Interviewer: Jeffrey D. Adkins
John Tardy has been at the forefront of death metal for many years. His vocals are among the most unique and recognizable in the genre. He continues to lead today with his lethal vocal assault.
Unless you've been living in a whole for the last 20 years you should know that this metalhead stands at the helm of the legendary band Obituary. The band was founded as Xecutioner in 1985 with John as one of the founders. They formed in the death metal asylum of Tampa, Florida.
Over the years Obituary recorded several sinister albums such as "Cause of Death," "The End Complete," "World Demise" and their new album, released in the summer of 2007 on Candlelight Records, "Xecutioner's Return." The latest is the second album since retuning from their hiatus in 2003, and they continue to be successful.
John chats with me on various topics including their new album "Xecutioner's
Return," life on the road, some history on the band, some people he's
worked with, and more. Read on...
Metal Fanatix: Mr. John Tardy! How's
Lets talk about the new disc "Xecutioner's Return." In your
opinion, how does the new album compare to rest of the Obituary catalog?
John Tardy: I think it is the best written,
best produced record we have done. It is so heavy and just gets to
the point. We felt so good and had so much fun doing this album that
it was awesome.
Metal Fanatix: Do you like the way in
John Tardy: I love it!
Metal Fanatix: How did the writing
and recording process go? What do you like the most about being in
John Tardy: We wrote the songs the same
way we always do, only this time without Allen. But it was just DT,
Trevor and I jamming and having fun! The best thing this time was
doing it in our own studio!
Metal Fanatix: I've read that "Xecutioner's
Return" was mixed at Redroom Recorders and was mastered at Morrisound
Studios (a familiar place for you guys). However, I'm curious on where
was it recorded? Did you guys record it yourselves?
John Tardy: We did! We designed and
built our own studio, Redneck Studios, just for this record. I wish
we would have done it years ago but…it was so awesome being
able to record when ever you want! Mark Prator was so vital is this
process that we could have not done it without him.
Metal Fanatix: Did Scott Burns' presence
grace this album?
John Tardy: I talk with Scott all the
time and he is just a good friend of mine but he was not really part
of this recording…only in the things that we learned from him
over the years!
Metal Fanatix: John, does the name
of the album have anything to do with the origin of Obituary?
John Tardy: After leaving Roadrunner
after so many years we just felt we could start over and the name
just seemed to fit. Slowly We Rot was actually painted with the Xecutioner
logo on it and it wasn't until RR wanted to put it out that we had
to have Obituary painted over the original artwork.
Metal Fanatix: With all your other albums
released on Roadrunner, how did you decide on Candlelight Records
to release "Xecutioner's Return"?
John Tardy: We needed a change. I don't
think I could have done another CD with RR. We had an idea of what
we wanted and entertained everything from releasing it ourselves to
signing with the biggest label we could. But in the end Candlelight
seemed like the right fit for us and they were the only company to
sign the agreement we had with change. Things are working out great
Metal Fanatix: I've read that Ralph
Santolla has taken up Allen West's duties on the new album and in
the band. How did you decide on Ralph?
John Tardy: Just about time we learned
that Allen would not be able to do the record, Ralph was leaving Deicide
and it all just seemed to work out. I think Ralph is as happy to be
with us and we are to have him apart of this band.
Metal Fanatix: Are there any plans
to have Allen back in the band when he's available or is Ralph permanent?
John Tardy: Right now we have a lot
planned with Ralph and I am not sure what Allen's mind set is going
to be when he gets out or even when he will get out. It is just to
early to tell…
Metal Fanatix: Did Allen contribute
anything on "Xecutioner’s Return"?
John Tardy: No!
Metal Fanatix: John, Obituary has an
upcoming U.S. tour starting in September. What do you expect from
the tour? What should fans expect from Obituary?
John Tardy: I think we have a pretty
good line up and we are just going out to have fun! We will be playing
a lot of songs off the new CD and we are ready to go!
Metal Fanatix: Are there any festivals
left this summer that Obituary is planning to play?
John Tardy: We did the Walrock but don't
have that many planned. I think next summer will be much busier for
Metal Fanatix: The first time I saw
an Obituary show you were ill with an upper respiratory infection,
from what I understand. I believe this was in 1997. Do you remember
how long it took for you to recover? How much time did you miss from
John Tardy: The road is a tuff place
and as soon as one person on the bus gets sick, the whole bus gets
sick. For me if you get congestion in your chest, it is just impossible
Metal Fanatix: There has been a number
of infamous death metal bands that have regrouped over the last few
years like Suffocation, Cynic, and, of course, Obituary. What do you
think has sparked the interest for all these bands to revive what
once was? What is your personal opinion?
John Tardy: We just work at our own
pace. Some years we do albums every other year and sometimes it could
be 3 or 4 years or 5 or 7 years. It just depends on what we feel like
doing. We are on no ones schedule but our own. I am sure every band
has different reasons for the way they do things and in our case it
is just we record when we want!
Metal Fanatix: Now that Obituary has
been together again for a couple albums, how does it feel to be back?
Do you regret the time off?
John Tardy: I think the time off was
great and came at a good time for us. I think it did us good and things
right now are going awesome!
Metal Fanatix: John, what did you do
when Obituary was on hiatus?
John Tardy: I was working with computers
at the time! LAN and WAN kind of stuff…
Metal Fanatix: Let go back quite a
few years… On the "Cause of Death" album, how was
working with James Murphy? Were there any particular reasons why he
didn't stay with Obituary?
John Tardy: That was one of the times
that Allen was not around and we needed someone to do solos. James
did a great job and it was great of him to help us out. He also did
a handful of show with us. At that time it was always known that Allen
would be back!
Metal Fanatix: How important was the
return of Allen West for the recording of "The End Complete"?
John Tardy: It was good to have him
back. He wrote music on Cause, but just didn’t perform on the
album. He did a lot more on this album.
Metal Fanatix: For the cover artwork
for "World Demise" it seems to be much different from any
of your other releases, as it uses a photo collage instead of a painting
or drawing. Why was a different approach needed for this album's artwork?
Was it taken from any specific resource? Like the film "Koyaanisqatsi"?
John Tardy: Trevor did that album cover
so it was pretty much his ideas!
Metal Fanatix: Tell me about your involvement
with Necro. How was it to work with the death/rap artist? Any musical
John Tardy: We did it before with the
Bullyboys so it wasn't new to me. Trevor agreed to write a song or
two with Necro and there was supposed to be someone else singing on
it. During the record that singer couldn't make it so TP called me
to step in. It was just a spontaneous thing!
Metal Fanatix: Mr. Tardy, you have
one of, if not, the most recognizable death metal vocals in music.
Is there any special techniques or tips you can share to help out
other prospective death vocalist to be more unique?
John Tardy: Thanks…but not really.
I have just been doing it for a long time and have been fortunate
over the years. Touring is a lot of work and very trying on the voice
so take care of yourself!
Metal Fanatix: What preferences do
you have for your microphone setup? Are there any particular mics
you like to use?
John Tardy: I sang through a 421 on
our new album. Everyone's voice is different and you just need to
try different setups to see what works for you. The 421 is not what
most people will use and most producers would probably look at you
strange it you brought that with you into the studio. …Redneck
Studios at its best…
Metal Fanatix: Do you have any favorite
new bands today; something that has came out in the last few years?
John Tardy: I like the new Hank Williams
III…country and metal…sick!
Metal Fanatix: What do you think about
the state of metal today?
John Tardy: Like all kinds of music
it comes and goes in popularity. Right now I think it is on an upswing
and things are going good!
Metal Fanatix: John, it's been a pleasure
doing this interview with you. I just have one more question for you.
Do you have any final words you’d like to say to the Metal Fanatix
of the world?
John Tardy: I thank you for the support
and hope to see you out on the road! -John Tardy
Metal Fanatix: Thanks! METAL!!
To keep up with all the latest news & much
more on John & Obituary check out the following websites:
- Official Obituary Site
- Obituary MySpace Site
© Jeffrey D. Adkins September, November 2007 Not to be re-printed
in any form without written permission.