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Interviews Overlord

Interview with Branko Zugaj (Bass)

Interview conducted by MetalMike

Date online: September 26, 2010

MetalMike: Overlord has been around for quite some time now. What was it like back at the start? How have things changed today?

Branko Zugaj: Back when Overlord formed there were a lot of tribute bands playing the bars so if you weren't a tribute band you didn't get gigs because no one was booking original acts unless you had a major deal. So we started out doing covers and even a Sabbath tribute, but we knew that's not what we wanted to do so we ditched that and went all original and then it was real hard to get any gigs, but we stuck to our guns and worked hard. It was hard to get management or agents to take us on because we were all original without a major deal so we did everything ourselves and having no business skills or the ability to communicate with these so-called expert excutives it made it real hard to move forward.

MM: What prompted you to put the band back together? Was it just the sudden rise in popularity in Europe or had the seeds of a new lineup been germinating prior to that?

BZ: Nowadays bars will take on original talent to help them move forward and do show cases for record companies. And also I find these days that most bands don't really need agents and managers, they do things easier themselves and can cut out the middle man. So original acts are finally getting a decent chance to bring their music forward.

MM: The songs on Back to the Dragon's Lair are a bit rough; I'm sure, in large part to them being original recordings. Was there any thought to re-recording them with the new lineup or was this more of a "final chapter" of the old Overlord and the jumping off point for the new?

BZ: I would have to say that this is the final chapter of the old Overlord and yes this will definitely help kick start the new band. Sometimes you just have to start off fresh with a new direction to motivate yourself to succeed. All the guys are young and highly motivated for this project and they keep me young and hungry too. So this will be the start of a new generation, heavier and more aggressive than we have ever been.

MM: Who were your heroes that inspired you to pick up instruments back when Overlord was first formed? Who do you listen to now?

BZ: I was heavily inspired by Black Sabbath. Tony Iommi was my hero, but as far as bass players, it was definitely Geezer Butler. He was the perfect rhythm section, he had the ability to fill the sound and make it thick when Tony was soloing; he never over played or under played. Other influences where Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Motorhead, Jethro Tull, and Rush. Geddy Lee was also a major influence for bass playing.

I listen to a lot of stuff I may not have even considered in my earlier days, but my favorite right now is Black Label Society, Zakk is just straight ahead, no bullshit heavy metal and he really knows how to create riffs. I am a big riff guy that's why Tony Iommi is the god of riffs to me and Zakk is number 2. If you can create a riff that someone can walk away humming after only one listen then that's a good riff. I like Manson and believe it or not Geezer Butler's solo stuff is excellent. I am always listening to new stuff and Clutch is another one of my favorites.

MM: What are some of the things you learned about the music business over the years? Any lessons you'd like to pass along to young bands just starting out?

BZ: One of the things I've learned is to not get discouraged if someone in the business doesn't like your stuff, get out to as many people as you can there will be someone who thinks it's gold and will want to take you on. I had a lot of doors slammed in my face and at first it use to bug me, but I just kept going even though several times I wanted to give up.

The best advice I would give young bands is don't have a bad attitude it gets you nowhere when you are no one, once you reach success then have whatever attitude you want. Trust me no business people want to deal with a bad attitude. If they are chasing you then you can have a bad atitude, until then just play the stupid game til you're in control.

MM: How much have you embraced modern technology? Are you in to all the new tricks in the recording studio or do you still prefer a more "traditional" approach to recording and making music?

BZ: I hate modern technology and the reason for that is now you can make a piece shit smell like a rose. Since I went through the Metalworks audio program I now know how to make a no talent piece of crap sound great, but the big test will be live, can they reproduce live and most of the time NO. The new technology is a great tool for great bands getting things done faster and cheaper which is the biggest benefit of the modern technology. The next recording we do will have a mix of both modern and traditional, I love that studio atmoshpere with a big mixing console. It makes me feel like I am getting something done unlike patching into protools in some basement or garage. Even if you can come close to the same production as a big studio with the lesser stuff I still love that studio feel.

MM: How frustrating was it to release demo after demo only to get passed by? Do you think being from Canada hindered you at all? Does this new deal with Heaven and Hell feel like vindication for all your hard work?

BZ: I think being in Canada, to this day, can inhibit bands. I remember I was speaking to an A&R guy from a label in the states when he told me "why would I want to deal with a band in Canada when I have so many hear I can sign." That was so fucking discouraging and frustrating, not only did we have to compete against every band out there but we weren't in the right country either. What the fuck do you do when you hear that, just keep going man, keep going.

When Heaven and Hell decided they wanted to work with us it was a great feeling. I knew someone was going to recognize us and give it a shot. What a breath of fresh air to deal with H&H, their effort has been Herculean, getting us out there, and I can't even begin to thank them enough for what they have done. Finally, after all these years no vindication but recognition for our hard work.

MM: What do the guys in the band do when not actively participating in Overlord? Will the new Overlord be a full time thing or does everyone have other interests, commitments, family, etc.?

BZ: The guys are all busy with their lives trying to make a living. Dave Toms ( drummer) has some kind of computer job, he makes me laugh, he is quite the character. Ryan Haines (guitar) does live sound for a local talent so he is on the road a lot, and Michaelius (vocals), I don't know what he does, he just lurks about in the sewers I, think. They are all great guys that are easy to work with and totally committed to this project and really want to make it happen.

MM: Best case scenario for the new album? More albums, tours, etc?

BZ: As far as a new album we are hoping that we can work with H&H again, we have recorded three new songs so far and plan to record more when Ryan gets back from touring. So a new album is definitely the plan and we will see what happens. I know H&H really likes the new stuff.

MM: Are there any places that you played in the 80s/90s with Overlord (or other projects) that you hope this new Overlord will help you get back to? Are there any places you never got to go to that you'd really like to visit?

BZ: My vision for Overlord is bigger than anything we have ever done before, I would like to do a support tour with someone like BLS or Clutch, I think we fit their styles. I am currently seeking a manager to take over the day to day functions of the band like bookings, promo, merch., etc. I am a family man and don't have the time to do those things so it's best to have the right person do it for us so here we fucking go again with the search for help. Being signed to a label helps in trying to attract someone. It's just a matter of finding the right person who totally believes in the project and doesn't feed me some bullshit about giving me the world when they can't, I am getting old and don't have time for stupid games.

MM: Final thoughts?

BZ: I am really hoping this release with H&H really gives us the push from behind we need, just like I said before there is someone out there that thinks Overlord is gold. We have many reviews and usually with the same results, why hasn't Overlord made it. Much like our Canadian brothers Anvil.

MM: Thanks for taking some time to let us know what is going on with Overlord and good luck with the new record!

BZ: My pleasure and thank you.

Other information about Overlord on this site
Review: Back to the Dragon's Lair

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