Since its inception in 2016, American Murder Song, from creators Terrance Zdunich and Saar Hendelman, has amassed a cult following of fans drawn to the dark and beautiful murder ballads exploring the more illicit and hidden corners of American history. For the release of their newest album, AMERICAN MURDER SONG: THE KILLING PLACE, I had the chance to speak with Terrance and Saar (otherwise known as Mister Tender and Mister Storm), about their latest endeavor, their upcoming Anti-Recital, and what fans can expect in 2019.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hey Terrance and Saar, it’s been too long, how are you doing? Ready for your next tour, your Anti-Recital?
Terrance Zdunich: It has been too long. We're doing well. It's been a very busy year for us and American Murder Song. We developed and released a board game, a new album and a brand new kind of tour, what we called an Anti-Recital. It's a super-VIP concert for a handful of our most dedicated fans. Everyone dressed real fancy to hear songs around a piano about sex and murder. The tour ended in October and was completely sold out, so we decided to book a “Hardcore Encore,” which kicks off in February and hits all new cities in the States, Canada and Europe. Tickets for the Anti-Recital Hardcore Encore are now available on our site. It's truly a unique and immersive concert experience.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Previous American Murder Song albums have had a storyline. The Killing Place has almost a FOUR ROOMS fell, with intermissions, a bellhops bell, room numbers attached to song titles, four unrelated short stories, and an appearance by Cain herself. It’s also the first time you’ve recorded covers, both of your own, and tracks by Foster the People and The Killers. You’ve also given the songs room numbers that correlate to Bible verses and Psalms, all dealing with salvation, obedience, murder, and ending with wickedness. Clearly though, this isn’t a classic American Murder Song in the vein you began with, this new album is still telling us a story though. Could you tell us a bit more about the story?
Saar Hendelman: With our previous albums we explored tales of murder in their own settings: the story of America during the Year Without a Summer in 1816, and The Donner Party’s treacherous journey in 1846-1847. With The Killing Place, we decided to explore our own (Messrs. Storm and Tender) journey, and the journey of the ballads themselves. Where are they being collected and housed? How do they sound there? As opposed to the original versions of the songs, the rooms that hold these stories are much darker, more dangerous, and removed from the specific time period in which they exist. And as we travel down these hallways of Cain’s hotel-like Killing Place, how are we seduced and transformed?
Nightmarish Conjurings: What’s Cain’s story? Is this THE Cain? A descendant? What little we hear of her, she could have many roles here; the owner of the hotel we seem to be visiting the rooms of, a storyteller, a stalker on the heels of Messers Storm and Tender? Can you tell us about her and will Abel be making an appearance down the road?
TZ: Cain has been a part of the American Murder Song storyline since the beginning, but her story is more front and center on the new album. In fact, The Mark which is featured on the left forearm of the killers in our songs (and is now tattooed on a great many of our fans) is our take on The Mark of Cain, a curse branded upon those who have murdered. As such, all of our American Murder Songs are descendants of Cain and her curse.
Nightmarish Conjurings: How did the idea for the Anti-Recitals come about? Clearly they have been received well, as quite a bit of them have already sold out. Have you recorded any of them for possible future releases? I know a lot of your fans that can’t make it to the shows would love to catch a glimpse of what these are really like.
SH: A lot of what we do is about having a unique experience, and with the Anti-Recital we doubled down on that. Not only are we performing in a small, intimate setting, we’re foregoing microphones and stages and having a cocktail party. There are no barriers between us and those attending, and the evening is as much about spending time together as it is about music. We don’t record the Anti-Recitals because we want an evening that exists just in that moment of time. No cell phones or selfies. There’s a very different atmosphere and connection when you’re not concerned with recording every moment, but are just there to experience it.
Nightmarish Conjurings: You’ve got the Hardcore Encore coming up in February, any plans for what’s to come after that? Any chance you might be working on The Devil’s Carnival 3? What does 2019 have in store for Messer Storm & Tender?
TZ: You mean, what have we done for you lately? The truth is that we never really take our foot off the gas with American Murder Song. We've released an album, shot music videos and gone on tour every year since the project began. We're in the early stages of figuring out what 2019 will look like, but we're very excited for the Hardcore Encore in February. These will be our first performances in the UK, Netherlands and Germany, so we're stoked to be bringing a little American murder to Europe. We hope to see everyone on the road in the New Year!
For more information or to purchase and download the many albums available, visit www.americanmurdersong.com.