Overkill Vocalist Bobby Blitz Talks East Coast Thrash Metal, Gaining Young Fans + More
Bobby Blitz of Overkill was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. The vocalist spoke about the band’s massive trek with Testament, as well as his feeling towards East Coast and West Coast thrash metal. He also talks about the evolution of Overkill’s music and their new younger audience. Read Full Metal Jackie’s interview with Bobby Blitz below:
I’ve got fellow East Coaster Bobby Blitz of Overkill on the show. How are you?
It’s good to be here [in L.A.], just flew in from Hurricane Sandy and I’m happy to report we’re rebuilding already.
Thank goodness, East Coasters are tough – it takes a lot to bring us down.
I never was more proud of living in New Jersey as I was during this disaster and obviously the whole Tri-State New York area and appreciative of the help we got from the West Coast people who sent support over to us. I was very proud being a Jersey guy watching people rebuild saying, “I’m not leaving, I’m staying.”
You are from the East Coast and you’re touring right now with Testament who are West Coast. What’s your favorite thing about West Coast thrash that isn’t really indicative of the East Coast?
I think there’s a style, when it comes to West Coast thrash – it’s almost recognizable instantaneously to me. I think especially for the old school thrash it has a moniker on it, that Bay area sound is common to most of them whether it be Testament or the early on Metallica stuff. It’s really identifiable, where I think that East Coast thrash is probably more different, there’s not a common denominator through it. I always liken us to more meat and potatoes and they’re more of a seven course meal. [Laughs]
Overkill has a well earned reputation of being such a great live band; when you’re up there onstage, when exactly do you know you’ve got them?
It’s really more about a zone, it’s not about getting them. I think if you can get into that zone, that becomes really contagious and the zone really spreads out into the audience. It’s really a transfer of energy between let’s say them and us – that’s when you score, when you really start feeling extra high. [Laughs] It’s not about thinking about it, it’s really more about doing it. Hey maybe that’s part of it too, maybe East Coast is more about action. [Laughs]
Overkill’s been around since 1980 and you’re latest album ‘The Electric Age’ was unbelievably good, same with Testament’s latest record – they’ve been around since ’83 and their latest album is incredibly good, as well. What is it about maturity that keeps you guys so full of piss and vinegar?
It’s funny because you would think angst is really a young man’s game, you don’t really run into too many 50 year olds who are pissed off. [Laugh] It’s supposed to be calmed down by that particular time but I think that one of the things or contributing factors is that there’s a newfound want of this music.
The scene is healthy at this particular time, there’s a lot of younger band’s doing it. I think that when the older bands feel that, you say, “Wait a second here, this is the way it’s supposed to be done.” [Laughs] We still have a couple good punches left here, it’s really that competitive nature that keeps this at a highs level and high quality releases.
Just talking about the younger generation that’s discovering this style of metal now for the first time. Let’s say a kid comes up to you after a show on this tour, what do you hope he says to you?
Well obviously I hope he says, “That was unbelievable,” [laughs] that’s the hope, “You weren’t worth it.” [laughs] One of the things that I notice as this grows and it still is to some degree, it’s growing through youth. I don’t think we’re incorporating new 45 or 30 year old thrash metal fans – we have them but they’ve been with us for a long period of time.
So the youth is where our growth is, what I want to hear from them is that they really know the catalogue and they really know how it’s kind of developed over let’s say this 25 year period of touring and 30 years of songwriting, etc., and why ‘The Electric Age’ is more valuable in 2013 than even ‘Horoscope’ was in 1991. It’s more about the current day, that what I want to hear from them.
Best of luck on tour, it always a pleasure. I feel like I grew up on Overkill being the Jersey girl that I am. It’s nice to be able to see you guys continuing to do what you do and even better this many years later.
I’m blushing. I think we’ve said it on interviews before, I said, “I always have time for [Jackie], she’s a Jersey girl.” [Laughs]
Seriously, from my college radio station which is where I started at WSOU in New Jersey is where I actually discovered Overkill. It’s just funny to look back and see to where we are today and to be able to talk to you and look back and laugh at the Birch Hill days, it’s cool to see where things are today.
Somebody once told me and it’s 100 percent right that joy is in the journey so I think people like you and I and many other people that listen to this type of music experience that all together and that’s why it’s still strong this many years later.
Full Metal Jackie will welcome Steve Von Till to her program this coming weekend. She can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.