Matt Coe of Dead Rhetoric recently conducted an interview with vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth of New Jersey thrash metal veterans OVERKILL. A few excerpts follow below.
Dead Rhetoric: "The Grinding Wheel" is the 18th studio album for OVERKILL. Seems like this is another three-dimensional record to these ears, with a lot more diversity in terms of longer arrangements and a bit more of that BLACK SABBATH-like darkness and swing from time to time. How do you look at the product now that it is complete and ready for public consumption?
Bobby: "I think after we talk for a few minutes, you are going to hear that I'm still very excited. The reason for that excitement is it feels very successful. One of the reasons is the diversity that you spoke of. We went into the attic, down into the basement, pulled out the punk rock t-shirts, the rock and roll, the groove, some epic parts, a little SABBATH as well as some traditional and classic heavy metal. And then added the energy to it and put our OVERKILL brand on it. It's always fun to be able to do things that are, just let's say, out of our wheelhouse. Being able to hit the fastball but also throw a little curve in there sometimes. We are a big fan of that. What we have here is something that holds up in our scheme with that diversity, and the band is very excited about that."
Dead Rhetoric: As veterans like BLACK SABBATH and JUDAS PRIEST slow down or retire from extensive touring, do you have any concerns about who will pick up the slack and carry the torch for metal when many of these legacy acts from the '70s and '80s pack it in?
Bobby: "That's a great question, because it's never been presented to me. I don't know about you, but I always think [these bands] are going to still be here. And I know they won't be there after a while. I haven't thought about that, I don't think it'll be the newer type of metal that replaces it. There is going to be something missing when the SABBATHs and the PRIESTs and the MAIDENs hang up their sticks and guitars. I'd be willing to do it, it's going to be a tough job. I suppose it will be someone from the 'Big Four' that will be the next in line for icon status."
Dead Rhetoric: Has your definition of success changed from the beginning of OVERKILL to the current incarnation?
Bobby: "I think so. Because when I was a kid, I was [thinking] like a kid. It was about the chaos, that seemed successful. I went to school and I was close to a degree, and then I got a record deal and I was thrown into this stuff. I lived in a camper, I showered in a dirty shower in Munich, Germany, and then I was doing shows in Japan and Los Angeles. That was satisfying enough, and what's happened over time is that chaos has melted away and shown a different type of definition. And that definition is not longevity, but for sure pride. This is probably my biggest sin, pride — love us or hate us, you can say that we have done it with everything in our arsenal, all the time. That to me becomes very successful — our presentation from t-shirts to album covers to mixes to the DVD, it's all about pride. That melds into success for me."
Dead Rhetoric: Would you ever consider writing a biography on the life and times of OVERKILL? And, are there any particular avenues you'd like to venture into be it personally or professionally just for the experience?
Bobby: "I've been asked a few times, and by writers, guys I've known. Obviously, I'm a people person. I've been doing this for 35 years and you don't do this at my level and not like people. You talk to different people every day, and, obviously, you talk about music. I would never write about what happened. I could take story after story and put them together by a string, that would be a timeline. All these little unique happenstances, as opposed to airing our dirty laundry. It's been one of our greatest assets is that we are up in New Jersey where our uncles taught us to work hard and keep your mouths shut. I would love to speak about some of the wonderful and funny things that have happened to us along the way — not a tell-all book, but let's tell a little bit about what's gone on."
Read the entire interview at Dead Rhetoric.
Photo credit: Mark Weiss