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Interviews : “It has to be the most important show…” – An Interview With Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth (Overkill)

By on February 8, 2018

Overkill – Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth

Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth has been performing thrash metal since before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Reagan’s presidency and the ‘Live Aid’ concert event. For over 35 years he and his compadre in metal, Overkill bassist D.D. Verni have offered album after album of thrash enshrined heavy metal. So much quality is available over that long career that one could unhesitatingly drop into any one of the albums released by the band since Feel the Fire (’85) and experience some seriously tasty thrash to sate the soul.

Taking every day as it comes and enshrining each prospective performance as the most important in the band’s career is all in days’ work for Blitz. “I think one of the great things about this band is that we’re proud to say it’s business as usual. It’s not that Germans get something different or Americans, Canadians, South Americans, Mexicans or Australians. Because you are going to the Brisbane show, March 1st is the most important show of my life. Taking that from day to day, I think that you get the full effect of what this band is about. This isn’t about, ‘This is a pain in the ass’ or, ‘That’s a pain in the ass.’ All that stuff is going to happen, that’s just life but when that 90 minutes happens (on stage), it has to be the most important show of your career and if you think of it that way, I suppose that’s where 35 years comes from. You know what I mean?”

We do Blitz. We do!

The latest album from the ‘wrecking crew’ is over 12 months old at this point in time. The Grinding Wheel is an album that really shines as an overall unit, rather than just a collection of songs that have been put together. It is true that the same could be said of all Overkill albums though…

That’s the key to success and I’ve said it in interviews in the past, is that to have a record that feels cohesive; that you don’t want to necessarily pop from song to song and skip over what would be filler but to have a cohesive record, each song depends on the next. So, this is probably why I think this record has got that full feel. I also think one of the things about this music, is it’s pure and I may have said it in the past to you but there’s a pure approach to this. It’s people doing it because they want to do it like I think jazz aficionados will find purity in jazz. Rock n’ roll aficionados find it in rock n’ roll and certain metalheads find it. I mean you never find purity in pop…”

I mention that I purchased The Grinding Wheel on cassette tape and my young daughters and I lark about by creating our very own circle pit in the lounge room as the cuts emanate through the speakers.

(Laughing)” The cool thing is that it transcends generations that you have a three to four-year-old banging their heads around. And I always remember this, I was walking across a field in Germany, it was totally muddy, it was a festival field. I had motorcycle boots on and mud up to my knees and we had just finished playing and I was going to check out this new line of merchandise we were doing. So, I’m walking over to check this out and my wife is Dutch, I had to learn Dutch to speak to my mother in law. This little girl comes running across the field and I could see that her parents and adults were behind her, she couldn’t have been more than eight years old or so and she says in perfect Dutch, “You’re my favourite singer…. ‘Jij bent mijn favoriete zanger’. Now I can talk to her in Dutch and she’s on top of the world because I know her language and the whole thing and the family wants pictures with me. I’ve got the granddaughter, I’ve got the grandpa, I’ve got mum and dad and then there’s another daughter or son. I’m thinking, “How fucking great is this? That it actually can transcend three generations of one particular family, who actually get a kick out of it. I think that that’s where its value is, is in its purity.”

Blitz is a legendary as Axl Rose, Phil Lynott or any rock’n’roll front man. Long may he continue to offer thrash metal Overkill style for the generations to enjoy. If the reader is curious check out the authors fave The Killing Kind (’96).

Catch Overkill in Australia this March. A full list of tour dates below. Click here to secure your tickets from Metropolis Touring.

Wednesday 28th February – Adelaide – Fowlers Live
Thursday 1st March – Brisbane – The Zoo
Friday 2nd March – Melbourne – 170 Russell
Saturday 3rd March – Sydney – Factory Theatre
Sunday 4th March – Perth – Rosemount Hotel


Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith