OBITUARY Frontman: 'The Most Important Thing To Me Is That We Stay True To Our Sound'

Jenna Williams (a.k.a. "The Scream Queen") recently conducted an interview with OBITUARY frontman John Tardy. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.

TheScreamQueen.com: You have a new DVD, "Live Xecution", coming out next month, right?

John: Yeah...It's supposed to be out by the end of the year, I've been getting a couple of questions and I haven't heard much about it. We put that whole thing together a year ago, we had all the artwork done, and we mixed the album, went through all of the video and stuff. So, we turned that stuff in like a year ago and you know, I kind of forgot about it after doing it all. I know it's supposed to be out, I just haven't heard much. So actually, I'm gonna have to call and see what the deal is, if they're still on time, and make sure everything is cool with that thing.

TheScreamQueen.com: Have you seen it yet?

John: Oh yeah, I saw it. We got all the footage, we had the (inaudible) first, then we got to take all of the audio into the studio down there with Mark, and mix it. Surprisingly, we were only in there a day or two just kind of messing around with a couple of things here and there, we didn't have to — nothing got re-recorded or anything like that. We just kind of went through and touched up a couple little things here and there; just crowd noise wise, levels, and just things like that. It's really one of the reasons why we wanted to do the DVD, we didn't really plan on doing one. "Frozen Alive" came out just a couple of years ago and that was our first DVD, so we really didn't plan on doing another one quite so soon. But, when these guys came to use with the footage and we saw how cool it was and how good it sounded, we were like, "We really should do this DVD." Because, the "Frozen Alive" DVD, we put a little bit of effort into that as far as production, setting things up. But, this was just a festival, like I said, we didn't even plan on recording it, it just kind of got recorded and it looks cool. It's pretty much a typical OBITUARY set. It was pretty cool, it worked out good.

TheScreamQueen.com: How do you think your raw energy from the stage translates onto the DVD, from what you've seen?

John: I think it's great, like I said. I think the good thing about it is that it's just very typical. But, I just think our music comes across a lot better live than it does on a CD, you know? Maybe most bands would disagree with that, but I just think we do such a better job live and our music just comes across so much better than it does on a CD. It just makes it fun, any time you can throw a video in with something, you know what, no matter what it is, if you can put video in with the music, it just makes the experience so much better. Videos are just cool, you know?

TheScreamQueen.com: You have been screaming for over twenty years, how much of a toll has that taken on your voice?

John: You know what?! I've been really fortunate, actually. I can only really remember one time having to cancel two shows. That was just in the middle of a European tour that was two months and I was just sick; I was just down for the count. I've really been fortunate. The voice is taking care of me, so far. Nowadays, we try to take a few days — well, not a few days, it would cost too much — but we don't try to do those nineteen shows-in-a-row runs that we used to do. We try to put days in here and there, whenever we can kind of fit them in. We try to take some time off in between tours and just let the voice rest between that time. It's just little things like that, that I do. Like I said, for the most part, I've just been really fortunate with it.

TheScreamQueen.com: Do you do any kind of vocal exercises or warm-ups?

John: No. I don't really think that there's much you can do. But, you know, you talk to a professional and they might totally think that I'm off my rocker. I think the best thing to do is what I did when we first started off way back, is just singing lightly — and I even do this now. Before a tour, lets say I have two months off and then I'm starting to get geared up for another tour... I'll start off singing really light, singing only like a couple of songs or something, and just do it kind of lightly, and walk through it, and then take a day off, and come back, and try to sing lightly, but maybe sing three or four songs, and just slowly progress like that. You know, give your vocal chords are a lot like muscles, you don't want to be jumping and trying to bench press all the weight that you can because the next day, you're just going to crash. So, just ease into it slowly, give them a chance to stretch out, and strengthen, and rest in between; and that's how you — the way you do it, don't try to do too much all at once.

TheScreamQueen.com: Explain how you would compare death metal from when you started 20 years ago, to what it is now, in 2009.

John: Ummm... I don't know. To me, it hasn't changed much. But, that's kind of what OBITUARY is about as a band. If you listen to our first album to our newest album, it really hasn't changed all that much. There's new and better stuff that we do and I think our song writing has gotten better. I think overall, we haven't changed very much to us, that's what it is. I guess the biggest thing that kind of changed is that there are so many bands now that do it. Like, when we started, it was just a small handful of bands that you would know about; which I guess is true for any kind of music. But, there's just so many bands out there. I always hate getting labeled as — people break it down in so many ways to thrash metal, to death metal, to speed metal, and all that. It's like, I just can't keep track of it all! (laughs) It is what it is, it's just all metal to me. I think one of the biggest things is just the amount of bands that are out there, there's just so much product, it's insane. I would hate to have to be starting off today and coming up with an original sound because it'd just be difficult. . . It's impossible to keep up with it! The way recordings got — even we built our own studio. You know, it takes a substantial amount of money if you want to build it correctly. For the most part, you can get in and start recording music for pretty darn cheap nowadays, and do it right out of your house, and get some pretty good results; there's just so many bands that do that. And, I think some of these record labels too, there's tons of little labels out there that are willing to put out anything they get; even some of the bigger labels are just trying to release more product to compensate for the fact that most of their bands don't sell as much CDs as they used to. I mean, there's so many people downloading music for free, that it's just hard to sell them. So, I think they compensate by signing more and more bands to try and keep their numbers up, even if it's five more bands, you know?

TheScreamQueen.com: Is there anything that you would like to accomplish before OBITUARY comes to an end?

John: I guess musically, the most important thing to me is that we stay true to our sound. It's not like we can count two times and say, "Yeah, that album is — that was a really shitty album," or, "That was really wimped out." Or anything like that. I think all of our albums — obviously people are going to have their favorites and like one more than the other, it's just going to happen. I still think every album, we stay true to what we do, and it stay kind of heavy, and kind of keep our sound alive.

TheScreamQueen.com: Not a lot of bands can really do that anymore.

John: I guess it's just tempting sometimes to want to go out and try something else. Or, maybe you got somebody in your band that doesn't normally write songs, and you get talked into trying to let him write a song or something that just maybe doesn't quite work out. I don't know, I guess there's just lots — maybe a record label is pushing somebody to do something, or somebody has this idea that they think is going to work. So, there's lots of temptations to try to do things and this and that. I can see where it might happen, but I'm just glad that it never happened to us! (laughs) I'd hate to have to look back and say, "Oh yeah, that album we did there, that thing--that thing sucked pretty bad!" 'Cause I would have to say it — I mean, I wouldn't put it out; I actually wouldn't even — you know, as soon as we started writing, I'd be like, "Fuck that, I ain't doin' that!" (laughs) But, it would suck to have to go back, like CELTIC FROST or something like that, they got those couple of albums that are shitty and they have to know it! And, they have to get asked it enough to just know that yeah, that was pretty shitty. Fuck that.

Read the entire interview at TheScreamQueen.com.

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