Night of the Living ShredBy Alex Distefano
Ask anyone into death metal about the genre’s best albums, and Obituary’s Slowly We Rot is bound to come up in the conversation. Released in 1989 by the Tampa, Florida-based band, this landmark record reinvigorated a sound, and continues to influence extreme music worldwide. With a musical style that varied in tempo compared to the other big acts in death metal from Florida—including Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel and Deicide—Obituary is just as successful over 20 years later.
Obituary’s current line includes vocalist John Tardy and drummer (and brother) Donald Tardy, bassist Terry Butler and guitarist Trevor Peres. Donald Tardy spoke with CULTURE about the band’s first U.S. tour in three years, Obituary’s legacy and its early marijuana use.
“I can’t say we invented metal—or even death metal,” Tardy says. “There were others before us and [there] will be others after us. I’m proud of what we’ve done as a band. The albums speak for themselves, especially our first records. Obituary is one of the godfathers of the death metal movement.”
Obituary last month kicked off its first U.S. tour since 2009.
“It’s been 20 years since our first four albums, so we decided to do something special, so we created the Carnival of Death tour package,” says Tardy. The tour will feature headliner Obituary alongside reunited Chicago death metal band Broken Hope, Jungle Rot, Decrepit Birth and Encrust. The band is performing songs only from its first three albums: Slowly We Rot, Cause of Death and The End Complete.
“Some of these songs we have never played live, so this is going to be sick!” the band declared on its website.
“We hope the fans will dig it,” Tardy says. “We know it will be special. We reached out to all of our fans on our social networking sites, and this is what they wanted.”
Tardy admits band members used to be “stoners” when they were younger. But nowadays, Obituary is more focused on bringing death metal to the masses.
“We don’t smoke as much weed as we used to,” Tardy admits. “We’re all in our 40s now. But back in the day there was nothing better than burning joints and listening to Slayer. That’s why we are a band. There is still something to the creative side of it, and, yeah, once in a while we take hits and write songs and get into the music.”
Being a musician requires some professionalism, he says.
“It is a business and most people think it’s all about partying, but it’s not. To be a successful band it’s about putting in the hard work and how much you get to tour and play shows throughout the year.”
Nitty Kitty Dirt Band
So what does a heavy metal drummer do besides practicing the art of the blastbeat? How about rescuing kitties? Obituary metronome Donald Tardy founded MetalMeowlisha, an up-and-coming organization in Tampa that cares for abandoned, homeless cats. “Overpopulation among cats is a big problem,” he says. “What we do is find colonies of feral cats and take care of them. We neuter them, vaccinate them and release them back into the wild. We also provide food and water for them on a regular basis. Some people don’t understand this. By just putting animals to sleep, we are not stopping the breeding cycle; this will make a difference by fixing these animals.”