John Tardy - Obituary - Back
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 everything?

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 came out?

John Tardy: I love it!

Metal Fanatix: How did the writing and recording process go? What do you like the most about being in the studio?

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 right now!

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 us!

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 that tour?

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 to sing!

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 conflictions?

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:

http://www.obituary.cc/ - Official Obituary Site
http://www.myspace.com/obituary - Obituary MySpace Site

© Jeffrey D. Adkins September, November 2007 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.