Obituary's John Tardy Explains Special Set Lists and Curcumstances Regarding New Album
Band Photo: Obituary (?)
Because Obituary has a history that dates back a quarter-century, few will dispute their legacy as siring death metal's progeny. Considering how early this Tampa, Florida band planted its roots, it’s a bit ironic that two of its members—John and Donald Tardy—bear an adjective in their last name that denotes late arrival. Obituary didn’t come to the party, they hosted it. The group has left such obvious signs of impact--from John’s savage snarl to Trevor Peres’ mid-paced groves—that it doesn’t take a private dick to reveal the bloody prints they left on the face of modern metal.
Modern is hardly a term used for a band over twenty years old, but it still applies today, and not just in death metal. Metalcore and deathcore surely borrowed a few tricks of the trade from the Tardys’ and crew. As the group prepares to write its ninth studio full-length, promoters and fans still demand the classics. According to Tardy, upcoming European tours may feature set lists culled primarily from their first two recordings,” Slowly We Rot” and “Cause of Death.”
Three years have passed since Obituary released their last recording “Darkest Day.” The group has been too busy playing gigs to settle down and make a new album. There is a gap of information in these three years. In the following phone interview, John Tardy happily updated us on subjects such as past and future tours, the Tardy Brothers’ solo record and lineup changes.
Darren Cowan (Rex_84): How was your European tour?
John Tardy: (That was a couple weeks ago). We were over there for six weeks or so, so it was a while. Of course, we’re gearing up to go back out here in the States in September. The summer time is the best time to go over there, all these big festivals, which is cool for us because we get to play with a lot of bands we normally wouldn’t get to play with—the Lamb of God’s of the world, Slayer…
Tardy: Ozzy, yes! I saw him. I sat on stage and watched Lynyrd Skynyrd. They sounded great. Hank III. I had breakfast with Molly Hatchet one morning, which is cool. There was a lot of cool stuff.
Cowan: What show would you say was your best performance?
Tardy: Both the shows in Russia were actually really good. We played the Dokk’em festival that Jon Oliva played. We are big fans of Jon Oliva, so for us to hang out and play with him, it made things good. It was a newer festival, kind of an upcoming festival in Holland. It was pretty big but not huge. We just happened to have a good set that night and the crowd was really receptive.
Cowan: Obituary embarks on the Carnival of Death tour in September. The band is touring quite a bit right now. Are you preparing to release a new album?
Tardy: [Laughs] Typically, you come out with an album and then go touring. Geez, it seems like since we came out with our last album, the “Darkest Day” record, which is now going on a couple of years or so now, we’ve just been going and going. We did take some time off just several months ago that we’re supposed to be finishing up a new album and having something done by now. It just didn’t get done, and we’re really not in any hurry to finish that. We got a lot done. We have a lot of cool songs that we’re really excited about, but we keep getting pulled away to play more and more shows. We’re gonna go ahead and take advantage of that. We’ll play some shows here. We’ll be back in Europe in December. It probably won’t be until beginning of the year—January or something—we’ll lock our selves in the studio and get this album finished up.
Cowan: You mentioned having a few songs done. Are you playing any of those songs live?
Tardy: Nah, I don’t think we’re gonna. We actually got asked to play a classic type of set at the shows in December, which is mostly the stuff off of “Slowly” (“We Rot”). We said yes to that. We’re going to do one of those classic set where we will pick a bunch of songs off of “Slowly” and/or “Cause of Death.” I’m not 100 percent sure. We’re probably going to wind up doing that same set for America here. Once we get into that thing and get a set going, we’ll do that set in America, also only because the last album that we did has been out for a while. We certainly toured for that album. To make it a little different, we might take that classic set and go over it then. Even though we still have some songs done, we’re still in the process of putting those together, so we’ll probably hold off on that, save it for next time around.
Cowan: A press release mentions your allowing fans to help choose the material from this classic set.
Tardy: We’re just shooting it out there. Social networking is what it is today: It’s really easy for fans to get a hold of us, leave comments and stuff like that. It’s always interesting to throw that out there and see what comes out of their mouths and see what songs they like. Of course, you always wind up with a broad spectrum of songs getting hollered out. I think it makes them feel a little involved in the set that we’ll be doing. We’ll take a look at that, and the songs that come up most, we’ll definitely hit those.
Cowan: Terry Butler joins the band on bass. I understand he has been with the band since 2010.
Tardy: Oh yeah, and what a relief! We’ve known Terry since about 7th grade. When Don and I moved from Miami to Tampa—I was in 7th grade and Don was in 5th grade, we were two years apart—he was one of the first people we met when we moved up here. I think Trevor [Peres, guitar] was literally the first person. He was right in our neighborhood. Terry’s neighborhood was a small bicycle ride and he was there too. He was early on. We’ve known him forever, so to have him in the band now has been an absolute seamless transition between bass players, but it’s just awesome to have him around. Unlike me, he listens to so much music. He is really into the scene, so almost anytime a band is brought up, from any year—all kinds of music, too, not just metal—he’ll be able to tell you all the musicians that are on an album, when it was made and this and that. He’s always cool to have around because whenever a music question comes up, probably 95 percent of the time he’ll have the answer.
Cowan: Sounds like he would be a good journalist.
Tardy [Laughs] He would be. He’s a smart dude and he knows a lot. Before he was even in our band, I saw him more than our old bass player anyway because we hung out almost every weekend, so time gets a little confusing when figuring when he was and wasn’t playing in the band. Like I said, it’s nice having him around.
Cowan: For some reason, I thought he had already played with Obituary. I guess that’s because he’s some prominent in the early Florida death metal scene.
Tardy: When we first started playing, he started off in Massacre. We’re talking about way back then. Obviously, he had the run with Death. That was great for him. He was busy with two really good projects. Between those bands and Six Feet Under he probably went down with that. Oddly enough it just worked out perfect to have him with us.
Cowan: On September 11th, the band is playing a show in New York City. You chose to remove the “Carnival of Death” tag for that date. Are you trying to be respectful to the people of NYC?
Tardy: That was pretty much the club’s decision. They felt uncomfortable with it. I’m not really sure why. They’re the ones that said they wanted to do it like this. Obviously, it doesn’t matter to me. We can do it either way. It’s no big deal to me. I’m not sure why, move on. That was their idea.
Cowan: The Carnival of Death tour features quite a touring lineup. Jungle Rot, Decrepit Birth, Encrust and most of all, Broken Hope are on the bill. Many will likely judge this as the death metal tour of the year. What are your thoughts on the lineup?
Tardy: I’ve been friends with the Broken Hope guys for a long time. I didn’t even know, beforehand, that they were getting back together and doing stuff. That was kind of a surprise for me. I know we’ve done shows with Jungle Rot in the past, so those guys are cool. I’m forward to it.
Cowan: What do you know about their reformation?
Tardy: No, I’m not even 100 percent sure. I haven’t talked to Jeremy [Wagner] in a while, so it was certainly a surprise to me. We’re certainly going to get the low down when we meet up with them for that first show, that’s for sure. I’m curious to see what they are playing. I guess they have a new album coming out, so I’m curious to hear what it sounds like and the whole nine yards. It will be interesting.
Cowan: You played the second Tardy Brothers show in March.
Tardy: Yeah, we managed to get one of those things done. Don and I do that project. We love the album. It’s a lot of fun to do. There are five different guitar players playing crazy leads all over the place, which is quite a bit different than something Obituary would do. That was fun for us. We got a couple of guys around doing songs with us. We eventually want to do more, but we kind of just want to get out there, feel it out a little more, and play a club show to see everything works out with the guys we have. It went pretty good. It certainly could have been better on our behalf, but it was fun, nonetheless, and I would like to do more of that in the future.
Cowan: Why did you use five guitarists?
Tardy: Five people played leads on the album. That was with some friends of ours—Jerry Tidwell from back in the Xecutioner days. I have a good friend of mine, nobody in particular but I’ve known him forever and I play guitars with, Scott Johnson. We have the young kid, John Lee; you’ll see him more and more because he’s absolutely phenomenal. Ralph [Santolla] is the vocalist on that album.
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