Exclusive interview for Bobby ”Blitz” Ellsworth (OVERKILL)

3 June 2016

“I am really proud of the fact that over 35 years period of playing, I and the other guys have never felt with taken anyone’s money!” – Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth – Le Trabendo, Paris – 04/03/2016



The first question is: how do you feel about being part of the Hellfest bill this year?

Pretty big honour! I mean it’s probably, in relation to festivals in general, it’s probably one of the newcomers…If you really look at the History of all festivals, German or European in general… French festivals… And obviously the biggest metallic French festival which is a great feeling to be part of it! So I like the fact that in retrospective of festivals in general it’s new, and I like the fact it’s the biggest in France and I like the fact that’s in France! Because France is a new territory. And its reputation seems to grow up every year. You know, believe it or not, guys in bands do gossip to each other, you know when you get backstage everybody is talking about Hellfest. So, I use to hear the same question “What’s about Hellfest?”. So I have heard great things about Hellfest, and moreover, when we get the opportunity to do something for the first time, it becomes very exciting. So.. Fuck!!! (Bobby jumps off the sofa and runs to his jacket which is starting to burn over a light in the tour bus!!!)


What’s up? Is your shirt burning?

(laughter) Yes, it is! Oh Fuck!!! (laughter) I’m coming back.I have to talk to the driver so he doesn’t panic… (Bobby comes back 30 seconds later, still laughing) I can explain it in the interview if you want?


Yes of course, go on Bobby!

So what happened was I put my shirt upon an energy light and I saw the room field with smoke! (laughter) Oh, shit hold on, there is fire inside! But I look forward to go to Hellfest: back to the original answer!


You will play at Hellfest the same day as Anthrax, Testament, Sacred Reich which are all thrash metal Pioneers. Thrash metal revival is now in the hands of bands such as Havok and Dust Bolt which will also play at Hellfest the same day. Do you know these new bands and if yes, what do you think about this new scene? 

You know I think the great thing about thrash metal revival is that it injects youth. And of course, with Anthrax, Sacred Reich, Testament and Overkill, you really talk about the wisdom versus the youth. You know, in my opinion, it is probably most natural when it comes from the youth, such as Havok etc. And I think to some degree it motivates bands like Overkill, because these bands…Oh, I cannot say it is a rebirth, but… They reinstall energy, and I think that’s the reason why the younger bands came in. And we don’t wanna be in opposition with these bands, so that competition is actually very friendly. I think the winners of this competition are the people who enjoy this music.


Thrash metal pioneers like you release very violent records nowadays. According to you, what are the main reasons? 

I think we can talk rather about energy in the music than violence. Maybe aggressive. I never think that Overkill is necessarily a violent band. I think that we can more talk about “powerful”. We have a different formula, for instance: we talk about the influence of the West Coast or a European thrash metal band. I think we are more meat and potatoes… The West Coast has a specific sound, and different spices. And I think the German bands are a little bit different also from the other European bands. But I think that it comes from… First experience, second thing is injection of chaos into the sound… When you have the experience we have, chaos is actually controlled chaos. So you actually know what you are doing, when it happens. Something is really attractive in that formula because you can build the bomb this big! When you get that drug in you, you want more of it. It becomes a high, that the guys in a band chase, you chase that high. If you think that … People think that we sit around in a room to discuss about what we will do for the next album, it never happens. It’s never a big plan, it’s really about aggressive and powerful feeling. I think we got it!


Did you think about performing on stage the Motörhead’s “Overkill” to pay tribute to Lemmy?

No, we did it in the past, when we played the song “Fuck You!” and we threw the song “Overkill” in the middle. I had the honour of performing with him in Berlin, in 2008… He called me up on stage and let me do it with him… Since his passing, we haven’t talk about it. These are our first shows since his passing. Obviously we have not planned anything about it. I know what Lemmy did for everyone… My experience in some degrees I like to keep it personal, because there were great experiences from me…A tribute sure, in the future… But right now not.


Talking about live performances, before going on stage, do you have some kind of pre-concert rituals?

No, ho… I warm up, I stretch my voice a little bit, I have a beer, loosening up, but it’s not like in a room, I have a few aspirins, try to relax … So okay, you are right, it’s a king of ritual, yeah! Just make it simple. It’s more a habit than a ritual in fact!


When the band is touring, do you have time enough to write music? A brand new Overkill album seems to be scheduled for the end of October for instance.

We have done completely with 5 songs, so there are still arrangements to manage and, of course we have to continue working on it. In the US we have some kind of a personal studio we have settled in the bus. So that we can record demos for instance, after shows or later during the tour. Because, you know, shows give you a lot of energy, wherever it is, in New York, Paris or Miami, and so, record a demo in the bus is a fucking great drug!


If there had not been a “cold war” between Russia and the United States, what could have been the name of your band, instead of Overkill?

Oh, Jesus! Not Motörhead for sure (laughter). You have to understand we had no desire for politic or anything! We were suburban kids who liked to drink beer and meet girls! (laughter) We were looking for a word which had an impact of power, the word “Overkill” has been used for politics from that generation talking about Cold War status, but the reality is that we were a cover band, and of course we loved “The Ace Of Spades” record!


What do you think about the longevity of your relationships with D.D. (Verni – bass) ? Does it explain the regular and numerous albums released by the band?

Well, you know, we don’t have a relationship that we speak much about, we have the same principles, we have the same values. I think we really know what we are, and when you know what you are and the other person you deal with, it’s a huge factor of comfort and constancy there…You throw the bullshit, there is no ego about that. You actually become the two guys who get the job. We are immigrants from Europe, our grandparents were working in a factory with lunch boxes and cigarettes to smoke… I think that having those values in a band, I think it’s easy to get the job done. So I think the relationship comes from my principles, and the success of our relationships comes from my principles. In the fact we know what kind of people we are, we don’t have to say when something is wrong, it’s more about reality.


How will you celebrate the records anniversaries of “Horrorscope” (which is celebrating its 25th anniversary) and “Feel The Fire” (30th anniversary) this year?

Well, for this tour, we will have a very special thing at the end because we will record both on a DVD, in Germany in Oberhausen. And I am actually proud of this because we are taking a big part of responsibility, because we are co-promoters of that show. So it’s not as “Hey we want to do this!”… We are figuring out the budget and we are working with a German partner to make this happen. So we will take the risk, and actually we said to Nuclear Blast that we have a great plan and we want to be partner with them. So we will have to rehearse during all dates before this one in Germany, like tonight in Paris where we will have a longer set than we usually have, something around 20 songs, because we want to be like machines by the time we will play in front of the video cameras. So, tonight we will play at least five songs from “Horroscope” and seven songs from “Feel The Fire”.


What are your main satisfactions with Overkill? What is the most important successful experience with Overkill?

You know, I’m a simple man in a complex world. (laughter) I remember my niece was asking me, when she was gone to the university. She asked: “What do you wanna really do?”. I said: “I have spent 30 years working in blue jeans”, that’s what I have done! (laughter) I say I have separated myself with that part of society where they feel that they have to run in a rat race, and I have run my own race. And that to me is the most satisfying part of this. This was a band that continued when heavy metal was a dirty word, when they said “Hey! This is not cool anymore”. And we said: “We are sorry, we can’t hear you because our guitars are too loud!” (laughter) So it is a great feeling to know that you have the balls to stand up, when it’s necessary to stand up. It’s one thing to say it, it’s another thing to do it. And we did it. So I think it’s the most satisfied thing!


Have there been hard times so that you have been ready to throw the towel and try something else?

No, that’s never been a discussion. I mean of course there have been hard times, but by managing the band, you put yourself in a position to be able to reorganise yourself. So you have to be able to constantly reinvent your business, not necessarily to reinvent your presentation but reinvent how you are going to present yourself. So I think we have learned a lot of things, it was like education couldn’t pay for, because it was an absolute practical experience. You know when you have to touch the people, don’t ever put yourself back. Take that opportunity, and squeeze the most you can. And that becomes a simple process. As I said, I am a simple man in a complex world, I think simple! If it seems too much complicated to get the job done, so I simplify my head and that’s enough!


Back to Hellfest topics, here is the full line up in picture! Do you want to comment it? Which bands do you really appreciate? Or not?

When somebody asks me what I like or I don’t like, it’s always in relation to what would I actually going to my wallet to pay to see! (laughter) I have seen Megadeth for free, but I have also paid to see Megadeth once in the early days. But since we have become friends, I should get the free biz! Same with Slayer, King Diamond I’d like to see on this tour because I missed the US tour, with Exodus you know… It was because I was busy with some stuff… I do like Twisted Sister and Blind Guardian… Hatebreed guys also. And course I’d like to see Joe Satriani playing the guitar… Oh wait! I am a big fan of this band: Overkill! (laughter) What a fucking singer! (laughter). But you know, the really great band is Enslaved because I love the musicality, how they can turn things into fantastic symphonies. Ah also Sick Of It All from the early days… Oh my god! It’s like a High School reunion!!! (laughter) I think I will see guys I haven’t seen for 25 years, and they will say: “Hey, you look good” and they will think in themselves “Gosh, you’ve become fucking fat(laughter)


What would you say to Hellfest metal heads who have never seen Overkill performing live in order to convince them to come and join your gig?

If you are curious, expect the worst! (laughter) I am really proud of the fact that over 35 years period of playing, I and the other guys have never felt with taken anyone’s money!


Do you have one last word for Hellfest crowds or a draw you would like to offer to Hellfest fans?


IMG_7809 - Copie



Interview: Keuf.

04/03/2016 – Le Trabendo, Paris.

Many thanks to Valérie (Nuclear Blast).