Last week I caught Thy Art Is Murder in Glasgow alongside their Australian cohorts Aversions Crown, Feed Her To The Sharks and Earthrot. The all Australian tour package drew a great crowd full of moshers, deathcore kids and fans of extreme metal. Were I a few years younger and a few pints deeper, I’d have jumped in to the pit with everyone else and done a bit of bouncing. Just before doors opened, guitarist and Ren & Stimpy enthusiast Andy Marsh sat down with me for a hot minute to discuss everything from the recording process of Holy War, his favourite single malt whisky and of course, eggs.
How did you find recording Holy War compared to Hate, again working with Will Putney?
Easy. Basically the easiest thing ever. Will’s like a really good friend of ours. I actually work with him outside of the band as well. We get along very well, it’s a natural thing as he’s like an extra member of the band. We went in, we wrote for a month before recording then we started out session with him and did a couple days pre-production and it call came together pretty quickly.
You had Fit For An Autopsy out with you last year but Will wasn’t out with them?
He was actually gonna come and play bass for us on that tour. I recorded all the videos for him to learn all the riffs, but there was a bit of an issue that he had to stay home and take care of, so it never happened.
CJ’s doing a couple of guest appearances this year, one in particular with From Sorrow To Serenity, a Glasgow band. Do you guys enjoy working with up and coming musicians, blooding them in so to speak?
I’m not too sure what CJ’s doing with his own personal thing but the ethos of the band is one that we like to try and help upcoming talent that we enjoy. In particular Australian bands as they have a difficult time coming overseas. The cost involved for touring internationally for Australian bands is far greater than any European or American band.
Must suck being halfway across the world in that regard.
Exactly, before you even play show one your almost $15,000 in debt. It’s a strong passion of ours and we’re definitely proud of doing the first all Australian lineup in a foreign country. It’s a common thing of ours though, last year we brought out Aversions Crown out and next year were trying to get some more Australian bands out to the States.
Can you shed any light on who you might be taking out?
Not too sure right now, we’ll try and see who’s relevant and been working hard, see who deserves it.
We’ve covered a lot of Australian bands recently on Heavy Blog, my favorites just now are Scumguts or Fvck Mountain.
Fvck Mountain, from Brisbane, yeah.
Who else is floating your boat from Australia just now, other than the bands out on tour with you just now?
A lot of the bands I listen to are older bands from the scene when I was growing up. Bands that are out now, Lochlan Watt, he’s an old friend of mine. He’s fronting a band, Colossvs.
I saw them mentioned on the King Parrot singer’s Rolling Stone article.
Yeah they’re pretty sick, we might take those guys out later this year. King Parrot are obviously another great band that are slowly getting recognized internationally too.
Yeah man, they’re blowing up. Going back to Holy War, what kind of kick back did you get from the label regarding the artwork?
We had no resistance from the label with the artwork. The label, Nuclear Blast, are very supportive of what we do with our vision as a band and individuals and they have a very hands off approach. The label had no input on the songs or how we put the record together. The resistance came from the retailers as they’re subject to a lot more laws than us as a band. They wanted to censor the image and cover it up so rather than go back and forth fighting about it, we just wanted the CD to be in stores so we rolled with a different image from the photoset. The second pressing will have the uncensored cover, albeit with a giant sticker over it.
How did the writing process differ on Holy War from Hate? You guys were pretty much performing every second day on the Hate tour cycle.
Yeah I think we played a show on average every forty hours, some fan actually calculated it.
How do you do it?
We don’t take everything too seriously. Be friends with each other. Even if you get pissed, you understand that you’re all working together. The writing process itself was a lot longer. For Hate, I joined the band a year and a half beforehand. I brought in the idea of working with Will. He worked on a record for a friends’ band and they mentioned that Will was this up and coming metal guy getting a bit of a reputation. So we said, “Let’s write a record and go over there.” We booked in some time with him before we wrote a couple of songs then flew over. We had ten songs and ten songs ended up on Hate. This time Sean (Delander) wrote a lot on his down time, going back at least two years. We recorded Holy War at least eight or nine months ago so we’re fortunate it hasn’t leaked yet. Probably two years ago we started writing riffs and collecting song ideas and song starts. We’d hear what he had every now and again and give him advice and put stuff together, or he’d change them completely himself. A month before the recording session started he brought in what he had. We had two preproduction rooms, I ha my office at The Machine Shop and he had his room opposite that he’d write in. We’d write riffs all day and call out at each other across the hallway. Every now and then Will would walk down down the hall as he was recording Sworn In at the time and he’d shout out, “what was that?” then you’d hear him yell out “Reign Of Darkness” from down the hall, sort of heckling us. In the last month we came up with half the record which goes to show no matter how far out you start, the best work does come from the last few minutes under pressure.
How much of that material ended up on the record and how much got left on the cutting room floor?
Over half, we didn’t realise we had so many pieces. I’m notorious for abandoning song starts, Sean will at least see an idea through, even if he knows a bit is weak he’ll work on the individual parts later. I’ll just get the shits and leave it. All in together with completed songs, I only had one full song while Sean had about eight or nine. We had about 23 or 24 bits that could have been songs but we ended up with ten on the record, one bonus track and two we’ve yet to record. So yeah, about 50% got chucked in the bin.
Will they sit there or do you think you’ll rehash some of them later?
I don’t think so. We call it throwing in the bin. We’ll audit each other and ask for feedback, if it’s in the bin it’s no good, not up to our standard. Out of whatever that 50% was, we did cannibalise some of it and use it to spice up some of the weaker riffs in the songs we had. There wasn’t much worth looking back over. We’ll try and take the new record from a fresh start. The next record, the new one’s not even out yet!
You’re back in Glasgow tonight. You guys have been here five or six times now. I’ve gotta ask as I’m from Scotland myself. What’s your favourite bit of Scottish culture?
Whisky. I collect single malt whisky, or “Scotch”. Particularly Laphroig and Lagavullin.
You like a nice peaty whisky then?
Yeah. I actually just got sent a photo of my collection back at home which is pretty extensive. I’m definitely a connoisseur.
They don’t make it anywhere else in the world like we do.
No they don’t. I’ve spent a lot of money drinking Scotch.
It has to be done. What would you say is the weirdest bit of culture you’ve come across on your travels?
Basically, travelling gives you perspective of the world and where you’re from. You realise that not everything should be like where you’re from. It made me realise how much I didn’t enjoy living in Australia. I moved there as a teenager from the United States, well, South East Asia. Getting to travel so much and travelling every day of my life now made me realise that I was sick of living in Australia so I moved. I guess you could say it made me realise that I don’t enjoy Australian culture, they have a very strange way of going about things.
As soon as you take a step out from where you’re from…
I’m sure as soon as you left for Russia you realise how different everywhere really is?
Yeah, the people are the most different.
I guess the common ground that everywhere has is that someone from everywhere across the world loves Thy Art Is Murder.
Yeah, they seem too for now.
You gotta ride it while you can I guess. With regards to the online metal community, the CJ memes are ridiculous, they went viral so quickly. Do you guys pay attention to what’s going on in that perspective or is it just water off your backs?
Nah, it’s hilarious. It comes to our attention quite a lot. You look at any post on our Facebook and you’re bound to see a CJ meme. In fact, one of our good friends, Wes Hauch, he’s already got the jump on some new memes for the new record. We’ve promised him as soon as the day the record’s released he can get the first pop on the memes and claim ownership. It’s just not possible that someone else has come up with these. We’re very active with responding to our fans on Facebook and seeing what they write and what they care about. There’s definitely some interesting individuals that enjoy our band and they post some funny comments. It keeps us entertained when we’re on the road.
Will you be playing much older material on the next run of tours or will it mainly be Hate and Holy War?
We had this tour with Emmure which we weren’t meant to headline, not really the highest of priorities for us. Was very much an end of the tour cycle with us just trying to play to some new fans, fans of Emmure, just to see if we could get that crossover from the hardcore, mosh community. Generally they like, you know, what we have in the death metal community with our use of breakdowns. At least we had that in common. Unfortunately Frank’s voice giving him some issues and he’s been in and out of the doctors. We’re friends with those guys to it was a shame but we had to come over here anyways to shoot some music videos which will see the light of day starting next Friday [THIS FRIDAY! – MM].
Which song is the video for, may I ask?
“Light Bearer.” We had to do that anyways, we organised to shoot them before the tour started. When Emmure cancelled, their manager and the guys from the band gave us the drop that Frank wasn’t looking good. We share the same agent so we put our heads together and salvaged a tour as quickly as we could. All of a sudden instead of being the second out of four bands we were now the headliner of four bands. We didn’t want people to expect us to play any new material so the idea of this tour was to play material from Infinite Death, The Adversary and Hate to give people their last fix of it for now. Coming up for the next few European tours you’re not gonna hear much apart from Holy War. We’re definitely not looking to play any older material on the next few European tours. I mean, we’re pumped, we haven’t played a fucking new song in three years!
Do you ever get bored of the songs or do you still finds parts that can make you smile and get excited?
We get excited. I guess it’s probably like having sex with your wife after being married for 30 years. I mean, you love it but I mean maybe it’s a bit boring and you need to spice it up. We’re definitely excited to get into bed with some new songs. We’ve been jamming them at sound check throughout this tour. They feel good to play live and that’s one thing we’re really focused on when recording and writing is how they’re going to translate live. We’ve probably fucked around with half of Holy War as a band now and all of it feels really good to play live.
I’m excited to hear them. I have to ask you this man, how do you like your eggs?
A few different ways. Poached, soft. Ideally in water with not too much vinegar. Makes them taste a bit strange.
A bit like piss.
Yeah, I like an egg that’s over easy. For about five seconds. Sunny side up eggs are also good. My favourite way of eating eggs of recent is Onsen eggs. It’s like a Japanese egg that’s cooked at a low temperature for a long time. Basically, the temperature of these hot springs in Japan. If you cook the egg in it’s shell at like 68 degrees Celsius for about an hour, you can crack it and it’s kinda cooked. There’s a lot of science involved with it because the yolk and white cook at different temperatures. It’s a very good way to eat your eggs.