Murder by Death Feature From The Inlander

Robert Smith in Chaps

Murder by Death is inspired by the saddest goth rockers and wide-open countryside.

If goth kids existed in the Old West, the following three things would likely be true:

1. They’d bemoan the lack of black snakeskin boots (wanting the darkness of their souls to match the darkness of their soles).

2. They’d bitch about how much of a conformist Chester A. Arthur was.

3. Their favorite band would probably be Murder by Death.

While Murder by Death is certainly no goth band in modern times, the band’s blend of Adam Turla’s deep baritone vocals, Sarah Balliet’s haunting cello work, and lyrics conjuring up images of tumbleweed-strewn deserts, devilish deeds and whiskey would undoubtedly strike a chord with the outcast teens slumming around Tombstone.

And though the band’s rock sound is unlikely to draw the black eyeliner crowd, Turla does suggest some gothic skeletons in their musical closet.

“As far as direct musical influences,” says Turla, “when I was in high school, I was really into the Cure and so was our bass player, Matt. We didn’t wear fishnet stockings and shit or do makeup, but that was the music we thought was really cool. And we noticed that starting to come back with the record we’re writing now. There were a couple melodies that really seem like homages to the Cure.”

While the Cure connection can help to explain some of the band’s brooding darkness, it doesn’t account for the dusty settings of the songs. But as Turla explains, the lyrical backdrops can be attributed to his love of nature.

“I have an attraction to rugged places. When I’m writing, I’m thinking of and inspired by places I’ve been that really speak to me. The Badlands in South Dakota, I absolutely love it. I love going out West, whether it’s to the mountains or deserts,” he says. “I don’t pretend to be a person out there wrangling cattle or something, that’s not my life, but I do like solo camping trips, and rock climbing, and I built a cabin in my backyard. I have an affinity for things like that.” Continue reading

Cobra Skulls Feature From The Inlander

Fast & Furious

How to make an album in three weeks, the Cobra Skulls way.

When the Cobra Skulls finished a leg of relentless touring in February, they found themselves with no new songs and only a month to write an album. That’s when lead singer Devin Peralta holed himself away in a dingy hotel room in Reno, Nev., the band’s hometown.

“I just wrote [in that hotel room] for about three weeks. And we only got together to practice the stuff eight days before we went in [to the studio]” says Peralta, who also plays bass in the band.

The result, called Agitations, will be released on Sept. 27 on Fat Wreck Chords, the famed label founded by NOFX’s Fat Mike. Signing to the label was a coup for the band, which has become something of an established punk entity in recent years, touring with Against Me! and the Lawrence Arms. But considering their sound — a hodgepodge of punk’s past that evokes bits of Bad Religion, the Clash and Rancid — it’s a good fit.

“The album is a little shorter. No songs are over three minutes. It’s pretty concise,” says Peralta. “I think there must have been a little bit of a subconscious decision to do that. I felt, on the last album, that a lot of songs were a little too long.”

That’s saying something: The average track length on the Cobra Skulls last, ‘too-long’ record was two minutes and seven seconds. Continue reading

Explosions in the Sky Feature From The Inlander

Words Get In the Way

Explosions in the Sky makes heartfelt music that you can’t sing along to.

Typically, they start slow. Open and atmospheric. Notes begin to fill the space. Fills grow more prevalent. The song builds, climaxing in a cascade of furious drum beats. It is both sweeping and epic, speaking to the most personal, affected places of the subconscious without actually saying any words.

The band, Explosions in the Sky, has risen to the top of the instrumental rock world by creating audio landscapes that are, perhaps, more emotional without lyrics than with them. The Austin four-piece has garnered a reputation as a band’s band, one that even their jaded peers go out of their way to gush about.

“Even though we’ve been doing this a long time,” says drummer Chris Hrasky, “we still just sort of feel like we’re tricking people somehow. It just seems crazy to us that this has actually somehow worked.”

The band’s “trick” is part of the reason why it took almost four years for them to turn out their newest album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. As their fanbase grew, the band — noted for amazing live sets — stayed on tour far longer than they ever had before. The guys spent triple the time in the studio trying to shape the new tracks as they had for their previous record.

“We really took a lot of time to hone these songs into exactly what we wanted,” Hrasky says. “We’ve never been a band who wants to just kind of, like, go, ‘Aww well, this is good enough. We’ll go in and throw this together and hopefully people will like it.’ We’d rather stop playing as opposed to taking that attitude.” Continue reading