OVERKILL vocalist Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth spoke to SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation" about the high turnover of his bandmates and how it has affected the group's sound over the years. "Not every member has brought something, let's say, groundbreaking to it, but new blood is a good thing," Bobby said. "But some members change the chemistry. Case in point [new OVERKILL drummer Jason Bittner].
"There's kind of two ways to look at chemistry — it's either, 'Hey, don't fuck with my chemistry,' or say, 'Hey, we can embrace it and see where this goes,'" he explained. "Now, obviously, we didn't lose the OVERKILL stamp when we did [2019's] 'The Wings Of War' [album] with Jason, but for sure it had a different slant to it. And that's because you can't take somebody of his ability and say, 'Hey, listen, this is the way we do it. If you don't like it, shut the fuck up or get out.' And you don't say that to somebody who you say, 'Hey, this guy would make our band better.' And that was one of the first things he said to me. He goes, 'I can make this band better.' That immediately put something in my head: 'Hey, this guy is gonna bring something better to the mix.' Now, all the through the years, I don't remember each and every instance where I thought that change happened, but for sure, there were guys that brought better stuff to this band. Sid Falck was a great drummer in this band. Rob Cannavino playing guitar — fantastic. Sebastian Marino was a great guitar player. And, again, Jason. I think that it gives you the opportunity to embrace it, which kind of supports some of that longevity as opposed to, let's say, the same old horse."
Asked how he approached his drumming in OVERKILL when he first joined the band two years ago as the replacement for Ron Lipnicki, Jason said: "When I [told Bobby], 'I can help make your band better,' [I didn't mean it] in an egotistical way, like, 'Dude, I'm gonna make your band better.' [It was more] 'I know I can help you guys be a better unit as a consistency back there on the drum set. That's the thing that I've always prided my playing on. I don't think I'm faster than someone else or have more flashier fills — it's the fact that I can play pretty close to drum-machine consistency night after night after night. 'Oh, is he gonna play it different tonight?' 'No, he's gonna play the same fills he played last night. It's gonna be the same tempo. It's not gonna be up and down. It's gonna be as solid as possible.' So when you ask the question how I approach the songs, this is literally now, since 2006, I've played in three of my favorite bands when I was a kid. First, all the fill-in work with ANTHRAX, and then being in FLOTSAM [AND JETSAM] for two years, and then coming to OVERKILL. So, the first thing is, all these songs that I've played in all these respective bands were the songs that made me the player that I am. I grew up learning 'Deny The Cross' when I was 16 years old. Learning the first FLOTSAM record, learning the early ANTHRAX stuff. So, it's what helped me become the player that I am. So, when I get in a situation where I have to play someone else's parts — for example, when I was filling in for Charlie [Benante] — I'm trying to play that stuff as note-for-note as possible, because at that point, I'm a fill-in drummer for a band, so I want the audience to think that the real drummer is still there; the fills are the same, the groove is the same. With FLOTSAM and OVERKILL, I was now the drummer in the band, so I wanna take all the elements of all the original drummers and play their songs as close to the record as possible, but then here and there maybe throw a little of my own spice on top of it."
"The Wings Of War" was released in February via Nuclear Blast.