OVERKILL – Scorched Earth Thrash Policy

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Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth

For many fans the word “thrash” is synonymous with New Jersey-bred Overkill.  The thrash veterans have spent four decades wrecking wrecks, thrashing heads and raising fists playing mosh pit melodies straight from the gutter.

The loud rasp, screeching delivery and sonic boom of Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni have kept them rotten to the core from day one with Dave Linsk, Derek Tailer and Jason Bittner filling out the current belfry.  On April14th they’ll release their 20th studio record Scorched to the hungry, rabid post-pandemic masses.

The 10 song record contains everything from their warp speed body stompers to more melodic throwback material.

They wanted Scorched to reflect Ouroboros in concept, the self-eating snake.  “It’s a Greek symbol.  It’s a snake’s head eating its own tale.  We settled on two demons facing each other sitting on their spines. It looked like a conflict to us.  The title, Scorched came after we’d picked the cover.”  Background was added, with fire and texture giving depth.  “I’m really happy with the cover.”

It’s a throwback record, Blitz says, with a fresh coat of paint.  “It takes you to another era or time.  We’re influenced by Ozzy, Priest and Maiden.  That’s part of our DNA.  When I first heard that intro, heard what it went to it was almost like listening to two era’s simultaneously.  Something from days gone by and current day, which I thought was cool.”  The opening of Scorched said, they’re gonna hit you with a thrasher but take you back in time first.

There’s a lot of intro’s on this record, Goin’ Home included,I think that’s D.D.’s presentation.  He’s a big production guy. When he writes a riff, he loves doing introductions, and mock titles.  Goin’ Home to me comes across a lot more traditional heavy metal. I attest that more to the lyrics and melody I put overtop the music.  It brought us to current day but started when we were a cover band.”

Originally, lyrically The Surgeon was a result of the pandemic, isolation and some dark moments for Blitz.  “I was here by myself, the dog had passed.  Writing lyrics, they were getting dark and depressive.  You can’t see your friends, you’re riding a motorcycle.”  He had to change mindsets and represent the mental mindset of him and the band injecting positive energy into the words, not just dark and angry vibes.

Blitz changed themes to releasing the emotional infection and kicking its ass.  “I think the amount of time I’ve had personally to make this record happen really gave it better legs.”

As the first single, The Surgeon could be called lyrical malpractice with Wicked Place following. The official video for Scorched is coming soon.

Twist of the Wick could be the modern day In Union We Stand. “This one had another unusual musical pace to it.  It’s all progressively thrashy.  You can hear Jason Bittner breaking into near blast beats with a post aggressive thrash feel.  It should’ve been the easier song for me to write.  It’s what I’m cut from.  It was the harder song.  It was a collection of different pieces.  The In Union We Stand part is the melodic vocal part that follows the thrash.  The hardest part for me was to sew them together lyrically.  Musically I think it worked great.”  When Verni added the monks singing, it went to a whole different level in Blitz’s head.

The cello sound on Wicked Place was played on keyboard. “That’s a big blues riff.  If you slow that down just a hair and put 1970’s production, it’s Foghat on steroids.  I knew these riffs since I was a kid and for some reason that riff’s always been inside me.  I was singing that shit when I was a paper boy.”

From eerie surgery footage to destroyed buildings and creepy Evil Dead-like forest footage The Surgeon and Wicked Place show the records diversity.  A thrash 101 and a heavy metal blues ride reminiscent of days gone by.

Won’t Be Comin’ Back came from the POV of, ‘the last record,’  “I remember telling D.D., we’ll just write it like it’s gonna be the last record. If you write it like the last record it affects your mentality.  It’ll probably succeed as you’re taking the last stuff in your head, as the last opportunity.”

As long as they continue performing at a high level, a last record and tour ain’t coming.  “I do this because I love touring.  Obviously I like making records and want them to be successful. Touring really turns me on, that’s the drug I keep chasing.  Even from the ‘80s, being in a live situation.  It never seems like it’s just another show to me, it must be 3-4000 [shows] at this point.”

Blitz and D.D. are the glue that binds Overkill.  It doesn’t work without both “I think the reason it works is because the song starts with him and ends with me.  We’ve been a team for a long time.  I wouldn’t wanna continue without him on a daily basis.  To be Overkill, you’d need that songwriting team.”

Fever was a challenge to write.  “That first heavy chord comes in; it’s breaking dishes in my house.  China closet, grandma’s tea cups were on the floor.  I started over thinking it.  It’s during the pandemic. I’m in another room doing whisper tracks to it. It’s just not working for me.  I must have recorded it 7 or 8 times.”

Blitz received divine dark inspiration from the Prince of Darkness listening to Over The Mountain.  “Every time this guy opens his mouth, it’s great because it’s Ozzy.  It’s him doing him.  That’s the key to that song.  Go in there and open your mouth.  I moved my voice to the roof of my mouth back in my throat and came out with this resonance.  It worked perfect with that mellow section.  It’s one of my favorite tunes too.  It’s a big accomplishment, to weld and sew two parts like that, make it into one song.  That’s quite different for us.”

They’re in Europe next month and America in June or July.  Their first show starts the day before Scorched comes out.  The Euro-trek includes Exhorder and Heathen.  Blitz hopes they can do America with the same lineup.

Unfortunately the spiders are still hanging onto the Skullcrusher in 2023.  “This tour we’ll throw some shit back in.  We used to do it when it first came out.  I think Years of Decay Tour then swapped it for Horrorscope.

We threw Powersurge back in, there’s a couple other little surprises, we’re obviously gonna do some new stuff, for sure Scorched, Wicked Place and everyone’s learning Twist of the Wick too.

Most fans know the ‘Kill tour machine play almost every night when touring.  Blitz recalls a cycle that had more shows than dates.  “It was really weird.  It was like 24 shows in 23 days.”  In the ‘90s at Jackhammers they did an all-ages show at 4pm and a regular show at 11.

He’s not sure if they’ve written their Master of Puppets yet.  “I don’t know, we have some good records.  Years of Decay was a culmination of that first chapter, Horrorscope, From the Underground and Below.  In the modern era, the entire Ironbound record worked.  This record’s got a good chance for it.  It’s gotta good feeling, maybe because its post pandemic and freedom’s back.”

l to r: Jason Bittner, Derek Tailer, Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, Dave Linsk & D.D. Verni

Blitz would like more time with I Hear Black, with modern production and ReliXIV became a little disjointed regarding production qualities.  “Every step is necessary even if you don’t succeed in your head, a necessary step to the next record.”

Blitz is very ready to play new material, “Stick with the new stuff, what you get high from.  What you get a boner off of.  I wanna get on the road again.”   Overkill speaks the same language as their audience, wanting new fresh music while delivering the classics, regardless of age or people that come, 18 or 80.

Overkill’s still valid, modern day and that’s the most important thing to Blitz.   “We have validity in 2023 cause of a record like Scorched.”

The audience is an extension of the band and a venue full of friends.  “I’m not gonna tell them what to do, just have a little fun with them.”  The wrecking crew always shows up.

Blitz’s live music experience started at The Capitol Theatre, a venue that played adult movies during the day, with Queen, KISS and Motorhead gracing the stage.  It was a killer intro to live music at a high level.  “I think I saw J. Geils in college, the lights were on the entire show.  Seeing Freddie Mercury was like having an out of body experience, for a 15 year-old-kid.”  It never left him even in the early days playing bass, pushing the band.  “I started with a very high benchmark.”  Could, Blitz the Freddie of thrash?…

Check out the video for The Surgeon and Wicked Place while waiting for Scorched. Scorched drops April 14th.  It’s a loud, blasting thrash classic destined to drive fans bat-shit crazy!

Facebook – www.facebook.com/OverkillWreckingCrew

Website – http://wreckingcrew.com/Ironbound/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/OverkillBand


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