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Bobby Blitz (Overkill)

Interview with Bobby Blitz from Overkill
by Erika Walberg at 16 September 2010, 3:09 AM

OVERKILL has been around for about three decades these days, they’ve always been a kick ass live act and even these days they swipe the younger bands off the line. There’s no wonder why the love for a band grows the more you get to know them, musically and personally. Bobby Blitz seem to be a complete nutcase at times still he is so devoted to what he do that it’s impossible to not be inspired and impressed by him. METAL TEMPLE met up with this chatterbox a few hours before they hit the stage at ‘Getaway Rock Festival’.

I write for an online zine called METAL TEMPLE
Alright! I know it.

About half a year ago you released “Iron Bound”, it’s a very good album, one of your best I think, Are you satisfied with that one?
I guess I should say something and not just shake my head, right? (laughs) You know, I’m very satisfied with it. It has given us a lot of opportunities. It has given us opportunities to get away, we’ve played 'Tuska' in Finland this week, and we’re back to Turkey this week doing Festivals. So I think that we’re satisfied with it personally, beyond that, the satisfaction bled into, lets say the thrash and the metal community helped with these opportunities so it’s been a busy year since “Iron Bound” has been released.

Yeah, you have been touring a lot. You had the ‘Killfest’ a couple of years back and you had another ‘Killfest’ this year. For the last one you had EXODUS, GAMMA BOMB and TORTURE SQUAD but for the one this year you had smaller bands. Do you have any input in on what bands come on tour with you?
Of course we do! We obviously wanted to get a co-headliner for the last ‘Killfest’ but it didn’t work out financially and with regards of time. It looks as what’s coming up for the third one will be OVERKILL and DESTRUCTION through most of Europe and that’s coming in March.

Alright, cool!
They’ve already agreed to it so unless something turns bad we’re ready to announce the shows after these Festivals.

You’ve been around for about 30 years plus and you never quit, you’ve kept going all the time. Do you feel that you didn’t get the response you deserve? Because a lot of bands that re-unite come back and headline the Festivals from nowhere.
No, I don’t necessarily think so because, you count your success in days which is one of those things we’ve been able to do. This is, especially for DD and myself, this is the way we’ve lived our adult life. In festivals, on headline tours, in tour busses, in airports, on stages around the world. I mean, that’s irreplaceable. With regards to reunion. And I do think some of the reunions are great, but some of them… Sometimes I shake my head and go “wow, that band sucked in the 80’s (laughs) It’s true because there were so many of them. Not just in our genre, all genres but more so in all genres reunion became a hip trendy thing to do that everybody wanted to come back. It just didn’t make sense that everybody wanted to come back. But I am glad some of them did. My friends EXODUS of course. (laughs)

There are also a lot of new bands coming up these days, bands like BONDED BY BLOOD, STRIKEMASTER from Mexico and of course GAMMA BOMB from Ireland. What do you think about those bands?
You know, I think some of the younger Thrash bands, or the great things about them and how it affects me directly is the fact that it helps give us legs and credibility I think. We just did Tuska in Helsinki and I said to DD after the show, when was the last time we played to the first 5 rows being less than 21 years of age? And I think the reason for this is that there’s a new interest in the music based on the young bands. Not necessarily based on the old bands but then the older bands come back and release albums like “Iron Bound”, I think it’s hard to not respect that regardless of what age you are. Whether you’re an older Thrash fan or a younger Thrash fan because it has credibility and it has been time-tested. So I think it has worked really well for us and I really enjoy the fact that the younger bands have been to some degree instrumental and bring this back into the for-front.

Do you see any differences in the scene now compared to like 5-7 years ago?
Sure, it’s more popular first and foremost. I think when you get on a festival like this I think especially the Thrash bands with a lot of experience is what a lot of people in the Festival want to see. Not just the thrash bands but the curiosity is bigger than it’s ever been. So for me, yeas sure, I see that as a difference, the scene itself, more people at shows, more records being sold, “Iron Bound” I think charted in six countries, I mean that’s not just thrash then, that’s music. It’s having an impact on. I mean, that’s actually really cool to see that it still has a value two and a half decade after DD and I first opened a beer together. (laughs)

The music industry with all the downloads and things like that, a lot of the Metal albums are making it up to the ordinary lists. Do you think Metal fans are more die hard and it’s more important for them to have the actual record? Is it that important to you?
Of course it is, that’s what keeps it going and I like that it is going. I think there’s commitment, you know, if a band like ourselves has been doing this for two plus decades, I think that is commitment, we obviously didn’t get rich from this. But we did a lot of great things and met a lot of people and we’ve earned some money, it’s been our livelihood but beyond that the commitment comes from the people who buy all those records. You don’t do this singular, if it’s singular it’s only about the band then it has less value. The reason it does have value and that metal fans buy records is that they feel as a part of it as much as the bands do. And I think, if the bands are honest they have to say they’re a part of it, they’re the sixth member of this band. It’s always has been my feeling from the beginning, I say it on stage every night, we don’t do this by ourselves and I think that keeps people buying records, that feeling of commitment so they don’t want to see it go away so it’s a much more hones genre of music.

OVERKILL has always been one of my favorite live bands…
Alright, cool!

it’s always great to see an OVERKILL show! How do you keep this energy up, how do you find inspiration to go out on stage and kick ass every night?
Oh well, I think there’s a few reasons. I think you have to live in the moment. I think if you’re not within the moment you don’t understand what this is all about. The best opportunity that I’ve had in my career happens today, and it happens to be the ‘Getaway Festival’. If I think about it as just one more show on the way home, I don’t have that energy. So if it’s just in me to think like so then everything else happens, the band stays fit, the band… We’ve never been afraid to go up there, we always think like, give us 45 minutes or give us 90 minutes it’s our fucking stage. (laughs) Who cares who came before us, who cares who comes after, it’s our stage, lets make them remember. And I think if you have all this working for you it just becomes natural what you do. Though my wife rather gives you this answer, I have that much energy because I have a great wife. (laughs)

What do you prefer, the big festival stages or the small Clubs?
Oh well, they’re both exciting but the one I’m more used to is the small clubs. One of the things that is about OVERKILL and OVERKILL live is that… You said you always liked us live is because we present it, it goes through us whether those lights are in a certain way, whether the backdrop are a certain way, the way the set-list is picked. The way we set everything together from start to finish, and that becomes control. And I think when we control it, we feel more comfortable, I think in a festival we have less control. You only have this much time, there are no lights, you have to take it this way and play in the sunshine. So if I was honest I have to say I’m much more comfortable at our own stage, that’s something we can control instead of being a part of it.

Are you ever nervous to go on stage nowadays?
Yeah, today… ‘cause it’s the first time.

It’s the first time for us too, the first time for this festival
They did a great job, they didn’t spare expenses. They went for it and got great bands on the bill, you know, I’m a big MOTÖRHEAD fan so as far as you put MOTÖRHEAD on a Festival and as far as I’m concerned it’s successful. (laughs) But you know, when you have that approach for a first time festival I think it will be successful.

I’ve already said that I really like “Iron bound”, OVERKILL release an album every year, every second year or so. How do you find inspiration to put out an album year after year?
It’s a combination of things you know, partly, this is what we do. So, if you want to do it you always looking for the same results as “Iron bound”, you’re not looking for less result than this. And if you think you can win then you are more likely to play. (laughs) So, maybe it’s like a gambler, if you win the lottery you win twice or three times, you keep going back to try to win. But I think if you just love it you love it. I remember, someone had asked DD Verni; would you rather have been in a band that made it big and made four records or play in a band like OVERKILL who had to make 16 records and he said OVERKILL and he said why? Well, if I only made four records I would have so many more songs to write (laughs). So I think, that’s just not normal thinking for what Rock’n’Roll is but it is normal thinking for us and you know, our philosophy has always worked for us. We do it in the moment, of course we plan a record but it still feel like the opportunity of the moment as compared to the plan and that has always worked.

Yeah, you should keep it up because it does!
Our live record is called “No Sleep Until Social Security” (laughs)

Is it mainly you and DD who writes the songs?
That’s correct.

Can you describe the song writing process?
B: It’s pretty simple, he’s (DD Verni) like a riff-collector. Ehm, it’s the modern day but even when it wasn’t he would walk around with a little Walkman in his leather jacket so he can take it out and put a riff down on the bus, put a riff down at soundcheck, hum a riff in his car. That’s what collectors do, they don’t want to loose anything, they don’t sit down and say it’s time to work so I should write, he just says “wow that’s a great riff” even if it’s just four notes and he can put that down and he’s prepared to do it. And now with technology he walks around with a thing as big as you have (pointing at my small Olympus Dictaphone) so it’s just much easier. He makes me aware of those riffs before they’re even songs. I start hearing pieces of this. So I start thinking in terms how do I marry the riff to a melody and then… What I do… It starts taking form, like a skeleton version of the song and I use phonetics, just sounds to do the melody first and then fill in that melody what I call the nonsense, which are not real words but how does those words work and break up and then I go down into the story, so that’s my end of it.

You have a really good band together now! Do the other members have any impact on the songwriting process?
Oh, they do! I think, they way I explained it between DD and myself is one way but it still has to go by the band and be interpreted by them. If they don’t interpret it I don’t think it becomes natural. You have a drummer like Ron (Lipnicki - Drums) for instance and he is really a wild horse. The beauty of a wild horse is that you don’t put a saddle on it, it looses its beauty when you saddle the horse. And I think that we understand that so it has to run through him and to see how he feels about it with regards on how he should play this. Occasionally you pull him back a little bit, you put him in a fence but after that you let him run again. And I think that’s the way it works for us and it becomes a really natural process and you know for “Iron bound”, you talked about the ‘Killfest’, it was OVERKILL - EXODUS, you know we came off the road that is as running as you can get. And then we got into that studio started doing drums and Ron was correct for this whole thing. He was in the perfect state of mind, it was the perfect chemistry between all of us. And when Ron started playing we knew he had something special. Don’t tame the horse… (laughs)

It’s only about half a year since “Iron Bound” was released, and you’re going on the third ‘Killfest’ when is that taking place.
March, on March 11. We’ve been trying to do this every year in the winter because we think it’s necessary to come over here regardless of a new release. We also think it’s necessary that it’s just not name-bands but some of the un-name-bands like we said GAMMA BOMB before, and how TORTURE SQUAD has gotten bigger since. We had SUICIDAL ANGELS on the last one, GRIPPER… It’s a good way to do it I think. Keep visible yet at the same time present other things.

Eeum, I’m listening to you so I lost track of my questions!
(laughs) Don’t say it’s a bad interview!

Do you have any dreams left?
Personal or for OVERKILL?

For OVERKILL, I was in Slovenia for the first time two days ago we played the ‘Metal Camp’, we’re doing our first Australian tour, we played in Korea last year for the first time. It’s really funny to make that after 25 years. You think you’ve toured the world but you’ve only touched down a little part of it. So I really think it’s cool to go to different places all the time, that has always been a dream of mine. I like to travel; I don’t have a problem with it. We do a lot of shows this year but normally my life is in balance between home and my touring. Personal dreams… I don’t know, I think it would be nice to go through life when this is done with the same attitude, I think my attitude is what personally gave me these things that it just so worked that I met a partner, I met DD 30 years ago and we had… Together we make up a complete person and because of that we’re able to do what we love to do. And it has given us that amount of satisfaction. I still like that satisfaction in my life when all this stops, personal thing.

You gave us all a bit of a scare in 2003, you collapsed on stage…
Oh sure yeah.

Nothing like that has ever happened after? How do you feel today?
Pretty good! I’m obviously older. (laughs) That was… You know it was funny, you’re doing a Metal show and someone collapse on stage and they say it’s a stroke people immediately think it has something to do with drugs. It wasn’t, I wasn’t even drinking at the time, I hadn’t drunk for eight years. I’m just predisposed to them, my mom use to get them and that was my first one, I haven’t had one since so… We actually had fun with it afterwards because I remember when it happened, I actually thought it was a power failure and I go; aah, fuck, we were killing them… (laughs) and then the lights went out and everything went really slow, I could really see DD reaching like “chuf, chuf, chuf, chuf, chuf,” reaching out to grab me because I was falling but we had some fun with it afterwards because it was no long term effect.

I was at the ‘Bang Your Head’ festival a couple of days later and NEVERMORE told the crowd to scream for you, apparently you were on the phone?
Yeah, he was holding the phone up. I was in the hospital, I had tubes, plugs, wires… It was really funny in the hospital to hear that and I remember saying… I walked out to the nurse afterwards and saying, I had the plugs and Motorcycle boots and pajama-pants and wires and she said you have to go back to bed! I said; I’m out of cigarettes, is there a… “You have to go back to bed” I’m going to leave, either you get them or I get them. She didn’t get them so I left. You should have seen the face on the lady, I walked into a gas station with the wires; “A pack of Marlboro’s please” (laughs)

I suppose they wasn’t too happy about that at the hospital either!
You know, what you gonna do? I learned a long time ago, I’ve had other things happen to me and many of them I’ve tried to keep private because they’re personal experiences. I realized a long time ago, I don’t deal the cards I’m playing the cards that I’m given so if I can accept that I can have a lot more fun along the way ‘til the next thing happens ‘cause it’s… It will not only happen to me, it will happen to many of the people we see out here and maybe including yourself or you. Shit will happen, that’s just the way it works but if I play the cards I have and do the best I can probably I’ll come out on the other side ok so I guess that’s a part of the Overkill philosophy too.

How much longer do you think you can keep this up?
…‘til I get too tired, don’t enjoy it or my next episode, it could be only another hour. (laughs)

It’s impossible to not like Bobby Blitz, his genuine personality and dedication to the music. It sure was an enjoyable moment this short interview and I still start to smile when I think about the stories and laughter. There’s no doubt where his heart is and just as he says you have to love it to succeed.


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Edited 07 February 2023

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Yiannis Mitsakos

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