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The only Overkill interview you ever need to read

Immortalis [2007]

The band refines its studio technique for drummer Ron Lipnicki’s studio debut. While handicapped by awkward production, the album features some of the band’s finest work in years with “Devils in the Mist,” the AC/DC-influenced “Walk Through Fire,” and “Skull and Bones” (featuring Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe).

Ron brought this lineup to the next level. Dave loved playing with Tim, and he really locked in with Ron. We were all on board. I don’t want to say it was a comeback record, but it was the start of a new chapter.

It took me a record to get used to Ron; I’m not as adaptable as the other guys. But we took Immortalis out on the road and the songs got better as we played them live. We were back with Johnny Z. He signed us to do a record with a gambling company called Bodog. (laughs) And it was great — tour support. The scene was healthy again. We did the Motörhead tour and started getting recognition at a higher level again.

Ironbound [2010]

A culmination of everything the band had worked toward over the past decades, Ironbound is released to universal acclaim, and the band charts on Billboard for the first time since 1994. The album tops many year-end polls in metal magazines, and is considered by fans to be one of Overkill’s finest albums.

We came right off the road and into the studio. For me, it was business as usual, but something had changed with Ron being in the band. We were doing better tours, especially in Europe. We took out Exodus and Heathen. And, personally, I started competing again. It wasn’t “We got nothing to lose” anymore. I was boxing with God again, trying to knock down anything in our way. And I love Exodus, they’re cousins, no two ways about it. But I told Gary Holt night after night that “I’m going up there so you can lose.” (laughs) And he appreciates that because he’s cut from the same cloth, and the people who wind up winning are the people who paid to see the show. All that culminated in Ironbound — we took a great energy into the studio.

I said, “Wow, this feels like a full record again.” And that competition made that happen, I think.

D.D. is really the heavier guy. I listen eclectically, you know? I might listen to the new Testament, but I constantly go back to the melodies I learned as a kid — stuff from The Stones, or The Who, or Judas Priest. Not rehashed, but they come out of that era. I try to write, especially in these later years, from a place that brings a smile to my face, and a lot of times that’s connected to those old influences. And I think it creates a unique sound. You know, you listen to a song like “Bring Me the Night” and slow it down, it sounds like ZZ Top, vocally. To some degree, old becomes new again. It’s not a direct rip-off. I just get into that mode, trying to make it sound new again. And Dave Linsk, you listen to the solo on “Ironbound” that’s him at his best.

The Electric Age [2012]

Overkill follows up Ironbound with a record equally, if not more, impressive. The Electric Age again debuts on the Billboard charts, actually beating the sales of Ironbound, and is once again lauded as one of the year’s finest metal albums.

One of the things I haven’t mentioned is that, regardless of all the other stuff, this is fun. It’s fun to do this — and we keep that in the forefront. And sometimes it shows itself. Ironbound might have been more contrived in a way; it’s a three-dimensional record. Whereas The Electric Age is two-dimensional, you know. It kicks you in the face and never lets up — and that’s fun. We were having a great time doing it.

When Ron joined the band and changed our sound, he worked really hard to learn the set and get a hang of the sound. And we were in Europe hanging out with the group of fans that call themselves the Skullkrushers. At this point Ron had notes taped to his kick drums, and he’d turn the pages to remember the songs. And when we finished hanging with these guys, we’re saying goodbye, and I told Ron, “Hey, good show.” And in front of these guys, he says to me, “Hey, Bobby, you too. You have a great voice, come back soon.” And I’m thinking, I’m having fun with this kid. And that’s the kind of energy you hear on The Electric Age — we’re having fun.

And Dave Linsk — when he came up with the solo section for “Drop the Hammer,” he sent me a tape of it. And I called him up and left a message that said, “Hey, that solo to ‘Drop the Hammer,’ I need it extracted so I can play it at my funeral.” (laughs) And, yeah, when you start making comments like that, you know you’re feeling good. And to hear Dave playing at his best for two records in a row — that’s what I alluded to earlier. Maybe he’s not underrated, per se, but he’s world class. He really knows this music.

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