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Pic: Ester Segarra
Pic: Ester Segarra

Inked In Blood is the latest release from US death metal titans, Obituary, who are tipped to tour Australia in the near future. Drummer, Donald Tardy, chats with JESSICA WILLOUGHBY. 

Keen to become self-sufficient after 30 years in the industry, Obituary utilised crowdfunding for the making of their new album, Inked In Blood.

“The main thing was, after 25 years on labels and with the technology we have in our studio, we didn’t want a typical record contract with anyone,” drummer, Donald Tardy, says of the band’s desire to become more independent.

Obituary is a band that has nothing left to prove. Among the first to bring death metal to the masses, their formula of infectious grooves and blistering solos has helped paved the way for the genre over the past three decades. But, as the quintet has gotten older, their yearning to strip back their approach and become more self-reliant has become increasingly important.

Setting up the renowned RedNeck Studio in Tampa, Florida, a few years back saw the outfit covering their creative space needs in-house. But they looked forward to breaking ties with overarching labels for good.

This day came in 2009 with the release of their last full-length, Darkest Day, which signalled the end of Obituary’s contract with Candlelight Records. Along with that came the freedom that might scare many artists at this point in their career. But Obituary took the change as a sign of liberation, instead looking to engineer their own future completely from that moment on.

Turning towards crowdfunding to help finance their ninth offering, the release of Inked In Blood revealed more surprises than one. Not only did the band smash their goal amount by more than $50,000, which saw them take the album through from initial tracking to final product, but they also signed a distribution partnership with Relapse Records. Tardy even stepped up on full producing duties for the first time.

So what does it feel like to finally be calling all the shots?

“Fucking awesome,” Tardy laughs. “Like most people, about a year ago we had no idea what crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter were. We knew we had a huge following and our fans would walk off a cliff with us. We looked into the Kickstarter thing and it worked out really well for us because we were funded enough to not only get the songs recorded, but to get them mixed and mastered – and get the unbelievable album artwork too.

“The more and more money that was made, that was down to what the fans were ordering. All we wanted at first was for everyone to pre-order the album from us – that would give us the money to just record. But then we gave them so many options, like getting drum sticks and drum skins and snare drums and cymbals that we gave away. It turned into a humungous project of packing and shipping. I think we spent a little over $8000 in postage alone. We were very clear with where the money went. Fans did a fantastic job backing us and we worked our arses off to make sure everyone was happy. We had a final product in our hands before we even had to step our foot outside the studio and ask a record label for help.

“But relapse are super cool dudes. They said, ‘we saw what you did, you are so self-sufficient now – just use our engine and let us partner up with you’. And that’s exactly what we did. It does not feel like we’re a band signed to a record label. We signed a partnership with Relapse and I think they are just as excited as we are.”

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