Obituary’s John Tardy Offers Studio Tips That Helped Band in Writing 10th Album [Interview]
Obituary's John Tardy was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The frontman of one of death metal's most enduring acts spoke about the band's self-titled 10th studio album, the importance of taking time with new material before recording, rolling with the punches on the road and more. Check out the chat below.
Obituary is the band's 10th album, a landmark achievement. In terms of accomplishment, what does your tenth album represent?
I don't know if it really has much special meaning, per se. I guess 10 albums is 10 albums. But at the same time, any time you can get one done and out there, it's an accomplishment for any band.
It sounds like the whole creative process for this new album was deliberately thorough. How did that diligence allow you to make a better album?
I think every album, you learn a little bit more and you learn something different, so at this point in time we should be getting kind of good at these things. [laughs] We took our time with it also, I'm sure that helped. Some of the songs were written almost a couple of years ago now and then some of the songs were only written several months ago. There's some time in between there which I think kind of helps to make songs a little bit different and stretched out.
And then just taking your time and really jamming them before you start recording them is so important. People like to write songs and then record them and I think that's a big mistake because you're always going to go back and listen to your albums in the past and say, "I wish I wrote something different in this," but the more you can play the songs after you write them and kind of get familiar and give yourself time to absorb them and be comfortable with them and let your mind really come up with everything you want to do, I think the happier you'll be in the long run once you do get them recorded. We did take our time with them and that was cool.
Obituary are on the road with Kreator as part of the 2017 Decibel Magazine Tour. The traveling lifestyle of a band is obviously nothing like living a regular 9-5 life. What do you look forward to most when you get back on the road?
Every trip is new. It's always a process, especially if you've been home for a little while and itching to hit the road, it's always fun just that first night to get out there, get all crammed on the bus and everything ready to go. It just seems like once you get out there you don't have much to really think about or do than to focus at your shows every night.
It's kind of nice because that's really what you do. You focus, you get out there and you let it all out, and the next day just sit and recover, recoup and get prepared for the next show in the next city. It's great. It's good being with your band members and we all get along so well that that's a good thing. We can all live in close quarters all the time and all these years and we still enjoy it after all this time. That's a good thing.
John, when you were a kid, death metal probably wasn't something you associated with people of the age you are now. What's matured most about Obituary musically and personally throughout your career?
How much time we got here? [laughs] It's cool to think about. When Donald [Tardy, drums], Trevor [Peres, guitar], and I got together, we were still back in high school and we knew each other before we even were playing instruments and any musical stuff at all. The three of us had known each other for a very long time. Our first album, we went in the studio on our own dime and recorded a bunch of songs and did stuff just simply to have fun with. We were just having fun, paid for it and just did it all.
We were fortunate with the first album that we had a record label come to us and say, hey, we want to put the album out. It was just a matter of we needed just a couple more songs. We hopped in the studio and recorded a few more and it just seems like the album came out and it was kind of a surprise to us too, but everything happened so fast that by the time that album came out we really didn't do any touring.
We were just finishing high school at the time and then just almost immediately started writing and recording a second album, Cause of Death, which was really what started our first tours and the whole nine yards. If you think about how different times were then compared to now, from everything from the recording of an album to how you could interact with your fans, to the Internet nowadays — now people can just email me, text me and talk to me at any given time. So much has changed over time.
Obituary is a cornerstone of American death metal. How much responsibility do you feel to not only further your own band, but also wave the flag for the entire death metal community as a whole?
I don’t know if I'm gonna lay much of that pressure on my shoulders. But I will say that it is cool that after all these years there's still a handful of the Florida metal bands like Deicide and Cannibal Corpse and us still out there, still relevant and still going good and putting out good material. We're not a band that puts a whole lot of pressure on ourselves and also not a band that feels like we have to do a whole lot.
And if things — we don't fight against too much. So if there's a tour or something that's not going our way or something like that, it's no big deal to us. We just roll with how things go. It's just nice that fans support us. It's been great each album, the same response. The crowds and our tours have been doing great and as long as that happens and as long as we're having fun, then we'll keep rolling with what we do.
It's great to think about when we first started and what the metal scene was like, especially here in Florida. It was a lot of kids, including myself, I grew up listening to southern rock with an older brother and classic rock stuff. So it really wasn't until we really kind of ran into the Nasty Savage guys and the Sabotage guys that were starting to jam their early material that got us involved wanting to start playing our own music and go from there.
What's gonna be happening with Obituary beyond this tour?
Man, we've got shows getting booked all the way through 2018 already. We've been busy, we just finished a European tour with Exodus that was totally awesome. We had never played with them before and that was so much fun we're going to try and do some more shows with guys. We got along great and had a ball.
We kind of put a little release that had a couple of new songs and a bunch of live songs on it, just giving people a new taste of what the new album might sound like and something to listen to while we get this new album done. We've got the Kreator tour, we've got tons of festivals we're doing all summer long in Europe and then we got another B set, getting ready to go after the Kreator thing with some more cities that we missed on a little headlining run that we'll do. Like I said, hopefully gearing up to do something out there shortly, beginning with the year back in Europe.
Thanks to John Tardy for the interview. Get your copy of 'Obituary' through Amazon or digitally through iTunes and keep up with everything the band is doing by following their Facebook page. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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