Ante Turić of the Croatian metal web zine Perun.hr conducted an inteview with vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth of New Jersey thrashers OVERKILL prior to the band’s March 11 concert in Zagreb, Croatia. You can now watch the chat below.
Speaking about the rumors that he was “near death” when he suffered a stroke on stage in Germany in June 2002, Ellsworth said: “It wasn’t near death. It’s what’s called the TIA [Transient Ischemic Attack]; it’s a small stroke. My mother gets it. It wasn’t [caused by my] lifestyle. I was sober. I was sober for ten years on the road — 1995 to 2005. Not one drink, ain’t no drugs… Nothing! It was just tobacco and coffee. And this is genetic, so it was something I could never see coming. It just happened then.”
He continued: “The most damage that was done from it [was] I fell down a flight of stairs. I didn’t just fall where the stroke happened. I knew something was wrong and I went to the side of the stage and I held and I lost my grip and I went down the stairs and knocked myself out. That’s where the damage was; not the stroke. So [I] wasn’t really near death.”
Ellsworth added: “I read some great rumors afterwards — that I’d blown my brains out on a stage in Germany. This was some Brazilian magazine. [They] said that I’d pulled out a gun in the middle of this [venue] and [there was] like a ‘Boom!’
“[After I had the stroke] I was up walking around. My son was on the road with me at the time. He was 18. I had a good friend in Nürnberg, and she took him to her apartment so that he had a place to go. So that was comfortable. I was going to meet my girlfriend in The Netherlands two days later. She was okay with it. I mean, it was no problem. I was on a train two days after that with my son going to The Netherlands. I was tired, but I wasn’t… If I’d had a near-death experience, I [wouldn’t have been released from] the hospital in two days.”
Ellsworth also talked about the fact that he has been regularly receiving oxygen backstage during OVERKILL‘s current European tour. He said: “It’s really simple. The [reason for the] oxygen treatment is that age happens. And if you watch the shows that we do, if you look at the guy who’s singing up there, you say, ‘This guy’s not on an oxygen treatment. That’s a fucking lie.’ Well, the oxygen is something that instantly clears your head, clears your lungs, and gives you that super energy. So I take real high doses of it in real short periods. I don’t need it all day; I don’t need to have it. I need to just…”
He continued: “I’m 55. [Laughs] I’m 55, [and] I wanna play like I’m 25. I use everything I can that is healthy for me to do that: vitamins, oxygen… And it just helps. I started using it in very high elevations in South America. Bogota, Colombia is two kilometers in the mountains. You could walk with your suitcase up the stairs of a hotel, and you [start having difficulty breathing and you] go, ‘What the fuck is that?’ Well, you’re two kilometers high. I talked to [our tour manager], and she goes, ‘How about oxygen?’ I said, ‘Get oxygen. That’ll be perfect.’ So no doctor, no nothing. It’s my trick.”
As previously reported, OVERKILL has inked a new worldwide deal with Nuclear Blast Records. Previously signed to the label for Europe only, OVERKILL‘s first worldwide release on Nuclear Blast will be a special box set comprised of the band’s entire back catalog, due out this fall.
OVERKILL and SYMPHONY X will join forces for a North American tour in September/October. The 24-date co-headlining trek launches at The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts on September 18, hits four Canadian cities, then wraps up with a very special night at Terminal 5 in New York City on October 17 — the first time in the bands’ combined histories that they’ll play a show together in their own backyard.
Advanced tickets for the confirmed tour dates are on sale exclusively at EnterTheVault.com until April 15, when they go on sale everywhere. VIP packages include a meet-and-greet session with both bands and an exclusive poster.