Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth Vocals


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In stores: Febuary 9th

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Sonic Excess: This is Sonic Excess and we're here with Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth of legendary band "Overkill". How's it going Bobby?

Bobby Ellsworth:  Hey, hey, whadda say Brandon? I'm talking to you from New Jersey today.  

SE:  Awesome! So, I wanted to talk to you a bit about the new album coming out,"Ironbound", "Overkill''s" sixteenth studio album.

BE:  That's correct. It's on E1 records in the States, Nuclear Blast in the rest of the world. Big news for us. It's still obviously an exciting endeavor. I don't know how I can sum up the difference. I suppose it's a re-invention of what we were. Back to the root, and then re-inventing that root, and coupling it with, say, the production of the day, which is Peter Tagtgren of "Hypocrisy" fame.

SE:  It's due out February 9th in the US, correct?

BE:  That's correct.

SE:  Awesome. What's the European release date? Do you guys have one yet?

BE:  It is two weeks prior. I think with the difference between the dollar and the euro they want a little leeway over there.

SE:  Now, are there going to be any bonus features, or bonus tracks? Anything else you guys recorded? Things like that.

BE:  We did, but we didn't put them on the US/European releases. It's possible it will end up on the Japanese. That's just a business situation for years, because domestic product in Japan is so much more expensive than an import would be. So that's why we give the Japanese a bonus track. 









SE:  When can we expect the first single to come out?

BE:  They're looking to do it prior to Christmas, second week of February.

SE:  Oh good. I'm guessing that's going to be streamed through your MySpace?

BE:  We're gonna have it on MySpace, MySpace/Overkill and on, which is our site.

SE:  Excellent. Do you have any videos in the works?

BE:  We're trying to be cohesive, so it's hard to pick out an audio track to go with the video.

SE:  Maybe you could do two, right?

BE:  Hey, that would be great, huh?  (laughs)

SE: Why three years in between releases? "Overkill" has had a consistent schedule...tour, release, tour.  Seems like you guys took a much- needed break.

BE:  Well, you know, we released "Immortalis" the end of 07, the last physical release in November of that year, or in October of that year.  And this is released in January, so it's really more like two years and a few months for this one. Which is a little bit longer for us. We usually run on an 18-20 month cycle, but we were between labels, and we did a lot of touring for "Immortalis". We ended our touring in April of this year, some off shows in Mexico, and some festivals over the summer. But the idea was, if the touring is there then keep doing it, because it lends itself, that whole vibe, to the record. When you come off the road and you start to write and record, the cool thing about it is you really bring the road into the studio.

SE: Well "Overkill" has never been strangers to the road. So I'm guessing you're  gonna have a mega tour-cycle once "Ironbound" drops.  You guys are going over to Europe, correct?

BE:  We start in Europe February 6th and we're booked all the way through till May 1st, but that includes Europe, South America and the US.

SE:  Do you have any word on who's going to be supporting?

BE:  In Europe, we're taking some of the Nuclear Blast bands, some of the younger ones. "Suicide Angels" and a couple others that are tying for it.  The US tour is "Vader", from Poland, "God Dethroned" and "Warbringer". It's gonna be pretty solid. It's the old guard meets the new guard  and the middle guard in there too, which is kinda cool, and I think the strength of the US tour, bumped it to the House of Blues, and on the West Coast, I know there's a Denver date, so everything is looking really good.


SE:  Speaking of the new and old guard, I want to ask you about your opinion on the new thrash revival movement that's going on right now. A lot of teenagers in bands are basically paying tribute to bands like "Overkill".

BE:   I think it's outstanding. Ya know, eventually, there's going to have to be a step to the left, and you're starting to see it now with many of them. Where they have incorporated their own originality into what was their root. I remember starting and being influenced by the new wave of British heavy metal, and you become an arm of that. But, eventually, you have to bring in an original end. What's your contribution to this? And you start to see that in bands like "Warbringer", "Municipal Waste", and "Gamma Ray". It's kinda a cool vibe, as far as I'm concerned, and a unique time in music history. Especially for metal, because you can see both ends of it. I mean,  if you're  twenty-year-olds in a thrash band and your band is "Municipal Waste", you see where that came from by going out to see "Megadeth" or going out to see "Slayer", etcetera.

SE: Speaking of "Slayer" and "Megadeth", I gotta ask you about the 'American Carnage Tour'. Are you gonna to be checking out one of those dates?

BE:  Yeah, I'm going to be going out, are you kidding me?  I'm still vying for it man!  I don't care if it's announced; someone might drop out, right?  (laughs)

SE:  Nice. You guys are going to be featured in a video game pretty soon.

BE:  Yes.

SE: That's entitled 'Brutal Legend'.

 BE:  Correct, one of the songs off the "I Hear Black" record. They contacted us and that seems to be the new thing with regard to these video games. We have been contacted a lot in the past, even 'Grand Theft Auto' had contacted us at one point, but it never made it to their final cut, but it seems that metal and gamers go together. Kinda like skaters and hardcore used to, or skaters and metal.

SE:  Especially with games like 'Guitar Hero'. Do you think that's kinda responsible for putting metal back out into the mainstream?

BE:  Well, every bit of promotion counts, but you can't really say that's what it is, because they're wave-riders too. You have to understand that popularity is why they chose, so the popularity is on the upswing at a time or they anticipate it to be or it is there. So when it comes to these things they are really industries making money. You're not going to put something unpopular on it.  So I think that the popularity was there before, but I don't think it hurts to increase it or make it stronger, by having that kind of publicity and exposure.  

SE: This is "Overkill's" twenty-fifth anniversary of the first release, "Feel the Fire". Are you guys doing anything special for that anniversary? Putting out a DVD?

BE:  We're planning it right now.  In the process of talking about it obviously, but we don't want to do a full tour. We think that for sure we'll highlight some of the songs on the American tour, as well as "Ironbound" material, but I think we'll also do a couple of special shows. One in the US, one in Europe, and with that, we'll film it. We'll film both of them and try to mingle them in the editing room.  























































































SE:  Any plan on playing "Feel the Fire: in its entirety?

 BE:  It's been talked about. It's been talked about for a few years right now, but we don't know if we're going to do that. When it comes to talking about the future, our problem is that we live in the day. So, obviously, you have to plan things for this, but the other side of it is that really the news for us is more about this release, than it is about the next phase.  

SE:  Absolutely, so I'm sure you guys are going to jam-pack it with bonus footage, career highlights....

BE:  Hey man, it is what it is. "Overkill" has always been "Overkill", and it's over the top. It's energy filled. It's a pure honest explosion. This is the road we travel; I don't see why the road we film is going to be any different than that. It has to be what "Overkill" is about.

SE:  Now, after twenty-five years, what is the one career highlight that sticks out in your head the most when you're reflecting back on "Overkill's" career?

BE:  One career highlight was obviously being signed, as far back as 1984. That's a wild experience and unforgettable. I think that over the years, what's happened is that you become almost addicted to the high, and the high for me has always been on the stage. I'm always trying to chase that high. It's almost like a power-junkie. It always happens, and it always gives and gives.  So, to some degree, you always want more and more of it. I think that becomes really motivational with regard to how it's presented then, and how it is still presented now, with regard to that energy and chasing that high.

SE:  No kidding.  Are there any low points you can think of, or want to disclose to us?

BE: Well, we're a self-managed band, so we own the low points. When you're self-managed, there's no blame to pass. (laughs) You're either the successful one, or you're the one to blame for not being a success. Taking that into account, I suppose any of the decisions that we have made, with regard to some of the record labels we had that didn't support us correctly, and promotional tours that we did, that would also be our responsibility. But I do feel that all of these steps are necessary. It all brings us to "Ironbound" in 2010. That's based on success or failure, or a combination of both. I'm really all about looking at the package and learning from everything. If you get too old to learn anything, then it's really over. Then, it becomes going through the motions. And I think one of the things this band has proved over and over again, love us or hate us, we're about learning from those mistakes and moving forward regardless of what the popular climate is at any particular time.




















SE: Well, "Overkill" is a band that's not going away, regardless of trends or what's going on. You guys have persisted and ran right through brick wall after brick wall. That says something right there.

BE: Well, we're not going away easy, let's put it that way. (laughs.)

SE:  Good. In another twenty-five years, what would you like "Overkill's" lasting legacy to be? How would you like to be remembered?

BE:   They did it their own way, wrote their own rules, and wrote their own book on it. I think that, to a large degree,  that's the way it's been, which makes it pure. I mean the motivation of this was pure motivation from the beginning. When I look at "Ironbound" right now and I compare it to the days when we released "Feel the Fire", we were writing the songs as an unsigned band. They were developing in rehearsal halls and gigs we were doing. When I look at "Ironbound", its twenty-five years later writing songs, and we were between deals. When this new record was written, it was done without ink on paper. It was done so BECAUSE. So I think that when a band thinks in those terms, I can only come up with this in hindsight, we did not do it because of what it was worth or what we could get, it was done because it was necessary to do . That's the motivation you wrote songs with twenty-five years ago, or we did.  That's the way people write songs that are unsigned today. Now obviously, we had confidence in the fact that we would get a deal, but I think that the true shining moment of this is doing it without a deal and having the results come out.

SE:  Now when you guys recorded "Ironbound", did you have that same fire you had when you first went into the studio?

BE: I mean it still burns obviously.  Lipnicki's our newest member.  He's been on tour with on "Ironbound" and "Immortalis". Raw, unbridled, the best pair of hands and feet as a drummer we've ever had, in my opinion. And his energy brings everybody up. He stokes that fire. In my opinion, he also throws gasoline on it. So I think everyone else rises to that level of commitment, or youthful energy.  That's also up to the listener. You put it in and press play. When recorded and written, it was done with, I think, a lot of inspiration from Ron's playing.

SE: Now "Overkill" has had various lineup changes over the years with the exception of you and D.D., but it seems between Dave, Derek, Ron, "Overkill" has been solid for the past decade.

BE:  Dave Linsk is the longest standing guitar player in this band. One of the things he brings to the party is he's never afraid to progress. He's a guitar player's guitar player.  He wants to always get better. When he joined this band, I thought he was a great guitar player. His work on "Ironbound" puts him in, I think, a whole different class. He can do it all and he can do it really, really well. The idea of this record when we were mixing it was let's make some bruises on some bodies. Let's make it a re-invention of what we are.  And then Dave took the next step, almost to add a progressive element on his progression with regard to his instrument. I think it's really evident. He's the one that makes this record that much more interesting.

SE:  So, having that lineup, how easy does that make recording?

BE: Makes it easier. You see, you depend on others. It's a group in the truest sense.  When there's a group, I depend on Ron's stuff, his playing ability and try to match my vocals to what he's doing,  at the same time matching what D.D. has written, and with Dave's playing and Derek's playing. So, if its dependent that way, it becomes stronger times five, as opposed to having it to be, let's say, one person's vision of what the recording should be.

SE: Seems like the recording process really flowed during "Ironbound" then.

BE:  It lined up. Have you heard the record?

SE:  No, I haven't. I'm still waiting on a press kit.

BE: Obviously, I'm talking about this hypothetically then. When you get it I think you can hear what I'm talking about. What I mean about lining up is if you're road ready for the studio everybody's thinking along the same lines, regardless of knowing what the goal is. The goal is to have that record developed, to try to turn it into a monster as it starts developing. What happened with this was that it was easy. If it is easy, there's more time to concentrate on what the quality of the writing will be. You can change that writing and you see that. Your compadres, four of them, have moved in that direction, a little left of center and you say that's where I was thinking of going. So, it's easy to drop things in, left of center. Where if they move right of center and I move right of center it actually becomes a little bit of rub. And, I think, in this case, we all moved in unison to the left and the right of center going through the whole record. One of the things that's unique about it is that it starts off with an eight plus minute song. Where you would think, hey it's a thrash band it's gotta be four and a half or five minutes, bludgeon you and then move on to the next one which bludgeons you. But this is an eight plus minute epic, and it seems to be working. I had a guy the other day tell me, he said in his opinion it should be nominated for album of the year  because of the chances it takes and by re-inventing what was to what is.  


























SE: Man, this sounds epic.  I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

BE: Yeah, it's really a unique offering from us. Again it's new with the old with a contemporary vibe all over the thing.

SE:  Wow. I think a lot of the hardcore fans are really going to dig "Ironbound" from what you've said.

BE: Ya know it's really hard for me to be totally objective, because I'm involved in the project. I'm up to my eyeballs in the work on it, and the work on it just stopped only weeks ago. But I don't usually listen to records after we're done with them. This one I'm actually enjoying immediately after the finish. And I said wow, I walk into a room...I've got a listening party in Donzdorf, Germany at the Nuclear Blast offices, and I could hear it as a listener then, and I said, man, I got bruises all over me (laughs). This hits, and then it hits and hits. I suppose it's all in the name "Overkill".

SE: Absolutely. I really want to thank you for taking the time out to speak with us. Do you have any last words, any promos, any shout-outs, anything you want to say to your fans?

BE:  It's been a good ride.

SE:  Awesome man, many more years to come.

BE:  Brandon, my pleasure man.

SE: Bobby, you take care of yourself.  "Overkill" "Ironbound".  Check it out in stores in January in Europe and February 9th in the US

BE: Ok, see ya in April man.

 Photos courtesy of:

Interview by: Brandon Marshall



























































































































































































































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