Interview With Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth of OverKill (St. Louis – 5.5.2019)

downloadThis interview was done on May 5, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri during OverKill’s stop at Delmar Hall on their Wings of War tour.  We’d like to thank Bobby for his time in this interview.  Enjoy.

I know there’s been a lot of hype and excitement with regard to Jason joining the band and that you said, for example in Russia “three songs into it….something feels different.”  But one thing I was curious about with regard to the genesis of the new songs, have you noticed any nuances of how their input has changed since he joined?

Well Dave Linsk is for sure a guy who is all about perfection.  He loved playing with Ron Lapinke(sp?).  We had some great work done with Ron.  But Jason is like surgical precision when he plays which is Dave’s way of thinking.  So I think that it actually highlighted Dave’s talents more so.  I think some of it comes to lead playing, some of it comes to rhythms, some of it comes to his own creativity.  But because of surgical precision, it actually gives that extra little space to do things.  So I think that Dave is one who has benefited the most.  Myself,  probably second because can’t go off-time with Jason.  It’s just not possible.  If you’re paying attention to what he’s playing, you can’t go off time. 

There’s a track that’s a bonus on the album The Wings Of War called “In Ashes.”  I was wondering if you could talk about that a little bit.

It was done during The Grinding Wheel.  Normally we start 90 percent of our songs with a riff.  The other 10 percent are started by me with a vocal line.  I gave it to DD and said, “What can you do around this?” And he said, “I like the line.” It was mixed by Andy Sneap which is why the sound is a little different.  But this one was actually started with a vocal line and not with a riff. 

Now I know OverKill has had bonus cuts, live cuts as extras on individual records but you’ve never really been one to put out a release with “tracks from the vault” (a collection) with live cuts, demos, unreleased…   Is this because you’ve released almost everything you’ve recorded or have you just sort of felt like “Ok, the record’s out.  It is what it is.  End of story.”

A – We release everything we record.  It’s not that we put together twenty skeletal songs and then choose the ten best.  We take those ten riffs and make them the best we can.  That process has never really failed us.  I mean, sure there’s a couple of stinkers in everybody’s catalog.  Don’t get me wrong.  Not everything is 100% success.  But especially on this run since Immortalis, we’ve had a great run by doing “10…done.”  Let’s really focus on these for the months we set aside to write. 

On an emotional level, are there any tracks from OverKill’s history that from your perspective, came from places where you felt like they were too deep or maybe there was something about it where you don’t want to play it live..just to painful etc?

I always write lyrically with my own principles.  But every now and then I grab one of those emotional moments because it gives me an opportunity to kind of cleanse it, to be able to see it on paper as opposed to just keeping it in.  So it’s a good therapeutic process for me.  But I would probably think the song “No Lights….” It was about a guy I rode with in motorcycle club for ten years.  I was the best man at his wedding a month before he died.  It was a horrible tragedy how he passed.  He was killed in a head-on by a drunk on his bike.  The bike went over the car that was a support car in the group and his wife who just married him was in that car.  She was the first visual and I was in the head of the pack.  So that one was pretty emotional.  The lyric writing was a necessary tool to be able to release at least the pent-up anger about it.

Speaking of the emotional part of it, one of my favorite moments that you guys ever put on disc was on the Asbury Park DVD right when you are introducing “In Union We Stand.”  I think it was about six months after 9/11.  I was wondering if you could take us inside right before you introduced that..like what you were thinking, what you were going to say.

Well I don’t remember the intro (laughs).  I’m a person who lives in the moment.  I was obviously touched  by what went on.  We’d done “New York Steel” with Eddie Trunk.  This was for the widows of the cops and firemen and paramedics.  But I’m sure just saying this..I’m sure I was talking about unity and moving forward.  …..

Yeah you said…”together we make it fkin’ happen.”

(laughs)  Well listen I mean, I’m an American first. 

What’s left on OverKill’s bucket list?  What you guys still trying to fight for?

I think for me the bucket list includes places I haven’t been to that I’d like to see.  I’ve never been to parts of the pacific rim, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia.  I’d like to see these places.  I’d also like to go to Iceland.  That’s probably more of a selfish bucket list.  But I think that one of the things that works for us in principle is putting the most in the moment, being immediate.  Whether it be that intro to “In Union We Stand”…and I can feel it when you said what I just said in that introduction.  I’ve relived that moment right now.  But I think the way we work best…the way we get our best results whether it’s Wings of War or past records, we’ve always made the best of what we had right in front of us. You know…”what’s the most important show in your career?  It’s this one.”  If you take that into it, you don’t really have a bucket list of anything else.  It’s about excelling in the moment….making this interview as good as it can possibly be.  Then making that show as good as it could possibly be. 

Yeah you’ve talked a lot in interviews about taking opportunity.

Well, I like opportunities.  I mean, they’re a gift if you think about it.  We’ve earned them to some degree but if you think of them as a gift, you treat them special.  And that result I think you can hear in the way…not jut the way we play or the way we write or perform but the way we conduct ourselves.  We’re these kinds of people.  This is what we do.  I know who’s the real deal and who’s not the real deal.

Ok, let’s say many, many years down the road (not to sound morbid) but Bobby “Blitz” is no longer around.   Your wife and DD Verni decide to create a Bobby “Blitz” hologram. 

This is the weirdest question… (laughs).  Never been asked this.

Now what songs would be in that setlist; some that over the course of your career maybe meant a lot to you but perhaps didn’t get enough attention for whatever reason (didn’t get played etc). And maybe is there one or two that you might cause you to have to come back and haunt DD if he put in the setlist..

Well, “From the Underground and Below” is one of my favorite records from the 90s and I think its because it’s a cohesive record and I love the song, “F.U.C.T” on it.  And that one I always thought was an absolute winner.  Probably my second favorite record in that era was “Killbox 13.”  I always thought that was a very valuable piece of real estate….the way it sounded and the way everything had come together on that record.  So, the song, “Unholy” on that would be one.  Now something that he put in (causing him to come back and haunt – ed.) “Bold Face Pagan Stomp” off of “The Killing Kind.”  The vocal line is so rhythmic that it’s a hard song to sing live.  We’ll get up on stage and he’ll go “What do you want to play?”  “Anything.  I don’t care.  Just whatever you want.”  And he’ll go, “Bold Face Pagan Stomp?”  “Except that!” (Bobby).  (laughs).

One thing I know you guys have steered away from is the whole Gold, VIP, Platinum packages, kind of like the crap that KISS does…Was that a conscious thing like you wanted to steer away from because it is attributed to the fact of you guys being down to earth and uninterested in doing something like that just to make extra money?

For sure.  I mean I can’t obviously say what the future brings.  But up until the present, I think we’re accessible people, first of all.  I usually spend a half hour outside the bus every night.  I’ve always done that.  I think to charge people for that would kind of demean the singing of the records prior.  I’ll give anybody the time of day unless they are trying to make money off me on eBay.  And I can usually smell those people out.  (laughs).

If they have the whole catalog, I’ll sign the whole catalog.  But I have a problem signing pieces of guitars, you know…pick guards.  You know, I’ll have seven pick guards.  I know where they’re going.  They’re going up on eBay.  “I’ll sign one for you.” 

Ok this is kind of a weird question but in that BUS INVADERS video, you were talking about Eddie (former drummer, Eddie Garcia) teaching you how to be a better Mexican. 

Yeah… with the mustache. 

So have you learned to be a better Mexican and what did it take other than the mustache?

Eddie’s off the tour.  Eddie is not with us anymore.  But I loved the vibe that those guys would have when they’d get together.  Eddie’s friends would come on the bus.  I don’t think that I’m a better Mexican but I’m open to being a better Mexican. (laughs)

So what’s next for you guys going further in 2019 and going into 2020?  Aside from more touring, what’s next?

Well, a second US run, a second European run.  Next year will be lined up with festivals.  This summer there’s only a few but next summer will be really heavy.  On a personal level, I think we’ll probably write some tunes.  I think we’re happier when we’re writing tunes than anything else.  Cuz that’s where the seed kind of gets planted.  On an OverKill level is the beginning of all good things to come after it.  To write in 2020 I think would be a great thing for us. 

And now for the bullshit question.  Ever play Bucket of Doom?

Nah, don’t know Bucket of Doom. 

(Editor’s Note)  Bucket of Doom is a game where you draw a card from a deck; a card that has any one of a ridiculous set of circumstances.  You then draw a few cards from a deck of double-sided cards that have different tools on them.  While most of the tools are utterly ridiculous, you have to use as many as possible to describe how you get out of your ridiculous situation.)

Here’s what we do.  You got a situation card and you have to pick a bunch of random tools to get out. 

(Bobby starts laughing)

Oh come on.  What the fuck.  (Bobby draws a card)  “The cartels force you to smuggle drugs across the border.  You’ve been busted with a kilo up your butt.”

You good with that one?

Yeah.  Let’s go.  I got the answer right now.  This would make me a better Mexican.  (laughs hysterically)

(Bobby then draws eight “tools” cards)

Use as many of those as you can to come up with a creative solution to get out of your situation.

What the fuck.  You gotta be shitting me. 

If you’re stumped you can use the ones on the other sides of the cards.

It’s not that I’m stumped.  But this is some stupid shit.  (laughs) ~thinking~.. snake charmers flute, box of tampons..  I saw something in here about PlayDough.  An infectious neck boil? 

~looks at my son~  Does he ever come to career day at your school and fuck up your world? (laughs)

Here’s what I’m going to do.  I got a stick-on Taliban beard.  I’m going to jam the PlayDough up my ass so it looks like plastic explosives.  At the end, I’m going to take the Yankee Candle and jam it in the PlayDough.  So everybody thinks I’m an explosive device at this point.  As they take off, I’m going to hide in the nearest pinata, I guess with my Taliban beard so I’m unrecognizable.  (laughs hysterically) and I’m out!!

http://wreckingcrew.com/Ironbound/

https://www.facebook.com/OverkillWreckingCrew/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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