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The only Overkill interview you ever need to read

Necroshine [1999]

Bobby’s well-known cancer diagnoses occurs during the writing of Necroshine, and contributes to the album’s lyrical content: “Don’t you worry about me, you know I’m doing fine / Basking in the light of a Necroshine.” It’s also Bobby’s most experimental vocal effort, an unprecendented display of unique singing styles.

That thing (cancer) snuck in there and knocked me down prior to recording. It wasn’t an easy time, I suppose, but I was never afraid. It was relatively serious because it was in my sinus cavity and it was 1999 — they didn’t have what they have today. They had to do blood tests constantly to see how much cancer they’d removed from my blood, and the cancer was sitting on the edge of my skull and my brain. But I always thought to myself…it was more of a nervous energy I had. I was sitting in the same I house I live in now, probably sitting in this same chair, and I’m thinking, “This is bullshit. There’s nothing to do, you know, and Dr. Death is creeping into my thoughts, rattling bones.” So I called D.D. and he asked what I needed and said, “Send me a couple songs.” He sent me “Necroshine,” and I wrote the lyrics during that time. So you can read what I was going through at that particular time. I was stone cold sober. You know, four years sober and I’m writing this stuff. But sobriety had given me perspective: I wasn’t the dealer of the card game anymore, just a player, and I had to play the cards I’d been dealt.

It showed me that D.D. would do anything for me. I think it showed him that, “Man, this guy really is as fucking off-the-wall as they come, writing these lyrics with all these bandages wrapped over his face.”

Andy Katz was this great engineer at Carriage House whose work ethic matched D.D.’s, and they’d stay up all night making sure it happened. I brought my sister in to do some backing vocals on that record — she’s thirteen years younger. And I’m sitting in the control room in a pair of work boots, a black t-shirt, and Levis, and my sister Mary is doing vocals behind the glass. Every time she screws it up, she leans into the microphone and says, “Fuck, give me another one.” And Andy looks at me and says, “Isn’t this weird to you?” And I look in there and my sister’s in a black t-shirt, jeans, and work books, and Andy says, “It’s the female you, right down to the mouth.”

So it was a special record. I’m not gonna say it’s the quintessential Overkill record from that time, but there’s some good stuff on there.

Bloodletting [2000]

Guitarists Joe Comeau and Sebastian Marino leave after three records and are replaced by the incredible Dave Linsk, who begins his career as what some consider the band’s finest lead player.

I don’t know about this record. I like the record and the material, but it’s kind of lost record. The last record we did at Carriage House. Andy Katz decided he couldn’t do the record — he became a banker or something. So the new engineer wasn’t great and there was a family issue going on with him, a huge issue. His head wasn’t on the recording and I don’t blame him. But the guy winds up holding our tapes hostage — I had to go up and get the tapes, grab them out of the studio like one of the guys in Goodfellas, you know, duct taping the guy’s mouth and sticking him in the back of the car. (laughs)

But Colin Richardson came and saved those mixes. I was really excited about the record because we were working with Dave, but it became a lost record. We wound up repairing our relationship with the studio — we got our tapes and everyone got paid. But there was a time when I was lurking around the back of the studio with burglar’s tools, trying to get my tapes.

D.D. had to leave a tour in Europe to be there for his child being born. So we flew Derek Tailor in to cover — he’d played bass with Dee Snider — and we booked a small show in Switzerland so he wouldn’t have to play a big stage first. Derek comes in, and for the first time in my career, I look over and there’s no D.D. Verni to my left. There’s a hundred kids at this show — not all metal kids, just whoever showed up — kind of a dance crowd. And Derek’s playing on his side of the stage, and I look over, and right in front of him is this guy in a latex body suit, as tight as it could be, and the guy was really dancing, really digging whatever Derek was doing. And we finished the song, and I walked over to Derek and he said, “What do you think?” and I whispered in is ear, “You’ve been in the band for fifteen minutes and you’re already ruining our reputation.” (laughs) That’s when we knew he was going to be playing in this band for a long time.

Killbox 13 [2003]

A rock-solid follow-up to Bloodletting that marks the first time the band records at D.D. Verni’s Gear Studios, where they will continue to develop their sound and in-house business practices.

Colin Richardson had a great impact on this record as a producer. He was there from day one until the end. This record is a heavy piece of real estate. Something about that record feels heavy in your hand. “Devil By The Tail” and “No Lights.” We did it at D.D.’s studio. And I caught something, was real sick. I was walking around with pruned fingers, and the doctor’s telling me I’m dehydrated, and my voice sounded like sandpaper on sandpaper. So Colin says, “Okay let’s get as much water in you as we can,” and he sang me for two hours a day… no matter what was going on, we’d stop tracking and I’d sing. And I think it’s one of the best records from that period.

You always want to raise the level of the bar. We always go in with that mentality. By this point Derek Tailor was in the band, we’re getting along great, and we were only competing with ourselves, keeping ourselves on top of our game.

RelixIV [2005]

Overkill’s self-produced Relix is recorded and released on Spitfire Records. A tour with Prong follows, for which drummer Tim Mallare is replaced by the excellent Ron Lipnicki.

You know, on Killbox we had Colin Richardson come into D.D.’s studios for production, and he set up mics all over the room and in every corner and listened back in the headphones. We watched what he was doing and tried to understand it so we could do it ourselves. Relix is 100% proof that Colin was a professional and we weren’t. He could have made a tin can sound great, but we went in there trying to duplicate his process and came out with Relix. People say things like, “That’s an interesting guitar sound,” and I’m like, “Oh, Jesus.” (big laugh) And this was after twenty years in the fucking business. We get good guitar sounds, but we’d never mic’ed these rooms on our own. We made some mistakes and we knew what there were. But there’s some good moments on that record, some good songwriting — “Old School,” which got back to our punk roots; “Bats in the Belfry,” and “Within Your Eyes.” But, yeah, I’m sitting here during the interview going, “God, I hope he skips over Relix.” (laughs)

The great thing about doing this is: we did Relix, and weren’t happy with the production — not the record, we liked the record — but the production. But we learned enough to do things another way from that point on. You know, a “do-over,” that’s for kickball, for kids. I say, “Give me another shot on the next one.” Those mistakes are necessary steps in the evolution. If you fall on your face, do it gracefully. Wipe the mud off and get back up. And you listen to the stuff we’re doing in D.D.’s studio now—we know what were doing. So, it’s worked.

Guitarist Dave Linsk would become an essential part of Overkill’s development, not only in that he’d become one of the genre’s finest lead players, but in his uncanny ability to recall anything from Overkill’s massive catalog.

Dave Linsk knows everything he’s ever played. Five minutes backstage to brush up and he’s good to go—he’s better than I am in that way. Same with Ron Lipnicki. If he’s played it, he knows it. Total recall. We decided to do the song “Who Tends the Fire” on the last tour and Dave sat down for five minutes and said, “I’m ready,” and I said, “I’m going out to bus.” (Laughs) I had to listen to it on Youtube. Then we did it at soundcheck.

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