OBITUARY Drummer: 'Don't Listen To Some Dude At A Record Label Behind A Desk'

Shaxul Records recently conducted an interview with drummer Donald Tardy of Florida death metallers OBITUARY. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.

Shaxul: You and Travor [Peres, guitar] have quite epic beards growing lately. Did you both sit down one day and say "let's grow some beards, man?"

Donald Tardy: (Laughs) Not even. In fact, I've never discussed it with him. I just know he's probably got the same mentality as me... Thank god I do music for a living because I hate shaving. It's just always been that way... I'm too lazy to remember to do it every day and then it's just annoying if you don't do it for a week or two... once it gets this long. As long as your girl is cool with it, and my girl is cool with it, it's just way easier to be a red-bearded fool especially when you tour. You gotta carry shaving cream and razors and you're gonna be out there for a month and you're gonna be losing razors... I'd rather just be a hippy. A bearded freak, ya know?

Shaxul: So the song from "Frozen in Time" called "Redneck Stomp" — was that based on some sort of actual event that occurs at a certain time?

Donald Tardy: "Redneck Stomp" was something we wrote when Big Al [guitarist Allen West] was still in the band. He is a "redneck," and when something's really good... We recorded it at practice one day, we were listening back to it. We probably had a couple beers and he literaly started stompin his foot as hard as he can just listening to the song because it's just THAT inspiring. And it's just "Redneck Stomp" — it just makes you wanna tap your foot! Not just tap, but stomp. And that's how it came out.

Shaxul: So you didn't wanna taint the raw "stomping power" of the riffs with any vocals?

Donald Tardy: Yeah, in fact John [Tardy, vocals] said, "I dunno if I wanna do anything with this song vocal-wise." It was just such a cool song and we're like, "You know what? Then don't. Let's do it." And then it was my idea to say, "You know what? We been gone for like seven years and everyone loves John's voice and they're gonna be waiting to hear it. What if we were to put this song first on the album?" And the record label's like, "You can't do that. You guys would be so stupid to do that." And you ask most band members... When some schmuck at a record label tells you that it's a stupid thing to do... the creative musician part of you? Go with it. Those [record label] people are out of their minds. What they think is "black" is "white." Anything they think is stupid is usually smart when it comes to creative music. And that's just exactly the way it was. Roadrunner Records said, "You guys CANNOT do that. That would be suicide." And we said, "You know what? Good. It's gonna be the first song on the album." And all my friends and fans who heard the record were like, "That was cool cause I was waiting and waiting for John's voice but the song was such a cool, groovy song, I didn't mind waiting for John's voice." So that just goes to show: Don't listen to some dude at a record label behind a desk. Go with your musician instinct.

Shaxul: You got these new hunting or "fishing hats" out now. Was that your idea?

Donald Tardy: You talking about the "camo-hat with the orange lettering?"

Shaxul: Yeah.

Donald Tardy: Yeah, that was probably mine and my brother's idea. I love camo-stuff. And we are obviously "Florida boys." You ask Trevor what his favorite thing is to do, it's drop a boat in with his dad and go fishin'. My brother's constantly out on his boat...it's just one of those things. It fits the whole "Florida thing." And hunter's cap with the green and orange — it just made sense. People love it. Everytime we take it on tour that hat sells like crazy.

Shaxul: You ever encounter any gators?

Donald Tardy: In Florida you can go to any lake on any given evening and you'll see alligators everywhere. I live next to the university of South Florida and there's a huge golf course on that campus. If you take a flashlight and look at the lakes on that golf course [at night], you'll see TONS of alligators and their eyes because alligator's eyes are like frog eyes when you shine a light on them at night. You see little red eyes. They're everywhere. Where I live, they are in every river and every lake that you would think about jumping in.

Shaxul: Any songs inspired by gators?

Donald Tardy: [Surprised] No, I don't think we do! There's been so many songs about gators with the Florida bands that I grew up listening to that you know... MOLLY HATCHET did it. That was the deal. A band called STRANGER did it back in the '80s here in Florida. We've never really conquered trying to take on an alligator song.

Shaxul: I always wanted to know, what the hell is "Stinkapuss" anyways?

Donald Tardy: Good question, man! I honestly don't know. I don't know where that came from or why. I think there was a couple different [bands called] INCUBUS back in the day because there was... two Florida bands. One of them was the old drummer for MORBID ANGEL (Mike Browning). His band was called INCUBUS and they were awesome. There was another band called INCUBUS and I think they sucked and I think that might be where it came from. We called it "stinky puss."

Shaxul: Being from San Francisco, I was just wondering if you had any sort of interesting memories from playing in the Bay Area.

Donald Tardy: Yeah, absolutely. Playing the Stone and uh... First thing we did as band in 1989, we opened for SACRED REICH. Our first show is San Francisco so we had to get in a van with seven people and and we had to drive for three or four days across the United States. And we arrived the day of the show and had to get out of the van from sitting down for three days and go out and play a show. And we went to do a soundcheck and found out that two of the guys from METALLICA were gonna be there tonight. And, of course, never played a show before outside of Florida and just sat in a van and got completely out of shape and had to perform in front of, I think it was Lars [Ulrich] and [Jason] Newsted or something. So, that's what I remember about San Francisco. And the SADUS boys, of course, I think they're from Oakland but...they always seem to come out to our San Francisco shows also.

Read the entire interview from Shaxul Records.

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