OVERKILL vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth recently spoke with Michael Francisco of Sonic Perspectives. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On turning 60:
Bobby: “I’m still energetic. I’ve always said I’d do this as long as I can do it at a high level, or more-than-acceptable level. It’s always been an energy-induced band. [We’re] still kicking ass and taking names, so that’s the important thing.”
On new drummer Jason Bittner‘s impact on the group’s latest album, “The Wings Of War”:
Bobby: “He’s really the x-factor on it. It’s changed the chemistry, but it still has an OVERKILL stamp on it at the end of the day, which to us is the important thing. The vision for us is always, ‘It’s got to be OVERKILL.’ That’s the only vision we really have. It’s not like we’re painting broad strokes this time, or small strokes — we just want it to be OVERKILL.”
On how Bittner was asked to join the group:
Bobby: “He had always wanted to be in this band. The audition was very simple — it was done over the phone: ‘Do you want to be in?’ ‘Now? Give me 10 minutes — I’ve got to ask my wife. I just told her I was leaving the touring life.’ He called back in 10 minutes and said, ‘I’m in.'”
On the band’s consistency:
Bobby: “We know what we are. Sure, we live in a box — we just find new things within the box. You’re not going to hear us add symphonic parts to OVERKILL. It is meat-and-potatoes, but every now and then, [there’s] something kind of strange on there, or going in a different direction, or adding the groove to the speed. It incites us to do more stuff, [and] inspires us to say, ‘Hey, this is still working. It’s still relevant in the current day. [We’re] not just living in a nostalgic age in our head and mailing the tracks in so we can tour.’ It’s about creating something that’s got value in the present day.”
On the group’s 2018 live album, “Live In Oberhausen”, which featured performances of the group’s albums “Horrorscope” and “Feel The Fire” in their entireties:
Bobby: “We’re not really anniversary people — we’d rather stay in the current day — but we owed Nuclear Blast a DVD. We were all sitting around a dressing room in Belgium, and somebody said, ‘We should do ‘Horrorscope’, because it’s a 25th anniversary.’ ‘Oh, okay — but everybody does that shit.’ That’s kind of our thinking. Then the idea was, ‘Hey, it’s 30 for ‘Feel The Fire’. If we put both in in only one night and not do it on an entire tour, then it would actually be special. It was a memorable night for us and a great package — a real good live record we’re proud of.”
On surviving the 1990s:
Bobby: “The major labels abandoned the thrash scene and moved over to [grunge]. They were saying, ‘Oh, who else is coming out of Seattle? How can we cut our expenses and sign more of these bands?’ That’s what major labels do. I hold no grudge — I get it. As soon as you sign the contract, you knew that you were going to one day be dropped. It’s just a matter of when. I kind of look at it as a blessing, because Atlantic gave us the opportunity to be visible everywhere, but we also had the individual attention that Megaforce gave us. A lot of the Atlantic records, what you think they are, were really Megaforce records that [were] distributed by Atlantic. When the ’90s came along, we knew that to do what we loved doing, we had to understand the business aspect. We had great managers who taught us — ‘Pay attention. This is important,’ not like, ‘Shut up. I’ll make the decisions.’ When we got rid of management, we increased our cash flow by 20 percent right then. You can’t get to Cincinnati if you don’t have any fucking money. We were realists, as well as dreamers. I think the ’90s are some of the proudest [years] for me, because a lot of other guys just packed up the tent and went home. There was a few bands that hung around because they understood the principle [that] positive cash flow is necessary to do what you love doing.”
On what about thrash continues to appeal to him:
Bobby: “The attraction I have to this kind of music as a fan is that it still speaks of youthful angst to me, and still speaks of progressive musicianship from record to record. I think that people that were [originally] attracted to it appreciate that, and recognize its purity.”
OVERKILL‘s nineteenth studio album, “The Wings Of War”, was released in February via Nuclear Blast.