If you can imagine managing and playing guitar in one of Australia’s biggest bands, being out on the road for nine months of the year, living on the other side of the world from your friends and family, and raising a little human being, all at the same time, you may begin to understand a day in the life of Thy Art Is Murder’s Andy Marsh – and my surprise when I found him cheery and bright before his first cup of coffee. “It’s not too early,” he assures me. “It’s about 7:30 in the morning. I’ve got a nine month old, so sleep is a rarity!”
Phoning in from his home in the States, Marsh is keen to chat about his band’s recent US tour and the upcoming Australian leg of their Coffin Dragger tour. “We just finished up our North American shows about two weeks ago, so everybody else is at home [in Australia], but I live here now.”
Although Marsh has lived away from Australia for a while, he says that he still finds it daunting, touring places he’s never been before: “It’s exciting to play new places but it’s also scary, thinking like ‘Is anyone going to turn up?’,” he laughs.
“We were playing at a farm in the middle of a Native American reserve on a Monday night and I remember saying to the guys ‘What if no one shows up?’. But they did! And that was the whole idea of the Coffin Dragger tour, to go to new spots – which is exciting but also daunting, you know? So we just did a bunch of shows like that and they turned out to be fantastic.”
Another reason behind Marsh’s uncertainty regarding their recent shows, is the fact his friend and triple j’s The Racket host, Lochlan Watt, had to step in as the band’s front man at the eleventh hour.
“After CJ [McMahon] left we tried other singers but no one worked out. Not necessarily vocally or performance-wise, but when it came to living with them. We just weren’t vibe-ing it,” he explains, “because not only do they need to have the goods and sound great, we’ve also gotta live with the bastard!”
“So when Lochlan said that he was interested in trying out, we thought, ‘Well, there’s absolutely no way that we’re NOT going to get along with him, so let’s just bring him along’, and then if he doesn’t work out vocally at least we’re bringing a friend along for the ride, you know?
“I’ve known him since he was a wee little boy in Brisbane,” Marsh continues, “so I just messaged him on Facebook, maybe 60 hours before he had to fly to America, and I said ‘Do you have a passport? Because I’m booking you a flight to the States and you leave in two days. Oh, and learn all of these songs. . .’, and I sent him about 75 minutes’ worth of music to learn.”
Despite all odds, Marsh says that Watt took the challenge head on. “A couple of days later we met up in Arizona somewhere and had a rehearsal. We could tell he was a little bit nervous – in fact I’ve never seen him so nervous in my life!” he smiles. “It’s always funny when you know someone for so long and then you see another side of them.
“So he was definitely nervous, but he handled it really well and his first show was great, although he forgot a lot of lyrics,” Marsh adds. “But I’m sure he realised it when we were all kicking him in the legs every time he sang a wrong line!”
Having survived his baptism of fire, Marsh says that Watt will front Thy Art Is Murder during the Australian leg of their Coffin Dragger tour, but are yet to confirm if he will be the permanent replacement. “We need to find the right person who works fulltime. We don’t wanna rush into things and tell someone they’ve got the gig and then we find out they’re not the right one. We don’t have too much touring left for the next six months to a year, so we wanna take some time and find the right guy who’s going to work out – it’s like having a fifth husband in the band or a fifth best friend, whatever you wanna call it.
“Everything has to be right, and they must have vocal strength to deliver on a record – that’s important to us as well.”
With that I had to ask the question on every fan’s lips – when will we be hearing new music from Thy Art Is Murder? “On the record I’ll say that we have some things on the back-burner,” Marsh teases. “The time is coming for some recording to see the light of day – maybe in the next two weeks you’ll start hearing some rumblings on the internet.
“But, in terms of a full-length Thy Art Is Murder experience, I’d say that we’re looking at a year at least. It takes us some time,” he admits. “We’re not really one of those bands that writes on the road. Other bands are good at that and I am pretty envious of them. We would rather drink coffee or go BBQ-ing on our days off. We don’t start writing until we get home.
“Sean [Delander, guitars] and I have been talking about it and we’ll probably get the creative juices flowing in the next couple of months. I don’t wanna give away the whole thing, but I’ve got plans for at least the next twelve months. After all, failing to plan is planning to fail,” he jokes.
“I’ve got about 47 sticky notes on my desk in front of me – that’s my planning for the near future, but I don’t see things changing too drastically in our camp. We like doing what we do, and we try to be really good at it. So I’m just trying to do the best that I can, running this crazy death-metal fortress on wheels.”
Written by Natalie Rogers
When & Where: Karova Lounge, Ballarat – August 3, The Loft, Warrnambool – August 4, Barwon Club, Geelong – August 5, Pelly Bar, Frankston – August 6 & Pheonix Youth Centre, Footscray – August 7