An Interview with Don Tardy of Obituary
You can’t have a discussion about Florida death metal without including the mighty Obituary. With nine albums and thirty-one years of dominating stages all around the world, Obituary has secured their distinction as death metal legends. I was extremely fortunate to have been granted an interview with drummer, Don Tardy. He talked at length about their new album, “Inked in Blood”, touring, and his awesome volunteer work with the Tampa Humane Society.
Derek: Hi! Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions? Your ninth album, the absolutely excellent “Inked in Blood”, was released last October. Five years passed between the new album and its predecessor, “Darkest Day”. What was the reason for the long wait between albums?
Don: There was no one reason that we took so much time in between albums. It’s hard to believe it was over four years but Obituary always stays busy and we were constantly performing and touring during this time along with living our somewhat normal lives while back in Florida with family. We also really took our time with the writing process for the new album and wanted to make sure every song was relevant and a contributor to a monster record. Owning our own studio really helped us in that process, we were able to record the songs with rough mixes, listen back and make necessary changes and adjustments to make each song the best it could possibly be. This is something most bands do not have the ability to do and we really used this to our advantage. We also stayed very busy for a couple years with the classic set list performances that we did around the world which was a blast for us.
Derek: You used a Kickstarter campaign to fund the recording of “Inked in Blood”. Looking back, what are thoughts on the crowdfunding experience? Do you think would do it again?
Don: It was an interesting experience and one that we were very proud to do. If and when we decide to do it again we will think long and hard before we start it because this campaign proved to be a real challenge for the band. During the campaign process it was fun and exciting but once that was finished the real challenge was to fulfill 900 orders while preparing for the recording of the album and the preparation to the world tour. All of that together made for a very challenging process and one that I do not want to do again anytime soon. As for crowd funding, I think it’s a cool idea and a very effective way for some bands to successfully record albums but probably not for everybody. My suggestion to any band that is thinking of doing this to be realistic and know what you can and what you cannot accomplish. We know that Obituary fans are some of the greatest fans on the planet and support us 100%. That is why we decided to do the campaign and we were blown away by the enormous support we got from our fans worldwide. Most everybody enjoyed the experience and understands now a little better how huge of a process it is for a band to write, record, mix and release an album. It is not something that happens overnight and our kick starter backers got a taste of what we experience while creating and recording a new album.
Derek: I finally got to see Obituary in concert last fall. I was absolutely blown away by the raw power of your live show! You have a nine albums worth of killer death metal from which to put together a setlist. Is it difficult to narrow it down to an hour long set? Are you playing very many songs from the new album?
Don: Awwww, thank you very much for the compliment and I’m so glad you enjoyed our live show. We have always been known to be a great band live on stage and with this line up we are more powerful now than ever. Something about Obituary songs and our style really fit a live performance atmosphere and it is something that we love to do. Its one thing to record great albums but performing live is something that I personally love and look forward to and yes, it is a big challenge to select songs off of every album and compact it into a one hour set. Near impossible these days because a one hour set is really only 12 or 13 songs so choosing songs off of every album is a very tough task and something that is very entertaining for the band members while we pick and discuss which songs to perform.
Derek: Obituary will be playing at Hellfest, and Wacken, this summer. How do festival shows compare to club gigs, other than the obvious difference in the size of the audience? Do you have a preference between the two?
Don: It is always an honor to play the big festivals but my preference is the up close and personal club shows. Most fans would think that bands like the big festivals more but the truth is there is a lot of stress and chaos when performing at the festivals, from the travel, the “throw and go” concept where you don’t get a sound check or very much time to even set up the equipment and then you are expected to pull off the performance of a life time. Very, very challenging and one that obituary is pretty darn good at these days since we have been doing it for 20 years or so. I like performing both big festivals and small venues. They are both fun and exciting in completely different ways and I really enjoy both experiences equally.
Derek: Obituary has toured the world a few times over. Is there a particular city that you really look forward to with each album cycle? Is there anywhere that the band hasn’t played yet that you would really like to visit?
Don: Yes, we have played nearly every corner of this planet and it all is just amazing and a blast to be able to do. I enjoyed most everywhere we have been equally but there are a few places that we have not been yet that I hope we have the opportunity. India, South Africa, New Zealand just to name a few and hopefully with the world tour this year we will see these places as well.
Derek: “Inked in Blood” is the first Obituary album to break into the top 100 on the US charts. Congratulations on that, it’s very well deserved! It’s even more impressive when you consider that album sells in general have been diminishing. Do think old school death metal is moving more towards mainstream acceptance? Is that a good thing or a bad thing for the genre?
Don: It has to be a good thing I believe. We are very happy with the sales so far for the new album and it is very exciting to see young fans showing up to the shows to watch the old Florida rednecks. I can only speak for Obituary but I believe our style of death metal is very appealing to all metal fans. Especially ones who never thought they would like death metal. Obituary’s style is a very groovy, heavy but easy listening for people in general I believe because although it is extreme it is also a style that non-death metal-people find appealing. We have always had this effect in general on semi-fans and especially with this new album I believe it is drawing people in that never thought they would like death metal.
Derek: Now it’s time for The Marvelous Three Round of Questions! What’s your favorite breakfast cereal? Most metalheads have large concert t-shirt collections. What’s your favorite band t-shirt? And last but not least, are you a cat person or a dog person?
1. It’s hard for me to keep cereal in the house because I tend to eat the entire box in one sitting so I usually eat fruit for breakfast before moving on to a real meal and I am a fan of nearly every cereal. I will tear up some frosted mini-wheats but if there is a box of cinnamon toast crunch in my reach I will destroy the entire box.
2. My favorite band T-shirts are the old ones that are nearly falling apart after decades of wearing them. Sepultura, Sadus, and of course Slayer.
3. I am an animal lover through and through but anyone that knows me knows that I am a cat guy. My brother and I have always had dogs and cats and many other animals in our lives growing up and still have dogs and cats. For the last 11 years I have volunteered with the Humane Society of Tampa Bay trying to cut down on the homeless cat population in Tampa Florida with a program called Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return. TNVR is a process where we trap the feral cats, get them fixed so they can no longer breed and then return them where they were trapped so they can live their lives but not reproduce. It has been proven to be the most effective and humane way to help homeless cats and reduce the population problem. I am just one of many, many volunteers that perform this process to keep the population under control in my community. We also get the kittens off the streets and into adoption programs through a few different rescue groups that we work with. Some people might find that a bit strange for a death metal drummer to be so passionate and committed to the homeless animals but it is something that I love to do and see its effectiveness in helping to control the feral cat population…MEEEEOW!!
Derek: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, I truly appreciate it! I can’t wait to see Obituary on tour this summer!
Don: Thank you Derek and thank you to all our fans who bought Inked In Blood and who support Obituary. We hope you are digging the New Album we will see you soon on the road as this year is looking very busy for us. We are confirming the World Tour right now and hope everyone comes out to see the FloridaRedNecks destroy your city in the future. All confirmed dates are up on our website.
Check out “Visions in my Head” from “Inked in Blood”