by Ana Krunic
VANCOUVER – When thrash metal gained popularity in North America, you had the big four: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. But happening at around the same time way over in Florida, centered somewhere around Tampa, the biggest names in American death metal were brewing up albums that would become legendary. Though at this point it’s tough to pick a “big four of Florida death metal,” Death, Morbid Angel, Deicide, and Obituary stand out as having created and defined that massive Florida sound.
30 years later, few bands can say they’ve had as consistent a career as Obituary. You can go from listening to their debut album, Slowly We Rot, to their most recent self-titled album, and have no doubt that it’s the same band (and maybe some of the same instruments). It’s this stubborn grip on that old-school sound that’s seen Obituary’s drummer Donald Tardy through all these years.
“It’s simply happened through 35 years of hanging out with each other, I think,” says Tardy. “I mean, I met [guitarist/founding member] Trevor [Peres] when I was 10 years old, so we’ve been friends forever. But what’s amazing about it is that we immediately dove into music together at a really young age. I was already starting out drumming when I met him, so once we figured out that we were metalheads, it wasn’t long before we figured out our own style.”
For their upcoming North American tour, they’ve enlisted the help of their fans, taking suggestions from multiple platforms to finish off a 17-song setlist.
“It’s funny, you can predict that everybody’s going to want the obvious ones like ‘Cause of Death,’ ‘Chopped in Half,’ and ‘Slowly We Rot,’” says Tardy. “But there are definitely people throwing out songs that I can’t even remember having a title for. I guess that’s from 30 years of releasing records – it’s hard to remember 100-and-something songs nowadays. We’re looking at the Facebook posts, the Twitter replies, looking at the official Obituary inbox and taking what everyone’s saying into consideration. It’s definitely going to be interesting for us having to relearn some of those old songs.”
Tardy and his bandmates have been playing death metal together since they were 15, embroiled in the genre for pretty much their entire lives and being on the road for almost as long. That may be the reason that they’ve all stuck together for such a long period of time – they just don’t know any different.
“It’s not about how many times you’re onstage playing, because you’re only onstage for an hour at a time,” he says. “You live with band members and you have relationships with these people over the years having to be on tour, which is not all fun and games. You’ve living out of a backpack, being shuffled around in vans and shuttles and buses. Being a professional, organized, and successful touring band means that each band member has to be all of those things. You’ve got to be okay with being told when you can sleep, when you can eat, when you can shit. Although that hour onstage is an absolute blast, and it is the best job in the world to be able to crack a cold beer right before your shift and jump onstage and play 15 songs in a row. There’s nothing cooler than that. We’re just stoked to play for fans of classic Florida death metal.”
Obituary kicks off the first of five nights of Modified Ghost Festival at the Rickshaw Theatre with Pallbearer, Skeletonwitch, Dust Bolt and Bushwhacker on May 23.Modified Ghost