Interview with John Tardy (Obituary, Tardy Brothers)
Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on Brutal Assault XIX, on the 7th of August 2014
I guess we just like what we are doing. It’s pretty much it. It’s important just to have fun in what you are doing – if it becomes a job, it becomes work and it sucks, then don’t do it. Just go out, have a good time and do what you do.
Could you tell me about some of the highlights of your career in metal that you are the most proud of or mostly like to think back of?
Out of all the albums that we’ve done I can remember where I was when I got the first copy of Slowly We Rot, and was very proud of it. We also got to see a lot of the world, we’ve been to lots of different countries, got to meet a lot of cool people – to me it’s the best part of it, to get to see all the different cultures around the world.
How did it affect your relationship with your brother, Donald throughout the years that you had to work together in Obituary? Did you have any massive misunderstanding in connection with music?
Not really, we get along pretty good actually. We have a studio at my house and he’s pretty much there seven days a week – not that we never argue, but nothing serious, we get along really great. I think the good thing that works so well is that we just talk things out. We talk it out, we argue it out, and then we make a decision.
Obituary is one of the most fan-based and active metal bands out there – you run your own websites as well as the facebook page – you actually interact with the fans. In terms of your upcoming album, Inked in Blood, why did the band decide that you would “make the music for the fans instead of a label”? Did you have any bad experiences so far that made you do this?
We’ve been a band for thirty years, we’ve been at multiple labels, and even years back we’ve just been always wanting to do it ourselves. We finally said “you know what, let’s go ahead and TRY to do this ourselves”. Not that we expect to put CDs in the back of our car and drive around the world to sell them on our own, I mean, you just still need help from somebody because there are distribution companies, there are multiple countries and lots of problems.
We met the Relapse people, and the guys at Relapse are super cool. We got to get the album ourselves, it’s our album, we just got to kind of use their engine to get it out to the fans, and it really worked out good for us. There are all those Roadrunner records of ours, but we don’t own those things, we couldn’t even do anything with them even if we wanted to. So the cool thing about this is that it’s our music, it’s our album, we get to do what we want to do, and we get Relapse to help us to get it out to the people.
What is your opinion about the fact that some people say you “begged” for money to do this album?
Actually, it’s just about as much money as we got to now go ahead and send everybody everything that they ordered – so that rumour was a little bit weird. We have a lot of work to do, there’s just so much stuff now that we owe fans. The amount of money that we’ll see after the fact, it’s not going to be very much.
It was very cool though, to see this fan support and all the people who did what they did, and as soon as we get home we’re going to start going through that and sending all the merchandise out to the fans.
As far as I know, the artwork of your classic album from 1990, Cause of Death was supposed to be the cover of Sepultura’s record Beneath the Remains from 1989. Why did Roadrunner let Obituary use the Michael Whelan cover first?
It was not our decision. There were actually two albums coming out at the same time, they had two pieces of artwork, and Roadrunner was the one that made that decision, it really didn’t have anything to do with us.
So you didn’t communicate with Sepultura at all on this matter?
Was there any tension between the two bands as a consequence of Obituary using the artwork? As far as I know, you also worked as a guest on Sepultura’s Beneath the Remains (you helped with the vocals in song ‘Stronger Than Hate’).
I don’t know, it’s kind of odd, they once asked me that question so long ago, so I kind of heard that Sepultura wanted to use that artwork – at the time I had no idea, I didn’t even see the other artwork, I just knew that we got stuck with what we got.
No tension, I mean it was way before. The album was actually recorded in Brazil, Max (Cavalera, Sepultura – ed.) sang, he did the lyrics and he mixed the album at Morrisound (recording studio – ed.) in Tampa. That was the first time I met them. Max didn’t speak good English at the time, he stayed at our house, we hung out, the whole time he was doing that while I sang them some lyrics of the album. That was awesome, we were taken motocross races and monster trucks and all kinds of crazy shit. That was pretty funny.
You mentioned in some of your earlier interviews that you were influenced by Savatage and Nasty Savage, because even though they were not as heavy as Obituary, they were different from the traditional metal styles at the time they made their music. Did you always have the desire to just be different and unmistakable, or do you just do your thing and don’t think about it?
I don’t think you can go out and say “I want to be different”, or “I wanna be fast”, or “I wanna be this, I wanna be that” because I think if you try to set that goal, you are never going to get anything done. We met Nasty Savage and Savatage, they were young, we were even younger, we were still back in high school. Riding our bikes on the street and hearing them jam in their garage, and we kept running back and forth hoping that they would come outside. It’s cool because like you said Nasty Savage and Savatage – nobody sounds like those two bands. Nobody. Most of music that I like, that’s what I like to see, I like a band like the AC/DC, or Lynyrd Skynyrd – they are who they are, there’s nobody else like them. But you can’t practice that, you can’t work at that, it’s just what happens.
For the end: If you could change one thing on any of your previous works with Obituary, what would it be?
Obviously our early albums, we were still in high school when we recorded Slowly We Rot – so if you go back and listen to the productions throughout the years, there are always things you wish you could re-change or re-do. On our earlier albums, we just wrote the songs and then recorded them. With the new album Inked in Blood we really took our time, like three years of writing the songs and then jamming the songs, and giving yourself the chance to hear them, make changes, let your mind really fill the song out – so we really had the luxury with this album, we’ve really taken our time, and let the natural progression of our writing.
There are always things you can change, but at the same time you listen back and there are different points in your life, different times in your life… after all I wouldn’t change anything, even though I’m not happy with any of our albums played. (laughs) I don’t think I would ever be, nor would anybody in the band, there is always going to be stuff that you don’t like, that you wish you could do again or do better.
Okay John, thank you very much for your time, and enjoy the Slayer show!
Thanks for the support, take care!