Still Killing
CoC chats with Bobby Blitz of Overkill
by: Jody Webb
Never one to throw in the towel, Bobby Blitz and the Overkill crew have been churning out riffs and records for over a decade now, never wavering far from their classic '80s sound. In February the band releases _Necroshine_, the latest instalment in the Overkill saga. Read on as we get the low down on the new disc, the story behind the cancellation of the last tour and Bobby's state of the scene address.

CoC: Give us a little insight into what _Necroshine_ is about.

Bobby Blitz: To just generalize it, you get a real good view of where we are, in our lives personally, and as a band. I had quite an exhausting year as far as my health went, and this was something that came out of it. This was kind of a cleansing for me, to expel any demons I had sort of running around in my head. Because, I mean, it was a coin flip at a certain time in the situation I had, which was cancer, and there was a time when they thought it was going to go after my brain. I was like, where is it? <laughs> This record has given me an opportunity to be very strong and give you a lyrical perspective of where I stand as a person. As far as the musical aspect of the record goes, I think we've evolved another step. I think a great thing about this band is it never looses its roots, yet at the same time it doesn't sound like 1985 on this record. It has a very marketable contemporary value to it, as well as a standard, 1985 deep rooted metal feel to it. So I think the beauty is being able to balance the two.

CoC: A lot of people were disappointed when you cancelled your show at the club here in town, back in the spring of '97, on the tour for _From the Underground and Below_. I think you sold all 950 tickets to the joint and there was a mad scramble for the tickets I gave away on my radio show. What happened?

BB: Because of the cancer, half of my face was gone! <laughs> If you saw the rescheduled show you might say "Jeez, that guy looks a little different." I learned I wasn't vain!

CoC: Who is the primary writer?

BB: I write with my partner DD Vernon. DD gets things going in the musical end of things, then he lets me hear the demos and keeps me abreast of what's going on. We are familiar with each other's styles and that doesn't stop the evolution of the band.

CoC: Any other kinds of music that the Overkill crew listens to, that influences the writing?

BB: I'm kind of eclectic, I listen to anything from Harry Connick Jr, to your Johnny Cash album, to Slayer, to Machine Head, to Napalm Death. Anything Colin Richardson does I like.

CoC: Who's that?

BB: He's a producer. He has worked with bands like Fear Factory, Machine Head, Napalm Death; he did our last album. His stuff we really really like. We watched him closely when we co-produced _From the Underground and Below_ with him. We stole some of his tricks and produced this latest one ourselves! We worked with Terry Date on numerous things. I love these producers. If you put on something done by Terry, I can almost guarantee that I'll like it.

CoC: What does Overkill do when it's tired of working in the studio?

BB: We keep going, overkill! <laughs> This is our full time job. We have to make our own decisions and this is a business. It's a business we love, so it doesn't seem like business to us; you could say we are protecting our interests.

CoC: Has the current craze in wrestling claimed any members of Overkill?

BB: Back in '96 Tim Mallory played on one of those WWF metal albums with Scott Ian and one of the guys from Savatage. I don't think he's a wrestling fan, though he looks like he could be a wrestler. But not me. I suppose hobbies for me could include... I'm a two wheel junkie, I love riding bikes and I always will. Music, bikes, and my family. Not necessarily in that order.

CoC: Do you have any tattoos to declare?

BB: No, no I don't. One of the reasons I don't is because it's become a craze. I always find myself close to getting one, but then I think that tattoos have been overexposed, excuse the pun. When every metal band went tattooed on arms and bellies and backs, we like to keep our individuality from the pack.

CoC: Do you have any comments about the state of the scene?

BB: At this point I think it's getting stronger, and I think it's getting stronger because there was a great house cleaning; in the early '90s a great chopping block came in the major labels and off with their heads. "This band's not making enough money, drop 'em." This gave us the opportunity to flex our muscles, stretch. It gave the true fans a chance to really support us, because casual listeners were not there being fed by the labels. The field is not saturated with two thousand metal bands and labels shoving songs down your throat. So it may seem like the scene is weaker because there are less bands, but the bands who made it through are the strongest ones.

CoC: I always felt like it was a good thing to have a large number of bands, because that shows a lot of interest, and it expands the talent pool, the group of people from which we can find stars. Yes, there will be a lot of bad bands, but as long as a lot of people try to make metal, we will be more likely to tap into some genius. Today, I feel, primarily because of Korn, that people are back into making heavy music again. As a DJ, I do see a new saturation starting to occur.

BB: You know who's guilty of making this happen, it's the major labels. Major labels are based on dollars and cents. The people involved in evaluating a band are accountants, and these are number people, these have nothing to do with people developing a band. After you sink a million bucks into a band and they're returning $500k, it's a simple math problem. The point is, this has always been, even in recent history, it's evident. Think back to Seattle. Everybody owned flannel, I mean, I couldn't believe it. Every band had a specific type of tattoo based on the popularity of Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam and a few solid bands that came out of that scene. All of a sudden, you get to the second wave and POW, it's bad imitators. Now if I want to hear something with a stamp of Seattle, I'll go to the creators. I'm gonna go to the Nirvana, and maybe the bands before them, like Mother Love Bone. Today, with the popularity of Korn and Deftones, new young bands will get a shot to be looked at, and labels will sign them because they are trendy, not based on longevity, which a band like Korn will probably have.

CoC: How do people react when you tell them you are in a metal band? How are you treated? Do you use the word "metal"?

BB: Absolutely, in fact you used the term "heavy music" and I almost stopped you and said "No, it's metal!"

CoC: There have been instances where I've used the word and people have said things I didn't expect. Once I was down in Charlotte and I was talking with the guy driving a limo I was riding in. He said "Oh, don't tell anybody, but I still love Winger." I also heard things like "That died so long ago." I'm apprehensive to use the word.

BB: Metal got a bad rap a few years ago and I think we were the only metal band left. <laughs> It was never an issue with us when it was unpopular to be in a metal band. To deny what we are denies that the bands exists, and it makes the music worthless from a listening standpoint. There was a great confusion in the late '80s and early '90s. You had pop bands with ripped jeans and hairspray and they were ruling the charts and making money for the big boys. They were considered metal by the public, by the way [they] were marketed, and I think it confused us with Winger, it confused Slayer with Poison! Metal has a purer sense about it than commercialism.

CoC: Have you approached the Ozzfest people?

BB: Oh, absolutely. Every year. They just tell us "We'll get back to you." Why, you know anybody? <chuckles>

(article submitted 14/3/1999)

4/30/2003 A Bromley Overkill: Alive and Breathing
12/9/1999 A Bromley Overkill: Classic Covers From Overkill
12/31/2007 J Ulrey 7 Overkill - Immortalis
3/8/2005 J Smit 6 Overkill - Relixiv
4/11/2003 A McKay 9.5 Overkill - Wrecking Everything: An Evening in Asbury Park
3/26/2003 A McKay 8 Overkill - Wrecking Everything - Live
12/9/1999 A Bromley 6 Overkill - Coverkill
3/14/1999 A Bromley 9.5 Overkill - Necroshine
11/17/1997 A Bromley 8 Overkill - From The Underground And Below
8/12/1995 A Bromley 9 Overkill - Wrecking Your Neck Live: Overkill 1985-95
6/9/1996 E Crvich Overkill / Life of Agony Overkilling the Masses
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