A Last-Second Interview with Murder by Death:
Why you shouldn't eat snake eggs, and other life lessons.

Murder by Death pic #1
(clockwise from top left) Matt Armstrong, Adam Turla,
Sarah Balliet, Alex Schrodt.
Here at Space City Rock, our writers are nothing if not persistent. Since the release of their latest opus, In Bocca al Lupo, we'd been trying to get something set up with Indianan death-and-gloom indie-rockers Murder by Death without much success, but writer Byron Miller refused to be deterred. After the last attempt at setting up something "official" with the band fell through, he did what all truly enterprising journalists do: he just showed up and talked to 'em. He went to Murder by Death's recent show here in Houston, walked up and introduced himself to cellist/keyboardist Sarah Balliet and vocalist/guitarist Adam Turla, and started firing away with the questions. Here's what he learned about the creation of concept albums, how to drink your vitamins, and the hazards of the road...

SCR: Hey, thanks a lot for doing this, guys. I appreciate the hell out of it.
Sarah Balliet: Yeah, it's no problem at all.
Adam Turla: Yeah, man.
Okay, yeah, so I wanted to ask y'all...what is "Mustache"? I've been seeing that name a lot.
Sarah: Adam's cousin has a band called Mustache.
Adam: Yeah, we've been trying to help them out and get them their name a little more recognition.
Cool. I was confused at first when I saw the Mustache promo material at the merch booth.
Sarah: Yeah, we should really clear that up.
Okay, what's next? What tips would you guys have for aspiring musicians?
Sarah: It may sound cheesy, but practice. It's too easy for a lot of people to get caught up drinking and partying all night and not practicing for the shows when you're on the road.
Uh-huh. What about vocalists?
Adam: Don't drink any dairy, beer, soda, or smoke cigarettes, and avoid lemons.
Adam: I know I broke that rule tonight, but I usually don't.
You have a really deep, Johnny Cash-type voice. Did you develop that sound, or...?
Adam: Well, when I sing I try and sing to how the song should sound. I don't necessarily try to sing a certain way. It's more to what is right for the song.
Excellent. Good advice. Also, where does the band's obsession with the South and Texas come from?
Sarah: We always liked the idea of the West and delving into the roots of the country. The West has a great story and gives us a great American backdrop for our songs.
Adam: Yeah, we enjoy writing about the West. It definitely has a romantic element to it. I always liked writing songs with stories to tell and specifics with a plot.
Murder by Death record cover
(Music courtesy of Murder by Death and Tent Show Records.)

Sarah: Oh, I see you've got the Volta do Mar split we did.
Sarah: They were great to record with. They were one of the most technically talented bands we've ever worked with.
Cool. I've never heard of them. I'll take a listen.
Sarah: They're great. It's too bad they broke up.
Hmm... What about Langhorne Slim? I saw y'all when you came into town with him.
Sarah: Yeah, he was fun to tour with. Very unpredictable.
Adam: He's a crazy guy. We were glad we got a chance to tour with him. A lot of people don't know about him, so it's great to be able to get bands you like more recognition.
So is that how y'all chose the bands you play with? Because I imagine it's hard to find a band with a similar sound; y'all are very different.
Adam: We don't look for bands that are necessarily like us. We like to get bands that match the mood of the tour, but it's not necessary. If we are picking up bands to tour with us, we just go with what we like, bands that we can get behind. It's great when we can give bands that we like a chance to get their name out there. Like Langhorne Slim.
Yeah, I got his CD, but it was kind of hard to find. Okay, if there was a band you could tour with, who would it be?
Adam: You go ahead, Sarah.
Sarah: No, I'm thinking.
Adam: I already know mine. It would be the Pogues, and we already got to play with them. It was so awesome to play with someone who you listened to growing up. You should check them out.
I will definitely have to do that. That's awesome, playing with your idols. Okay, I have to ask you: why Lonestar?
Adam: It's what's free. We drink what they give us.
Ah, okay. That makes sense. So what would y'all normally drink? I know y'all have a lot of songs about whiskey.
Adam: Whiskey usually -- Knob Creek, or Jameson's.
Sarah: What did we used to call it?
Adam: Oh, we call it "Vitamin W."
Nice. You've got to have your vitamins. What's the weirdest thing that's happened to y'all on tour?
Adam: Hmm...it's got to be either the snake eggs or Matt getting gangrene.
Huh? [laughs] What?
Sarah: [laughs] Tell him.
Adam: So we were on tour and we were passing through Juarez, right? I end up in a poker game with a bunch of gypsies.
Sarah: Gypsies? I think they were more gypsy-esque.
Adam: Okay, "gypsy-esque." Well, I end up losing the poker game. Since I lost, I had to eat a few snake eggs.
Snake eggs? You bet snake eggs?
Adam: Yeah, so a few days later on tour my stomach was hurting so bad I had to miss a date on the tour.
Murder by Death pic #2
(l to r) Vincent Edwards, Matt Armstrong, Adam Turla, Alex Schrodt, Sarah Balliet.
[laughs] So you missed a tour date because you ate snake eggs?
Adam: [laughs] Yeah. My stomach felt like it had a knife in it. I went to the hospital and they flushed the snake eggs out of my system.
Nice. So, snake eggs are bad to eat?
Adam: Yeah, don't eat them.
Well, another life lesson learned. I probably wouldn't have, though... So, what was the other story?
Adam: Matt [Armstrong, bassist] got gangrene on his foot. He apparently got a bad cut and was walking on it for a while and ignored it.
So he ignored it for like weeks?
Adam: Yeah, he's a man's man.
I thought gangrene went out with leprosy and the plague?
Adam: [laughs] Yeah, Matt's the only one who has gotten a third world disease.
Damn... Where did y'all start from? Did y'all have jobs before this?
Adam: We all went to the same college in Indiana.
Sarah: Yeah, we all just started playing clubs in college, so we didn't have to have jobs before we started doing this as a full-time thing.
Adam: We used to play venues with Thursday before they were famous, and they really liked us, so when they got all famous and went out on tour they were nice enough to take us out. Great guys.
Awesome. Did your parents support y'all when you first started?
Adam: At first my parents weren't as supportive, but they've come around. My dad checks our Website daily.
That's awesome. It's great to have your parents be your top fans... Well, I know y'all did a few concept albums already. How did Who Will Survive [Who Will Survive, And What Will Be Left of Them] come about?
Adam: Actually, it came when I was singing in the car to stay awake. I just started singing the parts to one of the songs.
Sarah: Yeah, we started running through ideas and stretching them out across more and more songs.
Cool. It worked out nicely. So, what about future projects? Any more concept albums?
Sarah: We can't say much about it, but we are working on two albums.
Are you going to release them at the same time?
Sarah: No, I think they'll have different dates, but we are working on two possible concept albums.
More concept albums. Cool. I'm psyched.
Adam: Yeah, we are in the process of putting together ideas and songs for the albums.
I'm looking forward to it, guys. Thanks for your time. I appreciate it so much. Take it easy.
Adam: Yeah, no problem. Thanks.
Sarah: Yeah, it was nice meeting you. Thanks -- bye... END