Overkill and Nile “Grinding” at the Fillmore
Overkill and Nile “Grinding” at the Fillmore
Photography by Kevin McGee
As Overkill is nearing the end of their current tour, they made a stop in Charlotte, NC supporting their 19th studio release, The Grinding Wheel. Since February 14th, the guys have been on a road trip with only one day off. Brutal and classic, that is the kind of tour that only a thrash metal and a technical death metal band could pull off. After 35 years in the business, they are still out touring and bringing new music to their fans.
Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth is bringing the same intensity to his music today as he did back in the early 80s; his partner in crime, D.D.Verni, still by his side laying down his driving bass line. The duo are original members and pioneers of the thrash metal scene. As Blitz was in college, the energy of the burgeoning punk scene in NYC made a huge impact to him as a young man. There was always music in his house as he grew up, but what that music lacked was energy. The punk movement and the British wave of metal led Blitz on a lifetime journey searching for that extreme energy that takes him to a natural high that cannot be replicated by anything else.
I had a chance to meet up with Blitz before the show. As I was waiting to go on the bus, I had a chance to talk for a bit to John, the tour manager. It is interesting to hear what it is like to be on the road. Early days and late nights. Lots of work. Never sleeping in your own bed for long stretches of time. You always have this fantasy of the glamour of the road and touring, but the reality is not always as glamorous as what we have in our heads. However, I think most people would love to give it a try and see for themselves. Blitz came down to greet us, and you could immediately tell that he was a gracious guy. We walked to the back of the tour bus and kicked back in the couches there. The inside of a tour bus sure seems like tight confines for 5 grown men to live and coexist for long periods of time.
We spent about half an hour chatting about the tour, the past, and the current state of metal. Very outgoing and a big laugh, it’s impossible to not gravitate toward him. I can only imagine Bobby has never met a stranger. I felt right at home, like I knew him for years. We even discussed the fact that he could imagine himself living down in North Carolina himself, if for no other reason but to escape the winter weather in the Northeast. We also joked that he wouldn’t be alone if he chose to make that move. He already has some friends that moved down here.
Check out our Interview with Blitz (Overkill) and George (Nile).
As we wrapped up the interview, I was whisked off to meet with Alex, who is the tour manager for Nile. If you are going to be interviewing multiple bands in one night, be ready to move fast and be flexible. I had the real pleasure to meet George Kollias, who is the drummer for Nile. We went backstage and found a quiet room to talk. The bus wasn’t going to be very quiet as the band is from Greenville, SC and friends and family were on the bus celebrating the opportunity to see their guys. Kollias is the only member of the band that isn’t from South Carolina. George is from Greece.
George has been in the band for the past 13 years and 5 albums. Distance, he said, has no bearing on how well the band works together. Technology and click tracks allow them to be able to practice their music even when separated geographically. What is hard for George when it comes to being on the road? Not being able to spend time with his 19 month-old daughter. You could tell he really missed her and is so excited to get a break to get back to her. He did say she already has her own drumset. Pearl of course — Pearl being his drum sponsor as well as being the maker of his very first kit as a kid back in Greece. I asked him what does he do outside of music? “I drum,” he said. I believe it too. George is a drummer. Seeing him play either online or in person, he is the man. He does drum and he is one of the best. As Karl popped in, I knew it was time for George to get warmed up. Polite to the end, he gave me a hug, and I headed out. If I had to sum him up in a short phrase, great guy is what I would say. Simple as that.
The show! George and I chatted for so long (see in interview above) that I missed the first opening band, Swallow the Sun. I could hear them playing from backstage, but I completely missed them. Luckily Kevin McGee did not!
I made my way back around and was able to catch the Amorphis set. Both Amorphis and Swallow the Sun just joined the tour for the last few shows.
Amorphis will be leading their own headlining tour and the promoters added them to the bill to get a little stage time to allow them to get tight before the headlining tour begins.
It looks like they are already tight and are ready to go to me. They sounded great, and I am sure they are going to have great success and they head out on the road as a main act. Hopefully they make it back around this way again.
Nile and Overkill were both amazing to see
Two different styles, one dark and one fast and furious.
Blitz had mentioned earlier that it was actually great to bring the two styles together as it allowed two different fan bases to come together and get exposed to some different styles on one bill.
Blazing guitar, speed drumming, and lyrics that take you on a journey back to a dark time in ancient Egypt can be expected when seeing Nile.
As dark as it may seem, the guys were still fist bumping one another and smiling as they were able to perform for their fans and family. I could tell they were excited about that.
Overkill. What’s left to say about Overkill? Professionals is what they are. Tight. Chemistry. It’s obvious they have a lot of experience. Blitz still cracking jokes, led the crowd through new songs off The Grinding Wheel as well as classics. A pit formed within minutes of the band starting their set and continued until about midnight when the show was over.
4 hours of metal. My kind of night. The tour only has a few more dates until they close out back home for the guys from Overkill. Get out and check them out if you can.
If you miss them here on this leg, it looks like they will have some shows in Europe this summer if you are able to get there. Good people and great bands. Thanks to Blitz, George, John, and Alex for taking some time out of their days to give myself and Shutter 16 access to get to know them a little better. Hopefully, we can see them again soon.
See full gallery of the night.
Overkill and Nile Tour Dates
8 – Washington, DC – Howard Theatre
9 – Clifton Park, NY – Upstate Concert Hall
10 – Worcester, MA – Palladium (NILE ONLY)
11 – Sayerville, NJ – Starland Ballroom