OVERKILL drummer Jason Bittner spoke to Metal Pilgrim about how he is dealing with the coronavirus crisis and what the touring circuit might look like post-pandemic.
"Before this whole [coronavirus] thing started, I would have been in the midst of making two albums anyways," he said (see video below). "Which I'm still gonna be doing, but now it's all this other online stuff that I'm taking part in with other people that's kind of taken priority.
"We were supposed to finish this [U.S.] tour, and literally we just got the first five-song demo from D.D. [Verni, OVERKILL bassist] for the next record. So our plan was to start working on new material, but considering the fact that we have to stay in our spaces right now, we're just kind of doing things electronically and it's just given D.D. some more time to write. Because we were kind of on a little bit of a timeline, 'cause we — well, all right, I'll say we had a plan, but everybody had a plan before last month. It's like they say, God laughs at you when you make a plan.
"Our plan was to be on the road with a full European tour [in] March 2021 with a new album," he continued. "We have no idea if that's gonna even be a possibility right now, because timelines that we had for the record label and whatnot are no longer those anymore, because the record label is shut down and nobody is doing any business right this very second. So I don't know, in the grand sheme, whether that's gonna happen, but I do think that's kind of good that this is happening right now, because I know we were starting with five or six songs, and I know [D.D. is] up to, like, nine right now. So it's given us the freedom to be able to take some more time to write, which I think is important. So I think, in an odd sort of way, this is a good thing for us right now — being home and being forced to work in this environment."
On the topic of the post-pandemic outlook for the touring industry, Bittner said: "I don't think it's gonna stay the same. I'll be quite honest with you: I just don't think that we're just gonna go like this and be back to regular life in a couple of months. It's just not gonna work like that. I think that people are gonna be apprehensive, people are gonna be standoffish. I know people are gonna wanna get out too. Trust me — I'm just as guilty as everybody else. I'm going nuts being here [at home]. I love my wife, I love being here with her and the cats, but one trip to the store a week? That's not enough for me. I know I can go out of my house and be in my yard and stuff, but when you don't have that daily routine anymore, it turns into same stuff different day, basically.
"I really don't think the music business is gonna bounce back anytime soon," he added. "It's gonna be a year, I think, before you're even seeing bands that are going on full-fledged tours. I hope I'm wrong — I really do. And I think if anything, I think as far as my situation, OVERKILL, we're very lucky that this is coming at the heels of a tour cycle and not at the beginning of a tour cycle. It's worse for bands like TESTAMENT who just released a record and you're forced to stay at home. But who knows?
"Long story short, I think it's gonna affect the music industry and the whole entertainment industry — not just music; movies, all that. I think the whole entertainment industry is gonna be affected by it. Sports… I don't know."
OVERKILL has spent the last year touring in support of its 19th studio album, "The Wings Of War", which was released in February 2019 via Nuclear Blast. The disc was recorded at Gear Recording Studio in New Jersey, SKH Studio in Florida and Jrod Productions with engineering handled by bassist D.D. Verni and guitarist Dave 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.
"The Wings Of War" marks OVERKILL's recording debut with Bittner (SHADOWS FALL, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM), who joined the band in 2017.