Rustyn Rose of Metalholic recently conducted an interview with frontman Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth of New Jersey thrash metal veterans OVERKILL about their forthcoming album, "The Wings Of War". You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the consistency of OVERKILL's studio output:
Bobby: "I think pride is the element and pride in relevance, current-day relevance. I love talking about what OVERKILL is, where we are, not where we were or what we were. I think that that's why it continues at this level, is that becomes a motivation to not just mail in the tracks, to not put out another one. It's the idea, is that you compete against yourself to make it something that's morphed into something a little bit different but still able to put the OVERKILL stamp on it at the end of the day. I think on the current record, that's a good example of it. I think we're going to have success with those elements of what motivates us."
On how he balances his work/life relationship with co-founding bassist D.D. Verni:
Bobby: "I'm not going to say first and foremost, but a sure part of our personality is ball busting. We have a good time. We're the same type of people. I think that works. We complement each other very well. I think probably the main reason is that we always put the guy before the band. You put the guy's family before the band, his well-being. If that happens, the band is pretty easy. I think over these 35 years, any dirt on OVERKILL wasn't started by OVERKILL. I think that's kind of the way we like to live our lives. We present ourselves with one voice. We write because we like to write. We play because we like to play and we keep our secrets to ourselves. It's not about what one said about the other. I think that's how it works. It's a real simple process. It's less complicated and only lends itself to more of the good times as opposed to any of the bullshit."
On the influence of new drummer Jason Bittner (ex-FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, SHADOWS FALL) on "The Wings Of War":
Bobby: "I knew this was going to change. I think it was late May or June of 2017 he joined the band, and we're in Moscow. I was like three songs in and I'm, like, 'This is different. It's already different.' You can either embrace that change or you can force it into a different direction. I think what we did was embrace and became part of it. We were really optimistic by the time we got to the studio that he had to offer was in that way of surgical brutality, precision that he plays with that was going to give us other places to go. We got ourselves excited to be able to branch out as individuals in the band. As Jason started playing and the songs started morphing and changes started happening, they started out as these simple compositions that turned into more complex presentations, Dave [Linsk, guitar] and I, even D.D., started seeing the spots where we could add melody. You have this ritual precision on one side and you have this melodic, rhythm approach on the other side which creates this third entity. I think Jason had a lot to do with the final outcome, let's just say his style, the change he brought to the band and the rest of us embracing that change and becoming part of it."
On whether OVERKILL writes albums with a "template" in mind each time:
Bobby: "I think you make a great point because I agree there's a template. I think the template is based on success and it comes into chapters of a book or eras that we're in. I agree, also, with 'Ironbound' up until 'The Grinding Wheel', but on 'The Grinding Wheel', that template was starting to be smashed, and I think it was starting to be smashed with tempo changes. The title track I just mentioned, adding a little doom and gloom. The punk rock of 'Let's All Go To Hades'. There's a center section in 'Mean Green Killing Machine' that almost lends itself to blues. I think, sure it's in the 'Ironbound' template, but it started wandering from the center, which is a perfect setup for this record and not having to force the breaking of that template because I do think it's different. This started out with super simplicity. These were simple four-, eight-, 10-note riffs that morphed into kind of this beast by the individual input. We didn't have to worry about going back or being stuck into something that we had been stuck in. I think it's a good start for us for this era because for sure, it kind of marks the change you spoke of."
"The Wings Of War" will be released February 22 via Nuclear Blast. The album was recorded at Gear Recording Studio in New Jersey, SKH Studio in Florida and Jrod Productions with engineering handled by Verni and Linsk. The album was produced by the band while Chris "Zeuss" Harris took care of the mixing and mastering. Travis Smith (NEVERMORE, OPETH, SOILWORK, DEATH) was again enlisted to create the artwork for the album.