Interview date

Février 2010


Blaster of Muppets


Interview Bobby Ellsworth

The release of "Ironbound" happens as the band celebrates twenty-five years of career. How are you going to celebrate that? Should we expect a special event? A new DVD or live album?

It’s something we’re talking about right now. But I really think the idea is to pay attention to what "Ironbound" is doing right now because it’s all new. Overkill is not a band that really stops working. Part of the reason why we can celebrate twenty-five years is because there’s been… twenty-five years! There’s no break, no separation, some people leave because they want to leave… Anyway, I think living the day is very important, so "Ironbound" is the most important thing right now. It’s only the beginning of the year, we’ve just begun touring for this record. So, there will be a celebration, that’s for sure, and there will be a DVD, I can tell you this because we’re contracted to do one… and it will probably have something to do with celebrating these 25 years.

"Ironbound" is, in my opinion, your best album ever. What inspired you?

It’s obviously a chemistry situation. We did a lot of touring, what happened with "Ironbound" is that it has this road inspiration. It’s not something we thought about, it came very naturally and when this happens, I think it raises the chemistry to a higher level. We came off the road and made the record, the chemistry was there, the road inspiration… you know, as soon as you’re trying to say “Hey, let’s put the road into the record”, you’ve ruined it. It can’t be something that’s planned. We’re very lucky, I think.

What are your favourite songs on the new record?

It’s hard. There’s two ways of making a record, you can make a record that contains a few good songs but it’s not cohesive. Or you can see your album as a project with the first song depending on the second, the second on the third, etc. "Ironbound" is really about 55 minutes. It’s a very cohesive record. In my opinion, the success of this record is due to that. All songs hold each others’ hands and take you on a journey.

What would you say to recommend "Ironbound" to potential fans?

I think that one of the things that Overkill has is purity. Love us or hate us but we're pure. It’s kind of hard to fake it.  Obviously, we don't sell big places out, you know... If you want purity, if you’re looking for a band who’s doing it with all its heart and stomach and nothing else… this is a band for you, and "Ironbound" is that record.

Do you understand why so many fans say "Ironbound" is one of your best albums to date? And do you understand what caused disappointment to some of your fans before?

I think it’s just about timing. You know, you never go to the studio thinking that it will be less than a success, and you never leave the studio with the feeling that you did not succeed. You leave the studio because you say “my work’s done here, now it’s up to the rest”. We have sixteen records, I’ve always thought it was the closest thing I can imagine to giving birth (laughs). So, we’ve got sixteen kids and each one of them is important, all of them as they came along... Some turned out ugly (laughs), but others turned out as shining stars, and "Ironbound" is one of these.

Playing music and working in the music business is not always easy and you’ve had your highs and lows, still you never gave up and never took a break. Not having the commercial success of Metallica or AC/DC, have you ever thought about giving up?

The hardest time in my life was between 1997 and 1999… I had been diagnosed with cancer, a nose cancer that went into my skull… and we were afraid that it may reach my brain. No one was sure at the time. It was a really hard time. I was on the phone with D.D. (the bass player), I’ve know the man for thirty years (longer than Overkill), and he said “What can I do?”, and I said “… I don’t know, we’ll wait, we’ll see… I don’t deal the cards, I only play the cards I’m given (smile)”. “Anything you need”, he said. So I thought “I probably need a few songs to work on”. So I think, if that’s the darkest hour I’ve ever had, and what could pull me out of that was to write some songs with my partner… I think that says it all. (Laughs)

Now, looking back on twenty-five years of career, are you proud of everything you’ve accomplished? Are there things you’d do differently if you could?

Of course, looking back, I would. Unless evolving you’re not growing, unless learning you’re not growing, it doesn’t matter how old you are. I’m still willing to learn and if I’m willing to learn, I can always recognize my mistakes. I do believe that mistakes have been made in the past with regard to releases, and that we could have been better with the knowledge we have today… So, of course, I would change things but I think that each step we took was necessary to bring us where we are today. So I try not to complicate things, I’d rather live in the present and learn. If you learn, you evolve, then you’re living life and do what you want regardless of big stages, little stages, successful records, unsuccessful records… Learn, be proud of what you do is my philosophy.

What are the bands that inspire you or challenge you these days?

Of the newer bands, I like the Bonded By Blood… Some of the young bands like the ones we’re bringing with us like Suicidal Angels. I find Lamb of God to be inspiring too. When it comes to metal, it’s that kind of stuff. I feel I have to be aware of what goes around me.

I liked some of the covers you did on Coverkill, would you consider recording a Coverkill 2?

There’s a couple of covers that weren’t released. Actually, one of my favourites never showed up, “We gotta get out of this place” by Eric Burdon and the Animals. We recorded it just like four or five others… because we had to have some extra tracks ready for Japanese releases, you know they needed an extra track for domestic releases. To answer your question, it’s possible, we might release another cover album someday, I love doing covers.

Well, with all respect, you’re not twenty anymore and your music is very aggressive and demanding physically speaking… how long do you imagine yourself doing this?

I’ll be fifty-one in May. Doing what I do has given me the youth I could never have acquired anywhere else. I don’t know, really. I don’t really think about tomorrow, you know. If today is one of the most important shows of my career, it makes tomorrow that much more possible… So I go back to “living the day”. I have to tell you though, we have younger bands with us on this tour… and I love the competition. I was getting my ass kissed after one of the German shows by some of the younger guys and I told them: “OK, you’ve got five minutes to kiss my ass, but after that, it’s all going to be about competition because that’s why I’m here for, and that’s kind of what wets my mouth”. And they came off stage one night, I forgot which band it was, Savage Messiah I think, and I told them “Good show!” and they said “Hey, thanks…” and then I said: “Now, pay attention, this is how it’s done !” (laughs)

If you had to convert someone to Heavy Metal, what are the five songs you’d make him (or her) listen to?

OK, I’ll throw a song by Overkill because I have the opportunity to do so… Probably the song "Coma" from the album Horrorscope. Then a song by Judas Priest, "Delivering the Goods". "Ace of Spades" by Motörhead, "Raining Blood" by Slayer, and then you can never ever forget Black Sabbath! But which song? That’s really hard… Believe it or not, I think I’ll choose "Snow Blind".

Do you have a music wish or fantasy that you’d like to see come true?

I’m going to tell you about a fantasy that I actually lived in 2007. We were touring with Motörhead, and one night, Lemmy asked me to sing the song "Overkill" with them. It blew my fucking mind, my head exploded, being on stage with Lemmy Kilmister, Mikkey Dee and Phil Campbell and singing the song that was the reason why we named our band Overkill... And I called my wife right after the show and said: “Listen, I’ve just sung Overkill with Lemmy!!”. I was really excited and proud.

What question are you tired of hearing when you’re being interviewed?

The question "How did the band start?".

What question I didn’t ask would you have liked me to ask you? And what would have the answer been?

What my impression of Paris is. I love being here. I think my heart beats a little bit faster everytime I’m in France. I don’t know why, but I’m really attracted. My wife is Dutch and we came here a couple of times… I just love it.

What are your plans for the near future?

We do South America, then US for a month, then it’s festival season, we already sold out some the US shows, it’s cool… that’s kind of a cool situation, we can always work… you know like on a clock, we can say it’s only quarter past six, we’ve got plenty of time until midnight ! (Laughs)

A special word for your French fans?

Yeah: “merci”! (smiling)