If a CD gets the full score from our chief-editor, you can be sure that an interview will follow soon, too. This April, OVERLORDE will hit the stage at the fourth German Keep It True festival and we just didn't want to wait that long to ask the guys a few questions. We mailed back and forth with guitarist Mark Edwards to discuss the past, present and the (near) future of this awesome US power metal band. Mark was more than happy to answer all of our questions and you'll find the result below.
When did OVERLORDE get together as a band, and who played in this classic line-up?
Mark “M.E.” Edwards: “Hail Toine! Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview! We got together in 1985. We played our first show in November of that year. The lineup was myself on guitar, John “Kong” Bunucci on bass and lead vocals, and Dave Wrenn on drums.”
Who came up with the idea to call the band OVERLORDE and why?
“Before Dave had joined the band, Kong and I were hanging out after rehearsal one day at Earthquake Studios in Scotch Plains, NJ. We were trying to come up with a band name. This was June 6, 1985 which was the anniversary of D-Day, Operation Overlord. I am a big fan of military history and I knew the significance of the day. So I said “Overlord”. And at the exact same time, Kong said the same name! But he said it because he had been listening to Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” with the line “we are your Overlord…”. We figured if we both said it at the exact same time, it must be fate. So we added the “e” at the end to be different and that was how it came to be.”
Can we see OVERLORDE as a classic heavy metal band, or do you have another description for your music?
“Back in the eighties, we came to think of ourselves as U.S. power metal. If your definition of that is power metal without keyboards, then I guess that works for us. But we definitely have been influenced by classic metal bands of both the seventies and eighties.”
With which bands did you join the stage in the early days of OVERLORDE?
“We mainly played clubs, so not too many bigger names. ZYRIS (Zakk Wylde’s band before he joined Ozzy), CITIES with AJ Pero, TT QUICK and EDGAR CAYCE.”
You recorded an EP in 1987, with new vocalist Pat O’Donell, who had joined the band in 1986. Why did he only play in the band for a couple of years, because almost right after the release of this EP he disappears again, to be replaced by Rod Tyler Loiza?
“There were issues (problems), that we felt were holding the band back. It’s too bad, because that really took the wind out of our sails. We didn’t play any shows with Pat after the EP came out and it was months before we got Rod.”
How many copies did you sell of this first EP, and how were the reactions of the press on this five track release?
“We manufactured 1,000 copies only. The reaction was good at the time, but we didn’t get the impression it had made a great impact on the metal world.”
In your bio and on the website, I read about the concept that was used for this EP, borrowed from the QUEEN II album, having a ‘side black’ (which contained three songs) and a ‘side white’ (containing two live songs). Was QUEEN somehow a big influence for OVERLORDE to do this, or did you just like the concept that they used on their album? And where were the live songs recorded that you used on this EP?
“The live songs were recorded at The Showpalace in Dover, NJ. QUEEN was just a big influence on me, not the whole band. It was my idea, because I love that album so much and the guys liked the concept . In fact, the album “Queen II” has a song, called “Ogre Battle”, which directly influenced my writing “Ogre Wizard”. So you see, I do love that band. At least the earlier albums. It was really the first rock band, I ever got into.”
Speaking of influences, which bands can we see as main influences for the sound of OVERLORDE? And maybe you can also point at some of the personal influences of each band member individually?
“As a whole, OVERLORDE is influenced by IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, RUSH, and BLACK SABBATH. Individually, it would be:
Kong: Steve Harris, Geddy Lee, Geezer Butler; myself: Randy Rhoads, Ritchie Blackmore, Gary Moore, Michael Schenker, Wolf Hoffmann, Uli Jon Roth; Dave: Steve Smith, Peter Criss, Neil Peart, Alex Van Halen; Bobby: Ozzy, Dickinson, Halford, Ronnie James Dio.”
In 1988 OVERLORDE disbanded, why did this happen?
“Things were very frustrating and it eventually came to a head. Dave was playing in a second band and finally decided to leave us and concentrate on that. Then Rod left and then John had some really tough things hitting him personally so we basically just canned it. It is interesting to note though that I spoke with two very good singers before Kong and I threw in the towel. John Arch of FATES WARNIN and Charlie Sabin of TOXIK. Could you imagine OVERLORDE with either of those guys?”
Grunge killed music is a statement, that I often use. Can you agree with that, because a lot of metal bands disappeared when NIRVANA and PEARL JAM took over the scene?
“If you mean grunge killed metal music, I think it’s right to an extent. But remember, thrash and hair metal took the spotlight from NWOBHM, true and power metal. Then grunge took the spotlight away from all of us and nu and rap metal took the spotlight from grunge. So it’s just one big cycle, mainly because the media machine likes to promote the ‘hot new thing’.”
What did the band members do, until OVERLORDE reformed in 2000? Were you still active in the music scene, and did some of the band members possibly record anything with other bands?
“We recorded and played out to one extent or another. We just never did anything of note. Just demos, cover bands, etc. None of us ever got signed.“
Bobby Lucas became your new singer in the new line up. He came from SEVEN WITCHES, but how did you actually get in touch with him?
“Kong and I attended Powermad IV in Baltimore in August 2000. We had just formally reunited and wanted to scope things out and maybe meet a singer. The festival was a three day event, but we went down just for Saturday. Bobby was performing with the band EXHIBITION the next day and walked in late Saturday night about thirty minutes before we were going to leave. He remembered us from the 80’s, when his old band MORBID SIN was on the same show with us. He remembered watching us back then and wishing he was our singer! Anyway, a week or two later I e-mailed Bobby and the rest is obvious. But when you think about it, we drove a few hundred miles to meet a singer, who lived a few towns away from me and if we had left the festival a half an hour earlier we would have missed meeting him altogether!”
The just reformed OVERLORDE recorded a four track demo. Listening to it, I really get the shivers running down my spine. Power metal to the max! Why was this four track demo never released on vinyl?
“Hmm, I’m not sure if we were ever asked. It was just a demo after all!”
Let’s have a closer look at the live shows of OVERLORDE, if we may.. Do you use any show elements during your shows?
“If you mean effects, then not really. We used to use some fog back in the eighties and some flags onstage. We still use a flag, Bobby brings it out during the song “Overlorde”. It’s a flag from our older “Coat of Arms” logo. But we’ve not been in a position generally to really do much else.”
Do you play covers sometimes with OVERLORDE, or do you stick to your own written material?
“Yes. We’ve been known to play ZEPPELIN’s “Immigrant Song” and “Rock & Roll”. MAIDEN’s “The Trooper” and some others. We did record a cover of QUEENSRYCHE’s “Queen Of The Reich” for a QUEENSRYCHE tribute CD which came out excellent. But the release seems to be indefinitely delayed. Siegen Records is still looking for a distributor.”
I can imagine that you’ve some nice stories about the life on the road and on stage with OVERLORDE. Maybe you want to share some of these stories with our readers here?
“Ha, well, most of the shows we ever played were local. We’ve played only a handful of shows that required overnight travel, and we have never mounted any type of formal tour really. So I’m afraid we don’t have much to tell! But as far as a cool stage story, I guess I’d point out our show at Powermad in August 2001. This was our first formal, announced reunion show. It was just so cool how when we started playing, it seemed like everyone in the hall just rushed to the front of the stage. And then stayed there, banging the whole time. That was so cool. Then afterwards I had my picture taken with Mark Shelton of MANILLA ROAD. Him with his trademark BC Rich and me with my Flying V. Pretty cool!”
What is the metal scene like in New York/New Jersey nowadays, are there many clubs that you could play in as a metal band?
“There are some, but the scene here is a mere fraction of what it used to be in the eighties.”
In April 2005, you will be playing in Germany at the 4th Keep It True Festival. What do you expect from this show, and what can people expect from your performance there? And are there any more shows planned over here?
“Well, this is the only show planned for now. We are very excited about the show. We expect it to be the biggest audience we’ve ever played to, and you can expect us to give you a solid hour of OVERLORDE at its best! We especially expect to see lots of OVERLORDE T-shirts in the audience and that you will be at the edge of the stage shouting “Hell! Hath No! Fury!” with us!”
Your great new album “Return Of The Snow Giant” received a full score from our editor Martjo. How are the other reactions on this brand new killer release so far?
“Please thank Martjo for us! Yes, the reactions have been excellent! Perfect scores also from Heavy Oder Was?! and Metal Hammer Italy, 9/10 from both Terrorrizer and Sweden Rock magazine, 8.5/10 from Rock Hard, 8/10 from Metal Hammer Greece and more.”
What’s your favoirte song on the album and why?
“Hmm, that’s hard to say. I never really had to think about that. Since my favourite style of metal is middle-eastern flavored metal like RAINBOW’s “Stargazer”, I’d have to say “Trapped by Magic”. But “Mark of the Wolf” and “Colossus (Island of the Cyclops)” are the most fun to play live.”
Why did you also use the ‘older songs’ for the album. Which fit perfectly with the rest of the material, by the way!
“Thanks. They fit so well because the entire CD is old material with the exception of “And the Battle Begins…”. All those songs were basically written back in the eighties. We included two songs from the 1987 EP, because that EP only had a pressing of 1,000. The songs never really were properly heard by the metal masses. And with Bobby adding his special magic to them, it just made sense to include them.”
How important is it for you to let the 'true metal spirit' remain on your album. I cannot catch you on any ‘new influences’ at all, while a lot of new metal bands seem to think that it is ‘old fashioned’ to sound like this? (Note: this is definitely not my opinion, but the opinion of many other metal fans…)
“Thanks! That was our goal. We just basically wanted to reflect how we sound live, and our sound is a reflection of all the bands that influenced us, which are seventies and early eighties bands. And we wanted to present ourselves as closely to how we would have been, if we had recorded this CD back in 1988 or 1989, when we had really wanted to do it.”
Who did the wonderful drawing for “Return Of The Snow Giant”?
“A Greek artist named Giza Di through a company called Music Forward. He took our concept and really did a wonderful job with it. In fact, our label has indicated they are preparing a vinyl release so the artwork will truly shine!”
What do you think about the US METAL scene nowadays? Are there any bands that we should watch out for, because they’re very well talented and interesting in your opinion?
“The overall scene has some really bright spots. I’ve heard Chicago has a good metal scene. But the country is so big and the fans so spread out its hard to get it to turn into a better scene. Unlike Europe, it seems people don’t have the desire to travel far for festivals. As far as bands, I like the veterans ATTACKER and SEASONS OF THE WOLF, ZANDELLE, TWILIGHT ODYSSEY, and GOTHIC KNIGHTS. Bands like EDENS FALL, DESECRATOR, SCARZ WITHIN and the new version of MELIAH RAGE. JESSE BOLT is another band I like. They are actually older than us but never made a mark outside their area of North Carolina.”
Did you record any video footage in the past, that might look nice on DVD in the future?
“Yes, though not too much and the sound quality on most of it was horrible. But we are working on some underground videos. Self- produced videos, where we sync up live footage with a recording from the CD. Something to give the fans a look at us with good sound quality without being TV quality video, since the budget does not currently exist for this.“
How important is the Internet for a band like OVERLORDE, and where can we find your website?
“The internet is extremely important. From the first day we started considering our reunion to now promoting the CD release and beyond, it is vital. Especially now that more and more people have broadband. We are always thinking of ways to use the internet to promote and communicate. We recently had what I believe to be a first of its kind. An “Online CD Listening Party and Chat Session”, where we arranged with Bad Attitude Radio (www.kissthis.com) to stream our entire CD, while we chatted with fans worldwide at the chatroom of www.metalgospel.org. Snakenet Metal Radio www.snakenet.com is another streaming metal radio station and community that has been of extreme importance to us. Both Snakenet and Bad Attitude Radio allow listeners to request songs online from a database, including Overlorde songs. Of course we’ve made sure that our own website www.overlorde.com has lots to look at, including a special section, called Realm Of The Snow Giant, that lists all the promo and press related items for the new CD and has many links to online reviews and interviews with the band. All the metal online webzines and websites are a great way to get reviewed and the word out in addition to the traditional print magazines like Headache.”
What are your five most favorite metal albums of all time?
Not in any particular order, but they would be:
1.JUDAS PRIEST- Unleased In The East
2.IRON MAIDEN- Piece Of Mind
3.ANVIL- Metal On Metal
4.ACCEPT- Restless And Wild
What are the future plans for OVERLORDE?
“Besides performing at KIT IV in April, we look forward to playing some more shows if invited and recording our second CD for Sonic Age Records.”
Do you have any other hobbies or interests, besides playing music in OVERLORDE?
“I have my instrumental solo project that I still promote a little, the URL is http://www.meflyingv.com. I play the PC games Total Annihilation and Call Of Duty, when I have some time. I like reading fantasy books like The Wheel Of Time series, but haven’t had time to do so in years. I love history, especially World War II. I like architecture. And of course much of my time is spent being a homeowner! Something always needs doing around the house!“
Is there something you’d like to add to this interview? Something we forgot to mention here, that is essential for the story of OVERLORDE?
“Yes, Force Recon - our fan club and Cyber Street Team/community of supporters. I’d like to send a ‘Hail and huzzah’ out to all the members of OVERLORDE’s Force Recon. Thank you for your support! This CD would not have happened without it! Across the Sea Amidst the horizon, Overlorde forever binds us!”
Do you have any special messages for the readers of Headache or your Dutch fans in general?
“On behalf of OVERLORDE I’d like to say hail to all your readers, and invite them to visit http://www.overlorde.com to learn more about us. Or they can write to us at our address below. I’d also invite your readers to join Force Recon, if they would like to help promote the CD. And I’d like to send a special hail to Karin, a Dutch fan and Snakenet member, who is right now translating the Headache review for us. Also hail to Pathfinder Marlies Wobben of Snakepit magazine and Marauder Fleur of http://www.rockezine.nl.”
The last words are for you……
“Thanks again for the opportunity to do this interview, Toine! The support of Headache is much appreciated! Hail true metal!”
Interview by: Toine van Poorten, for Headache magazine/March-April 2005