OVERKILL Frontman: 'We're Not Just Getting Lucky. We're Working Harder At What We Do Well'

June 3, 2019

Metal Mayhem ROC conducted an interview with frontman Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth of New Jersey thrash veterans OVERKILL prior to the band's May 9 concert at Anthology in Rochester, New York. You can listen to the entire chat via the Spreaker widget below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On how touring has changed from OVERKILL since the 1980s:

Bobby: "I think age is involved as time has passed. It has not made it necessarily different from the excitement, but different in how you have to have to manage it daily. Somebody asked me, 'What's the difference between now and then?' I said, 'Then, I kicked the door open, I had a beer in each hand and a hard-on.' Now, I have a warm cup of coffee and I'm looking for a clean toilet. [Laughs] It doesn't have any effect or bearing on the show. That's where the staying power or relationship to Rochester comes from, as well as other markets."

On whether the advancements in technology make writing and sharing music easier for him:

Bobby: "We're the combination of both. I don't want to sound like I'm anti-technology; I'm all for it. We come from that era we just talked about. I'm better off shaking hands. If I want to give you a like, I'll give you a call with my phone. [Laughs] I've got plenty of fucking friends — back off. [Laughs] I'm only joking. I come from that era, which proves that I'm not a dinosaur when it comes to my thinking, but I think with my regard to my actions, of course I trade files. It makes it more instantaneous that ideas never go away. The ideas are constantly being evolved as files are being traded. I love doing that. I also love getting in a room sweating with the guys. Somebody picks up a 12-pack and somebody else brings a pizza and you're going over the song. We're a combination of both. I think that to some degree, thank god this stuff has hung on for so long. It's given me something to do before I go to the retirement home. To be able to do both is kind of cool. To be able to be versed enough in, like with D.D.'s [Verni, bass] with Pro Tools, is awesome. The other side, I've always loved my privacy. Thirty days on the road, I have no problem seeing people all the time. I don't want to be on Facebook maintaining."

On whether he considers himself a "metal legend" or reflects on OVERKILL's career:

Bobby: "You are what you eat. I just won't digest that legendary stuff. I rather just be current in the present day. It's a nice compliment — don't get me wrong, but to me, it's kind of air-filled. It's still a proving ground to me. If it's a proving ground, then you really get the best of the band. You don't get a bunch of guys who are resting on the laurel that never existed. There is no laurel. It never went huge for us and this level of thrash. We can fill clubs and have a great time doing it. Don't get me wrong. We can make a living, but you can't compare it to some of the stuff that's out there. It's more a working man's ethic, I think. Nobody goes up to the guy who's worked his whole life in a blue-collar thing and go, 'You're a blue-collar legend!' They never say that! But if I can compare myself to that, I think, for sure, it keeps me personally grounded. It gives me the opportunity, like you were saying, this era of OVERKILL's got something special about it. Obviously, we're trying to improve ourselves. We're not just getting lucky. We're working harder at what we do well. I mean, the legendary stuff, it's not for me. Listen, if I was making millions of dollars monthly and vacationing on a desert islands with supermodels, then sure, throw it at me, but I am cutting my own fucking grass."

On the next generation of metalheads:

Bobby: "I think with regard to the difference in generations or the fact that it is generational, shows its value. It's been kind of un-polluted by the mainstream. The idea that it's in dirty clubs with beer on the floor. Sure, you do big European festivals or small theaters we've done on this entire tour, House Of Blues, we've done on this. They're full rooms; it's great, but it's generational with regard to its purity. It's easy for a dad to tell his son, 'Check this out.' The dad actually has credibility with his son, who is going 'Fuck… these guys are the real deal.' It hits you. If you're into metal or heavy music and his son will pass it onto his son, who is a 16-year-old. I always thought that generational specific to this genre is because of its purity. But how do you pass the torch on? I don't know. It's a different world. Inasmuch as technology has helped to make it easier for a guy like me or make it easier for young bands to record in a garage or bedroom with a Pro Tools setup… You can make a great-sounding thing at home, but there's so many people doing it that the field is so full of competition that it's hard to rise above. I think the thing that helped us was learning back then, that rising above was reputation, hand-shaking and improvement, not in the modern day, a different kind of socialization. You had to be at the club every weekend, whether you're playing or not. You had to know the other bands. You had to."

OVERKILL's nineteenth studio album, "The Wings Of War", was released in February via Nuclear Blast.

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