Blistering.com: As for The Electric Age, the first thing that hit me when I heard “Electric Rattlesnake” was that you sound like you did on “Elimination.” You’re hitting some of those highs, which of course, makes me wonder what your secret is.
Ellsworth: It’s funny, it’s 5:30, and I’m opening a Heineken and I lit a Marlboro [laughs]. To maybe some degree, I don’t care. Singers gravitate to singers at festivals. They talk and ask how we keep our voice together, and I say, “I don’t know, I warm up before the show.” Through the years, it hasn’t been a stressed-out kind of thing for me. I hear other singers, they sound stressed. I look at it simply: I do the basics, and if I get in trouble, I call the doctor. It’s never fancy, and it’s an amazing trait. Without thinking about it, I do the right thing. I exercise, and my dog is looking at me right now going, “It’s 5:30, we’re supposed to take our run.” There are some things that natural that are working well.
Blistering.com: You’ve had your health scares over the years, some of which may be blown out of proportion, but your voice has always remained intact. [Blitz survived a case of nose cancer in 1998 and a stroke onstage in Germany in 2002 –ed.]
Ellsworth: The health stuff was just something to go through and go around. It was never as bad as what people perceived. Shit happens. A lot worse shit happens to people a lot younger. I obviously have a sense of flair for that, and I’m drawn to it. I talk to people who have gone through that stuff and they have a much bigger cross to bear than me. Mine was quite simple. I remember even after the cancer, I was trying to get some shows back, even though it looked like there was bubblegum all over my face [laughs]. But shit is good, and I think the evidence is in pressing “Play.” It has the youthful energy, it has the thrash, it’s a contemporary presentation and a contemporary performance…and that’s the way it should be. Not what was, but what is.
Blistering.com: You mentioned that “youthful exuberance” and you can hear it on a song like “Wish You Were Dead.” What were you going for with that one?
Ellsworth: On the original versions, I was thinking that DD went punky with it. I immediately approached it like so, and I gave it the most easy title in regards to the phonetics I was using, and that stuck. From there, it became satire. In the lyrics, you read that Superman and Batman fly around, so it’s not as negative as it seems, but more so, a tongue-and-cheek approach.
Blistering.com: We mentioned the fast stuff on the new album, so you must be really happy with the work of Ron. He turns in a great performance.
Ellsworth: He’s a drummer’s drummer. He’ll never say it, but he always has to progress. For example, on the bus, pretty much everyone grabs the same bunk every time, and Ron is above me, and you leave all of your shit in your bunk during the day like a clean t-shirt and your smokes. I can go in there six times during the day, and five of those six times, he is looking online and taking lessons from DVD’s. This is the guy he is. He’s playing Buddy Rich, he’s playing some [Mike] Portnoy stuff. He wants to get better and better. And when you have a guy who is really into what he does, it really elevates those around him. I really attribute a lot of his positive energy to the studio experience. As time as gone on, with three records, you can see the difference with what he’s done.
Blistering.com: A lot of thrash bands from your era have gone back and re-recorded their old material. You’ve yet to bite the bullet, so is that in your plans?
Ellsworth: I want to move forward. It’s not for others to decide what we do. Personally, I would never want to re-record any of our albums. I think the beauty is in the album’s non-perfections. When I hear Feel the Fire, it’s four kids who didn’t know anything about this. Someone asked me what the most influential record in my life is, and they expected me to say something like Sabbath or Judas Priest, and I said, “Feel the Fire.” I went from a part-time job in a part-time band, to a truck in Munich [laughs]. When I hear that record, I know it’s not perfection, but that’s the beauty of that record. Chaos. Even those old staples, people ask why we haven’t taken them out, and we say it’s a celebration of what was right now, in a contemporary presentation. To go back and start fucking with what made us what we are, is wrong. It’s almost like admitting you made a mistake.
Blistering.com: What about doing one of your classic albums live in sequential order?
Ellsworth: We turned that down too. The Rock Hard festival in Germany has wanted us to do the entire Horrorscope record the last three years. And we won’t do it. It’s not us. We’re more about what we are, as opposed to what we were. I think that’s what keep it exciting. It’s not like we don’t like playing those songs, but we have new records, which we are paying attention to [laughs].