Overkill has been thrashing for 35 years now, their formula is to record their own sound, make it loud and fast and have fun while doing it. Overkill’s tour just concluded with support by Havok, and Crowbar, we had the chance to chat with the man himself Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, and he had some words for metalheads that we can all appreciate. From his love for vinyl, to disagreement with the jenners re-selling an image of what is pure to us metalheads. Read below and keep moshing.
Rockbrary- “You did the first tour in big venues, why do you go out and play a second leg in smaller venues?”
Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth- “This tour, many places are B markets, but I think it is also places you need to play. if you play the B markets and put people in the room, it means you are doing good. Up to this point we are doing good.”
Rockbrary- “A lot of fans love when you go to smaller venues, or smaller towns.”
Bobby- “When you want to go a second round you have to mix it up, you don’t want to go back to The Grove, we’ve played that. When we went to New Jersey, we did a place called Starling, no we are gonna one in Pomona, it’s relatively the same city just smaller venues.”
Rockbrary- “It is all about keeping the fans happy!
Bobby- “Right, it keeps me happy too. I am working I am happy.”
Rockbrary- “The market for cd sells is different from the early days, social media exposure and streaming music is huge, which can affect sells and the revenue for bands.”
Bobby- “Well you either embrace it or get left behind, we have done this first record here in the States with Nuclear Blast Records, and the great thing is that they target the clientele. You have to know your customers. If we are just the band creating the music of course we want the music sold but you have to do it a bit different. So vinyl is back, all different colors of vinyl are out. I mean there was a cassette made just for novelties sake. I think if you have a great partnership with the label, it does not mean you get left behind by the social media age; you just have to adapt to what your customer wants. Nuclear Blast can figure that out for us, it is still working for us. I am not gonna bitch and moan you know… (laughs)”
Rockbrary- “What is the best market for you guys world wide?”
Bobby- “If you l look at it as wholes, we still sell more records in America, that will lead you to believe this is the place where it happens. But in a consolidated area, lets say Germany because we are consistent doing 1000 people a night, from city to city, but when you look at the big demographics I still think the States.”
Rockbrary- “What was the recording process for you guys, I know you have your own studio and record your own music…”
Bobby- “We’ve been taking production credit all the way from the early days, many of the guys are studio types, D. D. owns his studio, Dave has his studio in his house where he records there all the time. I have a little A track where I record demos all the time. To be able to produce your own stuff is about getting towns, to be able to represent yourself. You want to do it in a way to be fucking organized, that is what the production is. You need to be able to know where are the correct drum tracks, or the guitar tracks…where are those fucking things.
So the production is about organization, once you get the tones is really about performance/ organization so you can have an easy road to production. So yea we like doing it that way.”
Rockbrary- “Jason has been a great friend of you guys for some time, how have the fans responded so far.”
Bobby- “Well, we called him all the way back since last tour, because Eddie was not going to be able to continue doing it. He is actually doing sound for us, you just passed him earlier up front.
But it was temporary for him. Jason is right for this band, he is cut from it. I have known him all the way from when I was 28 or 30 and he was 18, he used to hang around our shows with two drum sticks in his pocket. So he is based up to this kind of music, in parts of fans accepting him I don’t think there is an issue. I mean this kid is great, he is the top, but he also comes from this kind of school. Another reason why I like him is because he is from our area, you know you bust someone’s balls, you do it t someone that is not from your area they will think you are serious until they get to know you. It is great to have someone with his skill in the band, I tour with someone I like to tour with, otherwise I would not do it. If these guys were all a pain in the ass, and someone is talking behind people’s backs etc. I will not be interested.”
Rockbrary- “What is your least to favorite format release of music?”
Bobby- “From the time when I was a kid, playing Black Sabbath with a broom stick in front of the mirror wearing nothing but underwear, some picture you are getting from that…A kid says to himself, how could can it be to make records, and records mean vinyl. if i have to pick, i would say vinyl, it was always a great feeling to hold those in your hand. My heartbeats a little faster when I am holding an Overkill vinyl on my hand.”
Rockbrary- “It is always great to have the little extras too, like patches, pins etc.”
Bobby- “Yes it is always good to have, it makes you feel connected. You know its funny to me, for ever ago it was the CD, and you say what the fuck is this we worked on this artwork for months but I can’t see it. Your head is as big as your finger nails like where the hell am I?”
Rockbrary- “Why do you think thrash metal was revitalized in the current days.”
Bobby- “I cant speak for others, I think that for Overkill it was a matter of timing, when we were around that era, Eddie is more of a thrash drummer, so back in 2005,he became that missing piece of the band that was lacking to have become this revamped band as you say. I also think that we are opportunist, we are guys from Jersey and our uncles said, hey work hard and keep your fucking mouth shut. If you could do that you will have that mentality and you realize what the opportunities around you are. I think the timing of Ryan coming in on 2005 it give us the opportunity to experience our selves and become thrash metal.
If you look at overkill, you think it is a never changing entity, but there are changes from within. It is a band that never went away, we never said oh nobody appreciates my genius, I am gonna go drink beer and smoke cigarettes play my guitar in the basement of my mothers house. We were skilled maybe from those uncles, to search those opportunities.”
Rockbrary- “What was the recording process like, do you record in person together at the studio?”
Bobby- “We do a bit of both in person and technological way. I pick up a six pack, bring some food in and sit in the corner. I let the boys hash it out, then it starts taking a more technological way, it involves the net, we send each other demos and work on it, call each other hey I need this to work on this riff etc. I think that it is about reinvention, specially for old dogs, you know, all dogs can learn new tricks. if you don’t you are one of those guys that says, ah nobody fucking pays me, this fucking sucks I don’t even know why I am doing it…well then don’t!
If you become complacent to what the way the world is now you will just be there and say ok well I did it now I’m here, it will never come to you. i think you have to reinvent, it has worked for 35 years and we are doing great.”
Rockbrary- “When you are in the studio seeing the band work their magic, do you collaborate with the band, in terms of music do you have a saying.”
Bobby- “Of course, it starts with D. D. and ends with my self, after that start we are constantly moving things around, cutting parts, doing things different here and there. We do it that way so we can record it. We sit down and say check this part out i made it shorter or i played that riff six times etc. Usually Dee Dee send me demos and I say, I am a total professional I don’t understand how you want me to write to this garbage! (laughs) Every year, the same thing…You gotta have fun and bust balls, it means you like the other guy.”
Rockbrary- “There are band shirts being sold at $150.00 or so by some infamous people, what is your point of view on that matter?”
Bobby- “One of the reasons that this music has such great value not only to the people that play it but to the people that listen to it. Now Metallica got so big by their own hand, not by the popularity of movies they have, or fashion icons or something like so. They got big because they wrote songs and they knew how to presented to people. When people come in and start polluting that purity, we as metal heads salute them with the Jersey way and that is the middle finger…jokes- This is obviously how we promise to our women in Jersey (hahaha) But I think that we say hey, you have yours don’t come here and stop fucking our world, because we like what we have!
You have to be a fan of this stuff, I was banging my head to Motorhead live before I started singing with Overkill. That says a lot for the people in this industry it is not some contrived plan, it is not trying to sell something is it trying to do something. The people who are doing this, (the Jenners) they are doing it to sell something to the people to earn money, we play music because it’s part of us. It is a total different motivation.”
Reported by: Hostile Jo