The label-mates and long time friends first started playing shows together at the turn of the century in Bloomington, Indiana, when Murder By Death was known as Little Joe Gould. The artists spent a significant portion of that decade playing and touring together, eventually collaborating on a song telephonically. Whitmore explains, “I sang on an early song of theirs called ‘Until Morale Improves the Beatings Will Continue,’ doing the vocal take over the phone, a pay phone (tells you how long ago it was) while I was on tour and they were in the studio. We did a split 7 inch together too. We’ve been through a lot together and I consider them good friends. Now all these years later we’re on the same record label. This year marks a decade since we’ve last toured together, and I’m honored they would have me.” Adam Turla, lead singer of Murder By Death, remembers being captivated by William Elliott Whitmore’s stage presence and tremendous sound while William was a roadie for Ten Grand. Turla reminisces, “When I first heard him around 2001 or so, seeing a guy with a banjo on stage in an indie or rock setting was unheard of (now it’s more common) but unlike most, he’s always been the real deal- and true to himself. Folks often imitate what he really is, and his truth comes through in the music. I was a big fan back then, and remain so today.”
Both artists are touring in support of their recently released albums: Murder By Death’s 8th full-length album The Other Shore and William Elliott Whitmore’s 7th album, Kilonova, both available for purchase on the Bloodshot Records website.
Murder By Death’s The Other Shore tells a melancholic love story, with lyrics portraying a guilt-wracked lover stubbornly opposing abeyant emotions as they come to realize their enduring attachment. In self-deprecating verse, the main character recognizes they should have been more receptive now that they’ve had ample time and distance to reflect on the relationship’s demise.
Kilonova takes Whitmore’s listeners on a soulful journey through his musical influences. William Elliott Whitmore covers ten artists over the course of the album, from Magnetic Fields to Bill Withers to Bad Religion. For Whitmore, hearing covers as a child opened his mind to the potential of reinterpretation. He explains, “This collection is something I’ve been wanting to put forth for a long time. A handful of these tunes I’ve been doing in my live sets for years, and it just felt right to give them a little home. A place where my interpretations can live and hopefully be enjoyed. I remember as a kid hearing Johnny Cash cover Harlan Howard’s “Busted” on Live at Folsom Prison. Soon after that I became familiar with Ray Charles’ version, and it was a revelation that a great song can be played in many different ways. Seems obvious now, but as a ten year old it was helping to shape my way of thinking of music.”