For thirty-seven years, Overkill have been accoladed as one of the greatest thrash metal bands of all time, alongside Testament, Exodus, Death Angel and more. Now, with not only their eighteenth full-length “The Grinding Wheel” out worldwide, Overkill have also announced their second ever visit to Australia, for a tour in late February/early March. Speaking to the band’s longtime frontman and co-founder Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth, he blissfully, had a lot to say, leading up to the highly-anticipated Australian tour.
“It’s a great feeling” he begins. “This band has been going through its career by treating every show as its most important one, and that includes our last time in your beautiful continent around the east coast, and now coming back for five killer shows. It’s great to have the opportunity, and I think that beyond being in this metal community, we’re opportunists. We like to do these things again, revisit and take those opportunities when they come our way.”
Having been around since 1980, Overkill never made it to Australian shores until September, 2010, where an east coast tour took place. Now, with the band on their way to cover Adelaide and Perth, this will mark their first visit to those capital cities. Looking back on everything that happened seven years ago for Overkill, Bobby remembers the primitive and animalistic terrain that many tourists identify with, and felt that every show they had performed back then, felt a lot like every show they’ve done in the past.
“It’s unusual, because the climate is different from where we’re from. I’ve never walked onto land where I’ve said “Oh look, there’s a lot of shit that can kill me here” he laughs. “I live in Jersey, and usually there are people carrying guns. But, in your area, I was like “look at this fucking nature, it’s unbelievable!” I befriended a guy from the promotion crew who took us out to the Gold Coast and went to some farms and zoos and got to know the area. It was exciting to know what, as modern as it is, it still has that earthly, primitive vibe to it with the spiders, crocs and snakes. It was really exciting from that point of view from a tourist. But, when we got into the shows, that universal thing is the first note that hits, you know? One, two, three, four, and the chord kicks in, and everybody is instantly, of that same culture. Regardless of the fact that Americans and Australians are alike, anyway. It’s not like we’re that far from each other, we’re kinda like cultures. But I did love the experience, and that’s why I’m looking forward to coming back, again.”
As there are many places that a lot of bands have yet to travel, Overkill made it to China a few months ago, which was their first ever visit to the country. Like Bobby said about them being opportunists, they took advantage of that and gave China a good scrutiny on their turf with not just the shows, but also the culture.
“That was our first time there, and obviously, you wanna take advantage of opportunities. It was really cool when we were in Beijing. We got to see the Great Wall, but there was a communist election going on. So, there were a lot of police running around in black uniform and armbands, and we were like “are you sure we’re okay, here?” he laughs. “It was some kind of election in Beijing, so it was some kind of heavy security thing going on. But, the culture was killer and the shows were fantastic. Shanghai felt like the Los Angeles of China. Really cool city and really modern over there, it was all over the top.”
In February this year, Overkill released their eighteenth studio record “The Grinding Wheel”, which has received many positive reviews from fans and critics. Looking at the album’s essence from his point of view, Bobby states that it was much like an old Overkill album with newer components that make the LP feel fresh and invigorating.
“It’s about nine months deep, right now. I have a great satisfaction that hasn’t gone away with it. One of the things that I’ve felt about that record that was unique, was that we kinda sharpened all the tools. It wasn’t some kind of groundbreaking approach on this, but we pulled all tools outta the shed and sharpened them up, and let’s say, used them in the current day. That of the blues, thrash, punk, it goes on and on. It’s a really cohesive record based on the fact that it contains all the different elements that make Overkill. Whether it be that Sabbath-y riff or that over the top, double bass or guitar moving like a Mach 10 – it’s either fast or it’s slow, it’s all in between. That’s what I think that satisfaction is in this record. It feels like a cohesive, great accomplishment for us.”
Bobby also takes another look on what 2017 had to offer for Overkill. One of the many opportunities that they were given, that they loved, was touring with their friends in Crowbar across Europe and America. Another also happens to be performing at Japan’s Loud Park festival, with Alice Cooper.
“We went out with Crowbar a couple of times in Europe. They’re just cool guys and I’ve always liked them and their contrast I’ve always liked contrast, when it comes to music. We have the same DNA in us, even though we have totally different approaches. I think that’s kinda cool to present people with some type of diversity in regards to what’s going on onstage. We make them look slower and sludgier, they make us look faster and sharper and that’s the kinda thought that came into that tour. We toured with them again this past September in the States, where we played secondary cities like Pontiac instead of Detroit in Michigan and Akron instead of Cleveland in Ohio. It was really successful with Crowbar, and that’s important, because if you can hit it off in secondary cities, that means you’ve got something going on. Obviously, China was a highlight. We also did Loud Park, which is this really great festival in Japan that holds about 35,000 people with two stages, and we played with Alice Cooper, so that was really cool.”
According to Bobby, he doesn’t look back too much on everything that Overkill have accomplished in their career. He’s a man that’s all about moving forward, and waiting for the next thing to happen. That being said, Overkill have been able to keep their legacy going strong with a mindset so healthy, that they’re eager to keep throwing what they’ve got to the world.
“I think there are some things that we’re still accomplishing. That’s the fun part about it – there hasn’t been this big point of reflection. I think when a person reflects, it’s more about the past than it is about the present. The testimony to what this band can do, is remain relevant in the current day. So, I haven’t really sat and said “wow, this has been a really great ride”, it’s always been a great ride, because I’m still excited. It’s giving me all the great things I have in my life. There’s a multitude of positivity when it comes to it. I never think “oh, weren’t they the good old days” because, when you do that, you’re putting on the slippers and the blanket, because you’re cold” he laughs. “As opposed to going around and throwing a few punches, which we still do. One of the things that keeps us going is that pride, and if you want some more, come and get it, cuz I’m not afraid! I think if you can go onstage that way and not reflect on your past, you can go through your next moment. I think that’s the beauty of Overkill. Sure, there are accomplishments, and one day, I’ll look on the whole thing. But, I’m more concerned about the present and the near future as opposed to the what was and what is.”
You can pick up your copy of ‘The Grinding Wheel’ via Nuclear Blast Records HERE!