What started out as an aggressive renegade approach to rock for the band Overkill — live Sunday at The Fillmore in Charlotte — evolved into an ongoing energetic and powerful hard rock entity over the last three decades.
Tag it as thrash or speed metal, even groove metal – whatever the name, the overall intent remains the same for founding member/lead vocalist Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth. Formed in 1980 in New Jersey during one of rock’s most prolific periods, Overkill has been recording since 1984, releasing 16 studio albums and going through a variety of lineup changes over the years. Ellsworth and bassist D.D. Verni remain from the original lineup.
The band also features Dave Linsk, lead guitar/backing vocals; Derek “The Skull” Tailer, rhythm guitar/backing vocals and Ron Lipnicki, drums. Catching up with Ellsworth by phone in Texas (where they had a couple of House of Blues shows), I had a great opportunity to discuss the band’s musical progression and history.
While not their first excursion into Charlotte, Overkill has a performance history dating back to the ’80s and ’90s at area clubs now defunct.
However, listening to music from Overkill’s most recent album, “The Electric Age” (2012), reveals a still lively creativity. “That’s number 16 for us,” Ellsworth said. “D.D. and I have a great professional relationship. There are other things that make this band click, including a type of the hunger from the beginning that separates the fake from the real and becomes a natural approach to making music – that you’re still hungry to do something.
“I think our record actually reeks of that, and that’s probably why I’m so proud of it.”
Pointing to one energetic and powerful song off the new album, “Electric Rattlesnake,” and citing a flurry of sounds and influences that co-mingle, including a little Black Sabbath ambience, Ellsworth said, “Yeah that one has got a lot of teeth to it. We’re not afraid to admit the influences that we like.
“Certain things that you ‘steal’ — the good stuff — and then make it your own. I’m not going to kid you saying that I’m an artist, when I’m more of a blue collar musician. It’s more like building houses to me. Obviously you take aesthetics from other things and put them into your own. It’s not Black Sabbath per se, but go all the way back to 1989 to a song like (Overkill’s) ‘Skullcrusher,’ it had that kind of Sabbath influence.
“You make things your own.”
What about the overall state rock and roll in 2013? Ellsworth said, laughing, “I don’t know if I really think about it. I just live it. It’s just easier to live than think about it or to philosophize about it. Rock is an ever-changing type thing.”
Considering Overkill’s rise and continuity, what guidance regarding promotion and creation would he offer to aspiring artists?
“When we started it was really a different pathology. We really had to go out and pump it on the streets. We put flyers under windshield wipers on cars at gigs. We were soliciting record companies in person or by snail mail, but all that has changed,” he said, referring to the dominance now of technology and an indie persona.
“But the principles that we had at the time were right for the music,” he said. “We incorporated our influences into what we did. The idea is that it should always be your stamp.”
“You shouldn’t be Machinehead No. 2 or Black Sabbath No. 2. Originality is really the key. It’s hard to keep a band together…. If you can stay together, you can get through it with legitimate ideas that are appreciated by the people. That’s how we got here.”
And as Overkill gets here — literally — what’s in store for concertgoers? “It’s a traveling festival…. It’s probably about 10 years or so since we were in the Carolinas. It’s been a long time but we’re back, baby!”
Welcome Overkill back to the area Sunday along with Testament plus Flotsam and Jetsam at The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., Charlotte. For show info call 704-916-8970 or go to fillmorecharlottenc.com or find them on Facebook. For more on the music, check wreckingcrew.com and on Facebook.
Throw in some diversity with Scottish fiddler Jamie Laval, live Friday at The Great Aunt Stella Center in Charlotte. Laval’s newest album picked up a “Best World Traditional Album” nod at the 2012 Independent Music Awards, and in concert he presents traditional Celtic tunes from Scotland, Ireland, Britain, Quebec and Appalachia.
To these sounds he adds observations on the cultural significance of Celtic music as well as amusing stories of life as a touring artist. Originally from Seattle, Laval is currently based in Asheville, N.C. Take all this in via Jamie Laval plus guitarist David Brown and piper EJ Jones at The Great Aunt Stella Center, 926 Elizabeth Ave., Charlotte. Ticket info: 704-563-7080 or folksociety.com. Find more on the music at jamielaval.com.
Wind through lots of lush live music and take in all the sounds, sights and sentiments. Something is surely perfect for your favorite Valentine.
• Friday: Poor Man’s Fame, Jupiter Tide, Absolute Convixion, more at Firewater 110, Rock Hill; Saba Callas at Amici Lovin Oven, Rock Hill; The Dread Nots at The Kickin’ Pig, Rock Hill; The Oneppo Brothers Duo at the Coal Yard, York; Donnie Honeycutt Duo at Hickory Tavern Steelecroft, Charlotte; Early Ray at Wild Wing Café-Ayrsley, Charlotte; Six Shot Revival, Pariah Mountain at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte; Blanco Diablo, Queen Nation-Tribute to Queen at Amos’ Southend, Charlotte; Slackers, Bums Lie, more at The Visulite Theatre, Charlotte; Everest Cale and The Jauntee at Double Door Inn, Charlotte; Small Talk Industries, Temperance League, more at Snug Harbor, Charlotte; Trial by Fire-Journey Tribute at The Fillmore, Charlotte; Sonny Skyyz and The Rainmakers at The Saloon-NC Music Factory, Charlotte; Nomadic, The Wormholes, more at The Chop Shop-NoDa, Charlotte; Tab Benoit, Eric Lindell, Damon Fowler at Neighborhood Theater, Charlotte; Joe Taylor Group at Evening Muse, Charlotte; Justin Moore at Coyote Joe’s, Charlotte; Ronnie Hymes, Carolina Freight at Puckett’s Farm Equipment, Charlotte;
• Saturday: Donnie Honeycutt Duo at McHale’s on Main, Rock Hill; The Oneppo Brothers Duo at the Sand Bar, Rock Hill; Masher, Snuffalufafunk, Ultralush, Queen City Dub at Firewater 110, Rock Hill; Ansel Couch at Thursdays, Too, Rock Hill; Cane Break at Amici Lovin Oven, Rock Hill; Chubby Knuckles Band at Kickin’ Pig, Rock Hill; Eight Oh Tree at Legends, Chester; Wretched, Votnut, Unfriend at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte; The Bad Daddies at the Visulite Theatre, Charlotte; David Shaw Rocks Benefit at Ricky J’s Sports Bar and Grill, Charlotte; Colby Dobbs Band, Nick Dorney at The Saloon-NC Music Factory, Charlotte; Crisis with Donna Duncan at the Comet, Charlotte; Old Southern Moonshine Revival at Puckett’s Farm Equipment Company, Charlotte; Falling Through April, The Jupiter Tide, Jonas Sees in Color, more at Double Door Inn, Charlotte; Felly Castelow, Cat Glenn, Ma’am at Common Market-Plaza Midwood, Charlotte; Sun Dried Vibes, Of Good Nature, Treehouse, more at The Chop Shop-NoDa, Charlotte; Sol Driven Train at NoDa Brewing Company, Charlotte; Roscoe Bandana at the Evening Muse, Charlotte; Sixpence None The Richer at Neighborhood Theater, Charlotte.
• Sunday: The Road to the Sphinx, Wake of Redemption, more at Tremont Music Hall, Charlotte; Charlotte Blues Society at Double Door Inn, Charlotte.
Monday: Knocturnal at Snug Harbor, Charlotte; The New Mastersounds at the Visulite Theatre, Charlotte.
• Tuesday: Open Mic Night at Firewater 110, Rock Hill; Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, Wheeler Brothers at the Visulite Theatre, Charlotte.
• Wednesday: Elevator Action, Renelvis, more at Snug Harbor, Charlotte; Meshuggah, Animals as Leaders at The Fillmore, Charlotte; Necrombomb, Adapt to Chaos at The Saloon-NC Music Factory, Charlotte; Trinity Seed at the Double Door Inn, Charlotte; Stamper, Bums Lie, Sherman Hellville, more at Neighborhood Theater, Charlotte; Dixie Moon at Puckett’s Farm Equipment, Charlotte.
• Thursday: College Night (Singles Night Party) at Firewater 110, Rock Hill.
“And that was all she wrote.”
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