Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth On How Overkill Survived The Grunge Scene

Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth recently shared how Overkill managed to survive the ’90s when grunge rock was the hottest thing in the scene while speaking to Metal Hammer.

The ’80s were surely a much more friendly era for cult metal acts, as grunge-mania of the ’90s swept many rockers from the scene, and bands in the likeness of Nirvana or Alice In Chains, became what most label records looked for to sign. Still, even in an era like the ’90s, Overkill managed not to get knocked down by the Seattle wind.

Bobby recalled the period while discussing the act’s 1996 record, ‘The Killing Kind,’ and shared the story of how they carried on as they were while grunge rock was the hottest new thing for the scene, disclosing how he knew they had to look for an alternative path when their then-label started dropping metal acts.

So, Ellsworth drove for fifteen hours to another label, CMC, to drop off a demo in case they were interested in signing Overkill, and with much luck, the record company offered Bobby and his bandmates the deal they needed at the time.

The rest was history as Bobby considered ‘The Killing Kind’ as the best album he’d written up until that point of his career, and he appreciated CMC for signing metal acts and supporting them at a period when most labels preferred not to.

Ellsworth on the grunge scene and recording during the era:

“Oh god, the ’90s – here comes grunge. Basically, go sit in your mother’s basement until somebody appreciates your genius again. Overkill survived through tenacity – we were brought up to basically manage ourselves, and it really stuck with D.D. [Verni] and myself.

When bands started dropping away from our label, we decided we needed to start looking somewhere else, and the first people we contacted was a label called CMC Records.

It was run out of North Carolina, and they immediately came in with ‘we’re interested,’ blah blah, so I got in a car to drive 15 hours and drop him a demo. We’d barely got back, and their label head came to New York to tell us he was going to sign us purely for the balls we had in coming direct to their offices with a demo.

CMC really supported us, though, and they supported other metal bands at that time, too – I’m pretty sure they signed Accept… [We] knew we weren’t going away – this was ‘The Killing Kind,’ and that groove showed itself again.

‘God-Like’ [a song from the album] was a combination of groove and thrash, and up to that point in my history. I thought it was one of the best things I’d ever done. I was a better writer and better arranger on how I wanted the vocals presented.”

So, Overkill managed to survive all the fuss grunge created in the ’90s, successfully living through the period and releasing some of their most notable works while not being swept away by the Seattle wind.