I was so excited when I got OVERKILL’S new record White Devil Armory, not only because the album is fantastic, but also because attached to that e-mail was a note about Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth being available for interviews. Sign me up for a dozen! What was even cooler is that he remembered how crazy our last one was on the tour bus back in November and that I was a fellow New Yorker like him. And as you longtime readers know, Blitz and Co. were the inspiration for A&GS, so once again it is my honor and privilege to share this with you. Take a look:
Amps: White Devil Armory…I. LOVE. THIS. RECORD!
Blitz: (Laughs) you know, it’s probably the next logical step. There’s something that’s obviously expected from us. But I think it’s also expected in the eternal workings.
This is what we obviously like doing, you know, thrash and heavy metal at a high level. I’m really happy with the results of the record at this point.
Amps: The album was delayed from the original March release date, but it sure was worth the wait! Now that you’ve had time to sit with it, how do you think it turned out? Do you have a particular favorite song?
Blitz: You know, when I say that I’m happy with the results it’s still kinda spinning in my head and I think that it’s hard to be honest when something is so new because the excitement overrides it. A band always releases their new record and says, “Yeah this is the greatest thing since canned bread and sliced beer!” and you know, then you hear it and you’re like, “No it’s not. This fuckin’ thing blows!” (laughs) But I think that the feelings I get coming out of the studio, there’s a feeling like it’s done. And in the experience we have we know when it’s done. It just seems like a complete project and I’m happy with the record. It doesn’t feel like a collection of different songs, it feels like it’s complete. And I think that’s where I get the satisfaction from the entire feeling that we’re done and we created an entity as opposed to a collection of songs.
Amps: “PIG” is one for me, as is the groove on “Bitter Pill.”
Blitz: That’s a good point. One of the things that I noticed about this record, from the inside looking out is that we dusted off some stuff that we have in our arsenal and one of those things we have is that punky, kind of chaotic riffs, like a train going off the tracks. I find that in “PIG”, and another tool we have is that grueling half-time sledgehammer, beat-it-into-ya riffs that you hear. So when you have contrast like that there’s a really cool eclectic value. When it’s all at 10 or 11 there’s no contrast, but when you can kind of pull back the reins and get the same feeling as if you were playing at Mach 10 with something in half-time, I think that’s one of the successful feelings I was talking about. There’s a really good eclectic value on this record.
Amps: You’re going to be here in Dallas on Sept 18 at Trees Dallas once again. Everyone laughs at me because as soon as it was announced all my friends were like “Damian’s gonna go batshit!”
Blitz: And I’m sure we’re gonna be talkin’ on the bus again (laughs)!! And we’re there with PRONG, too. It’s nice to have a one-two punch like that. Last time we were down there with KREATOR and that’s another one-two punch.
To me that’s really exciting, because in the flavor-of-the-day time we’re in I think it’s important to put on a show, a big show. Make it an event. I’m happy that PRONG is out with us. It’s gonna be a pretty cool tour.
Amps: I know it’s early but have you given any thought to another live CD or DVD? The songs on this record will certainly lend themselves to a live setting.
Blitz: That’s a good question because we haven’t talked about anything like that lately. One of the things about OVERKILL and the reason that it’s- it’s more than survival, it’s relevant because we like to do things big, we don’t like to do things small. We wanna drop a ten-ton weight on your head! We don’t wanna hit you with little pebbles, we wanna knock you out. I think from our perspective it’s got to be exactly the right setting to do that. So we have talked about it in recent past, but we haven’t said “let’s do it in NY or L.A. or Berlin, or Tokyo.” or anything like that yet. Could it happen? Absolutely. I think that this band sells in a lot of theaters so it’s probably something that should be documented.
Amps: What else has been going on with you, personally and OVERKILL-wise?
Blitz: Not so much, the delay of the record was a personal situation. You know, I was working with D.D. (Verni, bass) and we were supposed to drop the record in March and we’re usually pretty timely. We like to work. We have that two-year clock, kind of blue-collar ethic we have. But stuff happens. And I thought to myself that one of the keys to this band is that the personal lives that we have will always take precedence over the band. Everybody realized when I said, “Hey, I gotta take care of some shit that’s gonna take me out of the game for six or eight weeks.” The response I get from these four guys is, “Hey, what do you need? Can I help? Screw the record, go do what you gotta do.” So I ask myself sometimes, “Is this the key to our success that we put the people in this band ahead of the band itself?” I mean if someone says I can’t do a record ’cause I’m vacationing in Tahiti for six months, that’s ridiculous! But I had a problem and we had to delay the record a couple of months and I realized that this band takes care of itself. So everything’s actually pretty good.
Blitz: Yeah, things are good. I feel like I have a third lung that was tucked away behind the other ones and it was a good experience to be able to go in and-this is the first record I’ve sung in my entire career without the crutch of tobacco. I was really happy with how things came out. Clear, concise, I hit a couple of higher notes that I couldn’t hit prior. There were some lower notes that would be rubbery when I smoked and now they’re clearer and shot out of a cannon as opposed to just trying to find them.
Amps: A lot of great music has come out so far in 2014. Any bands or albums jump out at you?
Blitz: I like the PRONG stuff; I’m kind of high on that record. I like what Zakk (Wylde) did on the new BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. I’m looking forward to some new releases. I’m a big EVILE fan, and I know they were having some problems so I hope they come back strong.
Amps: The time is now yours. Anything else you’d like to say?
Blitz: You know, it’s so good to be in the game and still be relevant. That’s really what’s exciting about it. Still having the opportunity to put our greasy little hands around your neck and squeeze (laughing). That’s where I get the majority of my excitement from. It’s not about what we were, it’s what we are. I think that’s where the key to the energy is in 2014 as opposed to 1989. And White Devil Armory is guaranteed to annoy your neighbors, unless they’re thrash fans!
Getting to interview the singer from my favorite thrash band not once but TWICE in less than a year is pretty awesome if you ask me. And if you didn’t ask, TOO BAD!! I’m telling you, anyway! White Devil Armory is out now. It is a run-don’t-walk to get it album, and once you do you’ll love it. Catch OVERKILL on tour this fall. You can check dates HERE.