INTERVIEW: Thy Art Is Murder’s Andy Marsh gives the low down on the new album “Human Target” and more
Our next interview provides us with a great example of the family-band balance that has lately been a big topic of conversation in recent ones. Australia’s Thy Art Is Murder, whilst in the middle of their latest US tour, had to see their vocalist CJ McMahon make the decision to head home where his partner was on the brink of welcoming their child. Planning for this though, the band continued the tour with the help of friend Nick Arthur from Molotov Solution. This all with their new album, “Human Target”, just around the corner on July 26th.
The band had just announced the new album a few weeks before I sat down with guitarist Andy Marsh of the band who from speaking to, clearly has a large part in the writing process behind each album. So given that opportunity, I asked him about the new title track which focuses on the insanity that is human organ harvesting in China. A writing process I was unaware the band conducted for each album, it’s one of great interest and is right on par with several Aussie bands who make spreading important messages through their albums a focus for their music. Find our chat below and keep your eyes peeled for much more from this long time Oz act!
Just from speaking to your PR, I know your singer CJ, just went home with a baby around the corner.
Andy Marsh: Yeah, they’re about to have a baby. It’s due in like two and a half weeks or so and he’s been gone almost a week now, I guess. I guess they did like the last scan and the baby was over ten pounds. It was like, ‘You better come home like right now’.
How did you prepare for this tour knowing that that was probably going to happen?
I mean there’s always a million contingency things to plan for. I had a baby four years ago and I tried to work around it and my kid was overdue. Wait around, wait around, wait around, then it was like okay I guess I just got to go on the tour, and I missed it. Whereas with this one, we had a really long head start. So, we thought maybe that this might be a possibility so a few months ago, CJ went ‘What do we do if the baby comes out early?’ I just went ‘I didn’t really think about that. I preferred mine to come out early’. Because it was before the tour, but we didn’t think about having a baby due after a tour. So, it was like oh damn, I guess we better figure that out. Nick (Arthur) from Molotov Solution sung for us previously on a couple of tours so we just reached out to him three or four months ago and just said, ‘Hey look, there’s a small possibility that CJ might have to go home early if the baby is early. If in that event that that happens would you be willing to do it?’ And he was just like, ‘Oh yeah of course’. So, that’s what happened, and he made the time for us and we’re very grateful.
Then how has this tour been so far? Obviously being something a little bit different from Architects and While She Sleeps but being all international bands on this tour together. How have these dates been going?
It’s super easy. It’s our first tour in America that doesn’t have any American bands on it which is kind of crazy. It’s kind of cool also I suppose in a way but, it’s super cruisey. We’re all longtime friends so it’s very relaxing. No stress from day to day and the shows have been great.
Perfect then asking a little bit about it before, I know you only announced the new album, “Human Target”, last month.
Yeah about three and a half weeks ago now.
And I know just from looking at it, at least from what you said about it, the song “Human Target”, is about something I was completely in the dark about. So now learning about it this human organ harvesting. When did that start coming to light? When did you really start deciding this is something you wanted to write about? Making that the debut single off the new one.
Well when we write a record, we write all the music first. No lyrics get written until the music exists because I feel like the words must go with the music. Some bands just write words and cram them all over any sort of thing, but every line is written where it goes in that particular song. We gather all the music and then we talk amongst ourselves. Think about what some cool ideas are, things that we’re passionate about, what do we want to cover topic wise. We always try to have more ideas than what are required, and I was talking to my partner on the phone. Being like ‘I need more ideas for songs to write’ and we need twenty to thirty something concepts. So, we’re just on the phone one night while we’re in the studio. And she was digging up all these things that she had been reading in the paper or something she had been watching on the news. She’d be like ‘What about this?’ and I was like ‘Well I don’t know if I can write anything brutal out of that’. And then eventually she was like, ‘Well, what about this human organ harvesting thing in China? It’s pretty crazy’. Human organ harvesting is pretty death metal. So, she explained it to me and then I did my own research and eventually that went into the pool of topics. Then once we have enough topics, we kind of decide which ones we can flesh out into songs and then what is the best music match. Is it a sad song, an angry song? Is it a brutal death metal song? Is it going to be like a ballad-y kind of storytelling song? Then we matched the topics and then flesh out lyrics for the music, that kind of thing.
So that’s something that you’ve always done with each album?
A hundred percent exactly the way we do it for every record. So, “Human Target” was like the last song that I wrote because Sean had already started recording rhythm guitars. And it was like, well we still don’t have track one. The last album we had, “Slaves Beyond Death”, it was a great track one. It really set the mood and we didn’t have something that was out the gate fast and aggressive. So, it was just, okay well I’ll try to write a song now or whatever. See what we have and try to write three or four songs over a couple days where we’re getting going on the other ones. And then, that one came out pretty quickly. And it was just like well this one would be perfect for the human target thing. Well, I didn’t have the line yet, but I fleshed it all out and it came altogether and we were just like, yep this is track one. It was all just pretty easy. It was very lucky, but you just can’t always write the songs you want to write. It just happens, I don’t know how to explain it. You write the songs that you write. Sometimes you’re lucky, sometimes you ain’t.
Just that concept itself is crazy.
Yeah, absolutely insane. I did a lot of research on it and the World Health Organization went into China and I guess they were ordering all the medical facilities and stuff, as you would do, like ‘How many organs are being donated per year?’ ‘That’s how many of like, is someone donating a kidney to their sibling?’ And were like, ‘oh wow, like 15,000 organs were donated this year. Like good job, China’. Then they like keep going around, auditing, auditing, auditing all the numbers and the statistics. And they go, oh really good job China, 150,000 organs transplanted into people. Then they’re like, wait a minute, how did we transplant that many in, but we only gathered this many. Over 100,000 organs came from nowhere and China basically said get the fuck out. So, they haven’t been able to conduct anymore research but now that we know China’s got concentration camps and all this crazy stuff. So, yeah cool way to bring news to a lot of peoples’ forefronts of their minds when they might not otherwise know about this stuff. Because I didn’t know about this stuff.
And now you’re helping bring out that message.
We see a little bit of social responsibility there to share the news.
I know In Hearts’ Wake, another Australian band, has always made it an effort to make their albums have a message as well. I’ve interviewed Jake a lot too and I remember with him it was always really important to him to spread a message, but you’ve seen it with other Australian bands as well.
Parkway Drive as well. In Heart’s Wake is more about that environmental kind of kick. Obviously, we cover topics involving the environment also but it’s a little bit harder to turn that into a more brutal metal song.
Then you’ve been doing this band for so long now? At least ten years.
Yeah, I think this is my tenth year.
So maybe something that you would have just told yourself when you were just beginning? Obviously, a lot of bands put a lot of time into the band before they even start touring. Maybe something you would have avoided? Is there something that you wish you would have avoided?
Doing lots of tours in a van, I guess. Probably could have wished I’d avoided that, but I mean great things are forged in the fire. You go on the road and you work really hard and it really, really sucks. But it’s just really justifying to yourself and others how badly you want to do it and if you make it out of the other side, then it’s great. And some people don’t and that sucks for them.
Then like you said before, the album is announced, so I’m sure it’s the focus of the summer. But maybe once this Architects tour finishes, hopes or focuses for the band.
I mean, we don’t really have any hopes. We just have things that we do. More touring later in the year. We go to Australia for like a little marketing tour before the record comes out, do some signings, sell some CD’s, t-shirts. Then we go to Europe for two weeks, play some festivals, we got to play Wacken Open Air which is the one that everybody knows about and we’ve never played it! I’m sure more to come after that!