Courtesy of Atom Splitter PR

Thy Art Is Murder’s Andy Marsh Talks Replacing Muscle Memory With Memorable Moments

Three quarters of a million monthly listeners on Spotify as of this writing. Give it a week, maybe two, and let’s see that number grow to one million thanks to the long-awaited release of their new belter of an LP, Godlike.

Thy Art Is Murder has been the quintessential heavy band of the last 10 years. They’ve not only been creating deathcore albums consistently for as long as we can remember, but also been the face of the modern heavy metal scene. Regardless of if a fan was born and raised on the classic thrash of Metallica, entered through the nü-metal era of Slipknot, or if they discovered this style from scene bands like Bring Me The Horizon, Thy Art Is Murder is still one of the most brutal death metal bands you’ll ever discover. 

What separates Thy Art Is Murder from other deathcore acts is their ability to make hooks and riffs catchy and memorable. Sometimes when we put on deathcore records of other bands, it can almost blur into one massive hour-long song. It’s a gripe that fans most certainly have with the genre as a whole. However, this band is far different than their peers. After hearing a Thy Art record, we can all pick every song apart; sections we loved, moments that surprised us, particular runs that are bludgeoning. They simply break it down better. 

Their new record, Godlike, comes out next Friday. We had the incredible chance to chat with Andy Marsh, the band’s boss guitarist, about the new record and so much more.

First question: the new album, Godlike, is coming out on September 22. How are you feeling?

I’m feeling pretty good! The first song came out almost four months ago […], so I’m starting to get a little bit impatient. I just want everyone to hear it and hopefully like it.

Is that a stressful experience – to not drop a lot of singles?

Not stressful… more like suspenseful! Like when you get a gift for someone you care about and you’re like, “Oh, it’s their birthday in a week, but I want to give it to them now!” It’s kind of like that. We spend a lot of time trying to make something that we really like and we want to share it with people, so it’s not stressful. It’s more like, “Just hurry up already!”

The last record was 2019 so it has been a while since we’ve had a new Thy Art Is Murder record. I imagine this adds to the pressure. 

Nah – no pressure at all. Fortunately for us, we were fine throughout the whole COVID situation; we weren’t racing to do livestreams or do anything. Then, coming back to it, everyone seemed to be racing to be the first band back with an album or to do a tour. We’re pretty patient. Maybe because we’re older, been doing it a long time, but there’s no rush. Let’s take our time, make something that we’re happy with, gently get back into the world of touring and what not, and then we’ll make a record. We feel pretty good about it. No pressure.

I love that mindset. I wish more bands adopted that. There were some albums that came out in 2020 or in 2021 that weren’t inspired. How can you blame them? We spent a year inside. Music comes from a place of living and experiencing.

Yeah! Or it can come from a place of isolation, but then it might be super depressing and no one wants to listen to it [Laughs]. We’re chill, man. We just took our time. We put out Human Target in late June 2019 and we only did one tour for the album in Europe in January 2020. Then it all shut down. We’ve got unfinished business! Let’s go out and kind of get this out of our system, then we can move forward. We couldn’t just bail on something we spent a whole bunch of time making and promoting.

You had to give it the full record treatment. You couldn’t let that record go by the wayside. 

Of course – for the fans, but also just for ourselves. We made these songs and we want to play them! We don’t want to just skip to what’s next. The album did really good. Every record we’ve done has been – thankfully – our biggest record. Whether or not that means people like it… it’s been widely received and has the most listeners. Why not pick up where we left off and then move on from there rather than rushing to the next thing? We’re pretty patient people. 

I love that! These 10 new songs are very aggressive. That is what you’re known for, but every time that you go into a record, it’s a blank slate. When it comes to writing that new material, how do you start to fill it in?

Hmm, that’s a tricky question. Normally we just start by trying to do crazy shit off the rip. Maybe not crazy in the way that people might think – faster, more technical. We’ve sort of done our dash doing that. There are dudes that are way better at guitar and playing crazier stuff then we’ll ever. We’re just trying to focus on what we’re good at, which we seem to think is hooks and catchy songs; trying to bring something memorable to heavy music. (That is not saying that other people haven’t.) In the way that the classics have – the Metallicas, Megadeaths, your Lamb of Gods – these bands are creating moments with their songs. We just try to do that as much as possible. Sometimes it just starts off like, “Let’s get the fresh metal out of our system. If Thy Art Is Murder wasn’t a band that people have known and hadn’t been around for 10 or 15 years, let’s try and make some weird shit.” Then we [do] 100 weird things and seven of them are ok [Laughs]. Now it’s, “Let’s see how we can integrate that!” Then it comes over you. “This is Thy Art Is Murder! Let’s take this and let’s try to make a record that sounds like us, but incorporates something fresh. Some new shapes on chords, or notes, or scales, or riffs!” As long as CJ sings on it, it sounds like Thy Art anyway. We could probably do anything we wanted at this point. 

You know what’s crazy? The music is so groovy. It’s heavy, yes. Death metal? For sure. Every second there’s a new, as you said, hook or melody. 

We try to focus on that above anything else. We’re older; we can’t play that fast forever. It takes a toll on your hands, your wrist, your fingers, your shoulders. Respect to those dudes that do it, because it takes a lot, man. To be that good at guitar, like Adam in Lorna Shore or Jason Richardson, that’s six or eight or 10 hours a day almost every day of your life. That’s crazy levels of commitment. We had that when we were younger, but now we tour a lot and try to be pretty prolific in releasing songs and writing songs. There’s not enough time to stay at that level, so now it’s more about focusing on those moments like, “Let’s make the vocal hook the best that it can be. Do the drums need to get out of the way and be more groovy so that the vocals are catchier or there are no vocals over this bit? What’s going to come to the front? Is the guitar riff going to be sick? Does the drum riff have to be crazy?” Just trying to focus on the moment as opposed to, “I want to play really fast guitar and he wants to play really crazy.” We all just sit down together and be like, “Whose moment is it here and how does it best make the song hectic?”

That does make sense! I’ve talked to a few artists, such as L.S. Dunes, about what it means to serve the song versus serving yourself. As a guitarist, you want everyone to see how cool you can play, but…

Oh, no! [Laughs] That is something that is very different about our band to every band that we’ve discovered: we like to think the music is pretty technical on guitar, pretty difficult, physically challenging… even though we don’t want it to be. Sean [Delander] and I don’t ever play guitar. We don’t care about guitar. We don’t practice. The last time we practiced as a band was like eight years ago.

No way!

That was just me and Jesse Beahler, because he was filling in for a tour and he wanted to practice the songs with me. We just don’t care about that. No shade at all on people who are virtuoso musicians, because that’s their thing – it’s just not our thing. I think the fact that we don’t care is what allows us to serve the song better. It’s why I don’t think we could ever get some crazy shredder guitar player in the band because it would change the dynamic entirely. 

So you guys don’t practice? When you write a song, the first time you play it together is live on stage?

Yeah, generally! If we have a new song that we’re bringing to the set we’ll just practice it at soundcheck for a couple of days and then play it. 

That’s really cool to hear. I hear so many different walks of life talk about different ways to do songwriting. I’ne never heard that before. That’s interesting to hear. 

Here’s the thing: we tour a lot, generally, so we’re practicing in the show everyday keeping our chops somewhat together. There’s one thing to be said about that and that is that we’re practicing and playing an hour or two a day [during shows], but we’re only playing Thy Art Is Murder stuff. I think that can lead you to go down similar paths record after record. For sure we have things that are ours that we do. If there’s no vocals you can still tell that it is a Thy Art riff. You can tell with the double picking and the diminished riffs. In COVID we didn’t play guitar for almost two years and I think it untrained the muscle memory to a degree. At least for us as guitar players, the riffs felt new, foreign, and different. They weren’t as easy to write. Normally it’s just, “Let’s just do what Thy Art Does.” This record is a little bit of a step outside for us. We probably will have to practice because it’s a bit more challenging; not in terms of speed or technicality, but just unfamiliarity. Where your hands go and how the riffs are played is a little different because we were led by our ears first instead of muscle memory. 

You’re right. It would be easy to write a Thy Art Is Murder record when you’re literally playing Thy Art is Murder every single day. That’s going to come out of you naturally. When you take that break you’re going to come at it with a new perspective. 

Yeah! I mean, we’re in the band, so we don’t listen to Thy Art Is Murder records, but in a way we listen to them more than anyone because we play them an hour or so every night. For two years we didn’t even listen to Thy Art is Murder because we don’t listen to our records and we didn’t play any shows. It was a very wonderful kind of breathing experience for us. I don’t want to make any predictions about the future, but it would be pretty nice now that we don’t have a record label where we have to deliver on a timeline with their budgets and scheduling. Maybe we will take an extra six to nine months every cycle. Instead of, “We finished touring for two years, let’s make a record,” it could be, “Let’s just take six months off from playing our own music and see if that helps us keep things fresh moving forward.” At least for us! The fans say every record sounds exactly the same anyway. It’s more about pleasing ourselves at this stage in our career.