For well over a decade, Overkill have been playing their brand of balls-out heavy metal, steadfastly refusing to compromise to the "commercial" airwaves. Although they've never really achieved commercial status, Overkill has always maintained an extremely loyal following throughout the years. "Hence the title of our latest release: From The Underground And Below" explains founding vocalist Bobby Blitz. "We've never been at the level of, say, a band like Metallica, to have invaded Rock radio, even on the smallest level. But, this music came from the underground, and that's where it thrives".
Over the past 13 years, Overkill has toured with the likes of Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. The band's debut, Feel the Fire, released in 1984, created an underground buzz which, inaffect, setup their '88 follow-up, Under The Influence, to sell well over 300,000 units worldwide. Although the band has gone through several lineup changes, with Blitz and bassist/songwriter D.D. Verni being the two remaining original members, they've always stayed true to their cause, and, while most rock/metal bands from that era have fizzled out, Overkill sounds stronger now than ever before. Blitz agrees, "We're most certainly committed. I think it's obvious that we aren't chasing any trends. When we first started, it wasn't about popularity for us, it was about being able to do what we enjoy, and I think that's what contributed to our longevity. We get a lot of support from our fans, and that's what keeps us here."
On their latest CMC release, From The Underground And Below, Blitz's vocals sound much stronger and deeper, which he boldly attributes to...what else? "Puberty!" He admits, continuing, "As I was writing the vocals for this record, D.D. informed me that the whole record had been tuned down to 'D'. This brings my voice more from my throat to my chest. We also have two voices now, with the addition of guitarist Joe Comeau (former vocalist of Leigelord), and we really tried to lean heavy on that."
I feel not only is this Overkill's strongest record to date, but it's also their most diverse, with songs like "Save Me" incorporating an industrial-tinge atop heavy-as-hell metal riffs (sounding like Accept meets Ministry). Self-produced by Overkill, with Colin Richardson (Fear Factory, Napalm Death, Machine Head) at the mix, this CD combines raw, live metallic energy with a contemporary edge. Blitz agrees, "That's one of the cool things about this record, and what I think is one of the great misconceptions about metal music. The fact is, metal is multi-dimensional. It's not just screaming guitars with a screaming singer."
While other hard-rock bands are hopelessly eluding the metal stigma, in search of an "eccentric" expression to define their so-called creativeness, Overkill are damn proud to boast the metal moniker. "This band has never gone through an identity crisis, which so many bands have gone through when 'metal' became a dirty word" says Blitz, continuing, "I think that's what really cleaned house, because a lot of bands couldn't stand not being cool anymore. We never really cared what anyone said, apart from our fans."
As far as musical influence, Bobby credits the early classic hard-rockers, "I still go back to my old Who and Black Sabbath records, but I listen to many different things - everything from Harry Connick to Napalm Death!" And, as far as new music, Bobby admits, "I really like Machine Head a lot, but, I'm not too hip on this new 'dance-metal' stuff; bands like 311...for some reason that music gives me the runs."
Overkill have definitely paid their dues, and their continued success has proven that heavy music will live on forever, regardless of the trends that come and go. Unlike the majority of today's self-indulgent rock stars, Bobby is grateful for the success he and his band has achieved. "We feel we're very lucky to be involved with something that is so timeless. To have a 13-year recording career has really been quite a blessing...I mean, the average rock band's career usually lasts three or four years, if they're lucky. One of the problems with American music, except on the metal front, is that it really is a very disposable society. As soon as I see a band on MTV's 'Buzz Bin,' I say to myself, 'Oh boy, these guys are sunk! Give 'em 18 months and they'll be gone' (laughs). The poor bastards...it really is the kiss of death."
Bobby takes a deep breath and concludes, "I measure my success with what I have, not what other people have. And, although I can't measure my success in dollars, I can measure it in time...and that's really something to take stock in."
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