OBITUARY is all set to drop their tenth album, simply titled Obituary on March 17 via Relapse Records. One of the most influential and successful Death Metal bands of all time for some 30 years now, the group shows zero signs of slowing down with this release. I recently sat down with drummer and founding member Donald Tardy to talk about the album, the upcoming Decibel Magazine Tour with KREATOR, and his continued work helping feral cats. Check it:
Amps: You’ve got this self-titled record ready to come out. How excited is everyone in the band for it?
Donald: Oh, we’re happier than a puppy with two peters right now! Could not be happier with the results on the record, just the song styles and production hit in perfect harmony. We’re super-stoked!
Amps: I hate to use a word that is being beaten into the ground right now, but the best way to describe this thing is “savage,” just fuckin’ savage!
Donald: Right on. It’s just that chemistry that we have now. We record the songs ourselves at Redneck Studio, which we’ve owned for about 17 years now.
We’ve tracked the last four albums there. Inked In Blood we recorded, mixed, and produced all ourselves without any help. This time we smartened up. We did all the recording ourselves at Redneck then we handed it off to our American sound engineer up in New York City, Joe Cimcotta at Full Force Studio. He’s the guy that does SUFFOCATION albums and he just did a fantastic job mixing this record for us.
Amps: You also couldn’t have picked a better first single to drop than “Sentence Day.” When I first heard it I was ready to run through a wall!
Donald: (Laughs) right on!
Amps: A lot of people, like a friend of mine who got into the band recently, said that what makes you guys stand out is that live you’re on a totally different level. When you play, the intensity is ratcheted up to 100. and I totally agree.
Donald: Yeah, you know we’ve always catered to being a live band. I don;t know why but OBITUARY is just very comfortable live onstage. It’s one thing to go into the studio and record an album. And every band on the planet has to go do that, and it’s not too hard to go in and record, then have some engineer and producer help you make it sound killer. But onstage that’s a whole different ballgame. It’s like getting your pants pulled down; you’re just out there and exposed. We’ve been doing this a long time. Trevor (Peres, guitar), my brother (John Tardy, vocals), and I have been together for 30 years now, so onstage we can answer the call. And me and Trevor are just so tight after three decades of jamming together that live it really comes across tight and powerful. We are a live band for sure.
Amps: Since you mentioned it, what’s the secret to keeping the core of the band together for 30 years in an age where members come and go?
Donald: Well, that’s a two-part answer and the first one is that we’re simply friends, man. We all get along, we respect each other, we enjoy each other’s company, so it’s easy to tour, joke with each other, and live on the road together. I’ve seen it with other bands where it’s not necessarily the most fun they’ve ever had, but business keeps them out there playing shows and making money. I can only speak for OBITUARY when I say that we’re just good friends. We can be gone for a month and a half on tour and get home, then two weekends later we’re hanging out jamming and watching sports. That’s just the way we are.
Then the second part, and it’s the obvious part, is that the fans are there and they’ve been there for 30 years for us. We somehow keep putting out songs that they love and they’re worshipping it, and it’s more popular than ever. I feel like OBITUARY now, like you mentioned with your buddy just discovering us, we’re getting new fans all the time. Yeah, it took 30 years but we are getting younger dudes and older dudes who maybe never gave it a chance before really turning their heads and saying, “You know, I didn’t really think I was a Death Metal fan but I’m diggin’ OBITUARY.” And I think that helps our longevity. People still wanna hear it!
Amps: Let’s talk about this INSANE tour you have coming up.
Donald: Yes, The Decibel Magazine Tour with KREATOR. I can’t wait. We confirmed this months ago and the band’s been home preparing the release for three months now, and we are itching to get out there and get onstage with our fans going nuts all across America and Canada. We’re super-excited about doing 25 shows in America for our fans with a brand new album. Not to mention being able to check out KREATOR every night, just awesome.
Amps: Are you still very involved with helping feral cats?
Donald: I am. For 13 years I have just taken care of my community and being involved with the trap, neuter, return and stopping the breeding process of feral cats outside so the homeless population isn’t as bad as it would be. Very deep into it, it’s a constant thing that I do, and I take care of my colonies. Cats find a place to live and they colonize. And that’s what I do, I step in when I find a colony around my neighborhood, get ’em all spayed and neutered and make sure they’re not breeding anymore. Any of the friendly kittens, I get them off the streets with adoption programs through a couple of rescue groups that help me out. I simply try to help the homeless cat population in Tampa. My organization is Metal Meowlisha. We have a Facebook page and we love to share stories about the kittens we rescue with our cat friends.
Amps: Between OBITUARY and cat rescue do you have time for any other pursuits, or no?
Donald: I’d like to slow the rotation of the earth down so my days are longer (laughs), ’cause I’m running out of minutes trying to get shit accomplished. OBITUARY’S keeping me super-busy and I wanna do another TARDY BROTHERS Bloodline album. My brother and I had a blast with the first one in 2009. I wrote all the songs and played guitar on it, had some friends come in and do some shredding solos on it, and I’ve got new music, but I just don’t have time to get into the studio and record it. That’s one thing on my agenda once OBITUARY can make it home for a couple of months. It’ll be nice to crack a cold beer and record the next TARDY BROTHERS.
Amps: “Straight to Hell” is one of my favorites on the new disc, by the way.
Donald: Oh, right on, dude! I’ve probably done three interviews a day the last two weeks and everyone’s got opinions on the first two singles. A lot of people talk about “Lesson In Vengeance” but with me I’ve been WAITING for someone to tell me that! “Straight to Hell” is my FAVORITE on this record, man! It’s got that groove, and it’s one I haven’t heard people talk about enough, so thank you. It’s as close to commercial as OBITUARY’S ever gonna get, and it’s just a groovy song.`
Amps: What’s in your CD player or iPod right now? Last time we talked, you were real hot on DUST BOLT, like I was.
Donald: Oh, man!!! I’m STILL hot on them! Awake the Riot and the new one Mass Confusion blew me away. Damian, if your readers don’t know who DUST BOLT is, people, LISTEN. TO. ME…Please check out the last two albums from this young German band! They are kickin’ ass! And as far old stuff goes I can’t stop listening to John Bonham and Vinny Appice. The Holy Diver album is my Bible. When I’m on tour I listen to it every day.
And my favorite band on the planet is CORROSION OF CONFORMITY. My girl got me into them a decade ago and I have studied all their records, Reed Mullin’s drumming is some of the best in the world, just a solid, badass motherfucker!
Amps: What do you want to say to all the OBITUARY fans out there?
Donald: We love our fans no matter where they are in the world and we try our best to get there, but most importantly, our American fans, the ones who have been there from day one, comin’ to shows, hangin’ out with us, the Philly fans, those up in NY, our hillbilly fans in West Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina, you guys rule. You are the reason why we stay a band and we do what we do. You guys deserve it because you love it. We write music for one purpose: to make you nod your head to a groovy beat. We’ll leave all the fast and technical shit for the other bands. We know our fans want groovy beats and that’s what OBITUARY will give you.
Really, what more can I say? Just, do yourself a favor, go get the new album, and be sure to catch OBITUARY on The Decibel Magazine Tour this spring (find tickets HERE). I guarantee they’ll blow your goddamn doors off!