The solo mission Thlurm comes out of nowhere with not one, but a two-demo compilation of rowdy but intently performed punk-slash-death rock-slash-black metal like some hideous, fifth-generation amalgam that’s been growing in the rank depths of the outer sewerlands of Terra Haute, Indiana. Honestly, we could cover a cavernous death-doom demo every week and die happy doing so, but we also celebrate a radical change in pace the likes of which Thlurm has brought along.
“I have always wanted to be in a heavy punk/ metal band, but I was unable to find the right mix of people to play with,” writes Austin Spies, the guitarist, bassist, drummer, vocalist, synth player and producer behind Thlurm. “This project began because I wanted to make heavier music, but I was unable to find anyone who had the time to start a project with me. So, I started recording demos on my own in late 2016. At this time, I could not record or even play very well so they sounded like shit. Even though I started this project 6 years ago, I always had in the back of my mind that it was going to come to light. Fast-forward to 2021, my playing and recording abilities had reached a point that I knew I would be able to bring this project to life.”
Austin says, “The inspiration behind the name Thlurm came from a strung-out acid trip, where I had thought of this word, and it has stuck with me ever since that trip.”
Austin’s never had a metal band before, but he’s no stranger to the life. “I have been playing in my garage punk band, Dope Sweater since 2015,” he tells us. “I also play bass in an electro-punk band, Lazer Boogie Suicide, since late 2020. Both bands are still active, playing shows and recording.”
When it came to recording, first, The Thlurm Must Die and then Dungeon Scum, Austin says, “To me the easiest part of the recording process is writing the songs and recording them. I hit a stride and was able to record very quick and efficiently for the most part. The hardest part of my recording process is the mixing and mastering of the tracks. I have only been recording solo for a couple of years, so I am my own worst critic. I do love to record, and I am learning more every time I go into the studio.”
Austin says, “About half of the songs on The Thlurm Must Die were written years ago before I had the playing and recording skills I have now, so they were very easy to record since I’ve been playing them for years. The other half of the songs came just as naturally as the old songs had. I recorded drum tracks for like 8 or 9 songs and then found a better way to record my drums, so I started from scratch about a month into recording. It was a pain but I’m very glad I did it. I had probably 13 or 14 songs recorded before I started picking out ones that didn’t quite fit. None of which turned into Dungeon Scum tracks,” he careful to add. “Other than that, it was stressful, because I’m my own worst critic but also extremely fulfilling to have [control of the] entire process. I was able to work at my own pace which is quick if everything is going and sounding right.” He says, “Recording Dungeon Scum was the same process, lock myself in the home studio and terrify the neighborhood with intense screams, drums, and riffs.”
When it comes to Thlurm’s lyrics, Austin tells us, “My bandmate from Dope Sweater and future bass player for Thulrm, Byrdman, was really into the demos and recordings I was showing him from this project. He asked if he could write some lyrics, I was down. He ended up writing lyrics for two songs on The Thulrm Must Die demo. His lyrics helped inspire the evil theme of the band.”
Judging by the their recording dates, it seems like Austin finished The Thlurm Must Die and immediately started working on Dungeon Scum. “Yes, that is accurate,” Austin says. “I had written a couple of riffs/songs that I didn’t think would go with the first demo, which led to me recording Dungeon Scum as soon as I had finished The Thlurm Must Die.
“From a black metal aspect, I have been learning blast beats and wanted to incorporate that more in the second demo,” he says, after we bring up some of the differences between the first demo and the second. “I have always been in love with the tremolo picking due to my love of surf guitar. I wanted to tie in all these ideas, while also keeping the theme of Thlurm. I pull from all sorts of inspirations in my life. I do not have many boundaries when it comes to my music, because I feel that I will be limiting myself, I want to play what I feel like playing. Lyric-wise I think it comes to my love of old RPGs like Diablo or the original Final Fantasy. The track ‘Redmage’ on Dungeon Scum is 100% about the Red Mage class from the first Final Fantasy game.”
Austin tells us his favorite song Dungeon Scum is “Feed the Night.” He explains: “This song is short, sweet, and to the point. I personally like to write these shorter songs because it feels more intense to me, just a violent burst of terror.”
We ask him which track he thinks best represents the future of Thlurm. He says, “I can’t think of one specific song, but I would say that ‘Imaginary Hell,’ ‘The Thlurm Must Die,’ and ‘Feed the Night’ is what makes the Thlurm the acid-fueled nightmare that it will continue to be.”
These two demos are being compiled into a single release, coming out on both CD and pro-tape formats by one of our very favorite new labels, the Indianapolis-based Necropolis, Wise Blood Records.
“Byrdman had mentioned that I should send The Thlurm Must Die demo to Wise Blood Records to see what they thought,” Austin tells us. “Turned out they liked it and wanted to put it out but needed a little more music to be able to have a full-length cassette release. I was already working on Dungeon Scum, so it timed out perfect that I would be able to have two demos on one release to really give people a feel for what Thlurm is all about.”
Piercing the future with LSD-warped vision, Austin says, “There are some plans in the works to get a full band together in the near future. I would love to play these songs live. As much as I love writing and recording music, playing live music is the biggest thrill of it all and it is my favorite thing to do.” He continues: “On top of getting a full band together, I have been writing and working on songs for a full album. As for me personally, I have other solo projects I am working on as well as playing and recording with my other two bands. Always trying to stay busy.”