Obituary – Back to One, Basically

Tuesday, 6th August 2013

Stating the obvious here, but bands hate having to ask for handouts from their fans. Especially veteran ones. With the understanding that the hard-earned money fans have appropriated toward their career (album sales, concert tickets, merchandise) has essentially made them what they are, it becomes a moral dilemma. On one hand, being free from record company constraints is a worthy pursuit, one that negates the never-ending string of headaches of the creative and logistical variety. On the other, asking folks for money in these shaky economic times could result in a humongous backlash. Established bands certainly have the means to get funding, so why go to the people who have already funded your career? 

Legendary Floridian death metallers Obituary admittedly flip-flopped on the issue for years before soliciting their fans via a Kickstarter campaign this month. Their goal was relatively attainable – $10,000, which was reached within less than a day of its launch. It’s an example of the loyalty that exists among the band’s fanbase, and the promise from Obituary to not only reward donators with special merchandise, but with a killer album. Obituary has yet to disappoint, so all signs point to that being as such…

Lead singer John Tardy was quick on the draw to submit to DR’s inquisition about the campaign, the band’s label status, and work on album #8, which should see the light of day in early 2014. Here’s what Mr. Chopped In Half had to say from his Tampa homebase…

Dead Rhetoric: What was the tipping point in terms of you doing something like this? Your relationship was Roadrunner wasn’t always so rosy, but with Candlelight you were a priority, at least.

John Tardy: Yeah, we thought about it back then. It was one of those things where we talk about it and talk about [it], but don’t really do anything. When it came time to get an album done, we were always like, “Okay, let’s sign.” Obviously, because of those contracts we signed with Roadrunner early on, that music is just gone. I couldn’t print up a copy of Slowly We Rot if I wanted to and start selling them. That’s a sad thing. And to think back then as teenagers signing those contracts, we had no idea to ask attorneys to look them over to see that it was a pretty standard contract. Come to find that signing something away from an entire lifetime doesn’t seem “standard” to me.

But, those days are gone and we’ve learned a lot from that, so, the stuff we did with Candlelight was all licensing, so that music comes back to us. That was a good thing that we got the music back and were in control. Two different things. Candlelight could have done a lot more – I don’t think they had enough albums pressed when the first album [2007’s Xecutioner’s Return] came out. When it got to the stores, there was one copy per store, and they were gone. If you’re lucky enough to get the kids to go down the store, that’s one thing, it’s another if you get them to go and it’s not in the store so they have to wait a month, so by that time, they could download it.

A lot of things have changed from when we first started to now. We could take the master from the ten grand that I was talking about, and we could do a digital-only release, then you don’t have to do anything. Then it really doesn’t cost you anything – that’s not what we really want to do. We’ve been talking with Century Media a lot. They’re really cool dudes and seem interested in working with us on any level, which is cool. If we could get some backing and get some cash in our pocket, we could do a lot more with this record. If we fall a little short, and need help to get some kind of distribution deal or help with pressing or something like that, we could probably get a much better deal for ourselves and maintain control of the record. Then we could get someone like Century Media to help with us on the marketing end because it seems like they have a really long reach.

Dead Rhetoric: From the sounds of it, you will be working with Century Media in some form for the upcoming album? Is that correct?

Tardy: It is. We’ve talked to them a lot the last couple years, even for them to do the album. When we told them the initial plan to do the album by ourselves, they offered to work with us on any level we wanted them to. Those guys are really cool. Any time you see a metal band on Century Media, they usually give them a pretty good shot in marketing. We’ll see. We’re working hard to get funding one way or the other and the Kickstarter was a really good start.

Dead Rhetoric: I’ve been keeping tabs of the donation levels since you launched the campaign and you’re doing really well, but, was there any trepidation asking your fans for their hard-earned money? There’s two sides to this coin with doing something like this…

Tardy: I didn’t hear of Kickstarter beforehand. What happened was, we would up doing the Pay-Per-View, which I wasn’t anticipating. We’ve been working with that UNation website who has been looking to get some events going on, and we’ll give it a try. They asked, “How many people do you think we’ll get to buy it?” And I said, “I don’t really have any idea.” It’s not exactly cheap to do something like that – it’s a substantial amount of money to get those HD cameras up for live Pay-Per-View. We had a whole another sound mix up from a rural studio that we did ourselves; there was a lot of production there.

We also wound up setting up inside Morrisound for two days, where we set up and went over the first three albums [Slowly We Rot, Cause of Death, and The End Complete], 16 songs, much like the set you hear in Ybor. We played those songs, in Morrisound, and had about 50 friends, some coolers of beer [laughs]. We had some real good friends like Scott Burns, Mark Prator was there, Jim and Tom Morris, Jon Oliva showed up, Kelly from Atheist showed up, some of the Deicide guys showed up…

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