2010. november 15., hétfő

Over Kill - Bobby Gustafson

So Bobby, in 1981, guitarists Rich Conte and you joined Over Kill, do you still remember how did that happen? How did you get in the picture exactly?
Well i don't think it was Rich Conte when i was in the band. There was a guy they called Frankenstein, i mean he looked like Mick Mars only without the makeup...lol. He was only present for about 2 weeks then he quit. I got a chance to try out for the band from my friend John who was looking to steal Rat for his band. He went on to sing in Law and Order.
What were the bands that you’ve played in before you being involved in Over Kill? What about your musical background as a whole?
I was about 15 when i did my first bar gig. We had original songs as well as a few Sex Pistols songs. We were what we thought was a punk rock, the band was The Dropouts. After a few years i got in a metal cover band but hated playing someone else's music. I listened to what everyone else did at the time. Sabbath, Preist, Maiden, AC/DC, Motorhead, Angel.
To which extent were you familiar with the band by the way?
Back then there was a local free newspaper The Aquarian. It listed all the clubs in the area and who was playing where. I only remember Overkill from an add they ran weekly showing Blitz with the cape. I think i stil have a clip out of that add. I never did get a chance to see them before i joined. I don’t think they came to Staten Island. But my friend John said they liked all the same bands i did.
At this point, the band started writing original songs, including „Grave Robbers” (later renamed „Raise The Dead”), „Overkill”, and „Unleash The Beast (Within)”, that were followed by more ones, such as „Death Rider”, „Rotten To The Core”, what do you recall of the songwriting? How did it go? Did you have a big hand in the songwriting?
Grave Robbers was changed to Death Rider. I hated that name. Don't remember if it was complete or not, but i remember writing a lot of it. Raise the Dead was done before i joined. But The Beast Within and Overkill were written after i joined. I took the idea for Overkill from Angel. I thought we needed a theme song ,and we continued it until the 4th album. I stole the riff from the Halloween movie. I did about 90% of the writing and we arranged them together if i didn’t have them already done. Rat had the least to do with any writing. We actually worked it out so all of us could have 25% each per song because we knew Rat could never write a song such as he claims he did.
Does it mean that the band stopped playing covers and were concentrating on writing own tunes?
We did practice covers but i hated it. I remember having a conversation down my basement where we practiced for 2 years about writing our own songs. I said we will never get signed playing other peoples music. No matter how great we are live. I know someone else claims he came up with the idea.
The band became a staple at New York and New Jersey clubs, such as L'Amours, correct? Did you play a lot of gigs in the early period of the band?
Well after we tried one guitar player out i remember saying that it. I will do it myself. I didn't want to waste any more time. So within a few months of writing we did our first gig in August 83. I just graduated from High School. Our time in the clubs was very short compared to other bands. It took only 2 years before we were signed. After we could convince clubs that an original band could play one set and have 2 bands open and still fill a club, we were on our way. There just wasn’t any bands that did that. The norm was 3 sets of cover tunes at the time.
Was it easy getting shows in that area? What were the clubs that started opening their doors for metal at this time in NY/NJ?
Not many. We kinda made our own gigs at a Theater in Port Jervis. That was our main start. And a club called The Showplace and Union Jack in New Jersey. And a club called The Rock Palace on Staten Island before we broke into Lamour's. We did some big places like a theater in Hackensack and a High School in Orange New Jersey so we could take pictures with our stage set to show Lamour's. It took some time to convince them because they were still in the disco era, but they gave us a chance and every show got bigger. Playing both a Friday and Saturday night and selling them out a few years later was a great day for us to shove it back in there face..lol
Were you aware of the existence of an L. A. based band their name was also Overkill and got signed by SST Records?
Never heard of them until we saw the album. I think they weren’t even a band anymore and the label put it out to ride our coat tails.
In 1983 Rich Conte left and you remained as the sole guitarist, what were the reasons of Rich’s departure? Didn’t you think about to add another guitarist instead of him?
I don't know why he split. Didn’t really know him at all. There was one guitar player like i said for about two weeks when i joined. He also quit so i tried a friend i knew from a local band i was doing cover tunes with. We did take pictures with him at one point. He kinda flaked out on us and i said ya know what. We don’t need two. Our favorite band was Sabbath and it was cool enough for them. They were still heavy with one so fuck it. Lets not waste anymore time. And that was it. All the other bands had two and we had one. Along with Blitz's voice, one guitar, we stood out.
Is it true, that D. D. Verni gave Ellsworth the nickname „Blitz” due to his over-the-top lifestyle, a lifestyle that once earned Ellsworth an ejection from the band for a few days in 1983?
Im not sure where that started or came up with it. He had it before i joined i believe. But i did hear he feel backwards into the drum kit once during a show and i think thtas where it started from. But we all drank before a show. I know i did. Sometimes too much....its all good.
Around this time, the classic green logo was adopted, which Rat Skates specifically designed to stand out on a poster loaded with red and black logos of the other bands on the bill, can you tell us more about it?
The first logo was white. It's only a variation of the Maiden logo so its not a big stretch. We all noticed that the Twisted Sister logo that was bright pink, would stand out and you could see it across a dark club. I think D.D. was the first to notice. But we thought about using green or orange for Halloween. I thought orange was better but got voted down. No big deal. I don’t remember Rat coming up with all the things he claims he has. It’s almost as if we weren’t even there. And a bit of trivia Biohazard asked me why we used green, told them the story and all of a sudden they had an orange logo, the color we didn’t use.
In 1983 you released the „Power In Black” demo, would you say, that a relatively long way led to the releasing of the demo? Didn’t you feel that the songs on the tape are old a bit?
At that time no. I joined November 82 and we had 5 songs by 83. How can you consider them old. After all we did with show and making our own merchandise and stage show, i think it was a quick process.
It was recorded March-Sept, 1983 at two shitholes, Staten Island NY and Sterling NJ, how do you remember the recording sessions?
Wow, i don’t even remember the place on Staten Island. But i still can picture the Sterling studio. Nothing real memorable about it. We paid for everything ourselves so it was quick. In and out. But it was our first time in a studio so it was exciting. Just hit it live and overdubed some solos and vocals.
It was „Dedicated to all the false faggot poser wimps of the clubs. Stick this tape up your ass”. „Cartridge must not be left exposed to direct sunlight, or else it will get fucked up. Leave in player when not in use”. How would you comment it?
Ahh that was just our punk attitude shinning through. We wanted energy from the crowd, like we were doing on stage. But it was the infantile stages of metal and only a few people knew what to do. The Old Bridge guys and a few metal heads from Staten Island knew what movement was about to happen. So to see people stand in the back in horror or not want to sweat or mess their hair up, it was our job to give them shit.
Is/Was this a strong demo that should show to everyone how thrash was meant to sound like?
It was the best we could do at the time. No money, little experience and guys in a recording studio that had no idea what they were recording. Live was where we excelled. Our shows were always better. I just think we really didn’t get it right until the 4th album. Just compare the demo days to The Years of Decay. Big difference.
Was it the recording that made as much impact in the underground tape trading circuit as demos by up-and-coming Bay area thrash bands like Exodus and Testament? Did it succeed in drawing a lot of fans attention to tha band?
Really at the time there was only No life Til Leather and Power in Black. I mean Metallica was before us, but i don’t remember Slayer or Anthrax making one. Don’t know if Exodus had a demo. But after us and Metallica it seemed like there were a million fanzines that reviewed demos and magazines that started to review them in the back section. Everyone had a demo after that, but the fans knew that they couldn’t sound great, none of us had big money. It was just a way to get a feel of the band.
„Power In Black” gained the band two compilation appearances, „Feel The Fire” was included on „New York Metal ’84” and „Death Rider” appeared on „Metal Massacre V.”, did these compilations help to expand the band’s popularity in the underground?
I’m sure it did. Here was this little band from N.Y. and N.J. and they are on two records. Our level as a band just kept growing. The ep.was our only pitfall. That should have done it, but i’m always grateful to Metal Blade and the guy who did N.Y. Metal for giving us the chance.
The band was also able to secure a small recording deal with Azra/Metal Storm Records, do you still remember how did you get in touch with the label? Were they the only one that started interesting in the band back in the day or were there other labels interests too?
I think that was the first in a long line of blunders that Rat came up with. (along with the dumbest album cover in metal Taking Over). Doesn't brag about that one huh. Spent a lot of money again in the studio and nothing ever came out of it. Jon at Megaforce wasn’t sold on us yet so Rat thought we should make an album to show him. Well it hung over us for a few years then finally got released around our first album. Tried to cash in i guess. We did look at a few other labels like Torrid and Metal Blade, but Jon had the biggest contract so we were impressed. We signed in Novemeber of 84, but we didn’t start to record until August of 85. Wish we started earlier because it seemed like we were part of the second movement, but we were really part of the first in my eyes.
How do you view, that the production here is certainly better than on the „Power in Black” demo and on the „Feel the Fire” demostration tape?
Well when we recorded Power In Black we really didn't have much money.So the sound will always suffer,but we did the best we could at the time.
Musically speaking, the band has matured a bit compared to the demo, right?
Sure, the more any band plays together for a long period of time they will naturally get better. As musicians and song writers.
Is it true, that the material originally was recorded as a demo tape in November 1984 and the band strapped for cash, sold the demo to Azra/Metal Storm Records, who pressed it as the legendary „Overkill” EP in 1984?
No i think we did the recordings again just for the EP. We werent strapped for cash but we thought it would be a great next step in our career to be on viynl.
The band presented the record company with artwork, but it was not used, how did that happen?
We were not sure why nothing was used. I dont think it was a real label at all. But when word got out we were signed to Megaforce, all of a sudden they had the money to release the EP. But it was obvious they just wanted to cash in on us,and never spent the money to print out all the photos and material we gave them.
How much did the label care of the band’s promotion? Did they help you making a name for yourselves?
Azra?? No not at all. They were a bullshit label with no credit or prior releases. You can thank Rat for that mess up.
The Ep was quickly sold out, instantly pushing the band to the forefront of the fledgling thrash metal movement, do you agree with that? Do you perhaps know how many copies were pressed and sold?
I don't think they manufactured many. Probably a small amount. We never knew how many were sold and never received a dime for it.
Though it is said that the band never saw any money from the release, the Overkill EP garnered the band massive underground interest, and the attention of Jon Zazula, the owner of Megaforce Records, one of the most prominent independent heavy metal record labels at the time, how did it happen? Were there other labels interests besides Megaforce in the band by the way?
We had already signed a deal with Megaforce. The EP didn't do anything for us except become a collectors item. We used our demo tape and our live show to prove to Jon Zazula that we were a band that needed to be signed.
Megaforce signed Overkill to a new multi-album record contract and released their full length debut album Feel The Fire in 1985, do you still remember, when did you start writing the stuff? Did Megaforce ask you to hear some advance material?
We started writing original songs after i joined in November 82. We stopped all the cover songs. Did a few for fun and thats it. They knew of al the songs we had from our demo and the live show. We put our early songs on Feel the Fire but never stopped writing. More than half the second album was done too. But we let the first songs we wrote go on FTF.
Is it true, that Johnny Zazula had been a fan of the band since the release of the Power In Black demo and sold 1.500 copies of it through his New Jersey based record store Rock’n’Roll Heaven alone?
We actually would visit him at a booth he had at a flea market. Kind of a big open air store that sells all different items, if you dont have one in your country. We would push the band prior to the tape. After it was made he was interested. After a few shows he signed us.
Over Kill were signed after Johnny was seeing you open for Anvil at the L’Amours Club, do you still recall of that show?
Oh yeah for sure. It was a great show for us. Anvil were good friends, but they also said we won the stage that night. Jon and Marsha signed us the next day.
Do you agree with, that the album cemented the band’s position as one of the driving forces of the east coast thrash movement?
Oh for sure. At at time when most bands were still doing cover songs in clubs there was us and Anthrax playing original music. But we went out and played from Boston to Baltimore way before any bands even thought of going out of state to play. That gave us alot of credit.
How do you view, that your guitarwork is downright insane and this is arguably Over Kill’s fastest album? Are the riffs blazing fast riddled with some of the catchiest rhythm’s the band has ever written?
I can only speak of the albums i wrote. I am not familiar with the albums after me. I always looked at each song as an individual. I tried to put something riff wise or solo wise that was differant from the song before it. Some riffs fast some slow some thrash some just heavy, starts, stops, clean guitar, 12 string everything i could squeeze in.
Over Kill is essentially one of the earliest thrash bands of all time and one of the first bands that created this sound and style, correct?
I would say yes. The band started before me but they weren't thrash or original until i joined. We were there with everyone else but we couldn't get into the studio until late in 85 so that put us back more than a year compared to other bands like Slayer and Metallica.
Was with the release of this album a new breed of thrash metal born?
I think all the bands of the time discovered what we did. We took what we grew up on and turned it up to 11. We should have been included with the Big Four as they say. It should have been 5.
What do you think about, that the material on Feel The Fire is intense, raw and catchy and never lets up for one minute? It’s probably the band’s least thrashy album, with an occasional heavy/speed metal vibe and attitude to the music, but is still straight up thrash for the most part…
Well is it the least thrashy or straight up thrash... you can't seem to make up your mind. But that is good. That just means we covered all the bases. A little bit for everyone.
Feel The Fire was Over Kill’s debut effort, which finally, after 6 years of existence and tearing up the clubs of New York, you get around to releasing an album and it’s kinda sad that financial problems and lack of record label interest condemned them to releasing this album late, since most of this material was written by about 1983 (if not 1981), and if it had been put out then, it would have definitely made waves, and Over Kill would’ve gotten far more credit, how do you explain this?
Well it's not really 6 years. We were only in the club scene with original songs for two years. The original line up for Feel The Fire was started in November 82 when i joined. We got signed to Megaforce in October of 84. We were just held up by Anthrax and T.T. Quick and S.O.D. before we got the chance to go into Pyramid studios. So there was no money problems at all, just schedule problems.
How did Carl Canedy end up becoming the producer of Feel The Fire? Was it one of his early jobs as producer, right?
He had some deal worked out with Megaforce. We got pushed around a lot in the early days. We were very green you could say. Trust me we didn’t pick him nor was i satisfied with the recording. I still think its the reason we were held back. It sounds like shit to me.
The band spent the better part of 1985 and 1986 touring in support of Feel The Fire, beginning as support act for Megadeth’s Peace Sells US tour and later in Europe with Anthrax and Agent Steel, what do you remember of that tours? How did they go as a whole? Did the tours help the band getting new fans?
I still think the Megadeth tour was the most fun. After two years in Europe with Helloween, being in America was great. By the end of that tour Rat quit for his girlfriend and Dave Mustaine asked me to join Megadeth. I was honoured but im glad i didn't. The metal Hammer road show was great too. Our first tour of Europe but it was hard. We didn't even have management yet. Shit man 20 years old and touring Germany playing our music. It was great.
As for the US Speed Metal Attack tour along with Agent Steel and Anthrax, how did it come into being? Was it the band’s first touring experience in Europe by the way? Did you get on well with those outfits?
The organizers in Europe got it together. Maybe with Megaforce. We got along for the most part but the Agent Steel singer thought he was from another planet. It got strange at times. But we had no money and no food but we didnt care.
The show that you played in Bochum was filmed and released on video, what’s your opinion about that effort? Were all of three bands agreed to release that material?
Yeah that was the highlight of the tour. I'm so glad someone thought of taping it. The sounds for us were poor. We didn't have any equipment of our own except our guitars. But with a full house of kids and everyone going crazy it didn't matter. It really cemented our fan base in Germany. I still have friends i talk to from those days.
Did you have also the possibility/chance to do some shows as headliner act in support of Feel The Fire?
We talked about it last year. But Blitz after liking the idea shot it down because they were about to release there new cd. But if we do Rat will never be included in it, so its not gonna happen with him. We would find a different drummer.
You opened for Anthrax during the first half of 1986 –it was the aforementioned US speed Metal Attack-, but you weren’t on the bill of the British show Anthrax performed at the Hammersmith Palais, having already returned to the States, what happened?
I just totally can’t remember but i believe they planned the show with Jon Z. who also was their manager. And i just don’t think they wanted two American thrash bands together. We really didn’t get much love from our so called New York brothers.
Later in the year you returned to Europe opening for Slayer, correct?
I think we did the U.S. first with Slayer. We were recording Taking Over. Slayer helped us out alot. We did two more tours with them and Motorhead.
1987 marked the release of Overkill’s second album „Taking Over”, the first to be released by Megaforce in cooperation with the major label Atlantic Records…
Yes that’s true.
Do you judge Taking Over an important early thrash metal album and one of the best ones from Overkill?
I do think it was important. It was a step in a better direction as far as sound. We spread the guitars apart to cover up some bad drumming. Keeping time and speeding up on parts. But the songs were heavy and the sound was too. But again, Rat came up with the cover and again it just sucked and was something that held us back. We were not going to let him do that again. Everything has to click.
The way Blitz delivers the lyrics on this album certainly makes the songs have a destructive anthem for thrash metal theme, the guitars are full of great thrash riffs, solos, and rolling guitar work, the songs will have this great main riff thats heavy and grabs the listener’s attention, what’s your opinion about it?
Yes absolutely. When i would write a song it always started from a main riff and everything else would form around it. Such as Wrecking Crew. I never in my life came up with a riff from a drum beat. I wrote several parts and would form them together. Tempo's and styles. Starts and stops. I also would try to atleast add one speacial lick in the solo's too. Blitz took some vocal lesson's to keep his voice on tour and you can hear the difference.
You keep playing your guitar with rolling riffs that keep the songs heavy and thrashy and the guitars have great rhythm throughout the songs as well…Is „Taking Over” like the debut straight up thrash metal, with insanely catchy and very memorable songwriting and a good awareness of melody?
Yes again. But remember half of that album was written along with the songs from Feel The Fire. Now you can see how a different recording sound will change the songs appearance. I think we had a bit of everything on that album too.
Did you on this album reach higher extremes and the very first song, the opener „Deny The Cross” is heavier and thrashier than anything on „Feel The Fire”?
Again i think if F.T.F. had a better sound you would hear it on that too. We just got better as players and i always wanted the songs to be different and harder. So trying to make them all not sound the same you have to get harder or faster. Deny was probably one of the songs that came in late. Not with the songs on F.T.F..It was a preview of things to come.
Do you think, that „Taking Over” indeed a worthy follow-up to the awesome debut?
Oh yeah, it was a fat production. Maybe too much and you can see how we changed it again for Under The Influence. I would have like Fire to have sounded a bit more like T.O. but as far as my solo sounds i didn’t like either album but we never had time to explore. Solo's and vocals were always last and rushed because we had no time or money to expand our stay in the studio.
How do you see, that the album featured improved song writing and production and had a somewhat more epic style, showcased in such songs as the anthemic „In Union We Stand”?
That was something we did on purpose. We always loved just the simple straight foward metal song. But we didn’t write it to make a video. That came later and everyone involved just loved the song. So if they did we figured everyone else would too. So that became our first choice. We always wanted two but Megaforce wouldn’t put up the money. We would have done Deny, Powersurge, or Wrecking Crew as a follow up. More thrashy.
The song was chosen to be Overkill’s first music video, used to promote the band through the booming new medium of music television, how much did it help the band? Did it open more doors for the band?
It did what we thought. But we never expected it to be played 18 weeks straight. More than any video. It brought us into living rooms all over America.How cool is that.
This time you worked with Alex Perialas, how did he get in the picture exactly? Did he do a good job in your opinion?
He owned the studio. I think he understood what heavy was more than Carl. Carl butchered my sound just before the mix. It had more thump and he got rid of it. Said it was to late to get it back and i believed him. It was all bullshit. My real amps exploded just as we went to record so i didn’t even use my own amps. But now with Alex we got it closer to what we wanted invision. Once again we ran out of time, spending much of the first weeks always trying to get the drums right.
Another European tour followed, this time opening for Helloween, how did it go? What kind of experiences did you gain compared to your previous European shows?
That tour was great. Two full months, much better organized. We were kicking Helloween's ass every night. This was the premiere band from Germany and our amps and stage looked better than theirs. They actually took off 5 days to buy new amps and scrims with pumpkins on them to compare to us. We won over a lot of fans with that tour.
Late in 1987, the !!!Fuck You!!! EP was released, consisting of a studio recording of „Fuck You” as well as a handful of live tracks recorded earlier that year in Cleveland, what was the meaning of this release? Who came up with the idea to release an Ep? Can you tell us details regarding the Ep?
We recorded a live show on the Megadeth tour. We always wanted to release the E.P. It wasn’t directed toward anyone. Just a fun thing to do. No band has ever had an album named Fuck You so it was another milestone i think. Shits were band from schools, stores had to cover the album front with a black sleeve or paper that was awesome.
1987 also saw the departure of drummer Rat Skates, what kind of reasons did lead to Rat’s departure?
Rat quit for one reason and one reason only. He wanted to be with his girlfriend at the time. For non-metal thing to do. Why would you leave us for a girl you weren’t even faithful to. Just a big pussy. But getting Sid was the best thing that could happen. We were razor sharp and tighter as a band and the studio became a dream.
Rat was replaced by Mark Archibole for a few gigs, so was he kind of temporary solving? I mean, he wasn’t meant to be a full time member, but only a session musician?
We held auditions and looked at several drummers. We had a tour set up with Testament so we needed someone. If he worked out on the road as a test we would keep him. But it just didn’t work out.
What about Mark’s musical background at all? How did he „work” in live situation? Did he do a good achievement?
Yeah he played the songs fine, and he is a good drummer. It just didn’t feel right. I don’t know about his musical past before he joined us.
Have you ever recorded something (demos, rehearsals etc.) with him?
No we just did the tour. A few weeks out with Testament on the road and that was it.
Then on a permanent basis by European drummer Bob „Sid” Falck previously of Paul Di’ Anno’s Battlezone came in the band, how did you find him? Were there also other drummers in mind?
Our light man also did lights on tour with DiAnno. He mentioned the drummer was great and he would fit in with you guys real well. We had a few more drummers try but Sid for sure was the best. Some famous drummers tried out but it doesn’t make sense to mention them.
Do you still remember, how was the songcomposing, the method/the process of the songcomposing for your next effort Under the Influence? Did Sid have a great hand in the songwriting?
No not really. We were already very much done with the songs. We may have done some of the arrangements with him but he didn’t write. A lot of riffs i wrote on tour, something i don’t do much, but when i came up with something we saved it on tape.
You released the follow-up to Taking Over, the aptly titled Under the Influence, in 1988, once again produced by Alex Perialas, was it unambiguous for you to work again Alex with? He satisfied your demands considering the sound of the previous album, does he?
We made it clear that Taking Over was to open as far as sound. And now without Rat the drumming was much tighter and we didn’t have to cover up bad playing anymore. Alex knew he was only going to record and Michael Wagner was going to mix. So he made sure it was all razor sharp and some feeling was lost. But i still love that album and it was a perfect 3rd album and direction for us.
Is a third album a crucial point in every band’s career?
I think so. Alot is also put on the 2nd release. But you can always change the game with the third as long as the first two are strong. I think personally we got better on each release.
Was Under the Influence much more raw and thrashy, lacking most of the grand and epic atmosphere of its predecessor?
Like i said i always wanted to write songs that cover the entire spectrum of metal or thrash. I hate when bands just repete the same tones on each album where everything sounds the same. You shouldn’t be able to take a song from the third album and it sounds like the first or the fourth.
How do you view, that Under… seems often to be overshadowed by the two great albums that come before and the two after?
Well i think that’s probably a more personal feel the fans or whoever may have. Each album sold more than the previous album so i knew things were going in the right direction.
While Feel the Fire and Taking Over were both have some very distinct speed and NWOBHM influences, but Under the Influence develops the somewhat groovy sound more known as Overkill, slowing things down and spending some quality time on the sixth string, do you agree with it? Would you say, that D. D.’s bass lines always played an importan role and became the trademarks of Over Kill’s sound?
We grew into each recording and did the best we could with short time and money. All things could have been different if we always weren’t so rushed. I don’t look at them the same way maybe someone else see them because i wrote them. D.D. actually had a few riffs on this album. Although good they sounded a bit like Anthrax and i wasn’t to happy after. But he always came up with the little riffs under my lead. Or if i had a lead written we would do rhythm around it.
Did Overkill release this album just as their career really started to move upwards and onwards?
Well i'd say it was always moving up until i wasn’t there anymore. Every release and tour helped us grow.
What do you think about, that with the addition of new drummer Sid Falck, the band was able to increase the technical aspect of the music? What were the most important differences between both drummers, both personally and musically?
Personally Sid was a bit low and reserved. Rat was more over the top energy. But for the band to move on to playing better Sid was better with his feet and him timing was unreal. Technically we could do more with him as far as writing, speed or whatever his feet never gave out.
Overkill were early starters on the thrash scene, you more than made up for it by being one of the most prolific bands of the late '80s, weren’t you?
Yes we were right there with everyone else we just got a bit of a slower start than the rest. But from 1983 on we were non stop and always growing.
Under The Influence was your third album in two years when it was released in 1988, and the rapidity at which the albums had been released had no effect on the quality of the material whatsoever, correct? Is the result an album that is much more aggressive than the previous Overkill recordings? Did/Do we see on Under The Influence a more aggressive Overkill?
Sure. The writing just got better. Some of the album was also left over from Taking Over. We never stopped writing. So the anger was always there. I just think the studio really had the worst effect on us in the first two releases. The anger got lost from bad sounds. It was there it just didn’t come across on the recordings. That’s why live we were so much better.
The song Hello From The Gutter was released as a single, and the music video gained regular airplay on MTV’s Headbangers Ball, so did the song make more audience and popularity for the band?
Totally did. MTV in the early days was fantastic. Headbangers Ball was great at the beginning. It just got lost with bad host's and every cheesy bad seemed to have a video now. But the timing for us seemed to be perfect in a lot of ways, but we never had to big money behind us to go over the top.
How did Hello From The Gutter end up appearing in a Beavis and Butthead episode? It was also a good advertisement, promotion for the band, wasn’t it?
I don’t know. I was just watching it one night and there it was. I was like yeah awesome.. i hope they don’t destroy us to bad. But it wasn’t bad at all. I loved it and i heard D.D. wanted to get a lawyer and go after Mike Judge. We see things differently. Who cares they pay us now for it.
Hello… was released as a single (including Head First) too, correct?
I don't think it was a single in the typical sense. A and B side. Those were done for airplay which we knew we would never get. We may have released them on a seperate disc i don’t remember.
Being on Atlantic Records, the band managed to receive excellent distribution, does it mean, that it helped a lot the band selling a lot of albums? Was it a better seller, than the previous records or…?
Yeah we had some bigger label and a chance to have money push us but it never seemed to happen. It was still new to a lot of people and a lot of the older people at the labels just didn’t understand Thrash or metal at all. Metallica after the black album made it easy for some bands. People weren’t as afraid of metal after they heard some of there more radio friendly songs. That’s when it seemed to turn around but also fall apart too. But Atlantic’s name on my album was a great feeling. Zeppelin AC/DC..it was a trip.
Overkill kept up constant touring all over the world, furthering their reputation as one of the most active live metal bands, what were the shows in support of the record?
With this type of music you had to tour. People had to see you live to get what you were all about. And for us the live show was always great and we won a lot of fans over on tour regardless of how the album sounded. We always tried to get that feeling on the album. I think thats why Under seemed so thrashy.
If I’m correct, you went on a European tour with Slayer again, who released their South Of Heaven material at this point, what do you recall of that particular tour?
Slayer was always great for us. We would see how critical there fans would be and it made us better. They didn’t hang out much with people outside the band. So i don’t have any of those fun tour stories for ya.
A year later you released your breakthrough album The Years of Decay in, that was recorded with famed producer Terry Date (Pantera, White Zombie, Soundgarden) and featured the band's best production to date, how did he get in the picture exactly? Was he suggested by the label or…?
Well he really didn’t have the fame back then that he does now. It was after us and Pantera who used a lot of our sounds but definitely sounded like themselves. I believe it was D.D. who suggested him, and i had the soundgarden album and said sure sounds good. We talked about Tom Allom, Martin Burch, and a few others too.
How did the recording sessions go with Terry? How was to work with him compared to Alex Perialas? Was Terry Date more experienced in your opinion?
Terry was great. It was a new fresh situation on much better equipment. Alex was an old school producer on old boards. Terry went digital on us and it was much better to mix and record on.
Did the production become clear and heavy?
Oh yes. We still were using tapes back then. Now everything is on computer which doesn’t deminish sound quality after weeks of use. But at the time the digital boards were amazing and it was what we were lacking as far as sound. We really got the chance to see what they can do when we mixed in Los Angeles with Mike Wagner on U.T.I. I think we got what we wanted at the time. Studio's were getting better all the time. We just were to early for the computer age.
Did The Years Of Decay mix the raw approach of Under The Influence with more complex song structures and epic elements, resulting in a more serious atmosphere and longer songs, including the eight minute title track and the ten minute Playing With Spiders/Skullkrusher?
Yeah you could say that. I just felt that i let Under the Influence be more of everyone having a bit more say. D.D. had a few riffs on it but i just felt that it sounded great but to happy. Im not a bouncy writer, im more of the dark side. So i took total control of everything. It’s the best album for sure but it may have pissed the other guys off that i had so much control. From the music to the artwork and video i had a total vision. Someone mentioned to me that Enter Sandman sounds like a sped up Skullkruher...lol Could be.
It’s certainly a departure from the punky, NWOBHM-tinged thrash that Overkill did before; it’s groovy, brimming with hostility, and it is surely a great deal more varied than the band’s previous works, right? Was the style you started to develop on Under The Influence here perfected?
I tried to cover all types of metal in the early days. I much like everyone, loved Maiden. I hear more of that in the early stuff. But dark grooves and riffs were always first with me. I still love the fact that no two songs sound the same and no songs are filler type songs.
A core of dark, heavy and violent thrash riffs keeps kicking the listener in the face, yet remain that melodic touch that’s almost always been well preserved in Overkill’s own brand of metal, how do you see this? Did it feature the band further expanding their songwriting repertoire?
Well when you have 3 albums done you need to look at different aspects of songs to not be typical. Do what is you but don't make it all sound the same. Ac/Dc, Motorhead type thing. The melody in the songs is to purposely involve the audience. Who want to sit in their set and just watch a band. Mosh, slam or sing. That's what we were about.
The Years of Decay is quite different from your past record, can it be names a sort of hybrid of your previous works?
If you mean by hybrid not to do the same shit over and over...lol. Years is just what i was feeling at the time. Every album that was previous had something we didnt like after it was done. So we made sure we didn’t repeat it. U.T.I. was to happy i wanted dark. Taking Over was mushy so we cleaned it up. F.T.F. wasn’t heavy enough so T.O. was a wall of sound.
Did Sid have a great varied drumming performance, which suits the music perfectly?
Yes his feet were awesome. Something that Rat didn’t have. His timing was great too. It improved our thrashyness and how tight we were.
By the end of the 80’s and the beginning of the 90’s (more or less from 1988 and 1992) several thrash metal bands changed their style of doing this genre; those bands, once more violent and raw, in those years conceived true technical thrash albums, such as Metallica’s…And Justice For All; Slayer’s „South Of Heaven” and many others and surely Overkill belong to this list, do you agree with it?
Well the Years of Decay did for sure. Some people call it the perfect thrash album. We never changed our style while i was in the band. We just got better with each album. One more album would have really showed what we could do. I had six months to write each album. D.D. had six years to put together Horrorscope. Thats the only reason that album did good. When he finally had to write the next album in six months he now could see how hard it was to do. I don’t think any album after that was good again.
Did the album combine your familiar up tempo thrash from your earlier albums with a lot of slower, melodic and lengthy moments but without losing power and still being thrash metal?
Sure we always kept to the core reason of what made Overkill work. We drifted on albums to be different but not so far as to where people were like, what the fuck are they thinking. We would never do something like a St. Anger.
Is The Years of Decay an extremely well thought-out album, and like all your early releases it combines relentless brutality with a melodic sense and insanely catchy and memorable songwriting?
It sure does. You totally have it all right. We tried to do it on every album but you can see how the sounds can change the anger level. It’s important to have everything in place. It just all fell together on Years of Decay. So much so that they tried to do it again with Terry Date after me. But i think it still fell short of my album.
This is Overkill’s more varied album, since there are the fast Elimination, Birth Of Tension or Time To Kill, a ballad like Who Tends The Fire, the epic, doomy Playing With Spiders/Skullkrusher, do you agree with it?
Varied but they all work together. I'd never call Who Tends the Fire a ballad. Beth by Kiss is a ballad. Dark cover, dark video, dark songs. Sometimes you just get it perfect.
Was Over Kill on the top at this point? Did you top off on your career?
No not peak at all. We just got the sounds and songs where we wanted them. Now we could move on from there. Well D.D. decided he wanted to be in charge and you know the rest. Sometimes it’s better to be a follower in something that is successful, than be a leader of something that is not.
Overkill have never achieved this again since, right?
I don’t think they ever have. I don’t know much of the songs after me, but i dont think they were stable enough to even keep the members in the band. Way to many changes, so what does that tell you.
The uptempo thrasher Elimination was released as a single and the music video again received regular airplay on MTV’s Headbangers Ball and the song became a fan favorite and would be played live at every show, even 20 years later, would you say, that the video deppened/sharpened the band’s popularity?
Back then MTV was great. It really did help a lot. As long as the song wasn’t a sell out, fuck it let them play it as much as they want. Our biggest song that almost didn’t make it to the album. It was the last song i finish just as we were in the studio.
Live support of The Years of Decay took place, in part, on a tour called Dawn Of The Decade together with label mates Testament, how did it go? Was it followed by more tours or gigs?
We did a few shows with them. It all went well, but we were ready to headline and be in control. No one offered us a big tour so we did what we always did. Hit the clubs.
Would you say, that touringwise Over Kill turned from a club act to be a bigger venue/hall one? I mean, you got a wider audience step by step.
Yes we just at the point where we could do theaters and bust out on a big tour. It just didn’t happen.
The album has sold 2 million copies worldwide, have you ever thought or counted on such a great success?
What album?? We never sold 2 million of anything. By itself or combined.
In 1990 you left the band, because Verni and you had long locked horns over the direction of the band, and in the end Blitz sided with Verni, asking you to leave Overkill, how did that happen? What kind of direction did they offer or wanted to do at all?
Well it wasn’t a long drawn out fight. We only had a disagreement about a show he wanted to do for money only. Something i opposed. He actually quit the band on me and Blitz. We were ready to look for a new bass player and he changed his mind and came back. But in those two weeks he went to the management behind my back and wanted to get me kicked out. So i said fuck him im not playing with him lets just get a new bass player. One thing went to another and i was gone. That’s the bottom line. He claimed i never listened to his music, but look at U.T.I. some riffs were his and it was to happy. I couldn’t do that twice.
Do you agree with, that with your departure the band lost one of its most important part? Did you remain in touch with them? What do you think about the Over Kill records, that were done without you?
Totally. I wrote 90 percent of the songs and all of Years of Decay. How could they stay the same. I only talk to Blitz. I haven’t listened to anything after me and i only listened to Horrorscope once to see if they stole any of my songs.
You were involving in some bands after you quit the band, such as Skrew, I4NI, Response Negative, while during the Over Kill era you took part in Cycle Sluts From Hell, can you give a sum about these bands? Have you recorded with ’em any materials?
I4NI was my band after. Everything was me. I liked it very much and it was different,but no labels were into it. Skrew was a favor to Debbie Abono. The Sluts were great fun but they got dropped from there label so i quit. R.N. was also great but we had no interest from labels so it was time to stop.
Do you still keep an eye on what’s going on in the Metal scene? What are your faves these days? Do you willingly listen to new acts or do you rather prefer the old school?
I don’t follow or listen much at all. But even in the days when i was writing i didn’t listen to much newer music.
Is the scene oversaturated these days?
Thats an understatement. I hear some new stuff and its like bro..i played that 20 years ago..its not new.
Do you consider yourself an influential, technical guitarist?
From the e-mails i get from fans of the band they say yes. I just did what i could do at the time.
What are/were the best and wors memories with Over Kill? How would you sum up your career as the guitarist of the band and the developement of the band from the demo days ’til The Years Of Decay?
Best would be a show at the end of our career where we helped a family pay the bills on the daughter who needed a liver transplant. That and our first show, hearing us on the radio and seeing our video for the first time. The worst is the day i quit or was fired and everyday since. But im over it. They lost and i have a great life and house in Florida. Something i would never have if i stayed with them.
Do the fans have the chance/possibility to see Over Kill on stage either with the Blitz/Gustafson/Verni/Skates or with the Blitz/Gustafson/Verni/Falck line up? Which is the classic one in your opinion?
I would play with Sid. Rat couldn’t handle what Sid played so id like to see that. But it will never happen because Overkill will never ask me back because it would prove to everyone that they failed without me.
Are you proud of being the guitarist of Over Kill and taking part in the glorious scene of the ’80s?
I do. Im really happy about what we did and to be a sucsess in the biggest city in the world.
Bobby, thanks a lot for the interview, I wish you all the best. Please, feel free finish the interview.
Thank you. And thanks to all the fans over these years that have not forgotten me and what we did back then. Its such a crime they will never get to see me play with the band that ment so much to them. The band for better or worse will follow me forever. Cheers to all!!! Bobby G.

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