Achieving the title of the most popular death metal band to have ever come out of Australia is no easy task, but it’s a coup that Thy Art Is Murder can comfortably say they have fulfilled. Still relatively fresh from their national tour in February, and currently in the middle of their Death Dealers European tour, guitarist Andy Marsh speaks about the reason for the success of their live shows, his experience with gigs in international territory and Australia’s very own Death Dealers regional tour set to begin next month.
As he lays on the couch of his bus, hurtling down the highways of Europe, Andy talks about how the reason he is able to relax mid-tour and do just that is thanks to the efforts of their crew. “We have a really loyal and hard-working crew that help take the strain off us so we can just focus on performing. Really we’ve got the easiest job here, we get to sleep all day. We can just walk into the venue, get our instruments put on us and then play. We do that for an hour and twenty minutes and then we’re finished. And the crew are the guys that are getting up early, boarding all the stuff in, setting it all up, and that’s the biggest change in the last five years that has really allowed us to obviously be less tired and less stressed out. The result of that is that we’re at this level of professionalism where the only thing we care about is now performing, and I think that’s made us a lot better as a band in terms of putting on a good show.”
While hearing artists acknowledge that their crew is a crucial part of the band and the reason the show can go on is always commendable, familiarising himself with the experience of behind the scene workers is certainly nothing new for Andy. “I run the back-end of the management company for this entity, so I’m part of the crew too! And they work so hard. They have invested so much of their time and hard work into the success of our band just as much as we have.”
Since TAIM are veterans of hitting the road, they have unquestionably had a taste of virtually every audience possible. From headlining shows in America, to reaching areas of Europe that no other Australian metal band has reached, and now on their way to hit the regional towns of their home country, Andy confirms that the live show experience is unmistakably different from place to place. “It all just comes down to culture ultimately. The music culture or the life performance culture of the area. America’s obviously very modern, very aggressive, a very primal release of energy of aggression. It’s all aggression at our shows. That’s the culture of people going to music of our genre over there, and it’s very genre specific. Europe is more about enjoying live music performance free of the boundaries of musical genres, and our fanbase is a wider scope of gender and of age. Because they’re very liberal, you don’t have to be twenty-one to go into a bar. So we’re playing to kids of thirteen up to adults that are 65 years of age that just love watching live bands. It’s a massive spectrum to deal with, and it’s really quite good to know that you’re able to reach it. Everyone has an open mind that’s at your show, and they are there to give you a shot to try and communicate to them or reach out to them with what you’re playing. In America, we’re talking men, 18 to 24, hyped up on whiskey and beer. We go to Europe and that is a much smaller portion of the people that we’re playing to. So the shows have a little bit more of inclusivity, just a really nice vibe.”
While he has a good idea of how to classify the live music culture of international crowds, something that Andy struggles with is understanding Australia’s own gig culture. “Australians don’t really know what live music is yet, somehow. I mean, in our world they go from hardcore shows when they’re sixteen, to maybe they like a little bit of metal, to maybe they like Depeche Mode by next month. It’s fucking hard for me to know what the hell we have to do for them! And then we have this regional thing, which I imagine is going to be like playing in regional Europe where they don’t get as many bands passing through. They just wanna see what’s it all about? What’s everyone talking about? What to expect when they see a band that they’ve seen in the press. Those shows are generally pretty fun, because the people are just standing there in shock and awe.”
When their regional tour kicks off, the band will be reaching towns like Albury and Wagga Wagga, and Andy is aware that this will allow TAIM fans who had no access to them before to finally experience the band’s live shows. “That’s one hundred percent special to me. You know, often times these people might feel disenfranchised or separated. Often times they’re looking for a reason to move out of their regional places. They might have grown up there because their families lived there through generations of farming or agricultural business. They wanna move to the city; they’re modern, they have the internet now, they have access to this whole world of things that inspire them. It’s just difficult for them to get in touch with those things, so to be able to take it to them, you have to go ‘you know what, I really do love music’, or ‘I really love going to shows’, or ‘I wanna play in a band’. I went to my first year of school in Wagga Wagga, so to go back there for the first time and play shows is pretty cool!”
In regards to small town residents with big dreams, Andy has some words of wisdom to share with them from experience. “Just ‘cause you live here doesn’t mean you can’t do what I do, cause I started off here as well. So in that respect, meeting people, letting them know like, hey! CJ‘s from Grafton, a rural place in New South Wales. Lee‘s from Scotland, Kevin‘s from like somewhere out, none of us except for, I think, Sean and Lee are from cities. We’re also relatively rural people so the fact that we’ve kind of somehow formulated this motly crew of non capital cities, maybe the other kids will see that and want to participate more.”
Expanding on the topic of regional touring, Andy touches on another pro of travelling between small towns, and why the lack of plane usage as transport is refreshing. “With Australia, how it’s been for the last five or six years is we just fly everywhere, and it’s really kind of utilitarian and boring. On these regional things though, generally we just go back to getting in the van, and that to me is what it’s all about. It’s getting in a van, driving around the country, seeing new places, meeting new people, and play music with friends.”
While touring is something that the rest of the band do not particularly enjoy, Andy admits that he loves it, and reveals an activity that he partakes in that could be one of the reasons why touring is such a pleasant experience for him. “Per tour, I will normally select a food that I’ve never had before, and make it a point to eat it as much as possible, in as many places as possible. Nothing will give you as broad a spectrum as that. Moving from state to state, you have different state preferences, different cultural preferences, different manufacturing processes, so you get to eat a random different treat, in different cities, made by different people, with different ways, who like different things. I’ve been doing that for over ten years now, I’ve learnt so much about food from traveling. It’s fantastic.”
And in case anyone is wondering what it is about the live show experience that TAIM deliver that deserves the attention metal fans from around Australia, Andy had a crowd winning response. “We’re fully sick. We’re really funny.”
As convincing as that already is, Andy’s more serious reasoning touches on the band’s hard work, and while he does not like bragging about statistics, it is not by chance that they are Australia’s most popular death metal band. “It has a lot to do with how hard we work. Always trying to put on a great show and making sure it’s super high energy, it’s really, really serious but at the same time it’s really, really fun. CJ’s hilarious. People generally say that we’re really scary and funny at the same time.”
As a final closing statement, Andy assures that “we’re gonna release some new music for Australia’s ears, maybe by November.” So to all Thy Art fans, new and old, keep your eyes and ears peeled!
YOU CAN CATCH THY ART IS MURDER ON THEIR DEATH DEALERS REGIONAL TOUR STARTING NEXT MONTH. GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!