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- Posted on Sep 27th 2012 4:45PM by Dan Reilly
Rather than run a conventional pre-sale for their excellent new album Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, the Bloomington, Ind. quintet opted to create a Kickstarter where fans could not only get the album and some deluxe-edition merch, they could do such things as:
-- Have the band play a show at their house, anywhere in the world.
-- Sign up for a book and/or DVD club curated by the members.
-- Accompany the group to an amusement park, with a photographer present to document the whole day.
-- Purchase a golden ticket that guarantees entry into every Murder by Death show forever.
-- Have them record a cover song of their choice.
-- Pay for the drummer to get a tattoo of anything, as long as it wasn't offensive.
All of these were purchased, some of them several times over, and the band is busy keeping to its word. "We've been packing boxes on average of 14 hours a day for the last two weeks," singer and guitarist Adam Turla says. "Every single room in my house -- it's like 1,000 square feet -- was stacked six feet tall of boxes. There were paths to get from one to the other. At one point, I was declaring that I was the King of the Boxes. We were just loopy."
The group -- whose eclectic sound has its roots in dark, Western folk-punk -- knew they had to go beyond simple meet-and-greets to reward their fans for donating. "We could have sold a ton of stuff like that," Turla says. "First of all, if you've ever been to a Murder by Death show, you can just come talk to us. We don't believe in that rock-star shit. I thought we should do something that responded to the requests we've gotten before."
And, surprisingly, one backer paid $750 or more to have drummer Dagan Thogerson get a tattoo.
"We have a lot of songs that are epic, [with] good and evil, devil-sort of imagery, and this guy said, 'Jesus and the devil have been rivals for a long time. I thought it would be funny if you got a tattoo of the two of them sitting at a campfire, roasting marshmallows.' Dagan is going to get it this month. We'll post photos when he's done."
The cover songs run for $1,000 and up and will be limited to one CD copy with a handmade case. The band is getting set to record 15 of them, and will post them online afterward.
"The amazing thing is there are some songs in there that I genuinely love," Turla says, highlighting "Little Red Riding Hood" by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. "One of them is 'What a Wonderful World,' some Misfits, some, Tom Waits, but then there's a black metal song from this Finnish band. Another is 'Hold On' by Wilson Phillips, which I'm really looking forward to. I want to do it as a straight cover, don't change anything. It's such a '90s empowerment song and there's definitely an amusing quality when there's three fucking dudes singing."
When asked about Palmer and her controversial campaign -- aside from being married to a best-selling novelist and then saying she couldn't afford to pay extra musicians on tour -- Turla is respectful. They're actually acquaintances, having covered each other's songs for a one-off single.
"She launched hers about a month or two before ours. At first I was like, 'Ah, she beat us to the punch,'" he says. "I was also very happy to have someone go big with it and to see what worked and what didn't. There are certain things like where it's like, 'I think she's charging too much for this thing. We're going to do something similar and charge less.' I think the only reason she's getting shit is because she raised $1.2 million and people are sensitive when people get successful."
Turla also reveals that Murder by Death are making a little money off of the Kickstarter, but not by much. "We definitely spent over $100,000 already, quite a bit more," he says. "The thing is, we have to continue to send the book-club orders, continue to mail out the Forever Club [every MBD release and piece of mercy, minus t-shirts]. We have to play all these house shows, some of which we're flying to. Because we put out our own vinyl, it's really expensive for us to keep six albums plus a bunch of other releases in production, but this Kickstarter allowed us [to do that].
"My concern is that we're the kind of band that would totally eat into the profits by giving away cool shit because we think it would be fun. We're trying to balance that."