Mark Morton of Heavy Metal Examiner recently conducted an interview with vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth of New Jersey thrash metal veterans OVERKILL. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Heavy Metal Examiner: How do you continue to be excited about a new album release after doing it for so many years? It’s basically become your job, hasn’t it?
Blitz: I never actually looked at it as a job or a career; I actually perceive it as “for life.” There was always that feeling, even back when all of this started that it would be a “for life” kind of thing, and I suppose some of us have taken it to that extreme, myself and DD Verni [bass] included. And with new opportunities, especially in a scene that is healthy, committed by both the bands and the fans, there is definitely something special here. This is not a disposable entity, like pop. This is something that, when someone gets involved in it, be it a band or a fan, you get that lifelong feeling, and it’s always there. And it gets reinvigorated at the end of every tour when we make that decision to go back into the studio and begin the cycle again.
Heavy Metal Examiner: And I think it speaks to the viability of the artform and the devotion of the fanbase that here in 2012, when people are not really buying as much music as they used to, an OVERKILL album is still able to crack into the Billboard Top 100.
Blitz: It is something that has always been said about the scene; that the metalheads have always supported it regardless of the downloading and piracy issues. They are the ones that have kept us alive. And I think when you look at that, you begin to see what the value of this is all about. And I’m not talking about “monetary value,” I’m talking about the value that it has to people. And that value transcends generations! It’s not unusual for us to see three generations of fans at a show. Obviously, this is not the masses; it is a minority among music fans — but they’re the committed minority! And I think that is why we seem to continue to grow thirty years later.
Heavy Metal Examiner: What plays into the creation of a new OVERKILL album? It seems like consistency is a dominant factor.
Blitz: Obviously, we write in the box. It is half committed and the other half is…this is all we can really do, but we just happen to do it well. I suppose it is actually equal parts of both. But what is always exciting about it is new opportunities. That’s the way I perceive it to be. When I did “The Electric Age”, there were signs all over my office like “Don’t Repeat Yourself,” “Be Fresh,” and “Check the Other Records.” This kind of stuff becomes competitive — competitive against myself. And it motivates me to push towards doing something a little bit different. Sure, at the end of the day, it’s going to be an OVERKILL record, but I’m going to notice the nuances and differences — the differences between repetition and style, and which side of that line I fall on. And I think that becomes the motivational factor behind this.
Heavy Metal Examiner: Have your political opinions ever gotten you in trouble or polarized people against you, as they have recently with [MEGADETH‘s] Dave Mustaine?
Blitz: [Laughs] Well, that’s Dave‘s thing; he’s into that. I have, a few times, but I always felt it best to stay out of it. And it’s not so much for fear of opinion about me, it’s more about my own ignorance when it comes to politics. [Laughs] Not everyone can know everything about it! There are so many issues and so many sidebars about it that to open a can of worms that appears to be only eight ounces is really eight million ounces, and it becomes an ongoing discussion or argument. Obviously, I have political opinions; I live in America. I’ve got the mass hysteria; this is the way it seems to be during this era. But I really like to stay away from politics in the lyrics, and if I do touch on it, it is more for satire than anything else.
Read the entire interview from Heavy Metal Examiner.
“Electric Rattlesnake” video: