If you were at UNIFY 2017, you know just how special it was when CJ McMahon made his on-stage return to Thy Art Is Murder.
After leaving the band in 2015 to focus on a career that is actually financially viable (CJ drew reference to the band making between 16-18 thousand over a six year span), it was an incredibly unexpected surprise when he returned to the stage. And since that moment, Thy Art have been doing exactly what they are known and loved for, pushing the boundaries of the Australian death metal scene.
With 2017’s crushing fourth LP Dear Desolation seeing them sell out their biggest headliner shows to date, 2018 is bearing no difference, with the band already being announced to support Parkway Drive and Killswitch Engage on their upcoming Australian tour.
“We are very excited,” remarks the bands guitarist Andy Marsh, “it’s the biggest shows we will ever play in our home country – for sure.”
A statement that I questioned; whilst death metal is primarily still a niche genre there is no question that it’s fan base within Australia has been on a steady increase over the last five years, so would it be such a stretch to hopefully one day see hard-working bands like Thy Art scoring an arena headliner show?
“Ha. No chance!” Marsh says. “We are playing sporting arenas with Parkway; we are playing Margaret Court Arena which has about 14,000 capacity, there is no way now or in the future that many people will like death metal within Australia, let alone just in Melbourne.
“I’m fighting the good fight, but I’m a realist at the end of the day and I just can’t see it happening,” he laughs.
“With that being said though, we are still growing. We would love to keep working and building the band within Australia, but, we just did our biggest headliner numbers and that was 170 Russell [Melbourne] and The Metro in Sydney. We’d love to step it up but it’s just so hard to find a bigger venue. Maybe The Forum in Melbourne might be a good stop for our next tour; I don’t know if we could sell it out but that would be the next step up for us.”
With a lot of new fans coming straight off the bat of Dear Desolation, the band have been taking the time to head out on shows that aim to appeal to a new demographic, delving deep into smaller countries within Europe who may not always have access to live music.
“We just finished up a week in the Mediterranean which we are one of the first Australian bands to ever do, at least in terms of metal bands. We played Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. A lot of people don’t seem to play there so it was really great to be able to head over for a few shows,” Marsh explains.
“I’m really big on cultural responsibility. You might not make any money by going there, but it’s still really important to take music to those countries. The people who live there want to have that experience as well and they should be able too. Seeing the bands that you love shouldn’t be indicative of where you were born.”
This is an attitude that the band have adopted upon their return home as well as currently gearing up for the absolutely huge ‘Death Dealers’ regional tour this month.
Speaking of the tour’s support acts, featuring up and comers Alpha Wolf who have recently reformed after allegations of sexual misconduct of their ex vocalist, Marsh shares his view, “We have been involved with people who have been on the receiving end of that kind of situation and it can be incredibly difficult.
“They are a great band and a great bunch of people who we have toured with before. We just think that for a bands career to be negatively impacted based on the actions of one person seems a bit unfair, so we wanted to show our support and solidarity towards the band,” he continues. “They were on such an upwards spiral and getting a lot of buzz and for me, being someone who has seen how much money these guys have invested into their career and to have that taken away by something someone else did, seems wrong to us.”
With the tour stopping through Geelong, I took the time to ask Marsh if we may be catching any old school classics (such as ‘Whore To A Chainsaw’ which was performed with fill-in vocalist Lochlan Watts on their previous regional stint) or on the flip side, can fans expect any new material?
“In terms of the stuff from ‘Infinite Death’, we won’t be doing that ever again” he laughs, “we just did that because Lochlan wanted to.
“In terms of new songs, they might not be slipping into the set list but they might be slipping in sometime in the near future. We will play a slightly modified set than what we have been playing at the moment, which incorporates a lot of songs from the last three albums. We are doing a cover of ‘Du Hast’ which we have never done live.”
If you have heard their version of this cover on ‘The Depression Sessions’, you’ll know that this won’t be a show you’ll want to miss.
When & Where: Karova Lounge, Ballarat – August 16 & The Barwon Club, Geelong – August 17. Tickets can be found here.
Written by Alex Callan