2015 has been a defining year for Sydney’s most talked-about deathcore band, Thy Art Is Murder.
They found success both at home and overseas with the release of their third studio album, Holy War, but at the same time they’ve been forced to defend their decision to release a graphic video clip for the title track depicting decapitation and torture.
“We hoped it would get a reaction,” says guitarist and band manager Andy Marsh. “Why bother saying something if you don’t intend for it to evoke a feeling? It was definitely a big motivation of ours to put across a strong message that we believe in. We feel that religion is a damaging force on society, and since given the chance to explain ourselves, I don’t think it’s been misinterpreted – maybe we have been, but not in any negative light, to my knowledge. No-one is out there saying we’re racist or xenophobic, or hating on people for being who they are.
“People make music for all sorts of reasons, but we come from a punk rock background. We’re into hardcore and message-based music – music that people enjoy and that puts forward a message is a powerful thing.”
There’s no denying that the band, originally from Blacktown, has an exceptionally loyal fan base that continues to grow around the world. “I’m having meetings about booking the band into 2017 and that does my head in,” Marsh says. “Things are going really well for us at the moment, but to survive as a band these days you have to tour, so that’s what we do.”
Thy Art Is Murder are currently on the road with buddies Parkway Drive. “We get to bring super brutal death metal to the Parkway stage, which is fun,” says Marsh. “The last tour we did with them was their ten-year anniversary. For that they went back to their roots and did multiple nights in smaller venues, and now we get to go back on the road with them and play the really big ones, so that’ll be fun – and hopefully we can play some FIFA on Xbox backstage and see who’s the better video gamer,” he laughs. “We always hang out while we’re on tour and catch waves together.”
Marsh says that aside from Thy Art Is Murder’s friendship with the Byron Bay five-piece, it’s their drive to succeed that unites both bands. “I’ve always really admired the work ethic of Parkway Drive. When we were starting out, they started picking up momentum. We watched them tour relentlessly, always putting on the best live show that they could, always investing in themselves. Parkway Drive made me believe that with hard work their level of success was achievable.
“Sure, there were tours when they didn’t make much money because they were the support act, but they were growing their band worldwide and becoming a brand, whether they knew it or not. They just work very hard – it’s something that’s inspired us and we’ve seen the results for them first-hand internationally. They’re huge in Australia, but it’s not just Australia – it’s hugely impressive how massive Parkway Drive are in Europe. They just headlined a festival over there and played to over 60,000 people – they took the ball, they ran with it and they’re still going, and that’s what we’d like to do as well.”
Marsh is clearly a man on a mission. “I’m the band’s manager, and because we’re a DIY punk band playing death metal, we like to control everything,” he laughs. “We pick our own merchandise, we design our own artwork, book our own tours and choose our own supports – we do everything.”
For their upcoming blink-and-you’ll-miss-it headline tour, Thy Art Is Murder chose the supports wisely. “The most important thing for us is that we’re on the road with friends. Marinos Katsanevas, the guitarist from Feed Her To The Sharks, is our guitar tech most of the year. Lochlan Watt from Colossvs has been a friend of mine for as long as I’ve been involved in music, and I produced Aversions Crown’s record [Tyrant] that came out last year. We like what they do, even though a lot of our fans might not get into that style of music.
“Feed Her To The Sharks is very 2000s metalcore with some electro. Colossvs is more of an underground metal hardcore band, and then Aversions Crown – they’re the closest to us but they’ve got that spacey death metal element going on. We’re all friends, we always have a good time and we can’t wait to play some heavy music.”
But don’t be fooled into thinking that heavy or hardcore music is all you’ll ever hear from Thy Art Is Murder. “Creatively, we have a fairly eclectic range of tastes between the five of us,” says Marsh. “Our other guitarist Sean [Delander] is into late-’90s or early-2000s rock bands like Incubus and the Deftones – those bands that meld funk, jazz and metal, nu-metal and rap. He loves a lot of that kind of stuff – music that has a broad range of influences itself.
“I’m into more of the shreddy art metal bands and a lot of hardcore stuff. Lee [Stanton, drums] is into a lot of hardcore, which is no surprise because he’s such a fast drummer, and CJ [McMahon] is into a lot of vocally driven stuff – a lot of rap. [Faith No More’s] Mike Patton is frequently lauded as one of the greatest vocalists of all time, and he listens to a lot of dance music and very little metal. We have a big palette of colours to draw from.”
Holy War is out now through Nuclear Blast.Thy Art Is Murder play Factory Theatre on Saturday October 17, with Feed Her To The Sharks, Colossvs and Aversions Crown, as well asthe Hordern Pavilion on Friday October 9, when they support Parkway Drive.