September 29, 2010

Overkill Hailed First Thrash Band

If the name Overkill is foreign to you, you are not metal. Plain and simple. A Metal band for now over 30 years and counting, there is nothing you can say about the strength and determination to keep a band going that long, with as many member changes and label problems. Veterans of the NY Thrash scene, basically THE first NY thrash band, bow down.

You guys (that is DD Verni and you) have been plodding away with Overkill for nearly thirty years now. Would you say that still makes sense?

30 years!, Why do journalists keep adding years....1985 for Feel the Fire.DD and I met in 1981. I think the demographic has obviously changed, as many of the fairer sex enjoy the "heavy stuff". But originally it was a man's world "in the pit".

Like I said, nearly thirty years.  A lot of bands would have called it a day after a lot shorter period and after all you've been through. Especially after you suffered a stroke on stage. So, what keeps you guys, and especially you, going?

I'm waiting for a heart's the only thing missing. Seriously, I do think that if one finds something they love, in my case never feels like work. It feels like LIFE, and an interesting one at that. Keep it heavy, and the rest will follow.

Over that period of time would you say the band has changed a lot musically? Or is it just slight changes from album to album so that the fans know what to expect?

We are what we are metalband...recognizable…heavy...committed. I think that in a world of change, deception and uncertainty, we are constant, honest and certain.

Talking about change, how do you regard the current thrash scene? Would you say that a revival is going on with a lot of new bands emerging and the old guns reuniting, and people like you still going on? What are your thoughts on reunions of bands such as Onslaught, Death Angel, Exodus, Defiance, Blessed Death, Sacred Reich? And how do you view the new crop such as Bonded by Blood, Municipal Waste, Evile, Suicidal Angels, Fueled By Fire?

I think healthy would be the word for the day...I'm not so big on reunions, as it is money fuelled in many cases, but bands like Exodus, in my opinion have always been there, and always had something to offer. The new breed is necessary to carry the proves that the scene has transcended generations, and had the value that many of us thought as far back as 1982.

Since we are on the subject of thrash. Have you seen the finished Get Thrashed product yet (of course my first question is a direct quote from that documentary)? And what are your thoughts on what Rick Ernst has brought across?

Saw it...a great documentary on how it was, and some great opinions...loved the Exodus segments...and much of what was said by those in the scene but not playing in bands. Again it proves the value of the genre....and Rick depicted it in an honest, forthright way....Hats off!!!!!!

Although Get Thrashed hasn't seen an official DVD release in 2007 another documentary (which was originally intended as just some bonus material for Get Thrashed) has. Rat Skates: Born In The Basement by your original drummer Rat Skates. I was really pleasantly surprised to see that original guitarist Robert Pisarek was even featured (somehow people tend to have forgotten about him in Overkill) But since the entire documentary is from Rat's point of view I would really like to know your perspective on the things he puts forward there.

Who? I can't validate it...I wasn't involved in the making of that DVD, nor was DD...I think if you put the 4 originals in a room...I am speaking of Bobby Gustafson on guitar, you would hear 4 similar, yet different versions of what happened. The core of what was done, why this whole thing of ours existed over 2 decades is the song writing...and the development of non professionals into professionals. The decision of full time, life long commitment, makes this interview possible. The documentary is well done, and Rat is a talented film maker, but it was truly "self-serving", as well as a forum for 1 man's opinion, and complaint. I think the reason Rob Pisarek is rarely brought up as a founding member, is because we were a cover band at the time, there were few originals written....and none of them made it to a studio. It would be non productive to speak of how well he covered songs as well as uninteresting and invalid. The incorporating of Bobby was the start of Overkill as the world knows it....and that is what is important.

You mentioned earlier, DD and you are the two only original members still in the band, what were the reasons for the others to leave the band (as far as you can remember of course) Dan Spitz probably being the one who gained most of his fame after leaving you guys for another New York thrash band.

Danny to Anthrax...hmmm, money?

Most left of their own accord....even Rat Kundrat (Rat Skates), " I can't take it! it's not what I want!". Others for family, Marino, Gant; Comeau to sing with Annihilator; Cannivano to race bikes; Sid was discontent. Bobby and DD wouldn't work together. So it was primarily the decision of the individual who is now gone. No big rules in Overkill... I think the proof is the side projects...Speed Kill...The Bronx, and the Cursed. You live once, live your what makes you happy...and always add a little chaos.

The last three years saw the release of studio album 14 or 15 which was generally well-received by both press and fans alike and in my opinion saw a return to a thrashier sound by you. What are your thoughts on Immortalis?

Good record in the truest is cohesive, as if all the songs are necessary to create the impact. This was an art form as I grew up....Black Sabbath Vol IV; Machine Head; Stained Class; Ace of Spades...full albums...not just a collection of songs.
The writing as per normal...starting with DD & ending with me...but we had much more time...almost 2 years to complete it...I think the time is the "X" factor.

I have heard some people around me say that Overkill is like the AC/DC or Motörhead of thrash, releasing albums that generally sound alike. According to them it might be a good thing to not record any more and to solely focus on touring. Have you ever considered such a thing to be an option or was that just a dumb question ?

No...though quite a compliment...touring is my motivation, but we don't want that heart attack too soon.

Thanks for taking to the time to answer these questions. I hope you are aware of your contribution to Heavy Metal. Is there anything you'd like to add as your final words?

Stop by and say hello...looking forward to heading east again, I have always collected great memories from there....the people...the cities.... the SHOWS! Look for me...I'll be the guy sweating his ass off.

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