OVERKILL FRONTMAN BOBBY BLITZ DISCUSSES THE MEANING BEHIND SOME OF THEIR SONGS AND STRUGGLING WITH VOCAL ISSUES
Greg Prato of Songfacts spoke with Overkill frontman Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth. Highlights from interview appear below.
Songfacts: Let’s discuss a few Overkill songs..what about the song Hello From the Gutter?
Bobby: This was a title by a New York journalist named Jimmy Breslin. It was an editorial on David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam killer, and the title was Hello From the Gutters of New York. Breslin covered Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, through those murders.
This was right around the time that the band was getting together. We would always hang out in Brooklyn and Queens. Berkowitz was actually from Yonkers, but he was murdering young couples that were necking in cars. I’m sure you know the story. But he’s one of the most infamous serial killers.
But it was a Breslin title, Hello From the Gutters of New York. And we turned it into Hello From the Gutter. Lyrically, I took some of that pomp and circumstance and sensationalism that was going on around that time.
Songfacts: What about the song Elimination?
Bobby: Elimination was motivated by the scare of the AIDS epidemic. I guess this was ’89 and we were a touring band. Everything had changed for the human race sexually, because they were getting a handle on what was going on, and nobody was immune to this.
When the band had started in the early ’80s, AIDS was “the gay cancer.” But by ’89, people had a better view of it: it wasn’t [just] a gay disease, it was a human disease. The idea behind Elimination was to say, “This is about us, it’s not about you, or about you, it’s about us collectively.”
Songfacts:..I’m curious, have you ever had any vocal problems over the years, and how do you keep your voice in shape?
Bobby: I did. Early on I started developing what’s called polyps, which are kind of warts or nodes. I started getting it on my vocal cords. And it’s really just from singing incorrectly. I mean, I really didn’t know how to sing, even though my mother sang and it’s always been something in our family, I just didn’t know how. I’d come home from tours and couldn’t talk for two months, which is kind of unusual for a young guy. More common for an older guy.
So I took lessons between Feel The Fire and Taking Over to learn how to sing correctly. And when you do that, if the polyps are not so advanced, they kind of wear themselves away from using your cords correctly. So all the way back in ’86 into ’87, I started learning how to sing correctly.
To this day is I still use those principles and I warm up for a minimum of a half hour before a show, and then I kind of cool down for another half hour. So an hour before the show I’m doing something, singing somewhere in the bus or a dressing room. The same stuff I had learned all the way back in the ’80s.
To read the entire interview with Booby Blitz, please click here.
Overkill’s latest album was White Devil Armory which was released on July 22nd.
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