OVERKILL Bassist Talks 'Immortalis', Illegal Music Downloading

Metal-Experience.com recently conducted an interview with OVERKILL bassist D.D. Verni. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Metal-Experience.com: After all these records is it hard to write something original or would you say with all the experience you have it comes naturally now?

Verni: Well, it's still hard because we have this huge back catalogue and we want to stay true to the kind of music we make. We're not going to start making reggae songs or whatever so it's hard to think of new ways to do stuff. But the writing process itself I'd say is easier because I own a recording studio now. This makes life easier as there's no time pressure and you have access to everything you need. We can experiment a little bit more so that part is easier but thinking up new things is definitely challenging. It is more relaxed when you have your own studio because there is less tension and you think you have all the time in the world but at the end there's always someone like a record company knocking at your door saying, "We've got to have that record now!" The good thing is when you have your own place you don't have to work so many days in a row. You can just take the weekend off and hang out and come back. I think if we were younger that would probably be a bad thing because we would just spend these days partying but now we would spend these days resting.

Metal-Experience.com: What's the reason why you guys have lasted so long?

Verni: I think the reason why we've been around for all these years is because Bobby and I have a pretty good work ethic. I know some bands haven't released a record for three years and then they're like, "Oh my god we need to come up with something!" but we're used to working, we think of the band as our job. Some guys are electricians and we're in a band. We treat it like it's our business, we love it but that's how we look at it.

Metal-Experience.com: Is there a special ingredient for an OVERKILL song?

Verni: Yeah, energy mostly. I like many different kinds of songs and I also like slower songs, so sometimes I'll experiment with that with overkill. I don't know if the kids love them as much as I do, they seem to like the more energetic ones. We try to create a balance. We want in your face tracks, more grooving songs and something you can sing along to. For some bands it's a shame that they can't have fun on stage, its all business for them. We get to have fun, we figure you should all just grab a beer, grab your partner and sing along!

Metal-Experience.com: How did you end up signing with Bodog?

Verni: We were actually going to sign with someone else first. Johnny Z and his wife discovered METALLICA, ANTHRAX, TESTAMENT and us, all those thrash bands from the '80s. They retired but they got a little bit itchy and they wanted to get back into it. Bodog is a huge company and they wanted to do a metal and rock division of what they are doing, they wanted someone who knew this kind of music to do this for them so they talked to Johnny and Marsha. Their first thought was to work with the bands that they knew and that they had worked with. So they came to one of our shows in Manhattan and they hadn't seen us for a lot of years and they were blown away! They were like, "What, is it 1990 all over in here again?!" So they said why don't we do something together and we started talking about different ideas. We were just comfortable with that seeing as we had known them for many years, like family. Negotiations went on for a long time so that's why it took longer and longer to get the record out but we're excited now we committed to a period of about five years and two or three records. It's nice that they're so excited. They only called us about two weeks ago to see if we wanted to do this show for the fans and do some press. Just a fun thing, so that's why we were on the small stage. It was insane how many people were there, there was room for about 10.000 and there was almost 30.000 there. The other bands were already booked here so it wouldn't have been fair to bump them off the main stage.

Metal-Experience.com: Can you tell us something about the lyrics on "Immortalis"?

Verni: I never understand what Bobby's writing about! I read them and sometimes he tells me and sometimes he's not even sure himself. Sometimes he'll just write about a feeling, it may mean one thing to him but to someone else it can feel totally different. It's never what I thought it was. I'm not all that concerned with lyrics, if they are interesting and/or fun to sing along to, that's OK.

Metal-Experience.com: How important is it that people actually pay attention to the lyrics then?

Verni: Well, it is important in a way, the worst thing would be to have like a MANOWAR album, that's kind of silly to me.. Don't get me wrong I love MANOWAR, they are fun and everything but the lyric thing is kind of silly. You want them to be interesting, they have to make the song better.

Metal-Experience.com: Have you had any feedback on "Immortalis" yet?

Verni: Blitz and I are overwhelmed, the press really liked it. Thrash and speed metal seems to be having a bit of a resurgence over here and because the album is a bit more thrashy we got some great reviews here. Germany has been so good to us, for two decades now we've been coming here to do shows. Sometimes it's frustrating because they never want us to change but they've stuck with us through everything and they know that in our core this is what we do. German people more than any territory in the world like that and respect that.

Metal-Experience.com: Can you explain the implications of the title "Immortalis"?

Verni: We couldn't find a title for this album and it was getting later and later. We were talking to Johnny z and we were telling him that we were looking for a Latin word or phrase and the next day he said, "What about 'Immortalis'?'" 'cause it means "immortal" in Latin and it kind of applies to you guys.." In an interview it was once said that OVERKILL are the cockroaches of metal, you can stamp on them but you can't kill them. And it was also the last day, we really needed a title! So when it came we all said, let's do it. No title track on this album, but you know, we did "Overkill" and then we did "Overkill II" and then "Overkill III" and then we kind of stopped. But on this album there's another "Overkill". We just kind of picked up where the other one left off, I don't really know why, it just kind of happened. But for people who are fans of the first three albums it's good. When we were recording the song we said to each other, "Hey this sounds kind of like the other ones!" and then Blitz started doing the lyrics for it and it was a fun thing because it just took us right back. A lot of times there's retrospective things that come out but me and Blitz are also really interested in what is happening today.

Metal-Experience.com: How do you feel about illegal downloading of music?

Verni: I don't know exactly, I guess it's all kind of unfortunate. It affects the fans, and they'll get the music any way they can but if you sell less units then the label will be unhappy and they give you less money to make the record. So then the record is less good and the fans will be unhappy so it kind of all works together. In the future I think things will change even more when it comes to the way we buy music, it seems it will change into something even I can't think of where maybe we won't be able to buy records anymore and it'll all be downloads. Or maybe bands won't even release whole records anymore and just do three songs at a time instead so they can control things more. It's not so much about the fans as it is about the labels, they just want to make more profit. It's trickling away little by little. Recently a major newspaper in the UK put copies of records in one of their issues and the labels went nuts. If it was up to me the fans could just have the music as long as they come to the shows but it doesn't work that way.

Read the entire interview at Metal-Experience.com.

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