You guys just finished your US tour with Goatwhore, Warbringer, and other bands, which was very successful, how did that go?
(laughs) It was cool! I’ll tell you what, it was just a fun tour, everything went smooth; there we no problems, canceled shows, people that were sick, or whatever it might be, everything just went smooth — no canceled shows, no problems; it was a very relaxed and successful tour as far as getting our work done; playing good shows the whole time and everything. So, that just went great!
You know, there’s lots of tours that are going on and because there are so many tours and bands out there playing, there’s a handful of tours that aren’t drawing quite the amount of people that they want; whereas there were probably a couple of shows where we probably wished there could’ve been some more people, or whatever. But, for the most part, we really can’t complain; even the attendance was really good. So, we really just thank the fans a lot for coming out and making that so good for us!
How many new songs were on the set list from your new album, Darkest Day, you just released in June?
We opened up the set with two new songs right out of the gate, which is cool. I know it’s weird because if I was to go to Slayer and they came out with two songs off of their new album, I’d be like, “Man, come on! I want to hear something off of Hell Awaits!” You know? But, that’s I, myself, wanting to go out and doing stuff off of our new album. (laughs) But, it’s just kind of a fact that we opened up the show with a couple of songs, the first two songs off the CD, the way it starts. You know, that first song on the CD, how it starts sounds like it’s half there and not all the PQ’s pulled out of it — when we would do that, we would have Trevor start, the PA was turned off, and just Trevor would start, and Donald was just on his bass drum and high-hat just going. So, it sounds weird the first ten seconds, but then everyone kicks in, the whole PA jumps on, and it was just kind of effective for us. We had fun doing that; it was pretty fun! And, then I’m not sure, I think we played another– I think we played about four songs off the new record all together, I guess.
How was the reaction for the new songs?
It was great. People are really digging the new album and so are we, which is important to us. We kind of feel that if we go out and just do an album that we really like and love, then I think our fans are just going to kind of follow along in doing it. I thought it’s just a pretty heavy album, with lots of little different turns here and there, just kind of makes it fun to listen to, there’s a whole at peace, you know?
Yeah. You have a new DVD, Live Xecution, coming out next month, right?
Yeah…It’s supposed to be out by the end of the year, I’ve been getting a couple of questions and I haven’t heard much about it. We put that whole thing together a year ago, we had all the artwork done, and we mixed the album, went through all of the video and stuff. So, we turned that stuff in like a year ago and you know, I kind of forgot about it after doing it all. I know it’s supposed to be out, I just haven’t heard much. So actually, I’m gonna have to call and see what the deal is, if they’re still on time, and make sure everything is cool with that thing.
Have you seen it yet?
Oh yeah, I saw it. We got all the footage, we had the (inaudible) first, then we got to take all of the audio into the studio down there with Mark, and mix it. Surprisingly, we were only in there a day or two just kind of messing around with a couple of things here and there, we didn’t have to — nothing got re-recorded or anything like that. We just kind of went through and touched up a couple little things here and there; just crowd noise wise, levels, and just things like that. It’s really one of the reasons why we wanted to do the DVD, we didn’t really plan on doing one. Frozen Alive came out just a couple of years ago and that was our first DVD, so we really didn’t plan on doing another one quite so soon. But, when these guys came to use with the footage and we saw how cool it was and how good it sounded, we were like, “We really should do this DVD.” Because, the Frozen Alive DVD, we put a little bit of effort into that as far as production, setting things up. But, this was just a festival, like I said, we didn’t even plan on recording it, it just kind of got recorded and it looks cool. It’s pretty much a typical Obituary set. It was pretty cool, it worked out good.
How do you think your raw energy from the stage translates onto the DVD, from what you’ve seen?
I think it’s great, like I said. I think the good thing about it is that it’s just very typical. But, I just think our music comes across a lot better live than it does on a CD, you know? Maybe most bands would disagree with that, but I just think we do such a better job live and our music just comes across so much better than it does on a CD. It just makes it fun, any time you can throw a video in with something, you know what, no matter what it is, if you can put video in with the music, it just makes the experience so much better. Videos are just cool, you know?
Yeah. What is your favorite part on the DVD?
Ummm…God, I’m not really sure. I guess, (laughs) the one guy in the middle of the crowd when we were in Germany — where are you from?
I’m in Louisiana right now.
Oh, ok, I was just wondering, just thinking to myself that fit the question. But yeah, you’re from Louisiana. There’s a guy — ’cause where I live, it’s called Gibsonton, Florida, it’s just right on the outskirts of Tampa; I live in Tampa bay, but it’s called Gibsonton, it’s a little suburb. We were in Germany and I didn’t hear him the night of the show doing it, but we were sitting there, looking at the DVD, and we come to a spot between a song, and the crowd gets quiet for a minute. We were getting water, tuning, or whatever. But, some guy was out in the crowd, just yelling “GIBSONTON!!!!” (laughs) And, it was just of all cities, not too many people know of Gibsonton; it’s kind of a, you know– even if you lived in Tampa, and I told you I lived in Gibsonton, you probably wouldn’t know where it was, it’s just kind of a small little town. So, it was kind of funny to hear that guy yelling “Gibsonton!” For the most part, what makes the DVD good is just the song selection; they’re just awesome. You know, we play a lot of different songs once again, it’s a lot of different ones than from Frozen Alive. With two albums out since then, we played a bunch off of those. The set list is really cool and the crowd’s cool, it’s a big festival that we were headlining. It was a good crowd and a cool setting.
Will there be any hidden features or extras on the DVD?
I don’t think this one– I think this one is just– ’cause we did some of that backstage footage and some of that other stuff. I think this is pretty much just that one festival, you know, the Party.San Festival as it was shot that night. We’ve been sitting here– I’ll tell ya, we’ve been playing for about ten years, we– everywhere we go, we take video cameras with us and we film ourselves. We’ve been planning on kind of doing a “20 years” type of DVD that goes through all of this footage we have from so long ago. We really want to do that. But, like I said, we didn’t even plan on doing this; we saw the video footage for it and we were like, “You know, we should go ahead and do this, it’s just kinda cool right here.” By the time we get around to it, maybe it’ll be 25 years or something; it could be fifty-years by the time I get around to it! (laughs)
You have been screaming for over twenty years, how much of a toll has that taken on your voice?
You know what, I’ve been really fortunate actually. I can only really remember one time having to cancel two shows. That was just in the middle of a European tour that was two months and I was just sick; I was just down for the count. I’ve really been fortunate. The voice is taking care of me, so far. Nowadays, we try to take a few days– well, not a few days, it would cost too much– but, we don’t try to do those nineteen shows-in-a-row runs that we used to do. We try to put days in here and there, whenever we can kind of fit them in. We try to take some time off in between tours and just let the voice rest between that time. It’s just little things like that, that I do. Like I said, for the most part, I’ve just been really fortunate with it.
Do you do any kind of vocal exercises or warm-ups?
No. I don’t really think that there’s much you can do. But, you know, you talk to a professional and they might totally think that I’m off my rocker. I think the best thing to do is what I did when we first started off way back, is just singing lightly — and I even do this now. Before a tour, lets say I have two months off and then I’m starting to get geared up for another tour… I’ll start off singing really light, singing only like a couple of songs or something, and just do it kind of lightly, and walk through it, and then take a day off, and come back, and try to sing lightly, but maybe sing three or four songs, and just slowly progress like that. You know, give your vocal chords are a lot like muscles, you don’t want to be jumping and trying to bench press all the weight that you can because the next day, you’re just going to crash. So, just ease into it slowly, give them a chance to stretch out, and strengthen, and rest in between; and that’s how you–the way you do it, don’t try to do too much all at once.
Yeah, the reason I ask is because I’ve had a history of vocal chord problems and it’s always interesting to hear what other’s have to say, especially those who scream!
(laughs) Wow. It’s just my very non-medical/scientific explanation. It works for me. It is a lot of work, you know? Especially when you’re on the road, there’s not much you can do, you got to be quiet, in the day time, after a show, and drink plenty of fluids.
Explain how you would compare death metal from when you started 20 years ago, to what it is now, in 2009.
Ummm… I don’t know. To me, it hasn’t changed much. But, that’s kind of what Obituary is about as a band. If you listen to our first album to our newest album, it really hasn’t changed all that much. There’s new and better stuff that we do and I think our song writing has gotten better. I think overall, we haven’t changed very much to us, that’s what it is.
I guess the biggest thing that kind of changed is that there are so many bands now that do it. Like, when we started, it was just a small handful of bands that you would know about; which I guess is true for any kind of music. But, there’s just so many bands out there. I always hate getting labeled as– people break it down in so many ways to thrash metal, to death metal, to speed metal, and all that. It’s like, I just can’t keep track of it all! (laughs) It is what it is, it’s just all metal to me. I think one of the biggest things is just the amount of bands that are out there, there’s just so much product, it’s insane. I would hate to have to be starting off today and coming up with an original sound because it’d just be difficult.
Oh yeah, I get so many CDs from record labels, it’s just crazy!
It’s impossible to keep up with it! The way recordings got — even we built our own studio. You know, it takes a substantial amount of money if you want to build it correctly.For the most part, you can get in and start recording music for pretty darn cheap nowadays, and do it right out of your house, and get some pretty good results; there’s just so many bands that do that. And, I think some of these record labels too, there’s tons of little labels out there that are willing to put out anything they get; even some of the bigger labels are just trying to release more product to compensate for the fact that most of their bands don’t sell as much CDs as they used to. I mean, there’s so many people downloading music for free, that it’s just hard to sell them. So, I think they compensate by signing more and more bands to try and keep their numbers up, even if it’s five more bands, you know?
Yeah. Heavy metal seems to be becoming more and more acceptable in society now; you see all of these artists break onto the Billboard Top 200, even the Top 20; I know you guys made one of the charts as well.
Yeah, we had a couple of charts that we got squeaked in on the bottom of some of them; some of them are big charts, which was good to see. I mean, you do hear more and more heavy– our local rock station here is a big rock station and they’ll play a lot of Metallica and stuff like that. But, there’s — a lot of those bands they play, they’re a lot heavier than what you used to hear on the radio, that’s for sure. I don’t think we get a lot of play on mainstream radio still, maybe some college radios or something. For the most part, I think the initial shock of the music definitely wore off. So, even people that listen to local rock stations or something, they walk into a room, and hear some Obituary playing, it wouldn’t be like it used to be where people were like, “What in the hell is that!?” With that look it it, you know? (laughs) Other people are more desensitized to it. But, I also like to think that– and this is just me speaking– but, I’d like to think Obituary has a little bit more to offer than a lot of the heavier bands out there, just because of some of the– you know, we have a lot of groovy rhythms and a lot of good, solid beats that we play along, as opposed to just blasting or going super-fast or anything like that. I’d like to think that it’s kind of one of the things that’s at least special for us, we do have that handful of just really, really solid rhythms that unless you’re totally without a pole, you have to get into it, just a little bit! (laughs)
Do you think, as you said, with the initial shock value of the music wearing off, that it could be considered one of the biggest evolutions in heavy metal, thus far?
It’s just bound to happen with anything that you do, whether it’s music, or whatever it is that you might do, your initial shock value is great and gets you whatever, but it eventually wears out. I think for us, it’s kind of a good thing, I’ve never really — early on, way back then, it was always the Morbid Angels and the Deicides that you know, the local news might come out and do some story about that; they always wanted to throw the whole Satanic angle at it and stuff, it just never had anything to do with us, you know? We just kind of went along for the ride; the music was heavy and a little bit horror based, so be it, mostly just fictional kind of stuff in our mind, but we kind of got roped along with it. Once that kind of wore off, they didn’t really care to talk about it much. It’s bound to wear off with almost anything that you do, that initial shock value, and you hope your originality shines through in case people want to listen to you.
Very true! You guys have accomplished so much over the years; what do you think is your most important accomplishment you have made in Obituary?
(pauses) WOW. (laughs) Umm… (pauses) I don’t really know. I mean, for the most part, I’m just kind of glad that we’re, with the exception of our one guitar player, we’ve been the same band the whole time. Me, Donald, Trevor, and Frank have been together since Slowly [We Rot] and Allen [West] was there for most of the part, he had a brief departure and a cause, and then as of recently, he went off the deep-end; so we had to– you know, we got Ralph to kind of come in for him. But, I’m just kind of proud of the fact that we can just keep that same lineup. We all get along good, still like jammin’ together, and touring together, and get along well with each other because if we didn’t have that then I wouldn’t be doing this at all. So, as long as I’m having fun with it, I’ll continue to do it. If it gets to be a pain in my ass, I’ll find something else! (laughs)
Is there anything that you would like to accomplish before Obituary comes to an end?
I guess musically, the most important thing to me is that we stay true to our sound. It’s not like we can count two times and say, “Yeah, that album is — that was a really shitty album,” or, “That was really wimped out.” Or anything like that. I think all of our albums– obviously people are going to have their favorites and like one more than the other, it’s just going to happen. I still think every album, we stay true to what we do, and it stay kind of heavy, and kind of keep our sound alive.
Not a lot of bands can really do that anymore.
I guess it’s just tempting sometimes to want to go out and try something else. Or, maybe you got somebody in your band that doesn’t normally write songs, and you get talked into trying to let him write a song or something that just maybe doesn’t quite work out. I don’t know, I guess there’s just lots– maybe a record label is pushing somebody to do something, or somebody has this idea that they think is going to work. So, there’s lots of temptations to try to do things and this and that. I can see where it might happen, but I’m just glad that it never happened to us! (laughs) I’d hate to have to look back and say, “Oh yeah, that album we did there, that thing–that thing sucked pretty bad!” ‘Cause I would have to say it– I mean, I wouldn’t put it out; I actually wouldn’t even– you know, as soon as we started writing, I’d be like, “Fuck that, I ain’t doin’ that!” (laughs) But, it would suck to have to go back, like Celtic Frost or something like that, they got those couple of albums that are shitty and they have to know it! And, they have to get asked it enough to just know that yeah, that was pretty shitty. Fuck that.
Those are all of my questions. Would you like to say anything else before this interview is concluded?
Oh! You know what, I’ll go ahead and say something, even though it may not happen just because I only got — I had a pretty long phone call today with a couple of people, and we’re trying to set up a European tour, like the Florida Death Metal Tour. And, we got Six Feet Under and Deicide on board right now. We’re trying to get Cannibal [Corpse] to go along with us too but they just– they got so many shows and stuff planned that we’re going to have to do it without them. But, we’ve been talking about this for years and years, and things are kind of moving forward. So, it looks like it might get done that way. And, if it goes over well, if everything goes good in Europe, maybe we can get these guys to go do some shows in the US or something. But, I think a Florida death metal package just running around a little bit, would just be fun to do.