As part of our coverage of the great Dokk’em Festival in the Netherlands, Metal Blast sat down with Trevor Peres, guitar player of the legendary Florida-based death metal band Obituary.
Obituary has been devoted to death metal for the last 20-odd years, and are widely considered to be one of the most important names in the genre, despite the ever-increasing amount of death metal bands. However, since the last release was in 2009, what can we expect to see from the band in the near future?
Well, you’re about to find out. You can also see the video of the interview at the bottom of the page.
Metal Blast: Hi Trevor; thank you for being with us here today. Your last studio release was in 2009. Are you preparing anything new?
Trevor Peres: Actually, before this tour we started recording an EP. We were hoping to finish recording before this tour, but a bunch of personal things happened and we just didn’t have the time to finish it. However, I’ve got the guitar scratch tracks done, and Donald started doing the scratch drum tracks. When we get home from this, in one or two weeks we’ll be finished recording.
MB: Ah, ok. That soon.
T: Yeah it’s just three more songs. It’s an EP we’re going to do. Actually, we’re going to do a 7”, which is going to be cool, a 7” picture disc. There will be no CDs at all, only the picture disc. Then you’ll be able to download from iTunes or Google Music.
We’ve got another 10 songs we’re going to record after that, so hopefully by the end of the year, or January maybe, a brand new full-length album.
MB: Does this EP feature a different style, or is it just pure Obituary?
T: Oh yeah, it’s pure Obituary, totally. In fact, we’ve got some of the catchiest hooks on these songs… it’s so amazing. In fact, one of the first songs I recorded is always humming in my head; it pisses me off because it’s stuck there all the time. So, it’s a good thing, it’s really catchy and groovy Obituary.
MB: This will be your first release without Frank Watkins on bass, now replaced by Terry Butler. How was this change worked for the band so far?
T: It’s great. I mean, I’ve been friends with Terry Butler for like 27 years, so it was natural for him to come into our band. Actually, when I was a child, when I was around 10, I moved from Jacksonville to Tampa with my family, and one of the first friends I met there was his sister, Amy Butler, who’s actually married to Gregg Gall, the [former] drummer from Six Feet Under. We’ve been friends for years, so it was a natural transition. He’s a great bass player, a cool guy, he’s solid and like family, so it was natural. We haven’t recorded with him yet, but we’re getting ready to do it; he’s excited to record with us, so it’s going to be great.
MB: So you haven’t recorded the EP
T: Yeah, we started recording, but he hasn’t done any bass yet. I did guitars and drums started, but we gotta go back and finish it.
In fact, I was teaching him some of the songs on this tour!
MB: Was Frank’s departure related in any way to his work in Gorgoroth?
T: Not at all really. It was personal stuff, actually, which I don’t really wanna talk about, to be honest. It’s pretty shitty.
You can play in 10 bands, I don’t care.
MB: Besides Obituary, does everyone in the band have his own projects?
T: John and Donald have their own “Tardy Brothers” thing, that’s something they do for fun, because we have our own studio now and recording is easy for us, so they play around in the studio when we’re not together.
I actually have a couple of things and I’m hoping to do a new Catastrophic record… but the main focus [for us] is Obituary. In fact, I’ve been trying to do new Catastrophic songs for like a year and a half, but I’ve had no time, because I’m so busy with Obituary.
MB: So, right now, new Catastrophic material is just a plan?
T: The drummer and I have been talking about [and] Keith, the singer, so we’re definitely going to do something new eventually, once I have a couple of months to sit down and get some new music together.
MB: Has touring been too exhausting this time¿
T: Well, we took a year off last year (although we did a few dates) mostly to write. We did a tour in March, in Europe, but after that there were no summer festivals, no… we did a short American east-coast tour, and that was it, but during the whole year we’ve just been writing new guitar riffs and drum beats. Now we’re trying to put it all together to make it an album.
MB: Do you try to keep touring short, in order to avoid the kind of burnout that lead to the breakup in 1998?
T: We did that mainly because we had been together since we were teenagers, and then all of a sudden it turned into a professional thing and we were touring and for like 10 years we didn’t live like normal people, we were like animals, like monkeys in a cage. We basically split up, people got married, had babies and children and got normal jobs… and then about 6 or 7 years later were like “Fuck this, this sucks!”.
We got back together and now we’re all on the same page and we look at it like we’re lucky and blessed to be able to do this professionally, and that people like us. We’re like “we gotta do this!”.
We try not to tour going for like 6 months straight. This is the longest run we’ve done in a long time; we’re doing 5 weeks on this run, and that’s about as long as we’ll go in one time.
I mean, today I was talking with my kids and my wife on Skype and I miss them dearly. We’ve got another 9 days before we’re home, so it’s hard. A month is a long time to be away from the family, especially when you have kids. We try to keep it at 4 weeks maximum and then take a month off. We’re going to go back out [on tour] in September in America for a month or 3 and a half weeks, but we try to put time in between so at least we can come home, be with our family, get back in touch, and then practice.
MB: Obituary is considered one of the most important death metal bands. Do you see yourself like that?
T: At first we didn’t know; we just did our thing, people liked us and we were like “whatever”. I guess we know at this point that we’re definitely one of the top death metal bands for old school death metal, and it’s good. I think musically we know that we stand out as far as death metal, because a lot of death metal bands nowadays have blazing speeds and we’re more like Black Sabbath as far as tempos go, so we definitely stand out differently, I think, between the different bands.
MB: What would you say is unique to Obituary in terms of style?
T: I don’t know. It’s hard to say, because every band in the world, no matter what, from day one, from caveman times, have borrowed pieces or parts, or were influenced by other artists. Obviously we are influenced by other artists and you can probably hear that in our music… definitely.
There’s a certain chemistry between the writers of the band, the Tardy brothers and myself have a good chemistry together, and we have this good groove thing going on that a lot of people don’t have, and I think that’s a good thing that we have; the groove for death metal.
MB: In the death meal scene, are there are “new” bands you listen to?
T: Hail of Bullets (( we could clearly hear them playing on stage )) is amazing, but in a way they’re like an old band, musically, to me… I mean, the main dude [Martin van Drunnen] is the main guy from Pestilence, and I love Pestilence from when we were younger. They’re killers, it’s refreshing to hear a band sound like that.
My collection of what I listen to is all old Slayer, Celtic Frost, Possessed… everything I listen to, metal-wise, is pretty much old, I mean older than Obituary stuff. I’m an old dog, that’s what I do. I have this whole niche of things I like and that’s what I listen to in metal.
MB: What’s the label situation for the band right now?
T: We’re between labels. We were hoping to do our own record label, we have a friend who’s interested in investing, [but] I don’t think it’s gonna happen soon enough for us to be able to do this, so we’re actually talking with Century Media. They’re very interested… without saying it’s happen or that it’s done, because we haven’t signed the contract yet, they’ve offered us a deal and they’re really interested. In fact, we were just at their office last week, watching Ireland and Italy play, and having a barbeque on top of their building.
MB: Is the business side of music still a complex issue, despite the band’s history?
T: It’s just business, that’s all it is. I mean, we’re all mature and older now, so it’s not too hard to deal with it. In fact, we’re all involved with it. In our own way we all have a little part in the business part; like, Jon and I take care of a lot of it, and Donald does some things, to make it easier, because for one person to do is a lot of work. So, it’s not too bad.
MB: What’s the writing process for Obituary?
T: It usually come up like, when I have my guitar and I’m just playing around not even trying to make up something and all of a sudden I’ll write a rhythm and I’ll be like “Holy Shit that sounds killer!”, and next thing you know there’ll be two or three rhythms building around it and I’ll record it and maybe forget about it for, hell, maybe six months or maybe one week or maybe until the next day, and then I’ll go back to it. I’ll show it to Donald and he’ll go “holy shit!” and then we start jamming together with the drums and guitar together, and sometimes I’ll have an idea for the drum pattern and he’ll go “that’s a good idea!“, we start playing together, next thing you know we start building it, and then we sit down and try to map out the actual song, the pattern, and then finish it up. Then we’ll record it, all the parts that we like as a song, what we think is a song, then we’ll give it to Jon, “here’s a recording Jon, make up some lyrics!”, and then Jon will do his things.
Then we all get together, Jon will have suggestions (like “hey can you play this part two more times” or “cut this out two times”), we’ll edit it a little bit to fit his lyrics, and from there we’ll record it, listen to it and, if it sounds good, then we’re done.
MB: Do you usually record more music than what you end up using?
T: Yeah, more now than before, because we have the recording system at the house. I’ll literally just sit there and record so many rhythms for hours, and I may never go back to them. Nowadays there’s definitely more than ever. In the olden days most of it was used, because we didn’t have… well, we didn’t record the songs, I’d just remember them in my head, or maybe just get a ghetto blaster and record them really quick and we’d use everything.
But now, definitely nowadays, since Executioner’s Return, when we bought our pro sound system, we have more material than we use, because it’s great, you just hit “record”.
In our studio, all of our drums and guitars are mic’d up all the time, always. So, I’ll be there practicing with Donald, just rehearsing for a show, I’ll make up something by accident and we’ll just hit record really quick and save it for later. That happens a lot, it’s good.
MB: Any final words for your fans?
T: Thank you for being our fans. It’s amazing that we’re still here and… it’s metal!
Thumbnail photo by Markus Felix. Used under Creative Commons