It was a real shit day at work. I came home in such a foul mod, but the minute I dialed a certain phone number I knew my day would completely turn around. Why? Because on the other end of the phone was none other than Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, frontman and driving force behind legendary thrashers OVERKILL!!
As you know (or should by now!), the band is headlining the Metal Alliance Tour which kicked off last night in Illinois, and is ending here in my state of Pennsylvania. We talked about how this run came to be, our beloved New York Mets, and more. Check it:
Blitz: Hey, Damian!! Are we gonna see you on the road anywhere on this run?
Amps: Oh hell yeah! I’ll be at the last night of the tour, the Easton, PA show at One Centre Square on September 30.
Blitz: Oh, cool. That was added to the tour. It wasn’t on the original list of dates.
Amps: It’s a fairly new venue, but it’s awesome! Great staff, cold beer, and best of all, the bathrooms were spotless when I was there last month (laughs)!
Blitz: (Laughing) isn’t that funny how your priorities change as age sneaks in, right? “Well, the bathrooms are clean, so this is the place!”
Amps: I can’t believe the line-up for this Metal Alliance Tour. You guys, CROWBAR, HAVOK, BLACK FAST, and INVIDIA…wow!
Blitz: It should be good. It’s a real package. It’s B markets for us, too. We haven’t done a B market tour for quite a while, and we’re going to places that we haven’t, that wouldn’t normally be on the list. Dayton, Ohio, Waterloo, Iowa; I’ve NEVER been to Waterloo. Ft. Lauderdale, Richmond, etc.
Amps: Was this by design?
Blitz: Well, it’s Metal Alliance that did the blueprint. This is what they do. They look for something that they can make a splash in somewhere else. So we didn’t really book this. This was their blueprint through our booking agent, TKO, so we said, “Why not? For a second run let’s go to places we haven’t been, because we’re doing well in all the A markets. So let’s see if we can get these places excited!”
Amps: I see you’re playing Gas Monkey Bar N’Grill, one of my favorite spots in Dallas. You’ll love it. Great outdoor venue.
Blitz: Yeah, that’s the first time for us. We usually do Trees Dallas, and we also did the new place, The Bomb Factory, recently. That place was really nice. And that’s the cool thing about this run, getting to play places we never have.
Amps: The Grinding Wheel dropped earlier this year to rave reviews, and you went on a run. Now you’re doing this. What’s next?
Blitz: The real touring is starting for us now. We did the U.S. back in February and some summertime festivals in Europe. We just got back from a two-week run over there. Now we start this U.S. run, then we have some shows in Asia. We’re doing China and Loud Park Festival in Japan, then we head back home, then back in Europe with The Cavalera brothers (Max and Igor) in seven countries. And then we’re talking about Australia and South America in February/March. So it looks like we’ll be touring our asses off from this point on. It’s a two-year window. We do the Old Guy Tour Booking thing. We try to do three or four weeks, and then get home for three or four weeks so we can recuperate (laughs). So it’s touring our ass off for that amount of time, but it’s relative to being in your 50’s as opposed to being in your 20’s or 30’s! This is the honest approach to it, and it keeps the energy level up. If we can recuperate between tours then it’s not a problem touring our asses off under these circumstances. It’s a good thing because the band really thrives on energy. And I wouldn’t wanna do it if we couldn’t have that energy. If it was dragging your ass out there it wouldn’t be as fun, you know?
Amps: How many newer tunes are you doing live, five to six?
Blitz: Well, we’re doing “Mean Green Killing Machine”, “Shine On”, “Goddamn Trouble”…we have played “Our Finest Hour” in the past but I think that’s gonna drop out for something older because we haven’t been to some of these cities in quite some time. There will be at least three, but we’re prepared to do four or five.
Amps: We’ve talked about this before but man, the title track “The Grinding Wheel” is so fucking great! And opener “Mean Green” with it, what a perfect way to bookend the album.
Blitz: That’s cool that it stands that test where months later you’re still jamming them. And I kind of agree. The opening track has a lot of what the band’s made of with regard to heavy metal and energy. And the last track has a lot of what we’re made of with regard to pounding it out. Two different approaches, and I think that what’s between those bookends is everything that we’re made of, whether it be that punk rock, or rock and roll. And we talked about this back in January, and it’s good to know that it stands the test of time.
Amps: I can’t believe your cover of THIN LIZZY’S “Emerald” was only a bonus track. You guys ripped that one up!
Blitz: We did that one live all through Europe. We just did a benefit show for Muscular Dystrophy and we closed with it. It was primarily cover songs that we did. Chris Caffery from TSO came up and played guitar ’cause he’s a local guy. It was D.D. (Verni, bass), Ron (Lipnicki, former drummer), Derek (“The Skull” Tailer, guitar), and myself. We did some BLACK SABBATH, and some JUDAS PRIEST and then broke into “Emerald.” There’s something really special about that track and I really attribute that to Dave Linsk (guitar) because he’s been whispering in our ear for two records now, “That should be the cover. That should be the cover.” And then when you go back and revisit the original song you see why. Great guitar harmonies, great leads. It’s a precursor to all the stuff that follows it, like IRON MAIDEN. Occasionally we pull it out here and there because we love to play it live.
Amps: You’re touring with the boys in HAVOK. This is the first time, no?
Blitz: Yeah, we’ve never officially toured with them. They’ve done festival shows with us in the past. I just saw them at Summer Breeze and we sat down and talked for a little while. They’re excited about this tour as well. They’re road dogs, those guys, they’ve been out there doing it for quite a good amount of time. So I think we have an understanding, and that understanding is to go out there and put on a killer show.
Amps: Has there been anybody you’ve seen live this year that really struck you, or anybody you’re looking forward to catching live?
Blitz: On the summer festivals I got to see ARCH ENEMY again, who I really liked, and I just saw ABBATH with his new line-up in Germany. I stood on the side of the stage and watched the riffs through the smoke and the white face paint and enjoyed the hell out of it (laughs)! I’m not really a Black Metal guy but I was like, “Man, there’s some great riffs under all this!” (more laughter). I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I was like, “Wow, this is really riff-driven stuff!”
Amps: What are you up to these days when you’re not on the road?
Blitz: A couple cars go through my hands for people who want antique and classic cars, things like that. If I get a car I keep it for three to six months and then I move it. I’m looking at a really nice Chevelle in my driveway right now that’s probably next to go to a new home.
Amps: What the HELL is happening with our NY Mets, man??
Blitz: (Laughs) you ask what I’m doing, I’m not watching the Mets that much right now, I can tell you that!! I just keep going, “Ahhhhh, God!” What an awful year! And what kills me is that everybody they got rid of, and I understand why they had to, is hitting over .350, I think. Granderson has two grand slams already in L.A., Jay Bruce is knockin’ the cover off of the ball in Cleveland, and Neil Walker is starting and hitting .371.
Amps: Yeah, I’m a big Curtis Granderson guy, so I hope he gets a ring with the Dodgers.
Blitz: He was great for New York, both the Mets and Yankees. He’s probably one of the nicest people we’ve had as a baseball player here in half a decade.
Amps: What would you like to say to the legion of OVERKILL fans worldwide?
Blitz: First and foremost, see ya on the road. And keep grinding!
As I’ve said before, the cure for what ails you on a dogshit day is a 20-minute phone call with Blitz. The guy is always so cool, and just turned my mood completely around. I am super-excited for the September 30 show, and I can’t wait to rage with OVERKILL yet again. You can find dates for Metal Alliance HERE. If they’re hitting your city, you’d be a damn fool not to go!!