OBITUARY Drummer: ‘Florida Is The King Of What Happened With Death Metal On The Planet’

Mike Sloan of recently conducted an interview with drummer Donald Tardy of Florida death metal legends OBITUARY. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. How dialed in are you to the current Florida metal scene? It’s obviously quite different from the glory days, but is it still a strong scene down in that part of the country?

Tardy: I’m not an expert, that’s for sure, but I do frequent our main metal bar here in Tampa. I don’t go anywhere else but Tampa, which is the Brass Mug. I’m very in tune with the local bands that still go for it here who literally don’t have any albums or don’t have a record label. But they love what they do and they play every weekend and just go for it. It’s totally different than how it was back in the day. That’d be like asking the Bay Area if it’s similar to how it was back when they had EXODUS and METALLICA and SLAYER and then comparing it to today. The legends were already set already a long time ago in Tampa when Mike Browning was still the drummer for MORBID ANGEL. They were playing shows right here in Tampa and so was Chuck Schuldiner from DEATH. We were opening up for those guys. It was like 1986 and it was different times; it was really ground-breaking stuff. Now it’s pretty cool. Not as many people show up to the little dirty bars to see bands but the young bands still always just go for it and play, even though only their friends know what songs they are. It’s cool. Considering how many different scenes there have been across the globe over the years, do you feel as though the Florida scene was the greatest of all time?

Tardy: No. The scene, though… I’m embarrassed by Florida sometimes, man. Unless a huge band comes through Tampa or Florida, no one would show up. Like if EXODUS came through Florida, the booking agent wouldn’t even book Tampa. We’d have to go down to Fort Lauderdale or Orlando to see them. In the current Tampa scene, people don’t show up or buy tickets to see real metal. If EXODUS or DEATH ANGEL would come here, they wouldn’t sell, but back in the day they’d easily sell like 900 tickets. It was awesome like if it was with us or NAPALM DEATH or CANNIBAL CORPSE. Now if it’s just you by yourself, it’s not a good sale anymore. It’s not 800 people anymore; it’s like 200, maybe 300 in Tampa now if it’s a true death metal show. What about the Florida scene just in terms of legacy and history?

Tardy: Oh, we do have the history. Without sounding cocky, Florida/Tampa is the king of what happened with death metal on the planet. SLAYER showed us all how to do it and that was the West Coast. They still are the greatest band in the world in my opinion. But Tampa? We took charge right away when we all heard VENOM, POSSESSED, CELTIC FROST and SLAYER. Right then we knew it and we were all like, “Okay, we’re going for it!” and somehow us, DEICIDE and MORBID ANGEL, we all just started right here in Tampa. We had Chuck and DEATH that was the main part. DEATH and MASSACRE and we immediately went heavier and sicker than the West Coast. The West Coast had a lot of great metal but it was speed metal. They had TESTAMENT, EXODUS, DEATH ANGEL and then there was ANTHRAX [in New York] and then here comes Tampa with the garbage can swamp water-type music, you know?

Read the entire interview from