I mean, is there any other way that I can convey how much I love chatting with Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth” from OVERKILL? You’ve all heard me gush endlessly, and guess what? That’s not stopping anytime soon, so fuckin’ deal with it. We recently had a Skype chat regarding the band’s new album The Wings of War (February 22, Nuclear Blast Records), our beloved New York Mets, and other fun stuff. Check it:
Amps: Blitz, how are ya?
Blitz: I’m good, man. As you know I always get excited this time of year, or two years. I’m happy to be done with the record and I feel successful about it. Getting ready to go on the road, and doing some interviews with guys like you.
Amps: You SHOULD be excited about this record, man. Holy shit!!
Blitz: (Laughs) you’ve heard it I guess, then?
Amps: (Laughing) oh yes I did heard it! I kind of bugged Kristin at Nuclear Blast for it. And I can’t say enough good things about her taking care of us here at A&GS.
Blitz: She is so great. She’s a great promo lady who always gets the job done. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with her over these last couple records at Nuclear Blast USA.
Amps: Hey, our New York Mets are makin’ moves, huh?
Blitz: They are making moves, but I’m curious as to what their endgame is. For so long when that pitching staff was so stellar we were relying on youth, and then they traded most of that youth away. there’s not much left in our farm teams and we just signed a guy who’s 36. So on one hand I’m like, “Oh boy…” And what are we gonna do with all these second basemen? We’re gonna have to reshuffle this infield. One of em’s gonna have to move to first base, and someone’s gonna probably go to third ’cause Todd Frazier had a crap year.
Amps: That’s what I was thinking. But to get Robinson Cano and Jed Lowrie, I’m excited to see what they bring. And I was very glad to see them have a job for David Wright. It kills me he never got a World Series ring.
Blitz: Oh, no doubt, man. He’s Captain America.
Amps: Back to OVERKILL business! I know you mentioned that “Last Man Standing” was the unanimous pick to open The Wings of War, and WHAT a way to open it! JEEEEEZUS!!
Blitz: Well, I’ve said this to you before a bunch of times, we never politely knock on the door, we’re all about kicking it in. And I think there’s something to be said for the song too, that it’s different in that there’s a new chemistry, but all good things are intact. Something about this record, starting with that song, where I started noticing the ability to infuse it with melody. And that’s not just me, Dave Linsk (lead guitar) also. Based on the surgical precision of the drumming from Jason Bittner. This was unique having Jason in here knowing that the chemistry was gonna change. And then the rest of us embraced that. Brutality and metal go together, there’s no questioning that. But if you take those and add the melody to it I think that’s what was accomplished not only with “Last Man Standing,” but was dragged through the entire record to some degree.
Amps: Jason fits so well in the band and I feel like there’s a little more piss and vinegar on this record.
Blitz: Mm-hmm, he’s an angry young man!
Amps: One thing I’ve said about OVERKILL, and something you and I have discussed many times is the way you bookend your albums. Because closer “Hole In My Soul” kicks 50 Shades of Ass, too.
Blitz: That’s kind of a thing with us. There’s no filler on this record. But I knew that “Hole In My Soul” was something special. It’s Dave’s favorite song, it’s Jason’s favorite song, and people say, “Why put it at the end, then?” and it’s one of our principles, is to not just give people five ass-kickers and then five or six “Meh” tunes. It’s got to go through the process of wanting to get to the end, the destination of 51 minutes or whatever. I agree, Damian. I think the front and back end of the record have the most brutal tracks on it, both ass-kickers.
Amps: I also love that you didn’t go all speed all the time because “Head of a Pin” has some cool twists and turns, and so does “Distortion” by the way!
Blitz: Yeah, “Head of a Pin” gets up there but the tempo of that can seem breakneck in places, while actually it’s mid-tempo through most of it. “Distortion” I agree with, too. That one comes across to me as more of a creation. That’s the one where we discovered the fact that we can do mid-tempo stuff well with our approach to doing it. It was a great eye-opener for us, and I love the result, especially the tag on of that intro with Dave and D.D. (Verni, bass) doing that bass and guitar duet.
Amps: I want you to tell Dave and Derek (Tailer, rhythm guitar) this from me: You two are the Riff Masters, and we are all slaves to your riffs. Please do that! But it also feels like everyone stepped up ten notches this time.
Blitz: (Laughs) it’s some crazy shit on it, I know. Again, I think it’s that chemistry. You either become part of the change, or you protest the change. And what we did, not because it’s easier, is that we embraced it, and that change for sure was Jason. Now, if there was a fire lit, it was lit by the new guy. We demo’d and he’d send us stuff every day saying, “What do you think of this?” I got six versions of “Head of a Pin” in one day! And that excitement bled through to everyone else, and I think that’s one of the reasons the results came out so positive for us.
Amps: “Welcome to the Garden State” is so much fun, man. You knew I was gonna bring this up, being from Philly!
Blitz: (Laughs) you know us for a long time, Damian. We don’t do this ’cause we’re the heaviest guys on the block, we like laughing too. The presentation musically is serious enough. Sure it’s punk rock influenced, but it’s played like a Thrash song at almost breakneck speed. And I think that’s the key to it.
So when I started messing around knowing that was the theme, it was just so easy to write those lyrics. All I had to do was go back into how I grew up in New Jersey, my days at the shore, the first days down there with the band drinkin’ beer and trying to meet girls. We felt like kings of the world and it was fuckin’ great!
Amps: You realize now you have the Mother of all dilemnas on your hands now, setlist-wise, right? Because you could play this album front to back and crowds would go nuts. Good luck picking the ones for this tour (laughs)!
Blitz: I agree with you 100%, I would easily play eight out of ten of these songs live. That’s how I feel about this record. And I’m not out here going, “Hey, it’s the best OVERKILL record,” but it’s exciting results, and when exciting results happen you kinda wanna share that with everyone. So I suppose somewhere that’s still the motivation to do this, if you can get so excited about it, and that it’s not just another record, especially from the inside, from the band, then you know that you’re doing what you should be doing.
Amps: How close are we to announcing a tour?
Blitz: I’d say by Monday or Tuesday January 21-22 or so we’ll announce something.
Amps: (Emits high-pitched squeal unlike anything ever heard)
Blitz: (Laughing his ass off) what was that?!? That was a squeal right out of Deliverance!! But in any case, a tour has been booked for awhile. There were a couple dates in question, but those have been resolved.
Amps: We’ll just gloss over that squeal. Anyway, outside of the music, what are you doing? As in, what are you ripping apart, what are you building, what are you fixing?
Blitz: Oh Jeez, you know, the record took a lot of time. I got a little basement renovation I gotta finish, but most of that’s done.
I just gotta finish the aesthetics at this point. The cars are kind of put away because the snow’s coming, but the bike is still ready to run. Everything’s in good shape, so it’s all The Wings of War for me right now.
Amps: What do you want to say to all the OVERKILL fans out there in the world?
Blitz: It’s 2019, wake up. WAKE THE FUCK UP, because we’re comin’ for ya, and we mean business!!!
Amps: Blitz, you know how much these interviews mean to me, so thank you for sitting down with me once again.
Blitz: Damian, it’s always good talking to you, really. I got a smile when I saw you on the list today, so believe me, the feeling is mutual.
As many of you know, OVERKILL was the very reason I started Amps and Green Screens. Less than a year from being up and running I had my first interview with Blitz, on the band’s tour bus. Here we are almost six years, and several interviews later and I can honestly say that he is one of THE best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to. Down to Earth, and a no-bullshit east Coast guy, I will interview him every single time I am given the opportunity. The Wings of War comes out February 22, and believe me when I tell you it is a fucking Monster of Thrash Metal!! You can pre-order your copy/bundle HERE like I did. So what are you waiting for?