From a fan’s standpoint, the touring life appears glamorous, but for an artist, life on the road can be dangerous: bands hauling equipment across the country often have a target painted on their back when it comes to robberies. In light of a rash of high-profile robberies over the past year, PropertyOfZack talked with Koji, Murder By Death, and For Today about what it means when their livelihood was stolen from them — and what they did to bounce back.
by Erik van Rheenen, edited by Jesse Richman
Murder By Death is still a fledgling band in 2003. Two studio albums deep into their career, the band tours out of a van: traveling with a trailer is still a plan, not a reality. In October, the plan for a trailer falls apart at the seams when the van is ransacked during a tour. All of the band’s gear — valued close to $10,000 — is gone. Murder By Death misses three or four concerts. Along with their instruments, the robber has pilfered the band’s livelihood. Admits vocalist Adam Turla: “It’s like they stole your job.”
Adam Turla can count on one hand the number of times Murder By Death has been robbed while out on tour.
The catch? It takes Turla the whole hand.
The five instances range in severity. Just a GPS and a smashed window when the band was a little less unlucky; gear, and everything else, when they found themselves a little more so. “It’s a shitty feeling,” Turla confesses, rattling off his recollections of the five robberies. “You’re just helpless. Expenses still come in, but you can’t go to work. And there’s not much time on tour, and you have to call insurance, you have to take the van to the dealer for repairs, and there’s just not enough hours in a day to deal with everything.”
In what philosophy students could study as “Turla’s Paradox,” the Murder By Death frontman’s call for caution is at once bluntly simple and deceptively tough advice to follow: “Don’t make it obvious you’re a band.” But being in a band in 2013 means logging long miles in a van, often hauling a trailer across the country — it’s tough not to get noticed.
When For Today’s van and trailer were stolen during a tight four-hour window when the band was sleeping off a show in a San Antonio hotel room at 4 a.m., singer Mattie Montgomery says he felt like the robbery wasn’t up to pure coincidence. “I think the people who robbed us were probably waiting for us to go to sleep so they could steal our van and trailer,” Montgomery says. “We literally had $200,000 of gear in there, so it was an amazing target for them.”
Come 8 a.m., on only four hours sleep, the band called a friend to check if the missing van might be a prank gone awry. It wasn’t, and For Today had to scramble to its next show sans lights, banners, and equipment. Montgomery met the circumstances with uncommon — he acknowledges his reaction “may seem weird” — pluck and aplomb. “I was genuinely excited when I realized our stuff was stolen,” he admits, “I love having fun stories to tell, and this was going to be a great one. While I didn’t know how, I was convinced that this whole situation was going to work out for the best, and I had peace in that.”
Our good friend, and maybe one of your favorite producers, Will Yip has officially announced his Off The Board: A Studio 4 Family Compilationthat will be released on October 8th. The comp will feature exclusive (new) and previously unreleased songs from bands like Title Fight, Circa Survive, Balance and Composure, Man Overboard, Citizen, Turnover, Daylight, Koji, Tigers Jaw, Polar Bear Club, Dead End Path, Sainthood Reps, Mongoloids, None More Black, Light Years, Pity Sex, and Anthony Green.
Purchases of records, shirts, and other memorabilia from the comp will go directly towards Yip buying Studio 4, the studio where he makes some of the best albums we’ve heard in years. Check out the store here to buy the comp and other goodies and a press release with all the details below!
POZ Perspective: Will Yip And The Power Of The Neve
Koji played one day of the Vans Warped Tour this summer in New Mexico at the Acoustic Basement stage, PropertyOfZack was very luckly to film his set for a new Live. Check out Koji performing “Giants Sleeping,” “Matches,” “Peacemaker,” “Creeping,” and a cover of Evan Dando’s “All My Life” with Brian Marquis below!
Our friends at Big Footprints have released their July 4-way split featuring Koji, Steady Hands, Restorations, and Tyler Daniel Bean Stream it below after the jump.
Koji is out on a great summer tour with Turnover, Have Mercy, and Ivy League. We’re lucky enough to have Koji doing several Road Blogs for PropertyOfZack throughout the summer on the tour, so check out the first update below and come back for more!
My summer tour didn’t so much start with a show as it did with a conversation. I was rushing to the North Star bar to meet up with my activist/volunteer friends one last time before tour. I arrived early and ran into Dan Yemin from Paint It Black. We got to talking about projects, tour life, Philadelphia life, inspiration, etc.. As my friends started to show up for the meeting, he told me about seeing John Henry West in a basement the night before a Lifetime tour back in ‘93. I hadn’t heard that Sarah (formerly Mike) Hirsch band before and asked him what it was like. Dan spoke on how impactful the energy of the music was, as well as Mike’s (as she was known at the time) ability to sum up why we do this (music/diy/community). With that, it was time for my meeting.
A day or so later I was en route to west coast making stops to play shows in small towns like Altoona, PA, Salina, KS, and Caldwell, ID. I saw Jamie from Title Fight at the climbing store on the way out of town and then Kimi and Joe from Code Orange Kids and Adventures while getting coffee in Pittsburgh. [Pennsylvania is so small!] The tour passed through bigger cities that bands often skip like Indianapolis, IN, and St. Louis, MO. There were also shows in some of my favorite places like Denver, CO and Salt Lake City, UT. It was such a crazy mix of “real” venues, DIY spaces, halls, etc. And at every show, this thread of “why” continued to weave itself into my experience on the road with Ivy League, Have Mercy, and Turnover.
It’s truly something to go to your own personal frontier space, to take yourself to the limit. Every day is spent in a new place where your basic needs and the performance you have to give become your main goals. All the excesses of life seem to melt away and there’s a clarity that comes with that. The places we visit and the people we meet are all living, breathing, evolving in their own way. I’m humbled by the kindness of friends and strangers who give us food and shelter. I leave each place inspired by kids whose small town, local scene is everything. I leave inspired by the community leaders in big cities who recognize the power the arts have to positively affect and uplift cities like Indianapolis, St. Louis, Denver. What we give to our friends, our creative communities, our cities and towns, and the world at large matters.