, and artists that you draw a lot of influence from — artists such as Nick Cave and Tom Waits, people like that. Does it bother you to have such a heavy emphasis placed on who you sound like?
Absolutely, yeah. It was something that only started like two years ago. I think those musicians are great. But you know, it's the sort of thing that it's a great compliment, but it also gets to the point where I'm sort of — I get concerned when I see a review that says I'm like massively influenced by one of those people, because it's just not reality.
Am I off base in assuming, and this is partially based on one of your song titles, that you find some affinity for the music of the film composer Ennio Morricone?
I did not discover him until I started seeing his, [laughs] his name. People would ... send us e-mails or come up to us at shows and say, "You know, your music reminds me of this."
Right, so that's the one time name-dropping critics got it right, just in a sort of round-about way, huh?
Yeah, that's funny, because they probably were [thinking] fans, and just listeners in general ... kind of introduced me to the idea, like oh maybe there's some kind of connection here.
Why would you tell people they should check out and buy your albums, see your shows, and generally pay attention to what you guys are doing?
Because it's, uh, very different from everything else out there right now. If you're looking for something unique, and you want a good story — at least that's what we're trying to entertain you with.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.