Thy Art is Murder – Fascination vs Indoctrination

Wednesday, 1st July 2015

For mainstream bands, success comes easily. It’s more luck than anything else. Just hit that one sweet spot with a chorus and millions buy your single. For metal bands, it takes a lot of work to be even considered marginally successful. There is no luck so much as what you make for yourselves. Australia’s Thy Art is Murder is all too familiar with this concept. After the release of their second album (and first for Nuclear Blast), Hate, the band more or less lived on the road to tour in support of said record.

Three years after Hate, the band has returned with their third album, Holy War. Already stirring up controversy for the initial album cover (see our discussion below), Holy War is bound to get people talking. A definite step-up for the band in the writing department, this isn’t a deathcore band that just tosses breakdowns out when they feel like it and follow a generic formula. Holy War sees the band adding more atmosphere and diversity to their undeniably heavy approach. DR was able to have a conversation with guitarist Andy Marsh about the band’s progress, their approach to breakdowns, and even the roles of science and religion in modern society.

Dead Rhetoric: In a press release you mentioned that Thy Art is Murder is, “trying to fill the gap of what we’re not getting out of metal.” Could you elaborate on that?

Andy Marsh: I don’t think that there is any point in creating something that already exists. That’s kinda boring and less creative. We have our influences and inspirations, and like any artist or band, you borrow from your collective influences and you add your own personality and what you have – it’s yours. So we tried to fill in the gaps of the things that were missing from the things that we put together that we enjoy. We try to take what we enjoy and write music that’s in that vein/style and we try to incorporate elements of our own personality. For instance, we all came from the hardcore scene so that’s why we have breakdowns. Obviously Behemoth and Cannibal Corpse have no breakdowns. So it’s just finding your own way.

Dead Rhetoric: You had to switch gears in terms of the album art. What were you going for with the original piece?

Marsh: A conversation starter. Which to my credit, I imagine, has started several conversations – mostly about why it was changed. It was meant to be slightly confrontational and generate discussions – like a child suicide bomber. And before you’ve even thought about it you’ve said the words, ‘child suicide bomber.’ And that’s something that unfortunately on this planet exists. People use religion and indoctrination to lead those who aren’t even old enough yet to comprehend the ideals that they are about to die for. That’s a thing that happens. It’s not always a suicide bomber, but fighting a religious war or being indoctrinated into a religion that, if the child was left to his own devices, might not ever arrive there.

I think that everyone should be allowed some form of free choice. When you tell a child that ‘this is how it is,’ you are not giving them free choice. They aren’t old enough to comprehend those ideals yet. I had a discussion with an 8-year old last week about the concept of dinosaurs and evolution and he told me that I was an idiot. He’s been raised in a Christian household, and he’s probably going to think that way for the rest of his life. The cover was meant to generate some kind of discussion about that – that maybe we shouldn’t be doing that to kids.

Dead Rhetoric: Going along with that same idea, if we didn’t have organized religion in place, what do you think would fill that void? Would we need something to fill that void or no?

Marsh: I think that maybe people might embrace loving each other more than loving some guy up in the sky. A lot of people in their faith, say to love their God before they love one another, and maybe they should put that passion and devotion into other people. You don’t need faith to help another man or woman or child. I don’t see why it’s not enough to enjoy the fruits of the Earth the way they are without making up some crazy story to go with it. Science, the universe, planets, and nature are fascinating enough. Religion is rooted in some kind of explanation for what people didn’t quite understand a few thousand years ago. Due to science, we found out why the sun rises and sets, and why this or that happens. We don’t need [religion] anymore.

It baffles me that a kid who is 8 years old is switched off of learning science because he thinks its bat-shit insane. There’s a whole world of fascination and something that you can always learn more of throughout your life. At this point, there’s really not much more you can learn from The Bible. Science is something that grows and evolves and you can learn/figure out more.

Dead Rhetoric: Switching gears here, how important are breakdowns in the tracks for you? Holy War seems to be less reliant on them than your previous work.

Marsh: Yeah, we try to mix it up a little bit. We try to get better at songwriting and rely less on the breakdown as a crutch for us. We try to make them catchy. A breakdown is often like our chorus. It’s an element of melody that we can use. It’s an element of syncopation that we can catch the listener there rather than a melody. We are just expanding on different songwriting devices that we use.

Dead Rhetoric: I saw Thy Art is Murder live a few years ago. It seems to me that your breakdowns are much more effective that some like-minded bands and you can kind of feel them in your chest live.

Marsh: We are focused on making sure there is a setup. There’s a tension and a release. It’s a very standard songwriting device. There’s a pre-chorus and a chorus. It’s a hook. We try to bring them up at the right time and keep them very high energy. The days of the slam, super-slow half-time breakdown from the Myspace deathcore era has gone the way of the Dodo. We try to make it so that it is something that we like as well. It’s like ‘ah yes, breakdown – it’s heavy, it works. Let’s move on and keep writing.’ Whereas a lot of bands just run out of riffs and then they use breakdowns. We try to deliberately employ them when we feel they should be in the song.

Dead Rhetoric: You really pushed yourselves a lot in the live setting. Do you feel it’s a bit harder being from Australia, to get out and all over the world? Other Australian bands have mentioned the amount of money that it takes to even tour Australia, let alone the world.

Marsh: It’s definitely a big financial burden that many bands outside of Australia probably won’t feel that pinch. Day one, before any tour we are usually in around $20,000 deep between flying, set-up, and renting a vehicle. Even touring Australia is expensive. The drives are so long, sometimes around 12 hours. Purchasing a van isn’t really a viable option because you can’t tour too often and it doesn’t make sense. Vans can’t be rented with unlimited miles so as soon as you have gone past your 120 miles for the day, you are paying a lot of money. Vans can cost you, including gas and insurance, about $700 a day. Gas in Australia is about 7-8 dollars a gallon.

Touring in Australia we feel pinched, and touring outside of Australia we certainly feel pinched, but it’s something that we have been able to manage to make work. We try to be as strategic as we can with our touring cycle, and minimizing the flying as much as possible because it is so expensive these days. But it does make it more worthwhile, and once we are here we are determined to play well and make sure that we have a good time, and the fans have a good time because it does cost you. If you are going to pay a lot of money to go on a holiday, you might as well make it a good one. It’s been tricky, but we are starting to get to a point where we are starting to break even on touring and we aren’t paying out of our pockets to do these tours.

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