Classic Covers From Overkill
CoC interviews Bobby Ellsworth of Overkill
by: Adrian Bromley
Few bands have lasted in this crazy business that some of us refer to as the music industry. Many bands, over the years, have been exhausted, beaten to a pulp and left for dead. There are a few that have survived the wicked ways of the business, but few ever really recover from what they have been through.

Then there is Overkill.

Like a diamond in the rough, Overkill is a gem of a band. Honest, passionate, and, above all, sincere. They play metal music as it is meant to be played: hard, fast and without consideration for anyone. It's their music and no one can dictate otherwise. Fans love it. And most importantly, Overkill does too.

Overkill has played their brand of speed/thrash metal for more than fifteen years. Lots of blood, sweat and tears have gone into this. And so has inspiration. With that in mind, Overkill has assembled an album of metal classics covered by them. Titled _Coverkill_, the twelve-track album contains numerous classics from hard rock / metal, including songs from greats like Motorhead ("Overkill"), Black Sabbath ("Cornucopia", "Never Say Die") and Judas Priest ("Tyrant").

So why the album? Why these particular classics? Singer Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth starts: "A lot of these songs were just laying around already done. Many of them had been done during several album recording sessions. We chose these songs because we wanted people to have a rounded feel of what we were doing. We did a lot of these songs when we were a cover band, when we started out. As we recorded Japanese B-sides and some tribute records, we started realising we just had these songs laying around. When we went into recording _Necroshine_ [their 1999 release] we realised that there were just a few songs to add to several cover tunes we had already recorded."

"I think the music on this cover record is a good representation of where we were at the time of the recording with the band. We could have chosen the standard metal tunes. We could have done "Symptom of the Universe" by Black Sabbath, but we chose "Never Say Die" instead. I like what we did here and I think it is pretty obvious that it is Overkill playing these songs."

Seeing that the band has had a long career, it must make them feel good about being able to put something out like _Coverkill_ without any worries. How has CMC (the label) been about the idea? "The longevity of the band hasn't jaded us, rather it has allowed us to do more and more of what we like to do. It is a great feeling. It's great when you can follow your own road map. [CMC] were very open to what we wanted to do. That label is built on bands with longevity or bands that have history. We presented cover songs that are historical from our historical perspective. This is history times history, which equals Tom Lipsky [Head of CMC] saying "Okay, we'll release this." He sees value in this and in Overkill. He knows we can follow our own road map and we never have him saying he wants a more radio friendly song like "Stone Cold Jesus". His approach is very simple and we both have been happy with the way it has turned out."

Listening to such classic cuts as Jethro Tull's "Hymn 43" or The Ramones' "I'm Against It", the magic becomes apparent from the music of yesteryear. It shows that there was something special about the creativity of music back then, opposed to the commercially-driven music scene of today. His comments on that? "I think bands nowadays have lost the ability to write the riff. One thing that was concentrated on in the old days was the riff. That was the hook to bring you into the song. It was very important. In today's scene, the riff has been forgone for movement. In Overkill's situation, I think the evolution of the band has shown a sign of movement that many of today's bands seek out, but we have still maintained the ability to write the riff. I think it is very important for us to do this record because we have not forgotten where we have come from, but at the same time we have progressed." When bands that have shown their longevity in the scene put out a "Best Of..." record, a cover record or even a tribute, it is usually a sign that the band is coming to a slow halt. This is not the case with Overkill, whose past two records -- _From the Underground and Below_ and _Necroshine_ -- have been some of their best work this decade, maybe even in their entire career.

"Someone told me -- I think it was Johhny Z from Megaforce -- that they were going to put out a "Best Of..." for us. I said, "Over my dead fucking body!" Talk about the kiss of death. I said to him, "There is no "Best Of..." with Overkill. It's just one long, ten-hour song. It just changes as we go along.""

What keeps them going? "I think the proof is in the pudding. Whether you like or you hate this band, we still have value based on our own original releases. We didn't put out this cover record because our own material doesn't have value anymore. This is recorded material that is historical itself, because not only is Overkill covering the classics, but these are also different eras of Overkill recordings. I think that's kind of cool, to be able to hear the evolution of the band throughout the various recordings here."

He finishes: "There are different guitar and drum sounds throughout those records. Even my vocals have changed. Hell, it sounds like I went through puberty. <laughs> This record is very valuable to us. We're not trying to be the flavour of the day; we never have been. If people say we put this out to be trendy or whatever, I just have to say that they are reading too deep into this. I think they are taking their opinion way too seriously. We have never given a shit to begin with. It's quite obvious that if you don't give a shit you can't get hurt."

"Our estimation is that somebody wants it out there, including the record company, so let's throw our hat into the ring one more time."

(article submitted 9/12/1999)

4/30/2003 A Bromley Overkill: Alive and Breathing
3/14/1999 J Webb Overkill: Still Killing
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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