Where music and horror meet.
I recently had the chance to discuss the band’s influences and music with frontman Adam Turla. Here’s what he had to say…
Your first album name-checked The Exorcist, and your follow-up was named after a tagline from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The split EP released between the two included an instrumental song called “We Watch a Lot of Movies.” Given these breadcrumbs and the band’s cinematic approach to storytelling via song, has film, and horror films in particular, been in the band’s DNA from the beginning?
It’s really that the band writes as if we are writing scenes in movies. When we do a concept record, those scenes need to fit together and form the album, with each scene taking an important part of the narrative or character building. I try to think of the music like the cinematography and the lyrics like the script.
Following from that, what are some of your favorite horror films? Have they inspired your songwriting?
El Dia de la Bestia is an an awesome Spanish movie about a priest who discovers the city and date the antichrist will be reborn, and he enlists a metalhead to help him find it. Funny and dark. Recently, I think Get Out is one of the best films of any genre to come out. Extremely tense and one of the most surprising and exciting films I have ever seen. Love it. I think a great film or book gets your creative juices going and helps you examine things from another person’s perspective, and helps you work on your own art.
You’ve also had songs that reference The Last Dragon, The Shawshank Redemption, and iconic Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Are these favorite films as well? Can you share some of your other favorite films from genres other than horror?
Yeah anything we reference, we love. We have made homages to movies on shirts and posters too. I love art house stuff. I love comedy. Favorites are My Blue Heaven, Three Amigos, Scrooged, Young Frankenstein; it’s hard to shake the stuff from your childhood. I enjoy stand up too! Seeing Maria Bamford next week.
I haven’t yet been able to visit Lupo, your restaurant in Louisville, but I will admit to stalking its website and social media. I noticed a number of Italian movie posters in the photos. Did you help pick them out? Do you have a personal favorite in the restaurant?
Picked ‘em out and framed ‘em! I really like the poster for Ingmar Bergman’s The Hour of The Wolf, and we just added a cool Italian version of the movie adaptation of Jack London’s The Sea Wolf.
Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them? seems like a big leap forward from Like The Exorcist, But More Breakdancing – both stylistically, but also in tackling a dense concept album. Would you share a bit about your approach to writing that record?
I got the idea for the intro, “I’ll take two shots said the Devil to the man…” on a long drive, and just kept pushing from there, one song at a time. I didn’t intend for it to be a long form narrative, but it came together! I love to write that way but don’t want to force it, so if an idea fully germinates, then I keep pushing and pulling until it works or it doesn’t.
I’ve often described your music as “cinematic,” and it conjures images in my mind every time I listen. Several years ago the band recorded an album, Finch, that was a soundtrack to a novel by Jeff VanderMeer (who also wrote Annihilation). Would you like to do more scoring work in the future?
Absolutely. It was his idea, and now he keeps saying he is gonna eventually get us some score work! Crossing those fingers…it’s basically the number one thing we wanna do. We have had great placements in tons of stuff like Tarantino, Sons of Anarchy, the video game Destiny, and we keep pushing for more.
The band’s annual shows at the Stanley Hotel have become the stuff of legend, and are something I look forward to every year. Are there other similarly spooky venues you’ve played, or ones that you would like to?
The Cumberland Caverns in Tennessee are our new thing – and it rules! Best sound ever. We’ll be doing that again this summer. We’re actually doing a whole concept run of a few weird venues this summer.
Your most recent album, The Other Shore, has been described as a Western space opera. It features some of the band’s most assured playing to date, and continues MBD’s penchant for killer final tracks – this one about the literal end of the world. What can you tell us about the story behind the songs?
It’s about love and the risks we take for it. It’s about a dying earth and the struggle to choose when to stay and when to bail.
This seems to be an especially busy time, even for a band not known for taking it easy. You’re about to embark on your first tour of Australia, and next year marks the band’s 20th anniversary. How does that feel? Are there any upcoming plans you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s good to still be loved! We are grateful and doing our best to stay fun and interesting. We are doing a big career retrospective 20th anniversary tour next year. Stay tuned.