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Deb Rao's Exclusive Interview with Overkill Frontman Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth

By Debby Rao, Boston Contributor
Thursday, February 23, 2006 @ 9:53 AM

"A lot of the bands today have

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Overkill are one of the longest-reigning thrash bands to emerge out of the 80's thrash-metal scene. One reason that Overkill have survived over the years is the band members have remained true to themselves and continued to perform the music they love without compromising their high musical standards to the latest musical trends.

Getting their start in Brooklyn in 1985, last year the band marked their 20th Anniversary since they signed to a record label. Also in 2005, Overkill released one of their strongest albums to date entitled, Relix IV on Spitfire Records. KNAC.COM's Eddie Trunk makes a special guest appearance on the album, featured on the song "Old School" (a parody of when Overkill ruled the Jersey/New York 80's thrash-metal scene).

In this exclusive interview for KNAC.COM, Frontman Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth discusses Relix IV, why Overkill have remained so popular, life on the road, and what makes Jersey musicians so special.

KNAC.COM: We spoke last year when you were out on the road supporting your new album. Now you are back on the road again. How is the tour going?

ELLSWORTH: We just got thru touring the West Coast, and now I am in Columbus, Ohio, doing some East Coast shows.

KNAC.COM: How long is the tour slated to run?

ELLSWORTH: It will got to March 4 and end in Sayreville, NJ.

KNAC.COM: I have read that Overkill have been offered to perform on Gigantour this summer. It would be great to see Overkill on a big tour package.

ELLSWORTH: Nothing is confirmed yet, but it would be great to be part of such a huge event.

KNAC.COM: Will the band be performing at any European festivals this summer?

ELLSWORTH: We will be playing in Bulgaria, South of Germany. Last summer we played the Sweden Rock Festival, Wacken, and Rock Hard in Germany.

KNAC.COM: Overkill have such an extensive career. Actually, Overkill in my opinion, is one of the first bands that started Thrash Metal. Many of today's thrash metal bands got their inspiration from you. Why do you think Overkill have remained so popular over the years?

ELLSWORTH: We continued to play live when thrash wasn't popular. We continued to tour, doing what we love to do. That was the plan. We were never into that Rock Star scene. We were never chasing a star.

KNAC.COM: What are the best and worst things about being ont he road?

ELLSWORTH: We have a great home life. When I am home it is business as usual. It is not realistic to stay out on the road for 6 months anymore. But we do play at least 150 shows a year. Right now the shows are in spin. The best thing is playing, seeing the people. The downfall is the waiting like six hours for a show to begin.

KNAC.COM: On you most recent album, Relix IV, Overkill goes back to it's old school thrash metal roots. Who does all of the songwriting in the band?

ELLSWORTH: D.D. and myself. He handles the musical end of it, the songs go thru a bunch of changes between the band members. I do the melodies and lyrics. D.D. and I are primarily the songwriters.

KNAC.COM: It is very hard for a band to capture their live sound on record. But on Relix IV, you manage to do it. Is this a conscious effort?

ELLSWORTH: Overkill is what it is. This is really a more performance oriented production. I think you hear it for sure. With regard to the thrash, I think quite obviously this is something that we have always been. We have always been a thrash band so it is always an element that rears it's ugly head on this record. With regards to the live sound, it is a progression of Overkill performing live, and being able to produce that manic, over the top sound . The thrash roots show all of the emerging, complex characteristics of a live show on this album. We're not the type of people to shun it away. It is a part of our evolution, and our sound embraces it more so.

KNAC.COM: I can also hear so many different influences on the album.

ELLSWORTH: It is a blend of all of the different genres of music. It cups punk around thrash, it is metal. It shows all of the multi-personalities in the band. It is aggressive. It goes from the thrash sound of "Bats in the Belfry," to the old School punk of "Pound of Flesh."

KNAC.COM: I love the song "Old School." It was great how you featured Eddie Trunk on that song. That was priceless! How did that "collaboration" come about?

ELLSWORTH: Eddie has always been a close friend of ours, since the 80's. D.D. myself, and Eddie go to the ballgames, and dinner together. Back in the 80's, Eddie use to announce us live over the air, we wanted to capture that sound on record. It was a no brainer. Eddie came to B.B.Kings to announce us the other night. We have known Eddie from way back. We have always had a great friendship with him.

KNAC.COM: Who are some of your musical influences?

ELLSWORTH: Everything metal. Maiden, Dio, Sabbath. Ever since a young age, I have always loved the heavier edge of music.

KNAC.COM: What bands do you listen to today?

ELLSWORTH: I like Lamb of God. In general, a lot of the bands today have that sameness, they all sound alike.

KNAC.COM: Overkill hails from Jersey. The band has an honest, alsmot blue collar vibe to them. So many great musicians have emerged from the Jersey Shores: Zakk Wylde, Bon Jovi, Springsteen. What makes Jersey musicians stand apart?

ELLSWORTH: Jersey is a melting pot. It is so close to New York. There are so many clubs to play. You got like 12-15 clubs in Jersey. Then you go to Staten Island, you can play there. It is great self promotion for a unsigned band. Jersey has a great reputation. You get to go out and play. It is the availability to be able to put on a show. I think the other reason is something that you touched upon on the blue-collar appeal. Many of the musicians that you mentioned here have a certain authenticity . The idea is that Jersey has it's own approach and I would say it is that blue-collar approach. Love us or hate us, we are what we are. Like I said before, Overkill is what it is. We were never really chasing some star. We do what we love to do. We were never in it for the Rock Star trip. We are a very reachable band. We are doing what we love to do. Come along if you will, if you don't that has nothing to do with how we are gonna change our attitude towards things.

KNAC.COM: It has been over 20 years since you first started playing at L'Amour in Brooklyn. How has the the thrash metal scene changed since then?

ELLSWORTH: I think there is a resurgence of it. It is thriving.

KNAC.COM: Bobby, thank you so much for doing this exclusive interview with me for KNAC.COM. Is there anything that you would like to say to the fans here?

ELLSWORTH: Piss off!

KNAC.COM: The hardcore Overkill fans will love that! Take care Bobby, and enjoy the rest of the tour.

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