Interview: Adam Turla from Murder By Death

posted May 16, 2006

by Corinne

Adam Turla from Murder By DeathHow are you?

Most excellent. Enjoying our time at home before we hit the road.

Care to introduce yourself?

My name is Adam Turla, I sing and play the guitar for Murder By Death.

How did the band meet?

We met at Indiana University through the common thread of drinking.

Where did the name Murder By Death come from?

It's from a Neil Simon play of the same name. It was also made into a movie in '76. The film stars Peter Falk, Truman Capote, Alec Guiness, Peter Sellers and many others. It's a murder mystery spoof like the movie clue.

The band's biography compares Murder By Death's lyrics to short stories. How separate are the lyrics and the music for you? Are they two separate entities that are pieced together or is it bigger than that?

The songs on In Bocca Al Lupo are set up to be a bunch of short stories each linked by the themes of guilt, sin, and redemption. The music is what we use to try and bring character to the stories, to set the mood. Storytelling is very important to me as a lyricist, but it is the music itself that people hear first and identify with and it is music that is entertaining, so in that form the stories are a vehicle for the song.

Tell me about Murder By Death's new album, "In Bocca al Lupo." How would you describe it to music fans unfamiliar with your previous albums?

The new album is more diverse than the last record, in that we try to capture different musical styles to tell each story differently. For new listeners I would say that it is Americana Noir--it is somewhere in between rock n roll and country, with a hint of indie in there. The songs can be macabre or gentle-- but the mood is seedy and the songs often concern the underbelly of society.

You are releasing the new album on your own record label, Tent Records. What led the band to start a record label? Will Tent Records stick with releasing Murder By Death's music only or will other bands be showcased on the label?

It was an opportunity to have complete creative control and also great distribution for the record so we were happy to take that course. The plan is to only release Murder By Death records because we are so busy with our own stuff that we wouldn't have time to handle the responsibility of helping other bands and therefore would feel guilty for not being able to do our best to help them build their careers.

Did the band do anything different making this album than with previous albums? How did your producer, J. Robbins, affect the process?

We spent a month instead of our typical week to record the album. J was a wonderful producer--we knew what we wanted and he was able to capture that on tape. We think he did a great job of capturing both the more straightforward rock songs as well as the more tender quiet moments of the record. He definitely earned the visit to Medieval Times we took him to.

Name an underrated band you think deserves more attention.

William Elliott Whitmore is amazing. He lives in a house he built himself in south eastern Iowa on the Mississippi. He plays banjo and sings like a 1000 year old one eyed blues man.

What have you been listening to recently?

Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, The Beach Boys

If you could have written any song, what song do you wish you had written and why?

Unravel by Bjork

Anything you'd like to add?

Thank you for writing about us you are nice.

Thanks for your time!