There's always a bit of chatter about how The Big 4 could be expanded into a "Big 6," or even a lucky "Big 7," with the inclusion of bands such as Exodus, Testament, and East Coast thrash stalwarts Overkill. Perhaps because so much of the thrash scene was concentrated in California is one reason as to why sometimes Overkill are left out of the conversation, but bassist D.D. Verni shared his thoughts as to why in a recent conversation with MetalSucks.
"I'm not sure we get any credit…. I always felt like 'The Big Four' were singled out because they sold more. I don't think it's about their influence; it's about their sales. They sold the most records, so that's why they're 'The Big Four'. Because Overkill, Exodus, and Testament were just as crucial in forming the genre, we're often referred to as the next wave, and that's because we didn't sell as much. If we sold more records, then we would have been up there."
Dollars and cents aside, Verni said "I think all of us were creating the genre at the same time. We were all in the mix, but they were just more popular for whatever reason. I don't feel Overkill's contribution to thrash is any less than theirs; we were doing it right when they were doing it. Our records came out simultaneously, and we were building the genre together. But they just sold more records than us, and that's great. Good for them, that's the idea. But I've never felt like the 'Big Four' bands influenced things more; they just sold more."
Well, I don't think anyone doubts the influence of all the aforementioned bands, but that aside, Verni's math is a bit off, considering the only group out of the Big Four that has truly sold millions upon millions of albums is Metallica. For sake of comparison, Metallica to date has sold 135 million albums worldwide, compared to Megadeth's roughly 40 million. And the combined sales of Slayer and Anthrax are only just barely north of 5 million. So, we shouldn't downplay what was on those albums before shooting arrows across the bow, no? Verni makes it sound like every kid in America got a copy of Master of Puppets sent to them in the post.
But all kidding aside, Overkill still stand tall today—Big Four status notwithstanding—and they're about to drop their 20th LP, Scorched, this spring. When talking about what Overkill has brought to the scene and the music throughout the decades, Verni touched on a few key points that he believes made Overkill stand out from the crowd.
"As for what we brought specifically, Blitz's [singer Bobby Ellsworth] voice was always completely unique," Verni said. "You can put on an Overkill record, and you’ll know it’s his voice in a split second, so that was one thing. And probably another thing was my bass style and tone, which you didn’t hear on thrash records back then. There's something specific that Overkill lent to the thrash sound that was different from the rest, but that was the case with all those bands. It could be us, or it could be Anthrax, those records that we made have stood the rest of time, and I love those bands and that music even after all these years."
As for the future of Overkill, now having had plenty of time in the game, Verni said, "We're still here because we've never stopped having fun. The way I see it is that I've never had a real job in my life. I mean, I would do this for free, so that fact that I get paid to play music, that's a bonus. So, why would anyone ever want to stop doing that? Why would you stop if you suddenly no longer enjoy it or don't have anything left to say? But if I'm having fun and am creatively challenged, I don't see any point in stopping. And I know a lot of people hate touring, but truthfully, I don't get it.
"To me, touring is not difficult at all," Verni continued. "I don't know what kind of touring they do, but to me, touring is a paid vacation. I mean, your crew works; they work hard. They work long days to make it all happen, but the band… you gotta be kidding me. When I'm on tour, I sleep 'til noon; I hang out, make some calls, do a quick sound check, and then have dinner, and then do it again the next day. That's hard?
"I guess for some guys, it can be hard being away from your loved ones and being away from home, but I love being out on the road. I love the guys; we laugh all day, constantly. It's like a sleepaway camp for old guys at this point. [Laughs]. We get together; we run around the world, playing music, laughing, and having fun. What could be better… ? The longevity comes from us being lucky enough to set up our releases and touring schedule in a way that works for us. And then, having guys that genuinely like each other in the band, so it doesn't feel like it's a problem being out there, helps, too. So, if that continues, I don't see us stopping anytime soon."
Scorched will be available April 14 and you can check out the debut single "The Surgeon" below.