Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: July 12th, 2005
Hello John, how is everything going today?
It’s a good today and it’s great to talk with the readers of Rock Eyez.
The band started in 1988 what do you contribute the longevity of the band to?
There are so many little things that are important. I think it was a challenge for all five people just getting along. It’s pretty hard being on the road all getting along. We all have different things we like to do and different ways we like to do it.
How do you feel being one of the pioneers of death metal?
Ha-ha, I guess that’s a good thing. It makes you feel kind of old. But it’s a good thing. Being away for seven years and coming back and playing big festivals with a lot of big bands on there that have more success then us like slipknot is cool. But at the say time we have fans coming up to us and saying how much they like the music of obituary for years it’s great to meet them. It certainly makes you feel good.
What do you feel is you best release not counting “Frozen in Time”?
Each one of them has their own particular thing that you like about them. It takes you back to a certain time in your life that you can relate to. But I guess it would have to be a live album/anthology because it has a little of each album on there.
You last release was eight years ago “Back from the Dead” why the wait?
I don’t know. We did a lot of touring when it came time to take a break and take some time off which was usually a month or two. It seems like six months went by and then a year went by and then two years went by - it seems time flew. There really wasn’t anything coming our way. We didn’t have anybody coming to us and asking us did we want to this or do that. We did little things here and there and that’s the way things worked out. It took a little time but we’re all happy the way it all worked out
What was the very first garage band you were in and what year?
It’s basically the same band that we started with Executioner in 1984. This is the first thing I have ever done. Even in high school we were Executioner and we played the talent show as that band and lost. Ha-ha it was fun. Executioner became Obituary with some band member changes.
When you were growing up do you remember what was the first album or 45 you bought?
Metallica “Kill 'Em All”.I have an older brother that had stuff like southern rock, Iggy pop, led zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd. He always had the albums lying around. Once we moved to Tampa I started to get more in to the metal and Metallica “Kill 'Em All” was the first time I went out and bought a record.
How about the first concert you saw?
My brother dragged me out to see Billy Squier Ha-ha.
Do you feel death metal gets a bad rap?
I know it’s not good for us sometimes. It does take a certain person to like death metal it’s kind of extreme. It’s kind ofmore than some people want to listen to. There are a handful of bands out there that hit on kind of stuff that is too heavy. Sometimes you get in to the death metal scene and it throws people off who don’t want to hear us because of labeling. I think without the labeling people might want to hear certain stuff because some of the music they might like. I’m happy to do it and we have been doing it for a long time. I am so happy we are doing this type of music but we are limited because the way people look at you.
You have been with Roadrunner Records since the beginning of the band, why?
We were happy just to sign the contract and we just fulfilled our contract with this last record “Frozen in Time”. So we will have to see what goes on after this.
How is Jamie from Roadrunner doing on your publicity?
She is doing great. She set up the release/listening party we had down here in Tampa Morristown. That was pretty good, a busy day quiet hectic and we got through it all. It was a nice day she did a good job doing that.
Seems the band plays a lot of festivals is there a reason why instead of doing your own shows?
Sometimes yes-- sometimes no, the first show we did recently was a festival in Holland and it was a small place but it was packed. It was brutally hot in there. But it was a great show because you are right in the kids’ face and they are right back in your face. It was cool being that close up and personal. Some of the festivals we are getting to play with Iron Maiden, Slayer, and Motorhead. These are bands you look up to and you actually get to meet and talk to them. It’s a whole experience. There is good and bad in everything. It’s just the festival you have the awe factor.
What was the most difficult song to record off the new CD “Frozen in Time”?
The one thing we did with this record that we have not done before was when we finish writing all the music it was like four or five months before we even got in the studio. So we played them in our garage playing them over and over again. By the time, we got in the studio we flied right through that thing and we were done the first week or two. So there was no particular song that was hard because we played them so much before we went in the studio.
What is you favorite song on “Frozen in Time”?
One of the songs that the kids have not heard much which we play live is “Stand Alone”. Once we kick into that song the place just goes crazy like they heard it ten times before. That’s a great song to play live and I also like “On the Floor” that is just a classic signature Obituary song.
Were there other songs that were recorded that you did not use?
Honestly we never recorded a song that we did not use. We were just talking about that a few days ago. We always used all the songs we recorded which made the albums.
Is there a video planned for the new release?
We shot a video for “Insane” but I don’t know what the deal with that is. I know MTV is set up to play that. Hopefully you will run it to that soon. We never did any video or DVD in our whole career. I don’t think we have anything that we release of our own. We have footage of video we did through the years and we have to go and edited it and decide what we want and do something cool with that. We just have to find the time to do it.
Tell us who thought up the cover for “Frozen in Time”. It is very colorful and unique for a death metal band?
It’s interesting that you say it’s upbeat and unique. But you know we once again worked with Andreas Marshall. He is actually the guy who designed the creature in our logo. He did the CD artwork for “The End Complete” and the “Anthology”. We had the idea of the creature being unburied. We gave him that idea and he put that in a frozen scene. Once we got the artwork it was so cool. We were first going to have a self-title CD Obituary. But once we saw that artwork “Frozen in Time” was it. Done deal, you saw everyone’s eyes open wide that was it.
Tell me a whole rundown of your recent tour in Europe?
Wow!!! It was really trying. We did four shows in four countries in four nights. It was playing real late at night getting up early in the morning the next day. Driving, getting on airplanes getting to the other countries, driving for five hours to get there. It was really interested. If we had a broken down vehicle or anything that happened we would miss the show. We were fortunate. We got all our flights all our rides everything seemed to work out good. There was one show we just got there in time. The band before us was off already. We literally dragged ourselves out of our van plugged in and did our set. It was so heavy and sick I was trippin’ on it. We ate in the car at McDonald’s four times in two days. I said you want to stop at McDonald’s. They all said we have not eaten since last night. It’s just the way it went. It’s not always the greatest thing but you gotta get it done.
You will be playing Wacken Open Air Festival this year. What is the feeling playing a show like that?
I am looking forward to that. What I have seen it is a huge show and a cool bill this year. I can’t wait; all the kids will be there we will have a full new set. Where looking forward to playing our new songs that are out.
What are the plans after Wacken and you own US tour?
We start our US tour in September on the East Coast. After that we go to Japan, South American and Australia. In January, we will be doing our own tour of Europe. We also have to get set to do the West coast of the US. We have more shows then we can physically do. But we are going out to promote this record and do what we can..
Do you ever plan on doing a solo record?
I don’t know. Like you mention what other bands I was in. This is the only thing I have ever done. I like working with my brother and the guitarists in this band. I really don’t have any plans. I like where I’m at right now.
How often do you and your brother argue on tour?
Very rarely. We stay so busy during the day. So we can’t sit around and kick at each other so we don’t get in any trouble. We get along really well.
John, Rock Eyez would like to thank you for the interview. Would you like to say anything in conclusion?
We are looking forward to coming to New Jersey and New York and playing with Napalm Death reminiscing over the old times we had. Thanks a lot for the interview and enjoy listening to the new record “Frozen in Time”.