Metal Life Exclusive Interview With OBITUARY
Metal Life resident metal queen Karila Shannis interviewed Trevor Perez from OBITUARY:
Hey this is Karila with Metal Life Magazine, I am delighted to have on the phone with me Trevor Perez from possibly the busiest band in the world, Obituary. How are you doing, sir?
Fine, how are you doing?
Doing well, thank you! It’s been quite a busy couple of months for you to say the least!
Oh yeah, ever since we left this summer. We toured our butts off in Europe for a couple months, and when we got back, we had to keep going with all this Kickstarter stuff.
I love how Obituary has continuously succeeded in maintaining their old school signatures (dive bombs, blast beats that sound like “potatoes falling down stairs”) and at the same time developing new and refreshing sounds and riffs. How difficult is it for you and the rest of the band to maintain both the old school mentality and the “new school” factors like new and developed technology for instance?
I think it just comes naturally as far as writing a song, I mean, I’ve never had intention to ever change what we do. We just try to write the heaviest freaking riff we can…it goes right into your spine, you know, you can feel it. It’s always been that way. It comes from the heart, the music is never forced. We just smoke a big joint or something and drink a beer and then start kicking stuff out. And then on the recording side of things, obviously digital is the norm now that’s even putting big recording studios out of business. It’s a good deal to record over Pro Tools. We have a setup where there are always mics on the drums, on my amp, [etc]. And any time something comes out [of our instruments] a demo is recorded immediately. Before, years ago, I would have to memorize everything in my brain which I could do. I was good at remembering songs to record in general, but now we can produce them instantly and never forget them.
Now that you have this modern technology, is there something from a technological standpoint from your days at Morrisound that you definitely don’t miss?
Say you were playing a guitar part for a song and you hit one little bad part, it’s really easy to punch in and out really quick and fix it. Back in the old days, you were cutting and pasting, slicing in parts by hand. Also today, we record our song structures so many times that by the time we do final takes, we know exactly what the song should sound like. Back in those days, sometimes you might question the part because it’s the first time you’ve heard it after recording, and then when you go back again you would have a spliced tape. One day we were mixing down some ¼” tape mix , and those tape decks are open-faced reels man, and they were right there next to you. The reels on the deck were spinning, and one night someone bumped into the deck by accident and remixed the entire tape! It wasn’t me, it was someone else, I won’t name any names…
I know you guys are also in the middle of making a documentary about your time at Morrisound. But then again John Tardy doesn’t like to use the term “documentary” for what this is. Do you agree, and what should we know this project as?
I mean, a little bit I guess? I don’t know, we haven’t really edited it yet. We basically recorded us and a bunch of other people from the area like Deicide, Jon Oliva (Savatage), all of us hanging out. We interviewed some of these Florida musicians, and we recorded our live classic set on there too. It definitely has some history/documentation in it because we interview these musicians about death metal in Tampa….yeah, I guess It is a documentary [laughs].
Haha, sorry John Tardy! Moving on now, you have had a lot of success with your Kickstarter, and it seems as though it has become a more popular resource for independent art projects, from movies to heavy metal band recording projects (most recently Wintersun). From your personally profitable experience, do you see a potentially popular and prosperous future of launching albums through crowd-funding?
Possibly. For a band just starting up, it’s probably a good option. For a band like Obituary, I don’t think we really needed to do that, we could’ve gone to a label in a few seconds and gotten an advance if we wanted to. But if you’re a band who’s just starting up and you’ve kinda got a following on Facebook and/or YouTube, you could almost eliminate a big chunk of a label by doing crowd-funding and getting the money directly to get your album recorded and pressed. We were thinking about starting up a label ourselves, not necessarily to release other bands but to support Obituary. We have previously put Gibtown Records on albums alongside Candlelight Records. We put a budget together, and there were people we were working with who were going to front us money…I had never even heard of crowd-funding in my entire life until these people we were working with brought it up, and we did more and more research. My first reaction was not to do it; even up until the end I didn’t want to do it to be honest, especially because these people were supposed to be helping us and that we didn’t need to do it in the first place. At the end of the day it worked out well to where I could deliver an album whenever we wanted to anybody or sell it in the store through the distribution company. There’s so many cool little merchandise packages that we have been putting together too.
There’s something really astonishing about the DIY attitude you guys have taken on even after 25 years of being in the industry. DIY in your early career was the only way to survive, and nowadays it is a choice, but it’s one that I commend you for.
Yeah when we were kids, it was DIY from the get-go. You had to be out there pushing it. Now today obviously you would probably use Facebook or YouTube more; back then we didn’t have that. We were making paper fliers off the Xerox machine and making cassette demos because we didn’t even have CDs. Our first ever vinyl pressing was when we were still Xecutioner; we have always been hands on from day one. We book shows and festivals ourselves as much as we can. I mean, we have agents that help book our shows, but I am always the one laying out the format for the tour poster, you know what I mean?
Yeah, “lazy” is not a term you can exactly tie to Obituary. Speaking of not being lazy, you guys have a crapton of tours coming up: “Inked in Steel” with Carcass, “Swamp Leper Stomp” with Death and Massacre, “Inked in Blood” Europe tour, and Maryland Deathfest! It’s awesome to see you touring with classics like Massacre and up-and-comers like Rivers of Nihil.
Well they [younger bands] are influenced by bands like us I’m sure, so it all goes hand in hand. It makes sense to have some younger bands to attract some more kids. And even with all those shows you mentioned, there is more stuff in the works all over the place so there’s gonna be a lot more filling in the gap.
How do you guys go about interacting with younger bands who look up to you?
Well when we are all on tour together, we are all hanging out. We are one big party, one big family. We are all the same building together so it only makes sense and feels natural to hang out together. A few years ago, I was the tour manager for Grave. They came over to the US, and they wanted to hire me so I had Terry [Butler, Obituary bassist] be the driver for this RV we rented. We were hanging out every single night!
Now if you could sit down and relax for a few seconds upon the release of the new album and crack open a celebratory beer of choice, what would it be?
I would probably grab an ice—-it has to be ice-cold, about 41 degrees–…from a local brewery from here called Cigar City Brewing. It’s called Jai Alai, it’s an IPA that’s about 8.5% abv and it is delicious!
Well go crack one open now, you deserve it! Thanks for talking to us on Metal Life!