Obituary Interview



There we go!

I don’t know what happened with my internet connection, but it definitely broke down.

No problem!

Well, thank you very much for waiting for me, I’m sorry for this technical interruption, and…

Hey, this is what we deal with on a daily basis with modern technology…

I can imagine… Thank you very much and I’m so glad that finally we can make this interview – for me personally, Obituary is a real legend! I saw your show in Budapest a couple of days ago…

Oh cool!

Yeah, it was awesome, as always! I saw you actually five or six times before and I’m a big fan. Did you enjoy yourselves actually in Budapest? What do you think of the local crowd?

Yeah, it was awesome! We never get to see much of the cities unfortunately, but it was a… what a cool crowd, the venue was awesome, really! Really enjoyed that venue! And you know, being in front of those young audience..! You know, the age difference between Obituary fans, Trivium fans, Malevolence fans, Heaven Shall Burn fans, you know, there is a whole variety. And it’s really cool playing in front of a younger crowd like that!

It’s good to know! More generally speaking, can you spot differences between your fans in Europe versus your fans in the States?

No, not really. You know, the good thing is heavy metal is…heavy metal has heavy metal fans, and it’s cool because there is definitely a big difference in the cultures and everything else from the United States to different parts of Europe. But when it comes down to the show and when we finally kick into a song, it’s one of these universal “family love thing”, you know… just everyone’s really-really enjoying themselves.

Yeah, sure. And… Obituary played several times in Hungary since 1990 or something like this. Which one do you think was your best show here so far?

It’s been so long… We’ve been playing… we’ve played in Hungary so many times, for so many years… I kind of remember years and years ago maybe we played on a boat…? Like in the harbor maybe? I don’t know if there was in Budapest or if I’m thinking of a different town or different part of Hungary, but… I remember one year, and this was long time ago, this was with Allen West was still on the band and Frank Watkins was still on the band, but… I kind of remember like and old harbor ship-boat thing years ago, 25 years ago. And that was a cool experience, but… you know, the last show we just played was a… for me it was a very memorable show, ‘cause that was again a diverse crowd: Trivium fans, Heaven Shall Burn fans – they don’t really know, who Obituary are, and it’s a really fun challenge to play in front of young people, and people don’t know who Obituary is.

Yeah, cool! Could you please tell us a little bit about your drums that generate those awesome sounds? How long have you been playing the drums?

Yeah, you know I started at a young age. My love for music was from the time I was 7 years old. I’ve really started getting into drums by the time I was 8 years old – I really wanted to be a drummer: Led Zeppelin and John Bonham really showed me, like… made me want to become a drummer, and it was in the 1970’s. So, you know, here it is: forty-something years later, and it’s still a favorite thing I do in life. It’s still my passion: it’s still something I try to get better at every time, I perform, and I practice, and it’s just been a lifetime love affair with the drums. You know, it’s a… For the specifics: I’ve proudly been endorsed with Yamaha drums for the last 23 years or so, and the last night, or the last show you saw that was a Yamaha maple absolute custom drumset! The drums and then the snare drum I use this is the one I bring from home, it’s my favorite snare drum in the world, and it’s a Yamaha bamboo snare. And a lot of people had never seen a bamboo snare – I didn’t either, until I got my hands on it, and I fell in love with it. So that’s what you heard the other night.

And beside John Bonham, who were your main influences that made you playing the drums?

Yeah, I mean obviously at a super young age, though I was not the biggest Iron Maiden fan (I love Iron Maiden, but they were not my favorite band), but Nicko McBrain of course: what an amazing drummer, what a band! Like that’s killer drumming every song you hear. But you know, my love was Mikkey Dee, when I heard him on the King Diamond albums. And then you know, my hero for my entire career has been Vinnie Appice. When I heard Holy Diver album: it was the kind of drumming I wanted to do, which was not super technical, not a thousand miles an hour, but really solid and confident – he did what was needed for each song to make them brilliant songs and I still… as I warm up for every show, still at my age now I still listen to Vinnie Appice to put me in that mood. Holy Diver album is always an album that I turn to when I’m warming up.

I see! You and the band have been existing for more than 30 years with only minor interruptions. How do you manage to keep going with such enormous intensity after so many years? What keeps the flame in you alive?

Yeah, it’s a good question. It’s incredible a band can be going on almost 40 years together, and then we’ve been touring now for 33 years. It’s unbelievable even just to me to say that out loud and actually think that but… you know, our love for music – that’s the mutual thing that we all have – but.. you know the main thing is that me and my brothers (I’ve known Trevor since I was 10 years old, so he’s my brother as well) we’re just… we’re a family, we genuinely like each other, we love being around each other. If we’re not on tour, we’re usually somewhere together in Florida watching sports or drinking beer or something… So, you know, it’s the love for music, but it’s also just… it’s a family affair!

I see! You could play in front of crowds of thousands of people. You guys play really heavy music, but at the same time I think you can get quite emotional from what you see while playing live! Does it ever happen to you? When you were a kid, did you imagine that such heavy music and death metal growls could at some point be connected to these very human emotions?

Yeah, you know it’s music. This is extreme music, but I think the world really depends on music, whether you’re a classic pianist or you love the orchestra, or you love country music or whatever it is. People in life, they go to work, they work hard, when they come home, they turn to music! Not everybody, but a lot of people they turn to music and that is an emotional thing: it gets you away from your daily routine, it allows you to relax, it allows you sometimes to release whatever, you know, energy you need to – and that’s why heavy metal fans they love to slam bands and moshpits and stagedives and that’s a form of dancing and a form of just releasing whatever it is, they are trying to get out and enjoy themselves. So, music’s a powerful thing you know? Music is invisible: it’s invisible – we can’t see it, but we damn sure feel it!

Yeah, sure! Talking about music – your eleventh album “Dying of Everything” was released by Relapse Records in January. And at this point I must really praise you guys again – even after thirty years you can still surprise us! The record contains really great, truly characteristic Obituary songs and listening to these songs really shook up my everyday life! What is it actually that makes these songs so good, so powerful?

Yeah you know, it’s a hard one to answer. I can only speak for, you know, for myself, and I think I speak for the band when I say, you know: with experience comes a better musician. Every time we enter the studio, we try our best to be a little bit better than the last time. Every time we write a song, we try our best to write the best song we can, and also to be better than the last time we were writing. So, you always try to improve – but again, it goes back to (I think) experience. You know, I’ve been playing drums a long time, I’ve been creating songs with this band for a long time, so we finally… or getting it down we have a great chemistry of one tiny little idea… If Trevor has a one tiny little idea on the guitar, maybe he doesn’t know, what direction he wants to take that, but I can take it, and we can help each other right from one riff to some killer songs. You know, between that and the magic of Obituary, man, were easy where basic music we’re not trying to be the most technical band in the world, but as a team, as a unit, we are writing some pretty killer songs that people are really enjoying and that’s a great feeling.

I must also praise the album artwork, too, because it’s a very cool painting and at the same time, it’s so characteristically Obituary again! I think the late Mariusz Lewandowski really nailed what you needed. How did it come about, what did you ask him for?

Yeah, you know we have always used – as everybody knows – Andreas Marschall, who’s a German artist, who’s done the majority of Obituary albums. And he was unavailable at this time. And so, of course we looked around and it was Mariusz’s artwork that was just unbelievable! So, we reached out – we were extremely excited that he was very familiar with Obituary, he was very proud that we reached out to him, and he was very eager to be a part of it, and to make us an album. So, you know, we asked him what does he need from us. And there was a couple internet conversations with him, and you know, I just simply asked him very simple: what is it that you want from us, and more importantly what is it that you don’t need from us? Because I know when you’re dealing with such a brilliant mind, I mean his artwork, you could see the imagination and the talent, so, we just asked him: what do you need, what do you want from us, and what don’t you want me to… I don’t wanna give too much information, that doesn’t help. And he actually appreciated that, ‘cause he said I wanted to speak to me, I wanna be asked for the songs, he wanted to hear the album, he wanted to see some of my brothers’ lyrics, maybe some song titles, but that was it! When he asked me what do I want, I just thought to myself: this is, why we’re hiring you! You know, I write the songs, I am the musician, you are the artist! You have a brilliant mind, and we trust that what you feel whatever these songs, whatever directions these songs take you, we’re gonna be confident that you’re gonna deliver something that we’re gonna love! And look at what he delivered: it was a masterpiece – I’m blown away, blown away how beautiful and evil and awesome that piece of artwork is!


It’s really awesome! Let’s go back in time a little. Because in my opinion, the albums “Slowly We Rot” or “Cause of Death” were created in a quite different way, compared to the current release. What kind of differences could you name between the past releases and the current release?

I mean the obvious thing is modern technology. You know the technology back then, when we were recording Slowly We Rot, I had to play the songs perfect: there were “oh I made it all away, but I have to punch in and fix one part at the end of the drums!” On Slowly We Rot I had to perform the songs from the beginning to the end. And that was it. And that was on eight tracks! So, there was only so many microphones around the drumset. When I was done, we set those six microphones (kick drum, snare drum, one on the toms…) and we got the best mix that we can, so the drum sounded what we hoped was good, and then we bounced those down to a stereo mix to open up some extra channels for guitars. Then when the two guitar players, when they finished their parts, we blended them onto one track, so there was no going back. Once Allen’s volume and Trevor’s volume were set, and we bounced it: done! As Trevor said: Allen’s not loud enough or… it was too late! That’s the obvious. But you know, it’s amazing that it was 1987 when we wrote Slowly, and we were in the studio, in ’88 or whatever year this was, and to hear that production still stand up today, it’s… I’m very proud of that. ‘Cause that was a long time ago and we were just children, you know, we were just children in the studio. And I think as children, we did a pretty good job.

Yeah sure. And I suppose it’s great to play music with your brother. Do you and John think similarly in general on things, or are there sharp differences between your opinions?

No, we think alike. We think alike, and that’s the same Trevor. Trevor and I have been writing music together for a long time, and we can finish each others’ thoughts. You know, it was like I told you earlier: if he has one idea on guitar, he might not even realize and I’ll tell him: hey, hey, hey, what was that?” And he’s like: “I don’t know, I was just doing something, and I think I have something for that.” We kind of feed off each other, and the three of us definitely do kind of think alike, it’s like brothers, you know. It’s like when brothers or siblings finish each others’ sentences, or even wives or husbands after being together for so many years, you finish each others’ sentence. It really is that way with the three of us, ‘cause we’ve been together for so long.

If I’m not mistaken, in addition to the current European tour, there will be another one in Europe in the next year for the new album. Is my information correct?

Yeah, of course. You know, this is a very important album to us! We couldn’t be more excited about it, we couldn’t be more proud of these songs, and everybody knows: Obituary is not the band to put an album out every year. It’s just not what we do. So, this album is powerful, we’re really excited about it, so we are gonna tour for this thing through ’23-’24-’25, so Europe is gonna be a big part of it, because the pandemic stole quite a few years from us, so Europe deserves an Obituary headline tour to play a lot of these new songs, but also a lot of those old classic ones that the fans are waiting for. So we’ll be back for sure. You know, we’re really busy in 23, but we do confirm the summertime in Europe, and then in 2024 we are really looking for a big headline tour, or tour that’s gonna get us over here for many dates.

These are great news! Can you tell me a couple of words about the metal scene in Florida right now? How much do people appreciate you there?

Yeah, you know, it’s just like the rest of the world, you know. The early ’90s was absolutely mayhem – it seems to kinda faded a little bit for the 2000’s, and nowadays, you know, Florida is hungry for heavy metal. There are die hard fans, die hard Obituary fans, as anybody can imagine, and just like the rest of the United States, you know: the scene is big, it’s bigger that it has been in a long time, and it’s also good to see in Europe as well that it’s still living and breathing and it’s still a very-very popular thing right now, and that’s why it’s exciting to still be a band, and be a part of this.

Do you know by chance the Hungarian metal scene? Do you know a couple of bands?

No. No, I don’t.

I was just curious. But anyway, it’s quite interesting in Hungary also, because it’s evolving, and there are a couple of new bands worth of your attention, so…

Awesome! Hopefully they can support Obituary on one of these tours when we’re playing.

That would be awesome!

If we invite maybe some local bands at the local shows, that would be a cool idea!

Thank you very much, and I really appreciate that you were here with me, and thank you very much for answering the questions and thank you for the opportunity! Do you have a great, general message to the Hungarian fans?

Yeah, I mean it’s obvious. The pandemic kept us away – the pandemic was extremely strange and scary for all of us. We purposely held this album for two years, because until we could make it back to Europe, make it in Hungary, and release an album where all the fans can join Obituary in the celebration of this album. That was very important to us! So, you know, the plans on the calendar right now is Obituary and Europe and Hungary’s gonna be a big part of that coming back and playing as many shows as we can in your country. And we really appreciate the fans, and we don’t take that for granted!

Of course. Thank you very much for the interview!

Cool man!

Thank you very much for your time and I wish the best for the future of Obituary!

Great! See you next time!

The interview was taken with Donald Tardy on 16.02.2023.

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