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March 9, 1999

The day before my scheduled interview with Overkill's Bobby Blitz, I stumbled across a controversial internet news item on the band, alleging forthcoming lineup changes and citing a rumor that Blitz and D.D. intended to take the band in a more "mainstream" direction. Wow. "Mainstream." There isn't a dirtier word in the metal business. So, I quickly jumped over to the band's website to see how Chaly's legions were taking the news. I couldn't believe my eyes -- it was like the onset of Armageddon over there. Reading the horrified posts on the bulletin board, I was amazed that fans were disregarding years of dutiful service to the metal community and embracing this rumor -- especially in light of the brand new, heavy as sin, ' Necroshine'. So it was with great anticipation that I picked up the phone to talk to Blitz. I went for the jugular, right from question #1. With the utmost confidence in the answer, I took a deep breath and crossed my fingers behind my back.

Metal Update: As if Monday mornings weren't bad enough already, I had to log on to the internet yesterday and read the following report:

"Overkill guitarist Sebastian Marino has decided to leave the band for undisclosed reasons, but rumor has it that he wasn't happy with the bands financial situation. Overkill, touring in support for the latest offering from CMC, Necroshine, still intend to go through with the tour, and hope to find a guitar player in time for it's late March start. At the end of the tour, however, both guitarist Joe Comeau and drummer Tim Mallare will also leave the band. Sources say Bobby Ellsworth [spelled "E-l-l-e-s-w-o-r-t-h" (laughter)] and bassist D.D. Verni are going to be taking the band in a more mainstream direction."

Bobby Blitz: Um, hum. . .

MU: Bobby, care to clarify?

BB: Well, yeah, it's kind of a dance, Celine Dion direction. (laughs)

MU: Have you checked out the Wrecking Crew Bulletin Board since this has been posted?

BB: No, you know, I haven't.

MU: People are up in arms. They're fuming. They're crazy.

BB: Well, I'm going to have to check it out after our interview. The truth of the matter is, Marino is gone. And pretty close to that reason. He's got other commitments, and I guess to say he was unhappy with the band's financial situation would be the definition, but kind of open-ended. I mean, it really came down to we'd have to pay this guy a couple hundred grand a year to get him out of the hole he's in. You know, we don't pay them peanuts. I've always believed that, you know, you pay peanuts, you get monkeys, and these guys are definitely not that. And we're sorry to see him go, but we've kinda known that this was going to happen due to personal problems he had. As far as the Joe Comeau and Tim Mallare situation, that is most certainly untrue. Those guys are in rehearsals right now having fun with a new guy named Dave Lynsk from a local band called Anger On Anger. This has always been our thing, I don't think we've searched for the Malmsteens. I think we've searched for guys that are hungry. You know, you gotta keep going on. I think the idea is that we've always tried to keep Overkill more important than who's in Overkill.

MU: Yet Overkill has no future beyond you and D.D.

BB: You know, we're the songwriters. So I think that this is a double-edged sword. It's kinda hard to say that Mallare, Comeau, Dave Lynsk, Singer A, and Bass Player B can continue this on. Because then I think the songwriting would be gone.

MU: Rumors of Gustafson's return are greatly exaggerated, I presume.

BB: I love rumors. You know, I was dead for two weeks on the internet list last year, which was absolutely spectacular. I was sitting here pettin' my dogs, on the internet and I go "Michelle", to my wife, "you gotta come check this out, I'm dead!" (laughter) In any case, rumors are rumors. The truth of that rumor is Marino is moving on. The parting was amicable. We weren't throwing penny rolls at each other like it sounds in there.

MU: What about the "more mainstream direction"? That's the troubling aspect of the report.

BB: You know, I think the proof is quite in the pudding here. We have a brand new release that's out there and that's about as mainstream as Celine Dion on crack. (laughs)

MU: But where do rumors like this originate? I'd expect the people who print this stuff have some modicum of journalistic integrity.

BB: I don't think so. I think that in some cases a rumor is much more important than the reality. I think just the fact that we talked about me being dead there for a couple of weeks. (laughs) I mean, it's quite unique to be able to sit there and have someone have posted a rumor that I had died of brain cancer. I had actually gone through something. But the point was that I was happy and healthy while I was reading this - naturally due to a successful operation - but this person who had started this rumor had killed me off pretty quickly. And I think journalistic integrity depends most certainly on the individual as compared to the genre. (laughs)

MU: So to address the question head on - I guess it's like the saying people use in expensive stores, if you have to ask how much it is, you probably can't afford to buy it. If I have to ask Bobby Blitz if Overkill is becoming a dance-pop band, then I just don't get it. Is that correct?

BB: Yeah. I've always told people we have this real long-range plan, it's like twenty years. And like 15 full-length records, and then we break into techno, after we have had you fooled and wasted two decades of our lives. You know Overkill is what Overkill is. And I think that the beauty of Overkill has been that somewhere around 1988, we eliminated popularity from the equation. Let's even say a little bit later than that, I think it was probably with the leaving of Bobby Gustafson. And we just disposed of that. Started paying attention to our own house and became very unique unto that, you know. When somebody waved the 'metal's dead' flag, Overkill was still in the underground saying, "Well, you know, we really don't have that identity crisis". (laughs) We are what we are.

MU: I think you're very revered for what you are. You've found your niche and you've been able to deliver on a consistent basis for a really long time.

BB: Well, yeah. And the point is that popularity comes at a larger. . . at a larger level, let's say, more so than sustainment, which it's been for all these years. That it will have been so by our own hand, by our own rules. Therefore redefining popularity or commerciality. And I think that's really fair but I'm not gonna say that it's a goal, but I would say that it would be welcomed if it came by our own rules.

MU: Absolutely. You're not gonna refuse any checks, right?

BB: I'm not allergic to money. It doesn't make me break out into a rash. It makes life a little bit easier on some levels. It most certainly doesn't make the man and I think that that's quite obvious with even this tenth release. There's not a dance track on there.

MU: Are you comfortable talking about the business end of Overkill?

BB: Well, I run the band with Verni. It's not really a problem, because Overkill to us, is a very. . . it's a full-time job. But, you know, you find a job you love, you never work a day in your life. So it's quite simple to me that, it doesn't bother me talking about anything. I will talk about cancer, I will talk about the documented changes in the people in this band, whether that be a physical change or whether that be a directional change. Because I think Overkill will change direction slowly on every record, a very slow evolution. But I think that keeps us within that genre. I mean, all we're tryin' to do is expand ourselves within what our confines are. I had this conversation with a guy in France, working this record, you know. And he goes, "but that puts limits on you, you're not a true artist." And I said, I never waved that flag. I said, quite simply, that I have a blue collar work ethic and I'm just trying to build better houses here.

MU: Leave it to the French to define what true art is and what it isn't. (laughter) Anyway, the business. It seems like you've got a system down, you've got a groove, you've got an operation. You know the clubs that you' re playing, you know where you're going and what you're doing with this thing. And I think that sort of integrity and people knowing what to expect from Overkill year-in and year-out, while it doesn't mean that you're - it might sound like you're in a rut, but it's what people want from Overkill. Can you speak to that? Was there a day that you sat down and you said, we can keep this going for a long time and here's how we're going to do it?

BB: No, no, absolutely not. I think that what happened was, a love of this, on a daily basis. And taking that attitude from Monday into Tuesday has let the future, which is now the present, take care of itself. I think that that work ethic is what it's all about. I'm short-sighted. What are the future plans for Overkill? Well, I'm going to have lunch after this interview, and then I'm going to do more of them. (laughs) And I think that that has lent itself to longevity. Because, you know, you put as much as you can into the moment and those moments collect and those moments turn into years and ten studio records. So I don't think there's ever a designed plan. I think that if there is a plan, we'd look at it more so in hindsight, and then say hey look what we've learned a lot from what we've done as compared to. . . from what we planned to do. And, I agree with you, I don't think it is a rut, because I think that it's all about progress, but it's about natural progress. It's not about having that identity crisis, you know. If metal is unpopular, then Overkill is unpopular, then I don't really care. (laughs)

MU: But you guys know, before you even make a record, that you can go into Syracuse, NY, or Saratoga Winners in Albany, you can play in Jersey in Old Bridge, and you know that there's a certain group of people that are gonna come out to see Overkill each time around.

BB: Yeah, we're specialists. You know what I mean? It's quite obvious. We've made a living and a career out of alienating the masses and endearing ourselves to the minority. This is quite a unique situation in a capitalist society or in a capitalist genre. It's almost the opposite of such, it's almost for the people. The music is written, absolutely from a selfish perspective because this is motivational. It's gotta trip my trigger, it's gotta make my eyebrows raise up, strike a chord inside me, as it does with the other guys. I think that when we're done, we're not adverse to say it's ours and it's our masterpiece. It now becomes ours collectively. And this is where the support comes from, and this is why you walk into Saratoga Winners and you know that 700 or 1000 are going to be in there that feel it is theirs also. This becomes very protective. It puts up a shield around what we do. And motivates us to continue along that basis. If it's not broken, don't fix it. Especially if it's given us what it has given us. And it's given me, personally, fifteen years of freedom. And this is something that I wouldn't trade in for cash. I have to measure my success in days as compared to owning parts of San Francisco.

MU: Do you guys make money from being out on tour?

BB: Yeah. I mean, I've lived off this for ten years.

MU: You've learned to make it profitable and you don't work outside of the band?

BB: No. I've given up my motorcycles and I, you know, occasionally I do other business ventures but the only reason that these are available to me are based on what the band has given me. Not sayin' "Hi, I'm Bob and I have a CDL and I'd love to drive your truck". It's much different than that. But I mean, these are just things on the side. Without these business ventures, I would still be living as I do right now. And I'm comfortable with that, I think that that lends itself again to being able to concentrate on the music. There's not an unfounded area that I have to touch as far as happiness goes. I like what I do. I like where I am . I love my family. And love the changes in myself over these fifteen years.

MU: Was there a point where you and D.D. ever considered breaking this thing up and ending it?

BB: No, not really. It was always. . . we always thought it had value. Regardless of what the heavy scene dictated. You know, and I see more of a leaning toward the kind of stuff that we're doing. I think that there's a great honesty toward it. Or incorporated within it. And I think that people will always come back to something like that. I'm not saying, hey, there's a resurrection of the scene in general, I'm saying that the reason that we can survive is because of these aspects about Overkill. But you know, I see a lot of, you know, deny me three times before the cock crows. And that's, quiet simply, "Hey, we're not a metal band. Regardless of the double bass drums, the distorted guitars and the screaming vocals - we never listened to Slayer when we were growing up, and that's why we're selling out arenas, because of Paginini." (laughs)

MU: You mentioned that a time came, around the time maybe when Mr. Gustafson left, that you got together and you must have re-evaluated and refocused. You weren't looking for "Hello from the Gutter" videos on MTV anymore.

BB: No, no, no, no.

MU: Was that a long-term process or did that just hit you one day?

BB: When change first was presented to us -- and the biggest change in this band's history was Bobby leaving, because he was a contributor. He was a songwriter. And this was fucking up the formula. It kinda scared me to death because I loved what I had, though I didn't know what I had. I think that this was a proving ground for us because it gave me personally, the opportunity to view change from the upside, as compared to the downside. And it was a monumental event in my life to be able to view things. To say, hey, there always are two sides to the coin. And I think what Overkill did was, we regrouped and we came out of the cage like a hungry lion. Sayin' that we are what we are, you know, not necessarily king of the jungle, but still having that type of impact. That it doesn't really matter, what you think of us, but it matters what we think of ourselves. And this is, again, a very, I think, contagious attitude that protects this band and lends itself to the amount of support we've had over this many years.

MU: Let's talk metal, Bobby. Are you a metalhead?

BB: Yeah, you know, kind of an eclectic view of music. Some I love, some I hate. I can listen to black metal, I can listen to. . .

MU: What black metal bands do you like right now?

BB: How about Dimmu Borgir?

MU: They will be playing at the March Metal Meltdown, are you going?

BB: You know, I don't know if it's going to be possible, based on some other commitments that I have, personally.

MU: Why isn't Overkill playing at that gig?

BB: Ah, you know we were asked to, and honestly, didn't feel great about opening up for Grim Reaper. (laughs)

MU: I heard Grim Reaper cancelled.

BB: Oh boy, we could have been in the top spot! You know, it just didn't seem organized enough to me when it was presented to us. And quite simply, we had a new release and something we didn't want to burn on $50 for a weekend. And that's as honest as I can be about it. It seemed to us that it had more value at a $12 or $15 ticket at a local venue than being part of the mishmash for the first time with this new record.

MU: So you like some black metal, what about some of your other tastes? I'm interested generally of what you think of the metal scene in 1999.

BB: Well, I think it's becoming more organized. And it think, quite frankly, it's because of fanzines, because of radio support, and because of the internet. And I think that this is making something that was invisible five years ago become more visible right now and start to show its value as a force within the music industry. Which is a good thing. ' Cause this stuff never goes away, I mean, it always lurks. Regardless of what its popularity is, it lurks.

MU: And you're on the internet yourself?

BB: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I run the band from the internet. I update the website from the internet. You know, I'm not a computer junkie, but I do use it as a tool. So, you know, I think that these things are necessary and these things have contributed to a stronger genre as compared to a weaker genre and I think that people take pride in the fact that it is a stronger genre.

MU: Who are Overkill's musical peers right now in 1999?

BB: I don't know. There's not many left, are there?

MU: It depends on your definition of peer. (laughter) Which is part of what I'm interested in.

BB: Who we started with? I mean, who's left out of who we started with. . .

MU: Who were your peers in 1985-1987?

BB: Testament. Anthrax and Exodus. Countless bands that no longer exist.

MU: Are you friends with any of those guys? For instance, Scott Ian from Anthrax?

BB: We're acquainted. And have been friends. . . let's say that we're friends more so on a surface level than any in-depth level. Always good to see him, shake hands, how's it goin' with the band, that type of thing.

MU: Have you heard anything they've done lately?

BB: I've heard 'The Threat is Real'.

MU: What do you think?

BB: I didn't like it. I don't know. It seems directionless to me.

MU: Have you heard anything in the last couple of years from Testament?

BB: I heard 'Demonic', thought it was a really unique approach. If I have a criticism about it, I think Chuck is probably one of the best singers in the genre and wanted to hear a little bit more Chuck than Anti-Chuck. (laughter)

MU: Obviously you're well schooled in the metal scene. Have you heard Nevermore's 'Dreaming Neon Black'?

BB: I'm waiting - you know, Warrel's supposed to send me one - I hear great things about the record. We toured with those guys through Europe last year, became close with them. You know, great people. Which is a good thing to find in this genre. And I think people who stick it out, usually are great people because there's a lot of pitfalls from sticking it out for a long amount of time. And we know that those pitfalls dissolve bands. They become the thing that takes away the intestinal fortitude - eats the band from the inside. But I don't see that with Jim and Warrel and the rest of the guys. I mean going from Sanctuary to this and still having a great value in the musical scene.

MU: There were rumors that you were going to tour with Nevermore. I take it that didn't come together?

BB: Yeah, it didn't come together and it's again, it's something financial. I mean, we have to make it happen. Overkill knows what it needs to do. We wanted to put a package together, it just wasn't going to happen, based on promoters. The promoters say hey, this doesn't excite me, because I put the same amount of people in here for less money just having you. So, I mean, these are business decisions made by business people. But it would have lent itself to a better vibe. That's the way we felt about the tour.

MU: Your scheduled tour is still happening?

BB: Oh, absolutely.

MU: Notwithstanding any line-up changes or anything like that?

BB: They are diligently going through "Deny the Cross" right now. (laughs)

MU: That's great, you're dusting that one off.

BB: We thought it was necessary. Because, you know, Overkill's had value - historical and contemporary value - from our second record on. And I think that we've always walked that fine line, and not by trying to walk it, but it always turns out this way. And I think that these songs still have value to people. You know, I pay attention to what people are saying when they're saying, "Play this! Goddamn it!". (laughs)

MU: So who are you taking out on the road with you?

BB: It will be locals. It will be local openers. . .

MU: Rumors of Flotsam and Jetsam and all that is out the window?

BB: Tried to make all this stuff happen. You know, these were our ideas. We're always checking the new releases, etc., etc. What we're gonna do in Europe, which I know doesn't really help here, is do like a ten-day in May and then we have a full headline happening in September with Testament. And I'm excited to hear what those guys do next time. I mean, they still have value in my opinion also.

MU: Lombardo's playing drums.

BB: Uh, huh. Grip Inc. we tried to put something together with in the States. I mean, it's just, you know it's always a matter of money. For doing this as long as we have, quite honestly I'm not going to come home and write checks and say, boy it was great having these guys with us, now how much did it cost me? (laughs)

MU: Isn't that part of what being in a metal band in 1999 is all about? Balancing the artistic integrity, staying true, but also trying to make it work and make it fly?

BB: Well, I think we've always been able to do that. And I think that the impact that this band has, I see more and more through the years that we've had a very positive impact on the scene. And I also see, you know, as the guy who turns 32, who picked up 'Feel the Fire' and 'Taking Over' and still follows the band through their releases, but doesn't come to the shows, he's replaced with the guy who is 17. And this is quite a unique thing for us. That you see that we've transcended two or three generations of people. I mean, this is really, really unique. I mean, my brother's 15, he likes the band.

MU: I'm 28, I was turned on to Overkill by. . . I saw the video for "In Union We Stand" on MTV. . .

BB: You were 16.

MU: . . . I lived in suburban Albany. I went to a show at a tiny little place called Colonie Coliseum, you were supporting Megadeth on the 'Peace Sells' tour. . .

BB: Sure, sure. Necros were on that tour too.

MU: I came to the show, I bought myself a Megadeth t-shirt. After your support act, I sold my Megadeth t-shirt back to someone in line and went and bought a 'Taking Over' shirt.

BB: (laughs)

MU: And I was sold from that day forward. And I think you've got a lot of people in the audience that sort of grew up with this, and it's nice that you respect that.

BB: I think it's necessary. I think respect is probably one of the most misused or misdefined words, especially in the ' 90's. But it's mutual. It' s something that's give and take. It's not just take. Don't respect me for what I do, respect me for who I am. And I think that that lends itself to that give and take. Because than it is very easy to give that respect back to people for who they are. I've been doing this for so long I probably know half our audience by the first name, you know,'no matter where we go. It's turned into quite a positive, kind of a friendship over the years.

MU: You've obviously taken stock of the back catalog recently in preparing the new set list. A lot of Overkill's past can be divided into two different types of songs. You've got the "Thanks for Nothing", "I Hate", and "Fuck You", the, sort of, flip the bird to the world kind of songs. And then you've got the dark, "Skullkrusher"'s, you've got the "Long Time Dyin'. On this album, maybe I would put in that category, maybe "Let Us Prey" or something like that. You've got the deep, dark serious stuff. Why the two sides?

BB: I think those are just elements that make us who we are. And what we are. I think that these are the areas that we find have the most impact on us as songwriters. Angst is a great thing, when disposing of it. As compared to when bottling it up. I think that all people have many of the qualities that Overkill songs portray, that they have a darker side, that they an angry side, an aggressive side. But I think that the final outcome is exposure of these personality traits, of these elements that make up the people, whether they be in the band or whether they be in the listening side or whether we'd be all grouped as one. And to dispose of this only lends itself to progress. I think it's great to say fuck you, when it's chosen. When it has impact. To use it continuously on and off for no particular reason, it becomes the norm, and the norm has no impact. But to choose it can, boy, it can be one of the most freedom-based expressions that a person could use. (laughs)

MU: What's your favorite Overkill record? Objectively.

BB: My favorite record is probably 'Horrorscope'.

MU: And looking at that record, what tracks do you think stand out on 'Horrorscope'.

BB: You know, the reason it's my favorite record is because the record itself has a vibe. It's not about tracks. I think it's about 55 minutes of controlled chaos. And the idea is, that if it doesn't get separated into tracks, this is where the value comes to me.

MU: I think you're right. I think it's hard to hear "Soulitude" without first hearing "Nice Day for a Funeral" right before it.

BB: And it becomes, not a concept record, but most certainly about progress and about the pitfalls, and about the obstacles, and about how do you get around these obstacles or how do you face the fears. To face something that you're afraid of always lessens it and its negative value.

MU: Do you miss being signed to Atlantic Records?

BB: No, absolutely not. I mean, boy, there was a hell of a checkbook back there, but I used to hate coming up to the front desk and have somebody tell me, "deliveries are around the back." (laughs)

MU: Of course they've purged their roster, but you notice Savatage still hanging around on Atlantic. Do you have any insight into what might be going on there?

BB: Oh, absolutely. It's quite obvious that these guys are spread into different directions. The TSO. . . Transiberian. This is a band with a lot of value, I think, on many different levels. A band also loved greatly by Jon Nardachone up there. Jon's a fantastic guy. I think Savatage has always released. . . they are what they are. And I think they have value in other areas and that being, for instance, the Transiberian. And, I mean, Atlantic definitely determines your value from an accountant's standpoint. It's always nice to have somebody in your corner and I know Jon has always been in their corner, as he was in ours. When we were back there.

MU: You're just not making Christmas albums.

BB: Well, you know, it's funny, though, because everyone thinks that we got dropped from Atlantic, but we went and begged and prayed to them and said please, you gotta, when the head-chopping time comes, make sure we're on that list. We need out. If we stay here, we will be. . . we will fade away into obscurity.

MU: It's nice that you're self-aware enough to know when it's time to effectuate change.

BB: Well, you don't do that without a deal in your back pocket though. (laughs)

MU: Are you happy with CMC?

BB: They're music oriented. It makes it easier to convey our intentions, our visions, no matter how short term they are. We just went through a thing that was local with these guys. And we said look, you know, the band' s profile in the area has always been a good profile, raise that profile. Make the band look bigger. And they came back with a full-page ad in The Aquarian. I mean, these are things that, where they can understand that we understand what we need. It makes it easier to work with, as compared to somebody saying no; or that's not in the contract; or, you'll get your tour support, just shut up.

MU: It seems when you're signed to a label like CMC, it's less about the image that's associated with that label - because they have a lot of oldies acts and stuff - and more about that's just where we're comfortable right now, today.

BB: You know it really doesn't matter. I know CMC always had a stigma attached to it that was based on, this is where metal goes to die. You know, hey, there's very few bands they don't have from the beginning. You know, the Overkills, the Motorheads, you know, etc., etc. And they have always gone toward those oldie, arena rock acts but at the same time, have kept their metal roster really strong. This is something that should be commended, instead of condemned.

MU: And so you don't look longingly to the Century Medias and the Metal Blades and the Nuclear Blasts that are pure metal labels.

BB: You never know what the future's gonna bring.

MU: There are people who will go out and buy anything that Century Media releases, because it's on Century Media. And you're not getting that with CMC.

BB: Yeah, all ten thousand of ' em. (laughs)

MU: Well, Bobby, how many copies of ' Necroshine' is a realistic goal?

BB: Um, I think, probably in the world, realistically, a hundred and a half.

MU: And what about in the United States?

BB: Sixty.

MU: Is each one selling less than the last? Are they selling more? What's happening?

BB: The downside for us was a record called 'The Killing Kind', in 1995.

MU: Great album.

BB: I think so also, I think it was, you know, another vibe-type record. Very gritty, a very gritty record. But, this was probably the weakest point of our distribution since ' Feel the Fire'. And it's that CMC was aligned with a company called Alliance. And it just is not the BMG corporation, that they've signed with right now. Am I happy on CMC? Of course I am, but you know why I'm happy, because we have personalized attention, but we have a great one-two punch. And that's that our record is everywhere, including clubs, the internet, you know, on and on. It is visible. If you want it, it's obtainable, you don't have to search for it.

MU: Enough business, let's talk about the record, 'Necroshine'. First of all, you had some health problems?

BB: Sure.

MU: You care to discuss that?

BB: I had what was called a squama cell. It's a type of cancer, that sheds - it's the quickest-shedding cancer - and what shedding is, is a reproduction of cancer cells. It showed up on my skin, but it doesn't necessarily just attach itself to that organ, or just to the skin, it grows in all directions. It eats bone, it eats cartilage, it eats everything and at a very, very fast rate. It showed up on my face in, let's say, I guess it was '97, November of '97. As we were touring. I said, well I can't pop this one! (laughs) In any case, you know, by the time I was home it was, it went from a match head to a pencil eraser and then, within three weeks, it was a golf ball. But it was growing inward as well as outward, and it attached itself to my skull. Bone. So it was heading toward the think-tank. We got it in time, naturally, as I'm talking to you. I wasn't going to be living very long with brain cancer. (laughs)

MU: What a draining experience, I'm sure.

BB: Yeah, scary.

MU: You seem like you have a sense of humor about it.

BB: Well, I think you have to. I think, you know, it is what it is. It's not necessarily the event that makes me who I am but how I react to that event. It gave me a very different perspective of time. You always take your watch for granted, all it does is get you there and keep you on time. But when, I think that there was a three week period where we we're sure what was going to happen. And this was post operation, to make sure that they had gotten all of it. And this was not a chemo thing, this was an operation called mohs, which you stay awake for and go through continuous biopsies over like an eight-hour period. But for the three weeks that followed it, you know, you hear "hey, we're optimistic." Which is not really the greatest thing you want to hear, you want the hear, "hey, it's done. You know, go out on the road. Go do those Judas Priest shows you got lined up," you know? (laughs)

MU: Are you feeling healthy now?

BB: Yeah. Absolutely.

MU: So this whole thing is in the past?

BB: Well, it has to be maintained on a constant basis, because I was way too young to get this. I'm not on radiation or anything, but I have to be checked on a constant basis. It did give me motivation for this record, and we did have a sense of humor about it. It was a personal experience that I felt it was necessary to document. Not to call the record, ' Hey, By the Way, I Have Cancer,' but to say "no matter where you are and what you have, always move on."

MU: What does the title 'Necroshine' mean to you?

BB: Well, I suppose this, in hindsight, came out of this experience. To visualize it, it's a very, very dark hole with a bright pinpoint of white light in the center of it. I like creating my own words, ' I Hear Black', my own phrases, "Genocya", on and on. ' Necroshine' took on a kinda a special meaning because it cancelled out the negative, as well as the positive, and it just lends itself to movement. I don't think it's necessary to document the exact thing that happened to me, I think it's necessary to say this was behind the motivation to do this. And we knew that regardless of the outcome, there was going to be a ' Necroshine', or another Overkill record which has turned in to ' Necroshine'. And I'm happy, believe me, to be able to be working and have this conversation. (laughs)

MU: You mentioned your affinity for 'Horrorscope'. This album kinda reminds me of 'Horrorscope' a little bit. Maybe its too early to call, but so far it has a bit of that same vibe.

BB: I think it would be unfair to put this as one in my favorite records, because it's new, and it appears to be my favorite record to me. Which is always a smokescreen, because I'm involved in it up to my eyebrows. I hate reading an interview with a guy where he goes, "Oh, man! The best one's the new one. Of, course! ' Cause, I mean, we rock!" (laughs) Get a fucking grip, you know. (laughs)

MU: But still, you're never looking to make your fourth-best album.

BB: (laughs) Right. (laughs) Well, we peaked back there in '89, so we decided we're gonna release another piece of shit! (laughs)

MU: What about the album cover art?


BB: Travis Smith, out of San Diego, conveyed it to him over a phone. Came back, we said, "if you can turn the blue into green, we have an album cover." (laughs)

MU: Its great stuff.

BB: We were looking for something ominous. Something that you could walk into.

MU: Is that Chaly on the front cover?

BB: We got Chaly on the front cover, you know, and actually we have that coffin, where you can look in. It is a side view down the crucifix, and it' s, well, it's the hand of Christ. I'm obsessed with religious symbolism. I think it has impact. Don't really consider myself a religious man, but most certainly a spiritual guy.

MU: Is that your wife singing on this record?

BB: No, it's my sister, Mary.

MU: Your sister?

BB: My sister, Mary.

MU: How did that come to be?

BB: I owed her money, and. . . (laughs) This cleared it up if she could get her name on the record. (laughs) We were looking again for impact. I think that when Overkill is in the mix, doing what we do, we're looking for extremes. We're doing "Revelation", and Tim is doing this drumbeat that is like this controlled falling down the stairs. I said, man, I've never sung over anything like this. It's gonna lend itself to such a harsh, aggressive vocal, which is the way it came out. When we get to this bridge section, I'm saying, boy, real contrast, immediately. I sing the part, Joe Comeau sings the part, we're not that happy with the contrast. We start talking, bringing up female voices, Mary was the first one to come to mind.

MU: She sounds cool.

BB: Yeah. She does her own stuff. Very angelic quality to her voice, but still lending itself to that darker, almost depressed Overkill feel. And I think she really, really added to the record through those bars. She also sings on "Let Us Prey". She does stuff in the choruses in that.

MU: Did you find it difficult to give up a piece of the vocals to Joe Comeau?

BB: You know, I really didn't. The way I always view it is that we've just expanded our horizons. It's kinda cool to me to think that it can create another vibe by widening the vocals, even though the change is not that dramatic. I think one of the grand misconceptions is that I do all of the high-ended stuff and Joe does the low-ended stuff. The thing is that I found this low-ended quality in my voice, back around ' W.F.O.', and started expanding it since. Joe does more of the high-ended stuff. Joe sings actually though less on this record than he did on the last record.

MU: Can you give us an example where he is singing?

BB: It's more background vocals on this record. And really, the only reason was because something came up in the studio, it wasn't a band problem, it was more of a personal thing. And Joe had to split, and we were on a clock. What I ended up doing is, I dropped those vocals in regardless of whether Joe had something to follow or something to interpret. And he didn't get back in time to honestly finish them. So we just went with a lot of the stuff I had. But he does stuff in "Black Line", he does stuff in "Dead Man", he does stuff in. . . what the hell else is he in? "Let Us Prey". Stuff like this.

MU: Do you have any favorite tracks?

BB: Well, "Necroshine" kicks the door off the hinges. It doesn't ring the doorbell and say, "is your mother home"? (laughs) Which is, I think, an Overkill quality. I think that we're able to do that with an opener. I think that it's real important to say you're here. And not to just say, oh, by the way, I'm over here. "Necroshine" stands out to me. "80 Cycles", probably the most contemporary track, had a really good time singing that one.

MU: What do you mean contemporary? "80 Cycles" sounds to me like old-school, Black-Sabbath heavy.

BB: That's the thing, I think it lends itself to a newer guitar pattern. The guitar tones lend themselves to that Sabbath-type feel, but the pattern of playing is quite jagged and staggered. And this is something, where we would normally put a flow in, we staggered. And what I ended up doing with it, which gives it, I think, the double vibe, but still musically more contemporary, is add a more traditional vocal style. And this is that fine line again, where it has value on both ends. But I think if I have to look at the song and say, is it one or the other, I would say more contemporary.

MU: What other artists are playing in this contemporary way?

BB: You know, when I think of contemporary, I think of contemporary in our own means. Not necessarily as compared to. . .

MU: You're not trying to emulate Korn, are you?

BB: I think that that's kinda obvious, you know? One of the great things about Overkill records are, they are what they are. And again, not from the rut perspective, but from the Overkill perspective. Progress is not a no-no. But neither is standing still. There has to be movement, no matter how slight. And I think that that movement is noticeable if you follow the band.

MU: Well, Bobby, I'd like to rap up by thanking you for always continuing to kick so much ass. To, as you say, kick the door off of the hinges every time you come to town. (laughter) I do have one last question a friend of mine emailed to me yesterday. Have you ever thought about whether someone will ever do an Overkill tribute album?

BB: I've been asked. I think that's the flavor of the day. I think that we would normally shy away from something like that right now. I think that it kinda stops your contemporary value when tribute is put in. In my head, I think of the "best-of". (laughs) You might as well just close the fuckin 'door then. (laughs) Book's done! (laughs) How'd it end? With a "best of". (laughs)

MU: So there won't be an Overkill tribute album anytime soon.

BB: Not that I'm involved with, and not that I'm looking forward to actually working on, (laughs) or executive producing.

MU: Well, thank you very, very much. I'm looking forward to your visit to New York City, March 26th at Coney Island High.

BB: Stop by and say hello.

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