The Emperor!: So, from what I hear, you’re quite the manly man in the world of musicians. So, Mr. Mountain Man, what do you feel about Tim “The Toolman” Taylor?
Murder By Death Adam: I watched that show a little, but what I remember about him most is, I grew up in Michigan, and he’s from Detroit, and what I remember is that he would always get arrested for drunkenly driving his Ferrari at like 130 miles per hour. He went to jail like 3 times and kept buying his way out of it. This happened a couple times while I was growing up, so that’s usually what I think of when I think of him.
TE!: I think it’s funny that the voice of Simba was on that show.
TE!: Yea, man, Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
MBDA: Oh! [in a mock James Earl Jones voice]: Sim-ba! Fucking James Earl Jones: “All that the light touches is our kingdom.” I haven’t seen that movie, probably since it came out?
TE!: Do you have a favorite Disney film?
MBDA: That one’s pretty good, but you know which one’s my favorite? Robin Hood.
MBDA: The guy who plays the fox, his name’s Brian Bedford, he’s a Shakespearean actor, and I used to go to this festival with my dad every summer, and he was one of the main actors. I think he still does it. I remember I was watching the movie, I’m like, that’s the guy we see every year. The music’s done by Roger Miller, who is really, really good.
TE!: Awesome. So, I’m told that you went into the wilderness to write the new album, what did you expect to come of it? Did you want to fight bears, prove your manliness?
MBDA: No, no, that was a joke. That wasn’t my interest, I do a lot of administrative work for the band, I manage all the money, I do a lot of organizational stuff. It’s good because it makes you feel like you have control of your own creativity, you’re not selling stuff that looks stupid because you didn’t approve it, someone else did, it makes the quality of the band better, also, it keeps you really busy. What I wanted to do was to cut off everything, so I went into the woods for 2 weeks and basically went there to take all these ideas for songs I had, and focus only on feeding myself and writing these songs. They’re not totally done yet or anything, we have to rehearse with the band, but I wrote a lot of material, I had a lot of ideas that finally got finished out there, it was just a good escape, it was an experiment.
TE!: Were you just camping, sleeping in your car?
MBDA: No, I had a tent and I was just out in the woods. I, you know, cooked over a fire.
TE!: Did you use leaves or toilet paper?
MBDA: Both. If I was hiking, I used leaves.
TE!: I would be concerned, because I don’t know what poison ivy actually looks like.
MBDA: Oh, it just itches.
TE!: I don’t want my ass to itch. Sometimes it itches and it’s one of the worst feelings in the world, and depending on where it itches, you especially don’t want to be “Don’t mind me, I’m just scratching my ass.”
MBDA: A lot of people are immune to it, it’s an oil that rubs off from the leaf. I don’t care, I’m immune to it, but Sara’s gotten it before.
TE!: Err…was she using it for toilet paper?
MBDA: No, no, she was weeding in our yard or something.
TE!: Now, how exactly do you go about writing a soundtrack for a sci-fi novel?
MBDA: It was an experiment. This guy, Jeff Vandermeer, he’s written a lot of books in the genre, he’s a modern writer, he emailed us and said “I’m a big fan, and I have this series of books…” The book that he has just written is the third one, it’s called Finch. He said the last two had soundtracks with other bands where they just kind of threw stuff together and gave him b-sides or whatever, and asked if we’d want to be involved in that. We said, “OK, send us a copy of the book.” So we read the book, and we liked it, so what we did was, we went into the studio, selected a few scenes from the book that had some interesting visual things that we thought we could turn into music. In five days, we had written and recorded like a 25 minute instrumental. There’s certain scenes that we tried to illustrate, musically, what was happening in the book. It’s very different from a regular record, I mean, at times it’s just a piano or at times it’s multiple cellos playing with weird noises and sometimes it’s a band with more of a traditional sound.
TE!: That’s the third album recently to either accompany or was inspired by a book, the others being the new Iggy Pop and the Ben Nichols solo album.
MBDA: This is different in that it’s supposed to be a score, as if it was a movie. There’s no lyrics, other than oohs and ahs and shit. We liked the book a lot, it’s neat, it’s like a film noir kind of thing, where it’s a detective story but it’s set in the future of an alternate world, and basically there’s the humans and these creatures which have recently emerged from underground that are basically mushroom people, they are spore-based humanoids and the humans are distressed by them because they’re like yuck.
TE!: Cuz they’re a fungus.
MBDA: Yea, they’re a fungus among us, so to speak.
TE!: Nice Incubus reference.
MBDA: It was cool because you’re trying to think, “What does a mushroom sound like?” I had to create sounds on the record, and there’s a song where we tried to create the sound of these houses that are basically big mushrooms, and they breathe in and out. We tried to duplicate that image, with sound.
TE!: Do you care to try to re-create that sound?
MBDA: No, I already made one embarrassing pun.
TE!: Are you a big sci-fi nerd in general?
MBDA: It’s kind of a new thing for me, I mean, I’ve seen Alien and everything, but I never read science fiction books until like a year ago. A friend loaned me a couple that were cool to read while I was on tour.
TE!: Who is the coolest sci-fi character to you? Who would you like to hang out with?
MBDA: Oh, I don’t know. I’d definitely like to hang out with Harrison Ford in Blade Runner. He is so cool. This book kind of reminds me of that, because it’s this lone detective, he’s kind of a lonely guy in a world that’s rapidly changing.
TE!: I had hoped that HE was an android.
MBDA: Oh, well, in the extended version, he is.
TE!: Shit, I never saw anything but the original version.
MBDA: Well, at the end of the extended version, they show him the paper crane, which is something he had dreamed about and it was an implanted memory and he realized that he is an android.
MBDA: Yea, that was the director’s cut.
Racket Caitlin: I have the anniversary issue, and I don’t know why I missed that. Maybe I don’t have the right one.
MBDA: It ends the same way, but they inject a scene in which he finds a paper crane, and you know from previous scenes that that means he’s an android, too. Which is really cool. That was one of the first sci-fi movies I watched and was like, “Oh, shit. This is a really cool genre.” What’s kind of cool about the genre is that there doesn’t have to be aliens, it doesn’t have to be goofy, it can just be a future story, you can just write whatever you want.
TE!: Speaking of the future, are you disappointed that we don’t have flying cars, yet?
MBDA: Yea, Back to the Future 2 REALLY lied to us. I remember when people were saying that we could get the hoverboards.
TE!: Yea, I was pissed when that didn’t come to fruition.
MBDA: They probably used magnets or something.
TE!: I thought it would be like a hovercraft, with a bag and some air.
MBDA: That would have been nice.
TE!: I mean, whatever, I can’t even ride a skateboard, it would be pretty bad for me to try for the hoverboard.
MBDA: Yea, you’d have to go with the car, like a floating Impala.
TE!: I’d be cool with that.
RC: Would you?
TE!: Yea, the 2064 Impala.
MBDA: The 2064 HOVER-Impala.
TE!: Yea! What do you think is the goofiest car?
MBDA: The PT Cruiser is pretty goofy. I like old cars, I think they’re more attractive. I have a 1963 ½ Galaxie 500. It’s fucking gorgeous. It’s jet black and the interior was restored right before I bought it, it has ostrich leather, it’s really cool. But it’s a boat, gets terrible gas mileage, but it’s not like I drive it to work.
TE!: Do you take it to car shows?
MBDA: I’m in a car club with some guys from around town and we have a show. I usually just go to it, I’m never around enough to help organize anything. For merch, we have shop rags now, they’re pretty fun. I keep mine for my cleaning needs. We just got them yesterday, so I’m pretty excited about it. A lot of guys who like to work on cars have them, and when we toured with the Reverend Horton Heat, they had them, and it’s such an easy idea. And the people who like them will love them.
TE!: What is the best band schwag have you seen in your touring life?
MBDA: These are the ones that I thought were really unique, this band Splitlip Rayfield had pot holders, which I thought was very unique. We’ve done like pint glasses, shot glasses, we have coozies right now. We’re trying to do fun stuff. We’re about to do onesies for babies. A lot of our fans have kids now, so we have drunken crowds with a lot of kids now, so we were thinking that baby onesies would be a good idea.
TE!: What about baby bottles?
MBDA: Oh, man!
MBDA: That’s funny, but we might get mistaken for a rave band. I went to a rave with this girl who was a model when I was 18, she as gorgeous, and really wanted to go. I got picked up be her and these two friends of hers, and the guys had pacifiers and were on ecstasy and shit. I was standing there thinking, “OK, this girl is really, really gorgeous, is it worth it?” And after about an hour, and trying to dance and have a good time, and this place isn’t ME at all, I was just trying to be open minded. But one of the guys kept sucking on the pacifier and I’m like, “I’m sorry, but I have to go.” And I just left, some friends were having a party like 6 blocks away, and I’m just like, “Guys, I tried, I just can’t do it, it’s not me.” And she called a couple days later and was all, “Dude, is everything cool?” and I just couldn’t call her back. It was just like, what am I going to do?
TE!: Do you think rave fashion is the most ridiculous of all the sub-genres out there?
MBDA: Kids today never cease to amaze me.
MBDA: OH! Someone just showed me a poster of them today, and I was just like “Ugh.” Someone on my Facebook said that their new video makes them laugh, but it also seriously makes them want to cry. We’re getting older, and we actually catch ourselves going, “Damn kids.”
TE!: Same here! I find myself judging multiple face piercings and these weird haircuts. One of the scariest moments of my concert-going career was seeing Pantera at Ozzfest in like, 2000…
MBDA: Pantera fans are crazy.
TE!: Serious, there was this HUGE Mexican dude, eyes all red and bloodshot. And he keeps screaming “FUCKING HOSTILE!!” like he expects them to hear him. A few minutes later, they started playing it, and the guy starts CRYING. That was the scariest moment ever.
MBDA: People really feel very strongly about Pantera. We just got back from a tour of Greece, and there was this girl there, she’s British, but she’s part Greek, so she moved there, and she worked for the production company, and she was a HUGE Pantera fan, they were her favorite band, and when you meet her, you’re like, “OK, she’s a cool girl.” But she was absolutely in love with that fucking band, and she had “Pantera” tattooed on the inside of her lip. It was just one of those things, she was REALLY into Pantera. Holy shit.
TE!: What was your worst concert experience as a performer?
MBDA: We once played a show, and it was our headlining show, and someone threw a bottle, and it hit someone in the back. There just these drunk guys who wanted to see the band before us, it was just a few guys, and they were really wasted, showed up in a limo, and the curious thing was that I got so angry, I finished the song, but I was seriously worried about what I was going to do to these guys. It was one of those things, and I’m not a big guy or a musclehead or anything, but that feeling of rage…I said into the mic, “I’m going to tear your throats out” or something.
TE!: Like Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse.
MBDA: I was just so sore for the rest of the set because I felt so bad for the person that got hit, they could have been really hurt. It was just careless.
TE!: Have you ever been in a fight?
MBDA: Not in my adult life, for some reason. I used to fight for fun all the time, but not for like 10 years now.
TE!: I heard that was the state pass time in Michigan.
MBDA: No, no, that’s Jersey. We were just talking about that with Gaslight, it’s all about attitude. In the mid-west, people don’t escalate things, like, if someone insults a woman in Jersey, the men feel obligated to make the guy apologize or kick his ass. The guys and girls in the mid-west will just blow it off, and it’s not even that common. It’s just a very different attitude.
TE!: Cool, well, thanks.
MBDA: No problem.
–Interview by Jonathan Yost (with random interjections by Caitlin Elgin)