OBIUTARY - THE DISCIPLES OF LAZARUS  - Mike Exley Speaks to John Tardy & Donald Tardy

Post the band’s hugely successful new Roadrunner studio album ‘Frozen In Time’, Mike Exley ties up some of the brief but perceptive mutterings he had with vocalist John Tardy on the last leg of the ‘test the waters’ Obituary European tour last year in Athens. Just who did phone who first and what’s to come of it all now?

No one was more surprised than me to hear that on the very last day of our 2004 Holiday in the Greek capital, Athens, Obituary would be making an appearance at the Rodon Club, a venue in one of the areas of town the tourists certainly don’t get encouraged to visit. Yes, Greece loves its Death Metal and it’s no surprise that the capital city should have a bunch of very dedicated and lovely promoters who live for their metal, but Obituary? Surely, they had died on the vine? Well, as we all know now, this was far from the case and the Obituary that took to the stage that night was far from checking out the last throws of its long and famous career. No, this bunch (John Tardy (v), brother Donald (d), Trevor Peres (g), Frank Watkins (b) and Allan West (g)) were readying themselves to once again take on the world. That night, not only did they produce one of the best sets I’d ever seen from them (admittedly, with a superb sound in what was an old cinema) but they also played a new song ‘Insane’ which now resides some eight months later on the band’s new and devastating new album ‘Frozen In Time’. If you like the Obituary style that included a tipped hat to punk, a deft bow to Celtic Frost and a healthy dose of sludge, then this is one for you. Of course, what happened? Well, yes I did manage a quick chat with John and Trevor but as you do with holiday stuff, everything then got bunged in the cupboard on our return and only now have I been unable to unearth it, along with some damn fine Ouzo which kinda got lost in the back of the freezer and is lethal. So apologies to those who live for the moment only, but I wanted to know just who did get on the phone all those months ago, first?

John;  ‘(Whilst support act, Mortis blasts away in the background) Well, that’s kinda difficult to say and he probably won’t admit it! Ha! Ha! No, it just felt right to be talking about the band again. We wanted to do it and the feedback we’ve had since has more than justified the decision. I think it was important that we were all in on the decision in the first place… The original line up had never really stopped talking to one another, but having to get someone else in to flesh out the idea? No, that was never really on the agenda. It had to be all of us, or nothing.’

Some people like Allen had taken a long time out of the band – since ‘Cause Of Death’ in fact – so how did you approach your responsibilities when you came back together?

John;  ‘Well, there’s a lot more maturity around now. Donald and I pretty much ignited the fire, the first couple of shows we did (in Florida on Ozzfest being one) kept that going and we’ve just kicked that vibe along ever since. It’s different to when we started out of course, but not that much. So long as everyone wants to be part of this, it’ll stay true to the original idea which was to play live, record a great record (which they certainly did) and just go with the flow.’

Donald;  ‘I don’t think there was ever really a time when people in the band thought this was impossible – the only regret is that it took five years or so, instead of being a smooth transition. The new music is really exciting, the way it comes over live is exciting and we’ll just go with the flow. Sure, after the record (which at that time wasn’t even titled, if I’m correct?) I think we’re pretty much free, so we’ll see what happens then?’

There’s a new generation of metal fan out there now. Do you see yourselves as being relevant still?

John;  ‘God, I think so, you know? There’s people out there, and we’ve come across them already, that have never heard ‘Cause Of Death’ or ‘Slowly We Rot’ and it’s really interesting to play to those people; to look them in the eye even when we play something off of ‘The End Complete’ and see the eyes light up ‘cause they probably only heard it as a fifteen year old or something like that…………’

Donald;  ‘The studio will be interesting for us again. When you play live to people you can really engage with the power of the reaction but recording is a different – we’re gonna have our old friend Scott Burns help us out in Florida again, so it should be a blast. Nothings changed as far as recording stuff – we still want to be a heavy as we can be – so if we can capture the vibe, it’ll be full on. It’s a challenge of course, but there’s no other way to do it.’ (Prophetic words those!)

Metal has moved on quite a lot, particularly lyrically; certainly in the fields of Metalcore, etc.. Do you feel you need to be making any kind of statements now? (The US Election was due then…)

John;  ‘No, I don’t think it’s important. In the past, Obituary has all been about fictional horror and stuff like that, and there’s no reason to change. Sure, things like Bush will happen but people don’t want to hear that from Obituary. They want the same heavy stuff we’re known for with Trevor’s super heavy riffs, Donald’s drums and great bottom end. And the vocals. We certainly intend to give it to them. ‘Insane’ is the first track we laid down, some of the other stuff is already smoking in rehearsal – some seven songs to be precise, so give us time in the studio and let’s just see what can happen. I’m real excited.’

Obviously, a lot of this has to be funded personally. Although you have this album under the auspices of Roadrunner, they were unlikely to give you tour support?

John; ‘No, Ha! Ha! That’s right, but that’s part of the maturity – we’ve done all of this off our own backs. On this tour; fifteen shows in seventeen days and it all has to pay for itself. We’ll be doing a load of festivals later on too and again, those all have to pay for themselves; the flights are pretty complicated, stuff like that, I can tell you. But, that’s what you gotta do if you want to make a good fist of this business. We’ve got the material to do it. When we rehearsed the set, all the songs including the new one ‘Insane’ seemed to fit really well and that’s what we want to get over………’

How are you dealing with the cynics? ‘Reunion’ can be a dirty word?

John; ‘Well, we’ll tackle them through the music. Simple as that. Holland, Belgium and the UK – there the shows were insane and we know we’ve got a lot of friends there, but we’ll take time, keep people in touch with what we’re doing through the website ( and just make sure we’re out there playing for people as much as possible.’

Is the Internet a key tool nowadays?

John; ‘I don’t think you can ignore the potential of the Internet as a means to help your overall record sales. People talk about the music; they download stuff and spread it around in the same way people did with tape trading in our day. That has to be positive for any band. I know for certain, that if we had done this with no website, then people would have been way, way more suspicious.’

Donald; ‘I think the only way we can really get to see whether this works will be after the studio. We’ve got some killer ideas in the songs, the reaction to us doing this from the fans, so far, has been way cool, but really I have to enjoy it here, in the heart. If it sounds killer and it sells a bit – which helps the finances, sure – that’s good. But, the important thing is that it sounds right and it feels right!

Well, one things for sure. When you hear ‘Frozen In Time’ as a fan, it certainly feels right. Obituary have just announced a US tour for September which along with their festival appearances throughout Europe this Summer has more than justified their belief in this short conversation – but, we’ll leave the last word on that to the members……….

John; ‘For me, I just wanted to get back in front of the fans and play for those people.’

Trevor; ‘I never really wanted to stop. Donald called me up and said; ‘Hi, you wanna tour?’ and, well, it took a little longer than I’d planned but we just started doing it again and it feels great. We got some killer songs to do later on, but for now I’m having a blast just playing our stuff instead of listening to other peoples. There’s a lot of people out there we’ve lost touch with but we’ll be back to them very soon!

And so say all of us. You know, in the magazines you read the interviews, and the journalist one week is saying how great the band are, then the next week he’s moved on to something else? It happens. But ‘Frozen In Time’ is damn good and Obituary certainly are doing this for the right reasons. If that’s not a good enough reason to buy the thing, then I’m sorry.

Thanx to Mike Exley for the interview

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