Indy: Your recent Red of Tooth and Claw is a concept album, which I hear you're playing in its entirety on this tour. Isn't that sort of approach reserved for British prog rock and Scandinavian death metal bands, or is it a Bloomington [Indiana] thing, too?
AT: Yeah, we are playing all of Red of Tooth and Claw. It's not so much a concept album as a story. I like to think of the album more like a story that unfolds song by song. Nothing against death metal maybe a little against British prog rock.
Indy: You've done records based around spaghetti westerns, zombies and now Dante's Inferno. What would you say is the through-line between these subjects besides, you know, death?
AT: Sweet shit, mostly. I prefer to write songs about things I think are interesting rather than run-of-the-mill stuff, like love or sensitivity. The radio bands are taking care of all that.
Indy: My favorite MBD title so far is still Like the Exorcist, But More Breakdancing. How long has dark humor been part of your life?
AT: Since we knew what it was. That title is a reference to a scene in Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Indy: "Sometimes the Line Walks You" pays homage to Johnny Cash, while "Comin' Home" sounds a bit like Nick Cave. Are they influences, or is it just a product of your voice getting deeper with age?
AT: My voice has changed a lot over the years, but much of it has to do with taking vocal lessons about five years ago and the instructor telling me to sing low. I think it's impossible to ignore the influence of singers as famous as those two, but I certainly wasn't trying to emulate them. That line, "Sometimes the line walks you," was actually an idea of our drummer's I kinda regretted using it after the movie Walk the Line came out, but oh well.
At the Black Sheep, March 4.