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OVERKILL INTERVIEW BOBBY BLITZ 2014

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2014 - OVERKILL VOCALIST - BOBBY BLITZ

OVERKILL

WE CATCH UP WITH OVERKILL FRONTMAN BOBBY BLITZ TO DISCUSS THE BAND'S LATEST RELEASE...

With the seemingly surging popularity of thrash metal these days, it should be no surprise that veteran thrashers Overkill are still leading the pack in solid old school metal. Their recent albums have been met with success and a sense of energy that is powerful and classic at the same time. Their latest album "White Devil Armory" which is due out in July continues that newfound energy with a set of blistering tracks that any thrash fan will love. We caught up with frontman Bobby Blitz to discuss the band's latest effort.

Andrew: Hey how's it going?

 

Bobby: Yeah it's good! Good morning!

 

Andrew: Yeah good morning, or should I say good evening for you?

 

Bobby: Yeah it's about 9:30pm here in New Jersey at my home. Actually it's quite good to hear from Australia and talk to people from the other side of the world.

 

Andrew: So you guys are not on tour at the moment?

 

Bobby: No the delivery for the record was within the last month, 2 weeks but we have been quite wrapped up with it probably 6 months prior to that. Maybe a little bit more when we started playing demos.

 

Andrew: So let's talk about the new album. I've been listening to it a few times and I gotta say it's a fantastic album, really great! Can you tell us a bit about how the album came together?

 

Bobby: I mean it's pretty simple, you just stick one and you know you're heading in the right direction haha! There's not a lot of thought in this. I mean we've been doing this for such a long time, myself and D.D. (Verni, bass) and even our guitarist Dave (Linsk) who's been with us for a 13 year period, there's none of that huge discussion, it's about understanding that you have something special as opposed to overtalking it. People ruin things by discussing it I think, it's about action versus reaction. D.D. just started writing riffs and we've had this formula for a long period of time. I mean I've known this cat since 1981 so when he started getting riffs for the last 3, 4, or 5 records, it's not about what do you want to do here, he really let me knows what I do take for him to be there and only occasionally do I surprise him. So I think the idea is that Overkill's M.O. is to take our historical roots and blend them with a contemporary and relevant present day value and that's really the key to this.

 

Andrew: So in saying that, with this album "White Devil Armory", what seperates it from the rest of the albums or do you think it's pretty much the same as what you have always been doing?

 

Bobby: I think I would be a liar if I told you I knew because it's just too goddamn new. Like I told you, we just handed it to Nuclear Blast and John at Riot weeks ago. You're in kind of a tornado or hurricane at this point in your head, it's really about getting all the problems cleared out from what we did. I think that when we're doing it, obviously you know what you did when you're right and when you're wrong. There's not a huge amount of discussion, we could try different approaches but I think thrash metal is action versus reaction, what makes you feel good. If you can feel that in your gut, you know that you have something. If you start talking about it too much, there's a good chance of ruining it and in our case with this record, does it stand? Sure it stands! We wouldn't walk out of the studio if the shit doesn't stand. We have a certain reputation, we may not be that big, huge, conglomerate, big bucks, walmart type store but the fact is we're the corner pizzaria where people come to get the best pie! And we know we want to make that pie right. So I think that's what it's really all about, it's about guys knowing what they are doing, the experience is a great thing but still be able to learn new things and still be open to new ideas. To contemporary presentation and with modern production and a modern approach. Maybe a different kind of song structure or arrangement or different kind of tones coming in or different instruments. This is what Overkill's about so I'm happy to say that in this period of time in my life, I'm still learning and White Devil Armory is probably a good representation of that, about learning but on a higher level.

Andrew: What do you think has been the most important thing you have learned then in recent years?

 

Bobby: In recent years, I think the most important thing that I've learned is that if I can keep my mind open with regard to - and this is personal - with my vocals. With presentation in Overkill, I can sing higher, I can sing with energy. I remember there was this girl in a german band who I think is the ultimate female singer when it came to extreme metal. She could do the death metal thing but this chick could sing as light as tornadoes. And this chick will come into my dressing room and I would ask her and say 'Hey you gotta teach me some of this stuff' and I realized that after she was teaching it to me, I was like I really know this stuff, I've been doing it but she's put a name to it and she's taking me to different avenues here. So I think as a guy in his 50's who's open to a chick who's 25, obviously most guys who are into their 50's who aren''t open to a chick won't tell them what to do haha! But the other side of the coin is that if I'm open to the fact that she can teach me a few things...and she taught me this I remember, she taught me what's called a balloon and it's the lightest note that a person can do and naturally you have to picture a balloon filled with helium, moving in a room and you're controlling it with your hand and your hand is actually your voice and you move it lower in front of you or you bring it up to the ceiling and you move it lower and I remember this from my early days and it's been so cool to be re-introduced to something like this. I think that's a person's principle...not just with singing but with anything, I think that you're going to be able to discover new things and I think that's where the excitement for Overkill comes from. I don't give a fuck if she's 25 or 12 or 75, if she has the right information, I'm interested in that information.

 

Andrew: And that must feel good to be in the business for this long and still be able to learn new things like that.

 

Bobby: Well I don't think you ever stop learning. It's great that this scene has historical value but it's not necessarily anything to put any stock in it, it's just that it's historical and something to read, it's a blurb somewhere. If I'm valued in this conversation based on "White Devil Armory", my value to me inside of my heart, the verbal inside of me and the anxiety and the fever increases. So maybe I'm an opportunist, somebody who looks at it as wow this is a great fucking opportunity, I'm gonna take "White Devil Armory" I'm gonna nail it to the fucking cross and I know D.D. Verni is and I know Dave Linsk (lead guitar) is and I know Ron Lipnicki (drums) and Derek Tailor (rhythm guitar) both of them do the same thing. You're gonna learn that with 5 guys with hammers and nails, you're gonna build one hell of a fucking house.

 

Andrew: And you can definitely hear that on this album as well. Your vocals especially, after all these years, you're vocals still sound fantastic. Is there anything that you do to look after you're voice?

 

Bobby: So this chick walks in, she's 25...haha!!

 

Andrew: Haha!

Bobby: My first introduction to any kind of sound was my mother's voice, she's first generation American and my grandparents are Irish and I heard every Irish lullaby that there was and before me she cut a couple of records and to this day in her 80's still sings like a bird. It's quite a unique experience to know melody before you know hello haha! This is daddy, this is mommy and that's the toilet. I think that's part of it, what's the other stuff? I don't know, I think that's probably the basis of the whole thing and honestly I would like to do better. I remember opening this chocolate shop, my wife and I opened it approximately 10 years ago and it was kind of blue collar mentality people and I did it, I didn't hire some schmuck to do it. I went in there and put on the suit and put everything over the top and I put shit over the windows and sprayed everything in the fucking place white and I remembered it when I started stripping it down and pulling the newspapers there and there was this fucking kid in front of the store giving me the horns up and he's playing the Skullcrusher riff haha! And I was thinking to myself, maybe I did something right when my Mother started singing to me haha!

 

Andrew: Haha that's great! So lyrically was there anything different that you did or the same as usual? Any recurring themes?

 

Bobby: Well it's never the same as usual, I mean that's the idea. I don't write from the political or social standpoint. The lyrical content is always mine and probably an unspoken agreement is that I write from emotion as opposed to putting political views in there because we are all different people. I love doing this writing, I love it! I write short stories, I write occasional jokes, I mean I love this kind of shit. I have files upon files of this stuff and what I did with "White Devil Armory" was basically have the humor in the title "White Devil Armory", it was just something that was created on our own and we were just looking for something to go with. And it started with the word "Armory" and started finding adjectives and add numbers or negatives or positives and we came up with "White Devil" prior to it. I can make 10 short stories and I based them on emotion and they're only things that I go through for myself from the prior 2 years, they're the shit that I've gone through. And I think it's probably very similar to shit other people go through. I mean for christ sake's I'm painting the inside of my store, I'm probably going through the same shit you're going through. So then it came time when I started out as a single man in the "Armorist" and I eventually end up in a song called "In The Name" where it's actually group. I mean the "Armorist" isn't done there in armor and "In The Name" is that loyalty that is in embedded in all of us singularly. So I think what I did was I took those emotions and culled some of the fears that I had and I dreamt them from song to song. I think "The Armorist" when being singular to being by the time you reach the end, it's gotten to more strength than imagined.

 

Andrew: Just listening to the album, all the songs are great and especially in recent years I think it's one of the best albums you have put out. But I remember I lost track of you guys for a while but then I reconnected with your music when "Ironbound" came out and I find that with that album and "The Electric Age" there's seems to be a different energy to those albums compared to previous albums. Was there something that happened or that you did differently around those 2 albums at all?

 

Bobby: Sure there is and it wasn't anything that was contrived. What happened on the record prior to "Ironbound" was we lost the drummer so we did a record called "Immortalis" with the new drummer who is the drummer of today, his name is Ron Lipnicki. And Ron is...I don't know how to put it, how do you saddle a wild horse? You can't and the beauty of it of course is the wild horse, as soon as you put a saddle on it, it's just a horse. And I think that is something that we understood at that particular time, he joined the band in 2006 and we went for a tour and we did the record "Immortalis" and I remember after the record, we had been there too often before, my partner D.D. and I were sitting there going 'man there is something here, there is something here that we haven't had in the longest fucking time'. And we toured that record and Ron ended up playing with us for a year and a half on the road and we realized what it was, it was Ron. That he was steering the ship, the drummer before would let me steer the ship and it's the wrong principle for the singer to steer the ship. When we mix records and we get involved in the production, I realize that I am the slightest bit about what a good fucking heavy metal record sounds like. What a good heavy metal record sounds like is the relationship between the drums and the guitars and where you put the bass and the singer is really last and any singer who goes he's first is dead fucking lying haha! So the point is that we realized this and D.D. and I sat there probably for a good 10 minute period and said 'let's have a tour again and see what he has', it was just that simple. And I think that he understood after touring with us how we like to play, he added to it and then he started steering that fucking ship. And I think you get "Ironbound", you get "The Electric Age", you get "White Devil Armory" and you get this guy who is now not afraid to steer this ship and I told him. In fact sometimes right on the stage I'll go 'you're running like hell boy and I'm hanging on!' haha!

Andew: That's really good to have someone who makes his role really important in the band and it helps things go in the right direction.

 

Bobby: Absolutely and also I think that the scene is accepted and is an important time. It's a very healthy thrash metal scene, there's thrash metal Australia, there's Europe, there's South America, there's North America, there's Asia. We've been going back down into smaller sections. But for fuck sake's man, this is healthy timing, trying something with a drummer like Ron who wants to run like that wild horse.

 

Andrew: That's great! And for this year, will you be touring?

 

Bobby: Oh of course and having fun. Somebody asked me just last week what are we going to do if we stopped touring and I said I would be dead in 6 months haha and that's just the way it is. I guess part of this is no longer a career, this is just kind of a life. So some shows in September, prior to that we do a festival or 2, our biggest one called Heavy MTL, we're on Metallica day in Montreal in August. After that is Europe, then some South American stuff right before Christmas, South Central America. After this we go right into our 2nd month for European and North American tours and we're knocking on the Australian door again. We want to get to New Zealand, we want to get back to Australia and we want to add places that we haven't done whether that be China or Thailand but we would also add your beautfiful island too.

 

Andrew: Yeah we would love to see you back again. It was so cool that you re-released "The Electric Age" with those bonus tracks from Sydney so we have to thank you for that!

 

Bobby: It was a good tour for us! 3 shows in Australia, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney but really a memorable experience. I told somebody once what to do in Australia, I said it's strange when an American goes somewhere where there's actually more things that can kill him haha!

 

Andrew: Haha yeah! Well it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you and good luck with the album and the tour so thanks again!

 

Bobby: It's my pleasure thanks!

 

 

Bobby Blitz spoke to Andrew Schizodeluxe June 2014

 

 

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