Latest release: Hate (Halfcut/Shock)
Love them or hate them, Thy Art is Murder is now one of Australia’s biggest metal exports. A Top 40 album, international signings, appearances at the country’s biggest music festivals – everything has happened for this south-western Sydney band since their initial breakout release The Adversary and things are only getting bigger from here. On the eve of their national tour, Loud spoke to vocalist CJ McMahon about BDO, Golden Gods, having the temerity to get an overseas band to open for them, and more. And he held nothing back…
First of all CJ, I caught you guys live at the BIg Day Out in Sydney – what was it like playing a show like that?
Oh man, it was an awesome feeling playing at such a huge festival, but it was 47 degrees! Ridiculously hot. The hottest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
And how dare you headline over an American band! That just isn’t done.
Yeah I know dude! I just get hate mail all day long about it. That we’re not good enough, that we’re not death metal enough, they’re bigger than us, they’re better than us… At the end of the day, we were the band that decided on who we were gonna bring out on tour to support us. And we said, “Let’s try Cattle Decap.” It’s our tour. We’re bigger than them in Australia, and I can’t see what the fuckin’ problem is – most of these people putting shit on us are Australians. You’d think that these Australians would get behind us a little more and think, “We’re proud to be Australian now. There’s an Aussie band, doing good things here and overseas and they’re headlining over such a reputable band as Cattle Decapitation.” But, no, you just get these fuckin’ crusty death metal cunts putting shit on us as if they’re some kind of music critic and think they can say that Cattle Decap should headline… and it’s a fucking joke. I can’t believe that Australian fans of metal are putting shit on us because of this. It’s fucked.
It does seem to be a strange dichotomy. No one seems to complain when Parkway Drive bring out The Acacia Strain or Suicide Silence. You’re pretty much doing the same thing.
Yeah… you know it’s good too. It’s creating promo. People are putting it on their own pages and spreading the word around, doing promo for the tour. I kinda like the haters now. I was telling a dude before, I get three or four different hate mails a week, not really about the tour but about other shit as well. I’m a shit vocalist, and, I’m gonna burn in hell for my sins because I worship the Devil, apparently… I think the hate is good. It’s half the reason why we named the album Hate. We hate everything and if people wanna hate on us, that’s fine, man. I don’t really care. It doesn’t bother us in the slightest. I think it’s hilarious and it builds character for us and if we didn’t have haters, we wouldn’t have fans.
And you wouldn’t have anything to write songs about.
Yeah, and we gotta start writing soon for the next album, so maybe all the haters out there, I’ll write a song for them. Commemorate my love for the haters. Hopefully I could get the words out and make a decent song out of it. I’m not sure yet. It’s funny, man. I think it’s hilarious.
It’s been a big couple of years for you guys, CJ. I remember talking to Andrew (Marsh – guitar) just as you about to go in to record Hate and things were starting to shape up. Since then it’s really moved in leaps and bounds for you guys. You’ve got an overseas deal with Nuclear Blast, which is quite amazing and rarely happens to an Australian band.
It’s mindblowing to be an Aussie band on the biggest metal label in the world. I know Psycroptic have also had a stint on the label – I’d don’t know if they still are, but I know they were. It’s bizarre, man. Everything’s worked out really well. The last twelve months have just been a massive snowball effect. It’s just getting bigger and bigger. We’ve got Nuclear Blast in the UK, Europe and the States, Shock/Halfcut here in Australia… Everything’s been going crazy. Our manager Adrian Kelly, who’s been with us for the last year or so, he’s fucking amazing! He’s done most if not all of the PR work, and that’s what’s been getting people interested. We’ve got a really tight-knit family now with the band and everybody that works in the office for us. It’s like a dream come true. The Golden Gods Awards are coming up soon. We’re nominated for that. If we win that, it’s gonna be the next level. It’s the biggest award that any metal band can win other than a Grammy… It’s fucking bizarre. I still can’t believe what we’ve achieved in the last year after several years of ridiculously hard work.
You’ve got a pretty solid line-up now too. I remember there were people coming and going from the band for a while.
Yeah, we’ve had a few problems. We’ve replaced Gaz, Mick and Josh. We’ve had four line-up changes since the EP when Brendan (van Ryn) sang. I was the first to come in. I replaced the singer because he couldn’t sing and he had a massive attitude problem. And then, our bass player Josh (King)… we had to replace him. Same sort of problem there, badly affecting the band. Then Gary (Markowski) and Mick (Low) had to go for reasons I can’t even talk about because of legal actions. It’s not because we thought we would replace these people because it would be better for the band, it was because we had to. Otherwise there would be no band.
We have a line up now with me, Lee (Stanton), Sean (Delander), Tom (Brown), Marshy… if any of us had to leave the band, the band would crumble. We’ve never fought about anything, we’re the best of mates. We all write together. And the proof of this is Hate. It’s the best album we’ve ever done and maybe we ever will do. The five of us together create amazing things, and if we had to replace one of us, the band wouldn’t be the same. I know all bands say that, but the evidence is that we have the best line-up we’ve ever had, and the previous members can rot in hell for all I care.
You’ve got some touring to do soon, but you must be thinking about a new album. Hate‘s been out for a while now and people are going to want a follow up.
Yeah man, it’s been out about six months. We’re ready to start writing. We’ve locked down our bass guitarist Sean in a secluded location far away from everywhere, and he’s gonna be living by himself for a month, then our other guitarist Tom is going to stay with him for a couple of weeks. Sean and Tom pretty much do all the writing for the musical side of things. It worked that way with Hate; we figured we’re gonna do exactly the same routine as Hate and hope for the same sort of final product. Tom and Sean will do all the writing, then give it to Marshy for ambience and lead tones, solos, then work with Lee on drum fills and patterns, blasts, all that sort of shit. Then we all sit down and write lyrics together and I come up with patterns and phrasings and stuff like that. It’s kind of like a full team writing process. We all have a say in what parts go where, but the musical brains are Tom and Sean, so they’re going to be out at the beach house for a couple of weeks, writing.
You’ve done so much already. What do you want to see happen for Thy Art in the next twelve months?
I pretty much know what’s happening. I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of it… we leave for the tour in three weeks. We do Perth, then [the rest of] Australia. The day after the last show of the tour we fly to London for the Golden Gods Awards on the 17th June, then we tour the UK and Europe for four or five weeks, go through Russia for five days, then six weeks in the US and Canada on the Summer Slaughter Tour, then come home through China and Asia and then we come home and then more big shit is happening. Unfortunately, I can’t say anything because we have to keep it secret for a month, but big shit is coming!
So we’re pretty much going to be touring the globe for the next twelve months, and recording. We’re going to go back with Will at the Machine Shop in New York. We won’t record another album with anyone. Will’s the best in the business and he’s a friend of ours now. So Will Putney will record it for us. What I’d like to see at the end of this is to be constantly touring, releasing records and making enough money individually to have a life. Because at the end of the day, all the money we make from the band goes back into the band. If we could make enough money off the band so we’re not in debt to mates and family, that would be awesome, man. I’m not in it to make a million dollars. If we did, that would be awesome, but I just want a normal life. You sacrifice everything when you’re a musician. You don’t see family because you’re on tour, you come home to debt, and then you leave with debt. So to make enough money to pay bills and rent and buy an occasional pair of shoes for myself… that is my dream, man.
Thy Art is Murder is touring Australia in June with Cattle Decapitation (except WA), King Parrot and Aversions Crown:
31/5: Prince of Wales Hotel, Bunbury WA (+ Saviour)
1/6: Amplifier Bar, Perth WA (+ I Am Eternal)
2/6: HQ, Perth WA (+ I Am Eternal) (A/A)
6/6: The Rev, Brisbane QLD
7/6: Expressive Grounds, Gold Coast QLD (A/A)
8/6: Annandale Hotel, Sydney NSW (A/A)
8/6: Annandale Hotel, Sydney NSW
9/6: Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW
12/6: The Basement, Canberra ACT
13/6: Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC
14/6: Arrow on Swanson, Melbourne VIC (A/A)
15/6: Fowlers Live, Adelaide SA (A/A)