I wanted to connect with as many Indiana bands as I could while in Austin for SXSW. It was completely by chance that my interviews with the two Hoosier bands I had made arrangements with both fell on Friday and both were located in the SoCo (south Congress) District.
As described in my opening article of this series, Welcome To Austin, The SoCo District is characterized by food truck lots, street vendors, whimsical shops filled with handmade art, and posh dining. It has the same air as Broad Ripple in the daytime- a bohemian village grounded in art and flair.
I had lunch at a vegan truck where I tweeted, I have no idea what this means, but I’m going to eat it anyway.
The Yard Dog was a block down the street from the food truck lot- an art gallery with a large back patio that has been hosting a SXSW day party for years. A small tent covered the stage and a piece of the patio, which was great because the sun was shining and the day was warm. Shout out to the savvy kids who we bought lemonade from on a side street for $0.25 per cup.
I met up with Adam Turla of Bloomington-bred Murder By Death and asked a few questions about their notorious Kickstarter campaign that was one of the first and most successful music campaigns in Kickstarter’s history.
AS YOU WISH: Kickstarter Covers is the result of one of the high-pledge options from the Kickstarter campaign- 15 covers of songs submitted by contributors to the fund.
MOJO: You offered fans a lot of really intimate, exclusive gifts in exchange for donations to your Kickstarter fund, which was a huge success. From a business perspective, did you give any thought to making sure that what you spent in time and money was less than what you would be bringing in from donations? Because in the end, this has to be profitable for you, right?
ADAM: It worked our perfectly in that I didn’t do any stupid price points or anything, but I had no idea how much time it would take. I ran myself ragged doing fulfillment for the orders. I had no idea how many emails I would get of people asking me, “Hey would you be willing to do this?” or “Can I get this and this?” It’s like a fever or mania as you’re watching that number climb up, so you’re like “Whatever, yes! Cool. I’ll take care of you!” It was a stressful but exciting time.
MOJO: How long did it take you to fulfill everything?
ADAM: Some of it is continual and is still going. For example, we have a book club that about 115 people signed up to get a book a month for the year. So as soon as we get home from South By, I have to package up 115 orders, throw them in the back of my car, and take them to the Post Office. I’m on very familiar terms with the gentlemen at our post office.
MOJO: Right, and you actually flooded your post office with the initial mailings- something like 5,000 packages?
ADAM: Yes, they said there was a delay of about a week because they just could not process them fast enough. I know all those guys [at the post office] because I’ve been in there so many times over the past year. We’ve always done our own mail order, so I’ve spent a lot of time in the back sorting orders with them.
MOJO: Do you have any cool stories from any of the experiences you’ve had in keeping up your end of the Kickstarter deals with your fans?
ADAM: Oh, yeah. We played a wedding. We surprised the bride in upstate New York. Sara [Balliet, cello] and I flew in and serenaded her with a few songs that the fiancé-at-the-time had pledged for us to come surprise her with. They turned out to be these amazing, just really cool, people; we’ve hung out with them a few times since then at shows in their area.
There was some really moving stuff- people coming back from Afghanistan injured who’s husband or wife wanted us to do something special for them. There are some really beautiful gifts that have been bought by our fans for their loved ones. That was the stuff that we didn’t expect. I’m picturing “Oh, we’re just trying to get our music out to people.” And then there were actually some seriously beautiful acts of generosity that we just happened to be a part of.
MOJO: What do you miss about your home in good ole’ Indiana when you’re on the road?
ADAM: I really miss just being in one place. I have a great front porch. There are all sorts of birds and rabbits and deer that wander around in the yard. It’s a great place to just read a book and not tour or not be rushing from one place to another.
Ironically, that’s about the time that Josh, Adam’s tour manager, waved at us from behind camera to signal that our time was up and rush off for Murder By Death’s performance out back. We all shook hands, thanked each other, and then accidentally lingered into a sidebar conversation about running into people from Indiana while in Austin. Josh and Adam swiftly exited out the back door for set change and sound check.