OBITUARY – Ardent Fans Of Barbarism
March 24, 2017, a year ago
Like their Floridian brethren, Death, Obituary are a band you can’t just Google. You always have to include a key term like “band” or “album.” That’s because these names are more than just names they are terms for the style of music. Autopsy, Dismember, anything Corpse-related, same name game. As far as Obituary goes, they were certainly one of the inventers of the style, especially the groove, mid-paced, ala Celtic Frost style of death metal.
Celtic Frost is an important band to remember because they were barbaric. Barbarism is certainly a major facet of Obituary’s music, so much they covered the Swiss act with “Circle of the Tyrants.” 3 decades later and they are still rocking DM’s throne with a new record, a namesake record. After 30 years of playing, the group finally made its namesake record.
Namesake record, cartoon video, live album all released within a year span, fans still want to see the innovators of musical mayhem create magic with early tunes. I drove five hours from Georgetown, Texas to San Antonio, picked up my assistant, and then drove another three hours and 40 minutes to Houston to witness Obituary as they took the stage with Midnight and the mighty Teutonic neck-wreckers Kreator. Before the crowd slowly rotted, their features disfigured from Donald Tardy’s drum play, I spoke with Mr. Tardy, the man behind the skins, and got the low down on the new disc.
BraveWords: How do you feel about your newest release, your self-titled album?
Donald Tardy: “On Friday, March 17, 2017, it got released. It’s been released for about four days. We’ve gotten mad reviews. It seems like everyone is digging it. People are excited to see it released. We worked hard on it. People have been waiting. It’s been two-and-a-half years since the Inked In Blood record. We are stoked that it’s out.”
BraveWords: The band gave its fans a sneak peak of the record with your live album Ten Thousand Ways to Die, which contained the title track that was forthcoming on your newest record.
Donald Tardy: “‘Ten Thousand Ways To Die’ was the single for the album. We left the song ‘Loathe’ on that record for something special to be on that record to make it a collector’s item. Like you said, it has live tracks. We recorded eleven live tracks from eleven different cities in America. It was just a cool idea. We were writing for this new album, but we were still busy touring for Inked In Blood. We had ‘Ten Thousand Ways To Die’ and ‘Loathe’. We recorded these songs. We had this idea of sending it to JC, our engineer and mixer, let him put a mix on it and we’ll put it out. Then let everyone have a little taste of what we are thinking with this new album. He also is our live engineer, so he had his Pro Tools rig on the road with us back on the Cannibal Corpse tour, and we had all these shows with killer sound, so we decided it would be cool to make a really low-cost release. Put the two new tracks on it, but also give people the live tracks we have. That’s what it was: give everyone a little present before the new album.”
BraveWords: Was this your first live album?
Donald Tardy: “We did an album called Dead back in ’98. It’s been a long time. It’s been almost twenty years.”
BraveWords: Tell us about recording this album. Who did you work with?
Donald Tardy: “We have a pretty cool little routine we’ve had for years. We own the studio we record at. It’s also our practice space, so we recorded the last four albums ourselves. We track the album, too. We’ve done this since Xecutioner’s Return. On this one, we give it a little bit of flavor because on Inked in Blood we recorded, mixed and produced it ourselves without any outside help. That was an amazing challenge for the band. This time we tracked the entire album on our own. Then we went to Europe with Exodus and we handed off the Pro Tools sets to Joe Cincotta (Full Force Studio), who also is our live engineer. He’s up in New York City. We sent the tracks to him. While we were on tour with Exodus, he was mixing. Daily he sent us mixes and we listened to them. He did all the mixing in the month we were gone. We could not be more proud of the way it came out. We tracked it from my drum kit in my room. Joe kept that live feel to it. It just came out spectacular.”
BraveWords: Did you try anything new in the writing? I thought “Loathe” showed you take it a bit of a different direction. Are you going that way with this album, too?
Donald Tardy: “Obituary doesn’t think about what direction we are going in, we just go. We let the songs find us. We aren’t that band that just sits around and thinks about what we did last time and what we need to do this time. Now we have Ken Andrews and Terry (Butler) in the band now. Trevor, myself and my brother (John) have always been the main song writers in this band. We allowed Terry and Kenny to come in and give us some ideas and tips. Whenever Trevor and I came up with song ideas and riffs, those dudes gave us their opinions. We took it a little further and Ken and I got together, one-on-one, and write two songs on this album. Ken has a song called ‘No Hope’, and another song called ‘End It Now’. Those are Ken’s songs. That’s a big deal because Ken has only been in the band for about three years. That was a new approach, but like I said, we are comfortable in our skin. Obituary is Obituary. I would never want to change it. Fans buy Obituary albums ‘cause they know it’s going to sound like Obituary. The excitement and energy comes from how good we are getting along now. Even at 47, 48, 49-years-old we are having fun. Dude, we are having a blast and it shows with these new songs.”
BraveWords: Bands that have been around for a long time—thirty to forty years—bands like Overkill are having a great year. What do you think is going on the music industry to get this going? Is it turmoil in the world?
Donald Tardy: “I don’t know man because there are a lot of new bands that are kicking ass. I can only speak for these old guys. We are just having a blast! We are healthy. We are still able to do it at a very high level. After this many years together, we are coming together solid. We don’t try too hard. We are not going to be the most technical band. We don’t want to. We are just solid as a unit right now. The engine is running great with this.”
BraveWords: What are some of the song topics you write about?
Donald Tardy: “Anybody that follows Obituary knows we don’t print the lyrics, we don’t follow the lyrics. John’s not writing epic stories that we try to write songs around. We jam. We come up with cool ideas. We start writing songs. John is always in the room, listening to it and writing ideas down. He doesn’t really show us, either. Again, his voice is the main thing; it’s not about what he’s writing. The voice is what sets the mood of his lyrics.”
BraveWords: You did the video for “Ten Thousand Ways to Die.” Did you actually go to a Nasty Savage concert?
Donald Tardy: (laughs) “Yeah we did. We have been a band now for thirty-one years. We’ve done it all. We’ve done the performance videos. We’ve done the big-budget videos. We’ve done the act-like-you’re-playing-in-front-of-a-major film crew. We are tired of that. We are down-to-Earth kinds of dudes and we are not afraid to have a good time. We can see that, so with Inked In Blood, we also did a cartoon for the song ‘Violence’. This one is a continuation of that. Those not familiar with it need to go watch the first one ‘Violence’. We had fun with it. We worked with an artist, a cartoonist, from Budapest, Hungary (Balázs Gróf). He’s a huge Obituary fan. This cartoon took him five-and-a-half months. Cartoons are thirty frames a second, so every frame has to be drawn. We said if we are going to make another one, we are going to make it silly, we’re going to have fun with it, we’re going to make fun of ourselves. We put a lot of our friends in the video. You see Glen Benton. You see Steve Asheim, both from Deicide. You see Corpsegrinder. John Oliva. Scott Burns. We had fun with it. The first thing we did for the cartoon is go to a Nasty Savage show because we grew up to that. That kind of opened our eyes. Nasty Ronnie showed us the ropes when we were teenage kids. It was fun to relive that in a cartoon.”
Bravewords: That is a fun cartoon. It’s almost Scooby Doo-ish. Do you like Scooby Doo?
Donald Tardy: “We like it all. We made fun of the whole idea of being in a cartoon. Of course, if you make a cartoon, you have to bring the Scooby Doo aspect into it. We are fans of Scooby Doo, of course, we are from the ‘70s.”
(Photos by: Ester Segarra)