Obituary: Sandy Williamson Interviews Drummer Donald Tardy From The Legendary Death Metallers

What more can be said about Obituary? 25 years ago they helped invent death metal, and over the past two and a half decades have released some of the sickest and most influential records in the whole genre. Their riff mangling debut Slowly We Rot is timeless, and such follow ups like Cause Of Death and The End Complete cemented their legacy. Now, the Florida legends return with their newest, crowd-funded release Inked In Blood. I interviewed drummer Donald Tardy and found out how they are still capable of laying waste to the competition even after all this time.


Hi guys, thanks for giving us some time to pick your brains. How is the promotion for the new record coming along?

Everything is going great with the new album. Now that it is completed we handover the task of promoting the new album to Relapse Records who will print the album, distributed and start the marketing campaign for us. It has been a long process getting this album completed and we could not be more excited about it. With and October release date things are moving right along and we are preparing for everything right now.

What made you decide to go along the Kickstarter route to fund ‘Inked in Blood’?

We knew that we wanted to try something different with this new album and wanted more than just a typical record deal so thought outside of the box, did some research and saw that a crowd funded record was really possible. It was such a new concept that we were not sure how it would go but in the long run our fans showed that they were as ready as we were to try something new and with their support, we were able to raise enough money to record, mix and master the album on our own which looking back, was pretty amazing!

The fans pledged the $10,000 in just 24 hours, that must’ve been quite something to experience?

Yes, again we did not know what to expect with this campaign and were blown away by our fans support. Having done our homework with other kick starter projects we knew that setting a realistic goal was the first task then all of the stretch goals that we set our fans really wanted to be a part of it and contributed to make that happen. It was an unbelievable experience for the band and now that the album is complete we will make it an unbelievable experience for the fans that contributed because they deserve it.

You’ve partnered with Relapse to release the record, how did that come about?

Again, we knew that we wanted more than just a record label to sign us. We needed a label that was ready to partner with Obituary and Relapse was there and understood what we wanted and needed to make this happen. They are super cool people, understand what we are doing and want to contribute and be a part of this with us. Our job was to write, record, mix, master and deliver the album which we succeeded. Now they know it’s their job to print, distribute and market this record so every fan on all corners of the planet can buy it. This has been a pretty cool experience with Relapse so far and the band is looking forward to the future of how this all will work and both the band and Relapse are super excited to make this THE RELEASE everyone has been waiting for!!

Obituary 'Inked In Blood' Artwork

How was recording the album? You did it in your own studio, how does that compare with other places you’ve recorded in?

Having our own studio sure made things a lot easier for the band. It is a great feeling knowing that you can record anytime you want without having to worry about a producer or engineer needing to be there and what a relief it is to know that anytime of the day or night you can be at the studio on your own time writing, recording, mixing on your own time. It really made this an unbelievable experience for the band members and I think it shows with the final results of this album. Technology is an amazing tool and having the studio at our place is just one of those amazing perks that helped us make a great recording.

What was the main influences behind ‘Inked in Blood’?

The main influence of this new album was simple, create a record that we love and hope that like always our fans will enjoy it as much as we do. We have always been a band to simply follow our dreams and thoughts without worrying about anything around us or what other bands are doing. After nearly 30 years together song writing has never been more fun and the song ideas seem to never stop and we are just having a blast with this whole experience.

Death metal today seems to be too clean, too polished and soulless. What makes the Obituary sound still so essential in the 21st Century?

That’s a good question and I think pretty simple to answer. We do not rely on anything but our skills and imagination when it comes to song writing and more importantly when it comes to recording the music. With this new album we did everything old-school… No triggers, no sound replacement, no fixing anything after-the-fact. The drums were recorded with microphones on the kit, that’s it.

I believe when bands and producers rely on triggers and sound replacement you lose the heartbeat, you lose the soul you lose the “realness” of the band and the music, that’s why we made it a conscious decision to go for it and keep everything real with microphones and relied on only ourselves and our instruments.

‘Slowly We Rot’ is 25 years old this year. Did you ever think you’d still be doing this a quarter of a century later?

No but with you putting it that way I sure do feel old! 🙂

…. It is amazing to me that this band is going on 30 years together. Never in my wildest dreams I imagined it would be this long of a journey and the good thing is we are having more fun now than we ever have. It’s all we know, it’s in our blood and with the songs on this new album, I feel we are better than ever as individuals and more importantly as song writers and as a band.

Obituary - Photo by Ester Segarra

Obituary were pioneers of death metal back in the day, and John’s vocals have been often imitated but never bettered. Was that a conscious decision to have that particular unique quality or just how it happened?

It was never a conscious decision, I believe John just progressed as a vocalist and somehow found his style and perfected it. Like the rest of the band, he just seems to get better with age…like a fine wine. 🙂

John’s voice is so amazing and unique that you can tell from the second you hear it who it is and that’s what makes Obituary standout from all the rest. He never relied on lyrics, only the sound of his voice to fit the music and set the mood and feel of the songs. I don’t know how he does it but it is something that never gets old to hear and watch in the studio and on stage.

What is your favourite Obituary record? I remember I first got into you on ‘Frozen in Time’. ‘Slow Death’ is still one of my favourite tracks, it’s got a killer groove.

I’m sure fans are expecting the obvious answer from me and think I would say Slowly We Rot or Cause Of Death but like most bands and band members my favorite album is the latest album. You’re only as good as your last performance is a saying that I believe to be true and we nailed it with Inked In Blood. It might not be the answer they were waiting for but the truth is that I could not be more excited about the new songs and just how killer this new album turned out. We took our time writing the album and it really shows because every song has its own vibe, feel, heartbeat and makes for a monster record.

Is there anything that Obituary still want to achieve as a band? A country to visit, a tour to be on, a festival to crush under steamrolling death metal?

Grammy. Gold Record.?

…no honestly we won’t change a thing. We are fortunate to do what we do for a living and that’s something will never forget or take for granted. Obituary fans have been following us for close to three decades and with this new album we are having more fun now than ever so the future is bright and the songs are getting better and better. Looking forward to seeing all our fans on the road this year with the world tour.

And on a final, somewhat unrelated note, what is Obituary’s favourite Die Hard movie?!

Of course the first one. DIE HARD!

Inked In Blood is set for release at the end of October via Relapse Records, pre-orders in various formats & bundles from the labels webstore and you can also read Sandy’s review here.

Band Links: Official | Facebook | Twitter

Interviewed by: Sandy Williamson