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The only Overkill interview you ever need to read

W.F.O. [1994]

The band’s last record for Atlantic, and a mean and lean return to thrash, mingled with several references to motorcycles and blue-collar living.

Cannavino got me into bikes. He did racing, but I went more into Harleys. But Cannavino had a lot to do with the album’s title and “Fast Junkie,” because he was a fast junkie.

D.D.’s bass is way out front on this record, and it’s a unique sound. I’ve heard it described as an “irritating volume.” It was a return to thrash — everything had a hop to it. “Where It Hurts” and “Fast Junkie.” “Gasoline Dream” was a moodier song. I think we accomplished something cool on that one.

I remember getting picked up by the cops, more than once, and the cops recognizing me. One time I got pulled over by a bunch of cops and this younger guy said, “I’ll take care of this guy,” and pulled me over to the car and pulled out an Under the Influence shirt and asked me to sign. That was the ‘80s into the ‘90s. It was pretty crazy then, until I got sober in ’95. Gustafson and I could find trouble, if there was trouble to be found. D.D. occasionally got involved, but he was more about keeping his nose to the grindstone.

We have a huge catalog now, so we try to rotate some of these old songs in, but there’s only so much space.

The Killing Kind [1996]

Signed to the independent label CMC, Overkill galvanize the underground work ethic that will sustain them for the next twenty years. Bobby and bassist D.D. Verni begin managing the band and bring two new guitarists into the band: Joe Comeau and Sebastian Marino.

These were the truly lean years. There wasn’t a lot of metal, or a big touring circuit. We still did big shows, but the opportunities were less. But we were doing the US. We’d stopped doing the West Coast, but we were doing South America, Mexico, Europe and Asia.

D.D. and I started managing the band; which can be a conflict of interest. Because the band needs to ingratiate itself to the business, where the management is supposed to fight for the artists — and that could be a fine line to tow. I remember playing Cleveland and walking into the promoter’s office, and he says to me, “Hey Bobby, we’ve been friends for fifteen years,” and I say, “Yeah, of course,” and he reaches into his pocket and pulls out all this cash and puts it on the table. He says, “I’m not gonna make my nut tonight, but I’ve got your guarantee. Just realize if you take this cash, we’re never gonna do business again.” I didn’t even think about it. I took the cash put it in my jacket and walked out to the bus. We’re a thousand miles from home. I mean, there’s a certain principle you have to have, or you’d get eaten alive out there.

At one point Pantera wanted us to go out with them, but it didn’t line up. As long as we were running our business, we weren’t trying to get the golden ring. We were doing our records at The Carriage House and technology was right around the corner with Pro Tools. We were finding ways to make it work, and we were still selling records. We had the freedom to be what we were, which was what kept us dangerous during these times.

From the Underground and Below [1997]

Perhaps the most underrated of all Overkill records, this juggernaut is as impressive as any metal record released in 1997, and shows the band exploring new grooves and fully embracing their role in the underground.

One of my favorite records. We brought in Colin Richardson in for this, and it had a new groove. It’s a monster and the huge sonics are one of the reasons it’s a favorite. It’s also cohesive from start to finish.

If people didn’t hear this one, that’s the downside of not playing the game, not shaking hands and kissing ass. It’s an ethic that culminated in the attention we got later for Ironbound and The Electric Age.

The album features what is, perhaps, the most anomalous song in Overkill’s catalog: a funereal ballad called “Promises.”

Everybody’s lost someone. That song’s about a close friend. He and I had boxed with our addictions for years — I was never a drug addict, more of a sloppy drunk. He was into everything, though, but he was a great dude. And I cleaned up; I didn’t have a drop for ten years. But my friend would say, “I don’t know how you did it.” He was close to me and my son; he was a roadie. I told him, “You’re never gonna have a chance getting clean if you’re around people who aren’t clean,” and I told him he could live with me. And I remember getting dropped off after a tour and him saying, “I’ll have my bags in two days and I’ll be up here,” and that was the last time I saw the cat. He didn’t O.D. — he took his own life. And this music isn’t supposed to be too serious — it’s supposed to be that emotional outburst we all have. But every once in a while something comes along that lets you know people are special…and this cat was. He tried for most of his adult life to box with demons, and he didn’t make it. And the reason “Promises” is so different from any other song is because the situation was so different from anything else we’d been through.

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