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Tuesday
Apr062010

Interview - Overkill - Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth

Overkill frontman Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth took time out of his busy schedule to discuss the current leg of U.S. dates,Overkill's latest release, IRONBOUND, future European Festival itinerary and Overkill's latest video"Bring Me The Night."  

 ROCKMUSICSTAR.COM.  Bobby, Welcome back to The States. Last night was opening night in Philly.  

 BOBBY: "It was fun. Great to see old friends and new experiences. How old are these guys? (Laughter)

ROCKMUSICSTAR.COM:  You are timeless Bobby, music knows no age. It is great to see so many new fans here tonight. How did the European leg of the tour go?

BOBBY: "The response of the new record is really high. It is high obviously because of the quality of the record. Besides that it seems to have a great push behind it with E1  in North America and a Nuclear Blast on the rest of the world. Both are promotion machines. If you don't know this record is out there you are not paying attention or you live in a cave or you don't have television or any other multi-media device. It charted in North America really high. It charted in The States, and in Canada. This is like new territory for us 25 years later to actually be able to say we are charting and viable again with regard to music in general. Which is great testimony not to us but to the scene that people still support this on such a high level. If it is a good record they want it. Obviously, people want this record.." 

ROCKMUSICSTAR.COM: How would you describe the secret formula of song writing on this album? What kind of sound were you looking for when you went into the studio to record "Ironbound."

BOBBY: Overkill is not a very unique product when it comes to what we are. I think we are what we are. It is pretty obvious. We go up there and we are an explosion that is what we have always done. With regard to live, we always try to mimic that in the studio. It just so happened on this record that it was mimicked. You can't force the road into the studio.  On this record the live sound of the road it kind of bleeps through. It sneaks under the doorway and in through the windows. You start getting that live vibe on a recording product. It gives that live vibe a recording prop. If you get that, then you have the magic. That is as simple as it is. I don't think any of the other records are lass than this. Except that this is cohesive to that live feel from start to finish. That is what makes this record special."

ROCKMUSICSTAR.COM: I can see that on your latest video "Bring Me The Night." 

BOBBY: "I love this video because it portrays us. It is not some fantasy kind of thing. This is what we are. We are steak and potatoes."  

ROCKMUSICTAR.COM: What are Overkill's future touring plans?

BOBBY: We have Festival season locked up after our U.S. Tour, which takes us to the Summer. Ten or twelve Festivals. Big ones like Wacken. Last year the official count was 65,000. We have Sonisphere, we do Hell Fest in France, Tuska in Finland. They are some really high profile Festivals. Coming to September we do Japan and Australia. Then another U.S run and then another European run. We are booked all the way to Santa comes down the chimney. (Laughter)

ROCKMUSICSTAR.COM:  What is your favorite thing about being on the road these days? 

BOBBY: "One of the things that I like when you have been around as long as I have. A guys said to me today,” I don't want to call you old. I said,” Listen, I am older than some of the dirt in these clubs." (Laughter) But I said that is not the problem. Over the course of some 25 years since the beginning of our professional life doing this, you meet a lot of people. So when you get to out on the road 18 months or twice in a course of the year, you see a lot of people that you wouldn't normally see in your day-to-day life. I think that is one of the really cool things. That kind of energizes the stage. I don't think we ever need any motivation. We are energetic on the stage that is just what we are. I think it is kind of cool for us to say,” Wow that is transcendent. These friendships and traveling this road with so many different people. It is so great to see so many of them still there. I look forward to doing that. It is a nice gig here tonight at the Palladium in Worcester with a nice package with Vader, God Dethroned, and Evile. I am looking forward to this being a real successful tour.

ROCKMUSICSTAR.COM:  Bobby, anything else you want to say about the new album "Ironbound?"

BOBBY: I like it Lots! (Laughter) It is funny about this record because it was so easy to do. People think that creativity sometimes is this painstaking process. When things go right, you get the luxury of timing. The results proved itself on the record by the songs coming together quickly. By the production methods being accepted by the songs quickly. It gave us the luxury to fuck with these songs quickly. Enough to say, hey we can do this slower, we can add more dynamics. I think that was most fun about this record. We had that much time and uses it to our full extent. We could have been done with this record in July of 2009. But we decided to extend it a little after the delivery point. Because it gave us time to keep pushing songs. If we wanted to re-record we could. It was a really fun record to do."

Thursday
Jan212010

Interview- Overkill - Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth

Thrash-metal pioneers, OVERKILL are releasing their 15th studio album ' IRONBOUND' on Nuclear Blast on January 29th and in the U.S. on E1 Records on February 9th. 'IRONBOUND' revisits the  old school thrash metal roots of OVERKILL with a vengeance. Singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth" is at the top of his game with razor sharp vocals that cut like a knife and the sledge-hammer drum rolls of Ron Lipnicki  are over the top pulverizing. OVERKILL pay tribute to the Jersey Shore and turn the amp level up to 10 with an album full of songs that unleash the powerful fury that re-kindles the old school hard core vibe that launched OVERKILL to the masses of metal fans back in the 80's. With the precise metal onslaught of the title track "Ironbound" to the hauntingly "Bring Me The Night," 'IronBound' is a true metal masterpiece.

OVERKILL are currently getting ready to embark on one of the most anticipated thrash tours of the season with special guests Vader, Warbinger, God Dethroned and Evile slated to kick off on February 6th in The Netherlands and kick off in the States at the Trocadero in Philly on April 1st for a U.S. trek. For complete listings visit www.myspace.com/overkill  

Singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth recently spoke to RockMusicStar.com correspondent Deb Rao regarding the new album Ironbound, upcoming tour, and reveals Exclusive details regarding the new Overkill video "Bring Me The Night." 

RockMusicStar.com: Bobby, Thank you for checking in with RockMusicStar.com. We are really excited about the upcoming Overkill release Ironbound. Let's begin by discussing the new video "Bring Me The Night" which was shot in Brooklyn, New York on January 9th. Tell us about the concept for the video.

Bobby: It is straight performance.. The effects are primarily the lighting. It is filmed with a real high-end camera. So it looks film like almost movie production like something you would see in a theater regarding the quality of the video itself. We did the majority of the video in silhouette with side lighting also. It is kind of unique concept. It was done by gentlemen called Kevin Custer who has rap under his belt, metal, hardcore. He has done Hatebreed DVD and videos, the last Testament video. He has quite a repertoire. He is a visionary with regard to understanding what goes on. Prior to this, he is a member of the scene. He has done everything from slam dance to play drums in bands. He absolutely understands the songs from start to finish.

RockMusicStar.com: Was the video strictly live performance?

Bobby: It is primarily live performance. I mean really that is what it is. It is us performing in front of those lights more so in silhouette. It is really hard to explain because if you see it might be a little bit different to you. It lights us primarily from the side and back. It is unique. It almost looks like it is in black and white but it is actually in color. It is a really, really, cool concept that he came up with regard to lighting and using the strength. And the strength obviously is the performance. 

RockMusicStar.com: Are you shopping the video around to Fuse and MTV 2?

Bobby: Yes E1 has already talked to both. Nuclear Blast will release it on Youtube immediately right with the European tour which starts on the 6th of February in The Netherlands. So it is going to be used on both sides of the ocean and video shows overseas. Not as many as here, not as big as here in The U.S. But still seen on both sides of the ocean.

RockMusicStar.com: I was watching Metal Mania a few weeks ago and they played one of the first Overkill videos. How has making videos changed since the heyday of metal back in the heyday of the MTV days?

Bobby: I suppose with regard to technology the cameras change as much as people tweet and facebook etc, etc. I mean technology is just different. But with regard to doing the video, we always relied on live performance for our videos. We really always relied on what Overkill does in front of the camera as opposed to what a director sees be it footage or unusual situations for the band. So it is really live performance for us and always has been. So nothing has really changed for us. Maybe the lighting has gotten better; maybe the cameras have gotten better. Technology has gotten better. But I think the band has always been what the band is. Whether we get better or not, we are still about that live performance. 

RockMusicStar.com: The buzz is all about the new Overkill album 'Ironbound.' as you said February 9th on E1 in The U.S. and January 29th on Nuclear Blast in Europe. 

Bobby: We are earlier in Europe right before the tour. We are ten days earlier. So it will coincide and give people an opportunity to give people to get their hands on it prior to the live shows. The record is getting kudos from a lot of the European magazines prior to the tour. This is a must see for the newer material, as well as the U. S. stuff. That being the first tour, we gave them a gracious ten days to release it before the U.S. 

RockMusicStar.com: I remember during our earlier interviews at the magazine that Overkill has a distinctive sound that you really don't stray to far way from the secret formula that launched your career and made you successful. In making 'Ironbound' did you go back into your mindset of the early thrash days? What was running through your mind when making the album and what did you want to accomplish in the studio when recording your 15th album Ironbound

Bobby: Yes, it is unbelievable. I don't think anything ran through our minds specifically as the songs took shape and were assembled we were coming right off the road. That was really the X-factor with this. What made this record what it is,is the fact that in March we were touring and in April we started assembling. This is that little bit kick in the pants that can put it over the top. We did a lot of touring for 'Immortalis' with a lot of fresh type touring for 'Immortalis' with regard to our set list and with regards to bands that we toured with some of the younger thrash bands like Warbinger. But also some of the old school guys like ourselves in Exodus. So I think that when you come off like a Overkill/Exodus tour and go into the studio in April to start recording drum tracks you are really bringing the stage into the studio. That becomes that unseen element, unplanned element. Then all the plans go away, as you start achieving something that has more energy that you initially thought it would have. I really think that was the over the top element. The fact that we came off from the road and into the studio.  

RockMusicStar.com: The core of Overkill still remains intact. You and bassist DD Verni are the only original members.  You have drummer Ron Lipnicki, and guitarist Derek, and Dave. What was it like working with drummer Ron Lipnicki on this album and the rest of the band? How did everything fall into place with the newer members when recording this album?

Bobby: Ron has the best hands ever in Overkill. He really understands what to do with his hands. He is absolutely creative. He is a raw vital talent. When you have that raw creatively, it has the stallion vibe to it. Where it runs free. I think you run with the stallion instead of trying to put him into a pen. I think that really is something that he brought to the table here. That lifted everyone else's energy up. He understands what he does in-depth and does it with a wide unbridle approach to it. So if you have that I think everyone rises to his level of energy. So it becomes kind of natural after awhile. You are just thinking of it is. Ron sets the tempo that we have to follow or it is not a good record and obviously the rest of us did.

RockMusicStar.com: What advice did producer Peter Tagtgren give you in the studio?

Bobby: We did the production on it. Peter did the mix. This was the first time; we were not in the control room while the mix was being done. So we were at home in New Jersey, and Peter was in Sweden doing this. Peter has become kind of the ears of a genre with regard to let's say understanding this old school type of a thrash vibe.. So were are out of the mix but getting mixes daily from him and then giving input via Internet, via phone etc. At the beginning it is always a rocky road. Because it is a new person that you are working with. We have an idea with what Overkill sounds like and this guy has an idea. Somewhere in between it became a compromise. But I think what he has done has kind of re-invented the sound that he actually brought it back to almost more of an organic sound than a sound based on modern day technology. It comes across, as drums sounding like drums. That is the initial building block you are going to mix from. It was fantastic to get sounds like he did for Ron and the whole band. It was good working with him. It was unique to work via the Internet, via technology. But at the same time, I think I would do it again because the results speak for themselves. 

RockMusicStar.com: Would you say that Ironbound has more of a raw live sound that being an album that is overly produced with all the Pro-tools going on in the studio these days?

Bobby: Obviously, we used the technology but there has to be a balanced structure like organic music and a real drum as compared to a computer. I think that Peter struck that balance. He made it tight and concise. But the kicks are kicks, the snare is a snare. Again, if that is your building block then you have that organic drum like building block to build above. That is what he has done.   

RockMusicStar.com: Overkill really started it all. It is so exciting to see the back on top. Do you see a trend going back to old school 80's metal and thrash metal? I mean there wouldn't be all the younger bands of thrash metal today if not for Overkill paving the way for them to follow.  

There is a huge re-surgence with regard to how the younger bands are re-celebrating this. I think that is due to them. There is an interest in the old school. There was some great records released by Testament last year, the new Megedeth record is fantastic. It just goes on and on. I think it is because the newer bands have put a new re-found interest in this. You can see the newer bands but you can also see where they come from. Let's say Exodus, Testament and Megedeth and Overkill for instance. I think that because of this a 20-year-old thrash fan can go out and see Warbinger or also be able to see Testament or Overkill. It really shows the value in this. I think that when we all signed on for this it felt like a life long commitment to it. In our case, it has been. Now that it has transcended to three and half generations. Again it shows the value of it. You go from the 80's to 2010 that is quite an amount of time. 

RockMusicStar.com: This tour with Overkill, Vader, Warbinger, God Dethroned and Evile bridges the   generation gap of the bands on this tour. Tell us about the upcoming tour and what your set list will be comprised of.

Bobby: It is going to be obviously a blend of everything the old and the new. It has been 25 years since the record 'Feel The Fire'. We are going to lean on that record just a little bit. There is going to be just a few cuts from that and a few obscure ones. To rest on laurels would be wrong for this. 'Ironbound''s strength speaks for itself too. I think what we are going to do is do a blend of everything and out in a few of our hits or misses in there and some obscurity also with 3, 4, or 5 cuts from 'Ironbound'. I think it is necessary to show the history of the band from start to present but really rely on the present with regard to performance. The package is going to contain us, Vader, Warbinger, God Dethroned, and Evile. It is going to be a good Thrash tour. It has been bumped up to a lot of big venues. Tickets are selling already. It is really kind of exciting to be involved in this resurrection of thrash at a higher level.  

RockMusicStar.com: Now the tour kicks off in Europe on February 6th in the Netherlands. How do European metal fans differ from the U.S. metal fans?

Bobby: I don't know, once the first guitar note or drum note happens they really aren't that much different anymore. I think that this has been really kind of a universal language now for a 25 or 30-year period in some cases. If somebody is a Megedeth fan in Germany, the U.K., or Japan as opposed to Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago, I think there is really the same kind of reaction that they get out of this. This really becomes a singular culture at that particular moment or for that length of the song. There are differenced with regards to promotion in Germany or the U.K. with regard to the U.S. I really think that now once you are playing it really doesn't differ that much not as much as it used to. I think it has really been a learned experience. If that experience has been learned to this point it is really not a life style. People once they are in a life style understand it just universally.       

RockMusicStar.com:  I totally agree. Now speaking of U.S. Festivals, how was Rocklahoma last year? I think we spoke prior to your performance that week of the show.

Bobby: "Yeah, it was cool. We stayed only for one day because we were recording at the time. We broke ranks in the studio to go out for that show. We played on a day where Anvil was there. We have known those guys since 1984. Anthrax was on the bill and Saxon so it was kind of an old school metal thrash thing. "

RockMusicStar.com:  Bobby, we are looking forward to the Overkill release. The band has worked so hard and we wish you the Best Of Luck on tour. You deserve it. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us.

Bobby: Thank you, we always appreciate your support, and we will see you at the Palladium. 

 

Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth Track By Track of Ironbound  

The Green And Black -"This is kind of a testimonial with regard to understanding that this is just not about the five that make this music but about all that make this collectively happen. I think that with the Green and Black being our colors, it is really about those that bleed the Green and Black. How hard it is, hard easy it is, it has been both at certain times. They have always stayed therefore twenty-five years exists. "

Ironbound -"We were throwing it back and forth, a whole bunch of different things. This was actually DD's title. I had something that was Iron related; he had something that was Iron related. It is funny you work with a guy for thirty years you start understanding each other. I think that one of the things that was funny. I had something like Ironworks. He has Ironbound. Ironbound is actually a neighborhood in Newark, NJ. The reason it was named that it is right by the Port and all of the railroad tracks come out of there. They say that if you are above the Ironbound it looks like it is tied to the earth by metal ribbons. Because there is so many railroad tracks that go through there. We thought it was kind of the tip in the hat to let's say local but at the same time it depicted our place in the scene with regard to being tied to the metal or tied to the iron. So I think that it was kind of cool to think locally yet act globally.

 Bring Me The Night - "Bring Me The Night" is really simple. I think it is about understanding where you excel. Musically the song is such a throw back with regard to riff. Which makes me feel like I am almost when performing this song whether it is in video or rehearsal it almost seems like years that have gone by. I feel like it is a transition where the band started from. But the really cool thing about it is the contemporary stand on the song. It lends itself to the older feel and at the same time gives a contemporary stand."
 
The Goal Is Your Soul  - "It is really musically out of the box type arrangements. One of the things I really like about this record in general is that sometimes he arranges songs with regard to standard. Sometime he goes so sub-standard or beyond standard that it is always a surprise."

Give A Little -" I that this one is really about arrangement with regard to lyrical content. It is a look at Religion in general."

Endless War - "I think we are what we are what we are. We will always be compared to that. All I did was compare the journey to let's say the politics with social situations. Regardless of how big the situations seems whether it be endless or not in the world that many of those situations are also personal and affect those from singular to the family as opposed to let's say world populations."

The Head And Heart -"There was a book written in the 1600's or about the first religious persecutions in the U.K. and how immigrations had started to the U.S. to stop that persecution.. Really the song is about freedom."
 
In Vain -"In Vain" is about citing your goals. I have to skip after this for The S.R.C., which is the tenth song, and about getting the goal or obtaining the goal. You cite the goal in "In Vain". "If these are the rules to obtain what you need, "The S.R.C. is obtaining it. So I think two songs go together in some degree."

Killing For A Living - "Autobiographical. Most of the spoken lyric through this or effective lyric in this song is really just from my own diary. It is really that simple. I think if somebody knows the band that well. They will be able to identify with every sentence in that. It is really about winning after being set up to lose. I am not saying it is a great accomplish of mine but it goes from everything and understanding you are a smaller part of things as opposed to the center of the wheel. If you understand that you are a smaller part. The successes come easier." 
 
The S.R.C. - "Refer to "In Vain".