Interview With Obituary (via SicAsylum)
This is just a preview of things yet to come at what is yet to come over at SicAsylum, where the full site will be launched before the New Year. We will be working jointly with Braingell (because I’m not going anywhere!) to get the most interviews possible between both websites with all of the bands that we all care about. In the meantime I strongly encourage you to head on over to SicAsylum‘s Facebook page and hop on for the ride so that collectively we can kick your ass.
When the opportunity to interview a band as legendary as Obituary arose, I compared it to a priest being able to sit down and ask Jesus Christ questions, the only difference being that Obituary is both real and awesome and holds merit and credibility within the metal world. Put simply, Obituary is legendary. Any metal fan worth their weight in troll feces puts Obituary in the same conversation with Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Anthrax or any of the other few bands with any sort of longevity and staying power that often outlives most of their fans. There aren’t many bands out there that have maintained a successful career for almost 28 years now all while staying true to their fans and the music they love. I was fortunate enough to sit down with lead vocalist John Tardy and pick his brain for a little bit without sounding like a giddy schoolgirl or even a usual fanboy that asks the same stupid questions about the first two albums.
John Gehrig: How are you doing man?
John Tardy: I’m doing good.
JG: So did you think almost thirty years ago that you’d be doing Obituary still?
JT: No. (laughs) Absolutely not. Never really thought about doing the first record, so the fact that we’re still doing it is a little bit weird.
JG: Looks like it’s turned out pretty well.
JT: We’re still having fun, that’s for sure.
JG: How much different is the metal scene now compared to then?
JT: In some ways it really hasn’t changed a lot. When we first came out on albums and cassettes and stuff and no internet that has certainly changed. And the way we can communicate with our fans through websites just instantly, communicating with anybody around the world. Some of it has changed totally and some of it hasn’t changed at all. I think the fans are still about the same.
JG: I saw you guys were talking with Century Media [Records] for the last few months now. Any progression with that?
JT: Um, well they actually came to our studio in Florida and talked with us once and when we were on tour in Europe a couple months ago we went to their office in Germany and had a day off there and hung out with them. We kind of knew a lot about them to begin with but now that we’ve hung out with them a few times, they’re really nice, they really push and do a lot of good stuff for their bands and they really care for their bands, so they’re actually a company we’re really interested in working with. So I have a feeling that we’ll probably release our next album with them.
JG: So after the New Year or so for a new album?
JT: Yeah, probably. We really had kind of planned on having it done already and it really just hasn’t gotten done. We even took like three months off and we ended up boating more than we did write but it’s okay, we’re not really stressed about it. It doesn’t matter, we’ll get it done. We’ve got a lot of it done. Now that we’re doing this tour, we’ll be back in Europe in November and December, it’s going to be the beginning of the year before we finish writing. Hopefully March or so we’ll start recording that thing. (laughing) But that’s all subject to change.
JG: Is it essential to have the label before you get the album out?
JT: No, not nowadays. You used to have to have that because we used to go spend one hundred thousand dollars or so at Morrisound [Studio] and nowadays we have a studio at my house so we can literally do an album for a few thousand bucks so we don’t necessarily have to have a label to at least get the recording done. But you know, it’s nice especially if Century Media is gonna do it we can let them know to start working on it and get things laid out on how we want to do the release.
JG: Obviously Obituary is a household name when it comes to the death metal and metal scene, is there anything left you feel you need to accomplish?
JT: No, not really. If we decided to stop after this tour, I’d be content with what we’ve done. But we are still having fun with what we are doing so I do anticipate doing a few more records and a few more tours or something and we’ll kind of just go from there.
JG: Do you find it weird that you have a great fan base of kids and stuff that weren’t even born when your first two albums came out that are always begging to hear stuff off the first two albums?
JT: Yeah, it’s a little bit weird when you have baby onesies at your merch booth, which we don’t have tonight but we have in the past. But it’s cool you get dads coming in; they’ve got kids that they’re bringing to the show. It’s definitely weird, definitely lets you know how long you’ve been doing it.
JG: God I think you had two albums out before she (points to my girlfriend) was born in ‘92.
JT: Oh boy… That we did.
JG: Do you ever get tired of playing certain songs or is there anything you wish you could include but can’t?
JT: I definitely get tired of playing some songs but what’s cool about this tour is every song we’re playing with the exception of about four songs we just had not played either in twenty years or more and some of them we’ve never played before live. So the set for us, we literally had to put the CD’s on and listen to them and relearn the damned things and go through them so we might flub up a few of them tonight. But it’s been a lot of fun especially now that we’ve got the set down pretty good and going through them. Some of them, you gotta play ‘Slowly’ and ‘Chopped In Half’ every night or they’ll probably throw bottles at you or something if you don’t play those. Other than that, the whole set is new to us also.
JG: I remember hearing an interview with Peter Steele [Type O Negative] where he was talking about how he hated playing ‘Black No. 1’ and ‘Christian Woman’ every night. I figured after you’ve been doing it long enough, there has to be songs where it’s just like “Fuck, I have to be doing this?!”
JT: Yeah, sometimes the only thing good about it is you know you know them really well so you know you’re not gonna mess them up and you don’t really think much about them, they just kind of come naturally. Got a little bit of pressure on us tonight because we’ve learned these songs and we’ve played them a handful of times, but out in front of people and stuff, we’ll probably screw something up.
JG: It’s night one, you get a free pass.
JT: Just go to E man, hold it out.
JG: I’ve got to ask because I’ve never been to Europe. There’s such a hype over the death metal over there compared to here. Is it all that it’s made out to be over the internet?
JT: It is cool. In America you get a lot of clubs or bars basically that have a stage put in the corner of them. In Europe most of the time they’re really proper venues, really big, nice proper PA’s and really nicely done. It is pretty cool; the crowds are really big and crazy for sure. Especially the big summer festivals we go get to go play. We don’t really have them here, you get an Ozzfest that comes through or something, but they’ll have dozens of those throughout the summer that are pretty cool.
JG: Have you guys thought about jumping on one of the summer tours here?
JT: Yeah, we’ve thought about it, we just don’t ever get asked. (laughs)
JG: That sucks, I figured maybe European shows were just better.
JT: We actually get asked to do those, and get paid to do them unlike something like Ozzfest. They expect you to pay them tens of thousands of dollars to go play. We’re like “No thanks, we’ll be alright.”
JG: Obviously when Randy from Lamb of God got arrested, everybody saw he was an Obituary fan.
JT: Yeah, we had just played with them and just saw them a few days before that at Graspop festival in Belgium. Donald (Tardy) actually went up and played drums on one of the songs with them. He is an Obituary fan, we’ve been kind of good friends with them and stay in contact with them.
JG: Is there any new bands you’re a fan of?
JT: Hank III, is that new? I haven’t been listening to all that much metal especially newer stuff. When it comes to that I’m just a sucker for putting my old Frost albums on and Venom and Slayer and stuff. Still to this day I love playing it.
JG: I saw your father passed away a few months ago which sucks. Does being out on the road help cope with the loss or does it make it harder being away from family?
JT: Nah, it just seems like almost anything you do, you do something that makes you think of him you know what I mean? It’s my first parent obviously to die, so there’s no easy way around it but I’m okay either way.
JG: I didn’t know if it was one of those things that make you kind of reflect upon being home.
JT: You definitely do, especially when you’ve got long drives on a bus because you’re just sitting there and driving, travelling and you start thinking more and more about your family because you’re sitting there with nothing to do and you get bored.
JG: When it comes to family and the Tardy Brothers project, what’s the status on that? Is it active or whenever you feel like it?
JT: It’s more or less whenever we get time. We have the studio at my house so Donald is usually over at my house six days a week if not seven, but we’ve been so busy with Obituary that everything we’ve been doing has just been that. As soon as that comes to a grinding halt, he still comes over and we start messing around with that and putting songs together. We would like to do more, like another record and maybe some shows here and there, just something on the side.
JG: I know you had the hiatus/breakup in ’97 and I guess you had to get a “real” job. How does that compare to doing this?
JT: I’ve actually had a “real” job almost this entire time but it wasn’t until Darkest Day that I actually haven’t had a job. I don’t mind working, doesn’t bother me. I was just fortunate enough I was with the same company forever and ever, a small engineering company and they just liked me enough they would just let me come and go. It’s really new to us for us all to be in nothing but the band. We’ve been doing good though.
JG: The internet always leaves the part out that musicians still need to have a job.
JT: Everyone just thinks that we make so much money that we just sit at home all day with nothing to do.
JG: Before that hiatus in ’97 was when people still bought albums, and when you came back in ’03 downloading was popular. How are you able to adjust to not being able to sell albums anymore?
JT: It’s crazy because that’s basically what it is. You used to go out and tour not to make money but you used to tour to try and sell your album. So you’d get off a tour and you’d see your album sales spike and that’s how you’d make your money. Now you have to tour to make money because you don’t sell the album. So it’s just a completely different, weird thing which does nothing but make your ticket prices a little bit higher and your merch prices higher because that’s how you now get paid. The album sales are certainly few and far between nowadays. But the tours have been great, that’s the crazy thing about it.
JG: You can always do the Prince thing and include the album with the ticket.
JT: Yeah, that’s just about what most fans expect nowadays is just to get the music for free.
JG: It might not be a bad concept if you could put out an album cheap enough if you have say ten grand in an album and mark up each ticket five bucks.
JT: I’ll tell you, there’s lots of money powerful music executives around this world scratching their heads on how to sell albums nowadays.
JG: Is there any band left you’ve wanted to tour with that you haven’t got to yet?
JT: There’s lots of bands we haven’t toured with. We’ve played with a handful of bands I like and really admire. The Slayers of the world. We just played with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molley Hatchet and stuff. It was insane. Hank III, Lamb of God. Slayer is about my favorite band, so to tour with them would be cool.
JG: Aside from the music, you’ve lived in Florida your whole life.
JG: You still like it down here?
JT: Oh yeah, I do. I was born in Miami, we moved up to Tampa in the late 80’s and been living there ever since. I love it to take the boat out and the water and the whole nine yards.
JG: I was going to ask if you were a Bucaneers fan but the Dolphins hat gave it away.
JT: There you go, I was born in Miami and there was pictures of me as a baby with Dolphins stuff on and even though I haven’t lived there forever they just do something for me.
JG: Well when you were a kid the Bucs were shameful.
JT: Yeah, they weren’t even around that I can remember. When were they, like ’80?
JG: I think it was like ’78 or something. (Note: it was actually ’76)
JT: Was it that far?
JG: I think so because weren’t they like a 1-15 team early?
JT: I didn’t know much about them until I moved up here.
JG: You’re not missing anything.
JT: (laughs) Yeah.
JG: I think that’s really all that I have to bother you for today. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
JT: We’re working on a new record. Sooner or later we’ll get it done. Other than that, we’re just trying to get this tour going, fire it up and get some people to come see us.