American death metal pioneers Obituary have been melting faces since 1984 and show no signs of slowing down as they embark on the Carnival of Death tour, which will see them perform a fan-generated setlist of songs from their renowned first three albums, `Slowly We Rot’, `Cause Of Death’ and `The End Complete’. If that wasn’t enough, the band also have a ninth studio album in the works. Ahead of their U.S shows, Killyourstereo caught up with vocalist John Tardy.
Can we start with your name and role in Obituary?
My name is John Tardy and I’m Obituary’s vocalist.
The Carnival Of Death Tour kicks off pretty soon in the US. Is there any chance of it coming to Australia?
I don’t know? Probably not, even though it would be nice. That is a lot of people to buy flights for.
You’re taking Broken Hope, Decrepit Birth, Jungle Rot and Encrust along for the tour. How come you chose to tour with these guys? Are they good mates as well as total shredders?
We have played with some of them and have known some of them for a while. To be honest, we did not put the lineup together. Now that it is together, people seem to be excited about the bill, so I’m looking forward to it.
Why did you give fans the opportunity to decide on the setlist for the upcoming tour?
Our last album has been out for a while and we thought it would be a good time to do something different. We asked our fans what they wanted to hear and got a great response. We originally thought we’d just play the whole ‘Slowly We Rot’ album, but after going though all the feedback and discovering that ‘The End Complete’ is now 20 years old, we decided to play only songs off the first three albums.
We have the setlist ready and are just trying to get it down. We wound up playing about six songs off each album, and it pretty much covers all of them really well. It’s very exciting for us.
There’s been a bit of a trend lately where bands tour and play their classic records in their entirety. Would you ever consider doing this for ‘Slowly We Rot’, ‘Cause Of Death’ or ‘The End Complete’?
We have been playing lots of stuff off the newer albums and we love doing that. Now that we have this new set together it is really fun for us. We are playing songs we have never played before or have not played in a long time.
What do you do for fun when you’re not playing shows, recording or on tour?
I love taking the boat out and love NFL Sundays [too].
We hear you’re currently working on the follow up to 2009’s ‘Darkest Day’. How is the new album coming along?
Slowly. We thought we would have it done by now but it just hasn’t worked out… and that is okay with us. We have a lot done and will probably get back to writing at the beginning of the year and start recording it shortly thereafter.
What other details can you tell us about the new album? Does it have a working title?
It is so early in the process, I really can’t tell you much other than the three songs that are mostly done are so heavy it is out of hand. I cannot wait to start recording.
So this will be your first album with bassist Terry Butler, following the departure of Frank Watkins. Has the dynamic in the band changed with Terry now playing bass? Does he bring something new to the table creatively?
Frank never wrote anything for us, so that part has not changed. We have known Terry for so long it just feels like he has been in the band forever. He did not write anything for this album, but I am sure he will have some ideas for us in the future.
Having been on the scene since 1984, you’ve no doubt seen a lot of trends in metal come and go. So what do you think about the state of death metal these days?
The state of music has changed so much. We do not sell near the amount of albums we used to, but our tours have been better than ever. Think about how different communication was in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s compared to today – everything has changed. With that said, I think metal is doing well. We have a lot of great fans and they are still making it possible for us to continue doing what we love to do.
Obituary are notorious for using gruesome imagery and blood-soaked logos. This being said, we’re guessing you’re probably horror movie buffs, so what are your top five favourite horror movies?
Actually, I’m not. I like comedies believe it or not, and don’t see many of these either. Most of the television I watch is Discovery/ Animal Planet/ ESPN kind of stuff.
Can you name your top five favourite death metal bands?
Slayer, Celtic Frost, Venom, Possessed… that’s only four, but they all had an impact on getting us started doing what we do. Savatage and Nasty Savage got us started as a band, but the aforementioned bands opened our eyes to how heavy music can be.
Are different parts of the world more receptive to your music than others?
Germany and Holland are great. Actually, a lot of Europe is great. We have good shows all over, so it is hard to say. I think fans all over the world are all about the same. Some are bigger, some louder, and some crazier… but all metalheads. I love it!
Have you ever been banned from playing a venue or country due to the nature of your music?
No, but we were once not allowed to play with Nasty Savage because we were too young. [laughs]
You guys started before Facebook, Myspace and all that social networking shit, yet it seems a lot of fans like to connect with bands on these platforms. How important is having an online presence for bands these days?
Vital, and we do not do enough of it. I still like working our website, but Facebook and Twitter is where the fans like to go. It is really cool to think how fast you can get information around. Totally different from 1990!
What’s planned for the rest of the year?
September in the U.S. November and December in Europe and finish up the new album in the beginning of the year. Maybe get over to Australia at some point in time. Who knows?
Any parting words of advice for KYS users?
I know it’s taken a while for a new album, but it will be worth the wait. Thanks.
Thanks for your time, John.