Former OVERKILL guitarist Bobby Gustafson says that the band hasn't been the same since his departure from the group three decades ago.
Gustafson joined OVERKILL in 1982 and played on the band first four albums — "Feel The Fire" (1985), "Taking Over" (1987), "Under The Influence" (1988) and "The Years Of Decay" (1989) — before being shown the door in 1990 amid growing tension between him and OVERKILL bassist D.D. Verni.
In a recent interview with J-Rocks Metal Zone 's "That Metal Interview", Gustafson stated about his contributions to OVERKILL: "Basically, the band was a cover band before I joined. They were out a couple of years before me, but they were playing the circuit doing covers. And actually, when I first joined, that's what I was learning — was covers. And I hate it. I just don't like to do cover-band stuff. I'm, like, 'Why would I practice every day of my life to play somebody else's songs?' And I was basically the youngest guy in the band. I think I was 17, and those guys are, like, six years older than me. So, I told them, 'Look, I can write songs. I don't wanna play other people's music. Why don't we become an original band?' We actually had two guitar players, on and off, for a month or two, but no one would stay, for some reason, until I just said, 'Look, let's just keep one. I can handle it.' And we did. So, then we started to write.
"Basically, 99 percent of those first four albums is my riffs and my sound and my songs," he continued. "It's my feel. I was the only guitar player, so there was no one else putting in any other influence, and, basically, the job was left up to me, so that's what I did.
"Once your main songwriter is gone, which is one of the things I presented to Blitz [OVERKILL singer Bobby Ellsworth] when all that crap was going down… I'm, like, 'If you feel strong enough that you wanna lose your main songwriter after four albums, you're not gonna be the same.' But he and D.D. were closer friends before — they kind of started the band together — so it just took a different route.
"I didn't really listen to much of the stuff they did after me — once in a while, if it was on YouTube or it came up on television, on satellite radio, that I listen to — but that's all I hear from people, that the band was not the same and the band they fell in love with completely changed and they kind of lose interest," he added.
"They can have other guitar players come in, but they don't have my mind and they don't have my thought patterns of how a song should be put together. They can play the parts, but they can't duplicate, really, what I did, because everyone is just an individual, and once that's kind of gone, it's gone."
Asked what happened to cause his exit from OVERKILL, Gustafson said: "It's a whole bunch of stuff — it's a little bit of a lot of things — but, basically, the final fight was… There was a show at L'Amours that D.D. wanted to do for Christmas money, and I just didn't see that as being a good idea after we had just sold out Studio 54 in Manhattan, and we were getting ready to do what would have been the fifth album. I didn't feel right about doing a show where our last impression was gonna be half OVERKILL, half covers, half being drunk and having a good time and charging people a regular OVERKILL price to get in. But you're not seeing an OVERKILL show. I said, 'I'm not gonna do this.' I said, 'I don't want any part of that.' And then one thing led to another. And then I didn't hear from him. But then I'm hearing other stuff that they were kind of plotting behind my back because we had some money coming in from a merchandise advance. So it was just a lot of little things that kind of all built up. And I was just getting kind of sick of them not really having much integrity anymore and just using the band for nothing but a profit. They just became greedy. And I'm, like, 'I didn't bust my ass getting us bigger and bigger and bigger and having better songs with each album just so you can have Christmas money.' It's, like, 'Get a fucking job. Don't use my band to do something like that.' I just didn't agree with them on many levels after that. And maybe if we were making money, it would have been a different scenario, but four albums in, we still really weren't making much money, but then when finally we were gonna make some, which would have been the merchandise advance, they kind of found a way to cut me out of it. And the two of them [D.D. and Blitz] have pretty much owned the band ever since. And that's what they wanted. So they got it."
Ellsworth told Invisible Oranges that OVERKILL's decision to replace Gustafson with two guitarists was primarily due to the fact that the group wanted to do something different. "Bobby left the band, and it wasn't the most amicable circumstances," he explained. "There are different stories about what happened, but I wanted to play with D.D. We started the band and I trusted his ethic and songwriting. We knew if we replaced Bobby with one guitarist, we'd get compared to what we were. So, it seemed like to logical thing to bring in two players. We didn't want anyone to say, 'Bobby was better than this new guy.' And we wanted to perform old stuff with two guitars to keep in fresh. We realized that change isn't a bad thing."
OVERKILL's current lineup includes Verni and Ellsworth alongside guitarists Dave Linsk and Derek Tailer, plus the band's latest addition, drummer Jason Bittner.
Gustafson is involved in a new band called SATANS TAINT, which released its latest album, "Destruction Ritual", last year.