Interviews

Interview with Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, (Vocals) (Overkill)

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Interviewed by Marianne Jacobsen (Journalist/Writer) Myglobalmind Webzine

 

 

MGM: Thanks for talking to me today.

BB: Where you from?

MGM: Canada – Toronto.

BB: Oh yeah? Toronto is one of our regular stops. Love the Opera House.

MGM: Yeah I hear its getting a facelift which is a bit of a bummer because I like to see my shows at venues that aren’t too polished.

BB: Yeah you know that’s kind of the mood that this genre creates and once you get a group of people into a room and play metal the less classy place seems more fitting.

MGM: So Congrats on this new box set Historikill the timing couldn’t be better.

BB: Yes! There is an influx of new metal fans and with that its given us new legs. It’s got new blood in it.
its retained its old blood because once you’re in your always in. Its one of those type of things.

MGM: LIFERS!!!

BB: Also for the people who have never seen us live and want to know about where we came from and what was going on for us musically during that period of time.  There are a lot of younger new fans who are more familiar with our last Trilogy of records.  There are older fans that are more familiar with our first six records. When metal kind of had its dark days in 90s/00s.  This is quintessential proof that there was solid progressive releases within the genre. Just because it was unpopular doesn’t mean that some of the bands, like ourselves, continued to do what they love to do best and that is what Historikill possesses.

MGM: So when someone gets your box set where would you suggest they start the listening attack? (MGM is more backwards being an Aquarian and all)

BB: Yeah I would say start at the beginning. I mean if its really going to be a history lesson with regard to how it was I think it necessary to see the steps. I’ve always prided myself on the fact that Overkill in the present day is the most important thing. However knowing where you are, you have to know where you have come from. I think by following the albums from the beginning lets you know how the band developed.

Overkill has never had an identity crisis but for sure there are changes that are noticeable, recognizable by those who listen and by those in the band so I would suggest doing Historikill in chronological order.

MGM: You are about to head out on tour with Symphony X – have you ever toured with them before?

BB: We’ve done one off shows with them like Heavy MTL/Heavy TO – which I consider to be one of the best metal festival in North America – however we have never done a full tour with them.

MGM: I was at Heavy T.O. and saw Overkill!!! Great weekend!

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BB: That was a great show too!

BB: As far as the Symphony X guys go, they are Jersey guys that we used to rent rehearsal space out to them.
So Overkill would be recording in one room and Symphony X would be in another room practicing. We’ve known Mike and Jason and Russell for a long period of time. I think that’s how this tour worked because there are marketable differences between both bands. We are obviously both metal bands but I think that we draw different audiences and the idea is to expose your self to as many audiences as possible. So doing it this way it gives us an opportunity to play in front of the Symphony X fans as opposed to just Overkill fans.

MGM: How would you identify Overkill?

BB: There is a definite consistency with Overkill’s music. Our feeling is always do what you do best. Don’t have an identity crisis. If we don’t know who we are at this point in our careers then there is no finding us. And I think that early on we kinda found ourselves and that made the difference with regard to that consistency. We do what we do. We like to do it – and in our case we do it well.

MGM: So if Overkill was in the dictionary what would the definition be?

BB: You know what I think one of the special things about Overkill is that, and its one of the reasons that we were able to “weather the dark days”.  You know when you put the guys in the band before the band – the band takes care of itself.

The reason why I got into the band was not necessarily the business and honestly I think of the business as a separate thing. When I think of the band I think of me as part of 5 guys that like to spend time with each other and together we create this kind of impact that we are better as the front line of a football team than we are as individuals.

So I think that if you put the band members first. The band takes care of itself.

And that is what I think makes Overkill the band that it is.

Its not about who is #1, who’s popular, who’s not popular. Its not any of that bullshit its about rollin with buddies having a few beers and doing some kick ass shows.

This I think is a good formula for Overkill.

MGM: There has to be a strong work ethic in there too as Overkill has been around for about 3 decades right?

BB: Well some say 1981, some say 1985.

I think the work ethic is something that you really don’t think about. I think its something instilled in us by our parents. One of the wonderful things abut New Jersey is – you know Jersey gets a bad rap, like people thing “Jersey is where New York sends its garbage” – let me tell you something. The majority of people who live in Manhattan are not from Manhattan. However, the people who live in New Jersey are really from here. So we have the essence of the Tri State area for working, however we also have a basis of family and community that in my opinion sets us way apart from a lot of, let’s say, traditional Manhattanites.

I think one of the special things about Overkill is that the place we grew up gave us the opportunity to do what we do, not complain about it and weather the storms. Whatever those storms may be.

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MGM: How does Overkill keep going after all these years.

BB: I think that if you surround yourself with the right people in this business you can be successful. Now I’m from New Jersey so I’ll keep my secrets close to my chest. The other side of that though is that Overkill has given me everything I have in my life. Whether that be the home that I live in or the relationship I have with my wife, they all spawn from Overkill.

So yes, this is possible to do and possible also to fruitful at it. However its not about sitting around playing your guitar and complaining that nobody recognizes how talented I am. Its abut going out there and pulling the fucking brass ring. You know, its there – go fucking get it! And that’s kinda the way that we have worked at this. So its very possible to make a living at this.

MGM: Tips for the upcoming musician?

BB: Don’t air your dirty laundry in the press and presenting yourself with one unified voice. When you hear that, “so and sos a pain in the ass” or “we could have done better” – you will never hear that from Overkill.

MGM: There’s no smack talk out there – I looked for it! (laughter)

BB: If we are looking at Historikill as a darker days of metal. It didn’t mean that they were totally fruitful, it meant that we were reinventing ourselves during that particular time. We toured a little bit less, however we made some really great record deals back then and made things turn into positive things.
If the room was very crowded in 1993/4 with 100 international touring metal bands – by 1997 there was 8 of us. And we were one of the 8. We weren’t one of the Big 4 – we were one of the littler guys.

MGM: I’m not a big fan of the Big 4 label as I think there are too many bands that created a foundation during that time including Overkill.

BB: With you saying that proves my point. If you are talking about it, it helps where I am. If your opinion is that “I don’t really think there should be a Big 4” – what that means is that you are thinking of what Overkill is doing and others like us. So it helps across the board. That’s what I mean by taking business a business opportunity like Historikill and reinventing yourself.

BB: You feel like you are talking to one of the Sopranos right now don’t you?

(laughter)

BB: Jersey people are a unique breed. I think that we are a polite bunch but, you know, we are not ones to fuck with.

MGM: I love it! I don’t know if I can print it – but I love it!

(laughter)

MGM: Any highlights of your career.

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BB: Well, singing a Motorhead song in Germany when asked my Lemmy himself is definitely up there. My mind was blown and I can remember calling my wife and saying “Lemmy just invited me to sing Overkill with him on stage! I can’t believe it! It’s unbelievable!” and her response was, “I’m stuck on the ice in our driveway”.

(laughter)

MGM: How do you feel about the way that social media has affected music?

BB: I think as far as the information part is great. However I think it’s disgusting that everything is overblown and exploited. It is what it is though. To complain about it is a non-acceptance of things and there has to be some level of acceptance here. We have to accept the fact of where we are. And I’ve used this word a bunch in the interview and that with regard to reinventing.

So if you can accept where you are you have the opportunity to reinvent and a perfect example of this is Nuclear Blast Records. We sign a worldwide deal with these guys because of how they reinvent their corner of the music industry. What they do is they target their customers. They put specialty product out, they put out vinyl, they put out 200 gram vinyl for the super collector, they put out digipaks, all sorts of other shit.

Now, the beauty of it is – is that the metal fans want their bands around so the majority of the metal community supports. Do they download? I’m sure. I think that the other side of it is however – is that they are also at the same time supporting their community.

MGM: Thanks Bobby! See you on the Road!

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