Obituary have been riding on the success of their latest album Dying of Everything; Hooking up via the wonder of the transnational telecommunications system Vocalist John Tardy is eagerly awaiting a cold beer as we get stuck into the feedback and highlights of 2023: “The last year has been awesome. We couldn’t be happier with the way the album came out. It had done really well. We’ve been getting some great offers with gigs, it’s actually really nice to pick and choose the gigs you want to play, but we’ve been really lucky this year”.
Four decades together John… Do you remember a time before death metal? “…. Ummmm, I do” [Laughs] “We grew up, my older brother [Donald Tardy, drums] and I, on a lot of southern rock and classic rock, I can remember we’d both listen to albums and jam along, all kinds of rock and it wasn’t until we saw the guys from Nasty Savage, that we were truly inspired to create a band and once we started jamming, we were introduced to a lot of Celtic Frost, Helhammer and we really fell in love with it all”.
Between 1991 and 1996 it was absolutely relentless for the band, Obituary were going from strength to strength, no stopping – zero to one hundred. How was this time for the band and what do you attribute to this? “It was a great run, we got into this ‘death metal’ thing as it was starting to pickup speed, we were one of the first to jump in there. I can recall interviews back then, it was kind of comical – back in the days when you’re asked if you’re in a Satanic band. Sure, there was a lot of those; Deicide, Morbid Angel starting to come out, so that was the angle for all. We got roped into that early on. We like to have fun with what we do, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. It still happens to this day, though. It has been awesome to see how much things have changed, how much the industry is changed and to come out still relevant, is a great thing. Plus, if we weren’t having fun, I’m sure we would find something else to do, I promise you. This is the key to what keeps us going”.
After all these years, Obituary still manage to blow our hair back, with a fair amount of time to work on the latest release, what did you want to achieve and where did you start with it? “I don’t think it was any different to how we tackle all the albums that we do, we’re always kind of poking at songs, and dabbling with the music, at anytime, like sound check prior to a gig, Trevor (Peres, guitars) could be smashing out a new riff. We’re not a band that likes to produce albums every year or every other year – we take our time, we like to work the records and let the material live and breath, so it gives us a bunch of time – sometimes several years between records and we wind up with pro-tools sessions, full of ideas, we have nothing but ideas, track after track. And we kind of just start piecing it all together. So, throughout the years we continue to collect ideas, which is kind of cool, because each track sounds so different to the other because they weren’t all punched out at the same time. We really enjoy the creative process. There are no time constraints, its all very flexible and we’re able to give the material a life of its own. We like to give it a chance to breath”.
Take us through your journey with the band, honing your own craft over the last forty years, contributing to the sound, the lyrics; what have you learnt? “I’m pretty shy, which is a pretty vast contrast when I get on stage and sing. Early on though, you just head out and scream, you don’t think about it. But over the years you learn to control yourself. Lyrically I feel this is where I have grown the most – I really think some of the lyrics of the new album have been more thought out than I used to, I use to ramble a lot – and not necessarily making sense, it was just a bag of ideas tied together, but now there is more thought put into it”.
I’ve attributed Obituary’s hiatus to burn out, from the balls to the wall period between 1991 and 1996… Yet the band returned. The band continue to release material, continue to tour. Not knowing what the future holds, inevitably all great things come to an end, so, John, what is your life after Obituary? [a long confused pause ensues] “I don’t know, honestly, I’ve spent more than half of my life in Obituary. It has only been the last fifteen years that I’ve been doing Obituary full time, I mean, we’ve just been really fortunate – it’s not an easy thing to do. I’d hate to be a new band starting out today, I would not want to be starting over again. Its a tough thing, you could be the greatest guitarist in the world, it doesn’t mean you’re going to do absolutely anything in the music industry, it doesn’t mean you’re going to sell one album, a thousand albums or a million albums. It’s difficult to tell someone this. Being the best at what you do – music doesn’t relate to this. My son is getting into music, he’s a drummer and its the last thing I want to see him do [Laughs] don’t do it, don’t do it [Laughs]. Music and business is not the same, it takes a collective to make it work”.
A statement you’ve made that resonated with me ‘the world depends on music’ how much do you depend on music John? “I love it, my life revolves around it, I’m always listening to it, I’m always going to gigs, I recently saw (country artists) Dwight Yoakam, Clint Black, and they’re both still killing it. I love the live show. I get to kick back, I get to have a few cold ones and enjoy the music. A lot of people don’t realise that everywhere you go, getting into your car, to turning on your TV, every movie, every commercial, everything revolves around music. There is more money made in music than Hollywood and professional sports combined, because even those events rely on music to keep the mood going, no matter if you’re walking into a grocery store, or just walking down the road, its around you. I just think it’s a beautiful thing, that can create so many emotions, depending on what you want to do and how you want to feel and that’s awesome”.
What can you tell us about the Barely Alive Australian tour, hitting our shores in January 2024, it will be the peak of summer, it’s going to be sweaty, its going to be smelly, its going to be amazing. What are you most excited about heading back down to Australia? “We always have such a great time. Australians are some of the best fans we have, everyone is so cool. The venues are always intimate, we can get up close and personal with fans. When we get there, we always have a blast”.
Obituary play the following shows next month:
05/01/24 – Auckland, Galatos
06/01/24 – Christchurch, Loons
07/01/24 – Wellington, San Fran
11/01/24 – Hobart, Altar
12/01/24 – Melbourne, The Croxton
13/01/24 – Sydney, Manning Bar
16/01/24 – Brisbane, The Triffid
18/01/24 – Adelaide, Lion Arts Factory
19/01/24 – Perth, Magnet House