How Obituary Are Inspired by Southern Rock Even Though They Don’t Sound At All the Same
Obituary's Jon Tardy was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program, chatting about the death metal legends' latest album, Dying of Everything, out now on Relapse Records.
The album, like countless other releases over the last two years, sat on the shelf amid the early stage of the pandemic and Obituary were intent on releasing it once they'd finally be able to hit the road with regularity.
Despite the obvious hindrances, recording was still something done in a comfortable setting as Obituary have been tracking out of their own studio for their last handful of full lengths. It's a process Tardy quite enjoys, able to work at his own pace and when he's feeling most productive.
Elsewhere, Tardy opens up about how south rock artists have inspired Obituary despite their sound bearing no real resemblance to the style.
Read the full interview below.
It's cliche, but musicians often say they make music first for themselves. What about this new record excites that music lover in you?
The album has been done for almost two years — it's just been so painful to sit on, which is what we did all through that pandemic. We were determined not to release an album while we're sitting at home and we really wanted to be out on the road. We certainly wanted to be back in Europe, which we haven't been for like five or six years.
I'm just pumped up because we've been sitting on this thing for way too long.
Late career Obituary albums, especially this new one, are regarded as some of your best. What does this band do better now that maybe wasn't always possible in the past?
We can drink more than ever, that's for sure [laughs].
I don't know — I think that sometimes experience comes with age. This is the fifth one we've done [at our own studio] and every time we do that, we get better and better at what we do.
We've never been a band that does an album every year or every other year. We really don't put any timeframe on ourselves and we do albums when we feel like it.
It's one of those things where we're constantly tinkering and writing songs and just jotting down little ideas, whether it's rhythms or some lyrics. When we get ready to record we already have most of it put together and it's a matter of sitting down and finalizing it. We take our time with songs, learning them ourselves before we try to record. It's an important thing for anybody, especially any younger kids — if you write a song, take the time to really learn that thing inside and out because it gives you time to make changes if you want. Then you can perform it really well when you've got to record.
Obituary, "The Wrong Time" Music Video
Making Dying of Everything seems like a casual, relaxed process for this band. Why is a comfortable method essential to creating music that's far from calm and soothing?
If you go into some of the nicest studios in the world — or anybody's studio — the first thing that they try to do when you walk in their front door of their studio is make you relax. There's big, comfortable seating, all the drinks that you want or snacks or whatever it is.
The fact that we record everything right here at my own house, I can't get more relaxed. It is just totally easy for me. I can walk out there at 10AM and I can sing if I want, or it could be 10PM. I might sing five lines and go, "You know what? I just feel like doing it today," and walk away from it. It doesn't matter. Or I can sit out there for a couple hours singing. Having our own studio is a key factor in us writing songs for sure.
You guys were raised on music such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Charlie Daniels Band. What aspects of that southern rock influence are most applicable to death metal?
They just go for it, especially live. Once you get those guys started, they just keep tearing it up. It gets you all fired up and we just kind of just keyed off on that.
Obviously our music doesn't sound really anything like southern rock — it's kind of hard to take that influence of their particular songwriting and put it into what we do, but just the simple fact that they can get into rhythms and and keep dragging them on, shredding back and forth... That's kind of the approach we take take when we write songs.
We constantly imagine playing a festival and there's 80,000 people out there and this breakdown hits it gets us all fired up and ready to go. Southern rock is a lot of fun to listen to and we grew up on it because of an older brother's influence.
Turned Inside Out: The Official Story of Obituary is published by dB Books. What's surreal about reading your own history fully detailed in a book?
When we first got approached, not everybody was into it. But when we met the writer (David E. Gehlke, he was so knowledgeable about the band, easy to talk to and excited and that really got us going.
We kind of told him, "I can't sit down with you and talk about stuff for three hours. It's just not going to work. I won't think of enough things...," so we kept it down to 20-30 minutes at a time about once a week.
He let us do kind of the talking, kept following along and asked relevant questions. He was really a key part in making that thing come together the way it did. He really did a good job.
The entire band was really involved. We were picking all those people we really wanted him to reach out to, so it was a group effort. It's a weird thing to think about at first, but it actually came out really good and it's a good insight into some of the stuff that as we grew up and got to the point where we are today.
Thanks to Don Tardy for the interview. Get your copy of Obituary's new album 'Dying of Everything' here and follow the band on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Spotify. Catch Obituary on tour at these dates and, for tickets, head here. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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