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Bobby Gustafston 

I got to know Bobby Gustafston very well when Deadly Blessing played a bunch of shows with Overkill in the late 80’s. I recently got in touch with him and asked if he would be interested in doing and interview he was cool with it and here it is and those early Overkill releases with his godly guitar sound still make my neck hurt to this day:

MC: Bobby how have you been? Been awhile since I last spoke to you what have you been up to the last few years?

BG: I’ve been great. Just enjoying the sunshine in Florida. Visit the old neighborhood every once and awhile and I‘m glad I live here.

MC: How did you end up playing the guitar? Were there any other instruments you picked up at the time and what was the 1st band that you joined?

BG: My Dad had a cheap guitar under his bed. I would sneak it out and do my best Elvis in front of the mirror. My brother played drums. Tried that for a bit but I wanted to run around. My Mom also played some piano. We had an old stand up in the house I used to pound on the keys. Me and a few guys from the block would jam down the basement. The Sex Pistols were big at the time so we tried to be punk. Made a band with a few other guys and we were called The Dropouts. Played our first gig when I was 15.

MC: How did you discover or learn about underground music? I thought it was a bunch of noise at 1st then really got into it?

BG: I was probably introduced to it and all the tape trading stuff from Rat and DD. Jon Zazula who started Megaforce had a booth at a flea market and we would go together to catch up on the scene. As well as give him our stuff.

MC: Tell me how you ended up joining Overkill and what was the early days like before you got signed? Did you play all the clubs in the NJ/NY area and what are some memories you have of those early shows?

BG: A friend of mine John knew Overkill was looking for a guitar player. I just happened to mention at the right time. I wanted to be in a different band. We set up an audition and I was in. I always saw their ads in the local paper. They were mostly a cover band. We started out doing covers but I wanted to write our own songs so we started the change. We only did a few covers like Sonic Reducer and whatever. When bands were doing 3 sets we said hey let’s get 3 bands. It was new at the time for the NY NJ club scene. But owners gave in to 3 original bands and the cover bands started to take a back seat.

MC: What was it like going into the studio to record the "Power in Black" demo? Do you still have a copy of it on cassette? How long were you in the studio doing that demo and can you still listen and enjoy that demo?

BG: It was a small studio somewhere in Jersey. So long ago I don’t remember much. I still have a copy and some of the printed stickers we put on them by hand with the song titles. I can enjoy that much more than Feel The Fire. We were in a real studio with better equipment and more time and my sound was just terrible. I was always pissed about that because I feel with our true sound we could have gotten bigger.

MC: What were some of the craziest things you saw that happened at your shows?

BG: I took a kid who came from Italy up on the side of the stage to watch the show if he promised to go to the hospital with me after. He had a huge knot over his eye and wouldn’t leave until after we played. We were the 1st American metal band to play Poland. The wall was still up. In the middle of the floor the kids made a pyramid like a bunch of metal cheerleaders.

MC: What was it like back in the day playing Lamour's? Were you nervous at all the 1st time you played there?

BG: Are you kidding? I was nervous every time I played there. I never knew when we were done if my car was going to still be there. (my car never got broken into thank god for that-cf)

MC: What was your favorite club to play at and did you mind the road and what were some of the best places you played way back when?

BG: I loved Lamour’s of course. But in Port Jervis at the theatre we could use our entire stage show. Most of the places were clubs so if we ever got to a theatre or small arena those were always the best for me. Europe was always a bigger place. Very rarely did we play a club over there.

MC: Do you ever listen to any of the music you made with Overkill and are you still in any contact with any of the band these days?

BG: I give a listen every once and awhile on You Tube. I still talk to Blitz and Sid on Facebook.

MC: Do you remember playing a show at City Garden's in Trenton, NJ with SOD and Black Flag? I ask cause I was there and that is how I got the name of my zine in a weird way.

BG: Yes I do. Still can’t believe Henry Rollins opened for us. That was the only sort of tour SOD ever did. (yes it was only 7 shows and it was dubbed the metal-core tour so that is how I got the name for my zine-cf)

MC: What are your thoughts on today's music scene? Do you see music heading to be all on the internet someday soon?

BG: I don’t follow the scene much at all. It all sounds like stuff that was done 25 years ago. Just don’t have the time for it. I think everything will be internet soon. Soon people won’t even have to see each other. Bills, food, schooling, ordering movies and music, it’s all going to be done from home.

MC: In your eyes and ears what makes a good song and what makes a good riff?

BG: Good question. I've always concentrated on song and not solo's. Every song is different every riff an individual. The riff has to catch your ear; the arrangement has to hold your interest. Always have a beginning, middle and end. Riff and song have a memorable hook or at least be different from every other song around it. That helps them stand apart.

MC: Do you think back in the 80's if bands had the stuff they have today with Facebook, You Tube, and all these other social sites and what not, do you think underground bands might not have been so underground and had a bigger following?

BG: I’m not sure. I think it’s a bit of an overload these days. Before you really had to work hard and be good to get your name out there. Now it’s just like let’s get 4 other pimple faced kids from my block make some noise on an mp3, take a few pictures and call ourselves a band.

MC: What was it like playing overseas and how crazy were the fans over there?

BG: It was always great. Venues were closer so travel time was always short. The kids all came out because they didn’t know when they were going to see you again. They still are extremely into metal from our time and now. But the girls there....wow. Now I know why the beer is so strong.

MC: Have you ever gone on You Tube and watched any old videos of yourself at all? I am sure there is a bunch on there?

BG: Oh yes. I want to put up some of my old stuff .I was the only one with a video camera. I have tons of shows and road stuff I need to put on DVD someday.

MC: If you could give advice to a young band starting out what would you tell them?

BG: Learn a trade....

MC: What was it like being on Atlantic Records back in the day?

BG: It was exciting to be on the same label as Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, but they didn’t care about our music or success. They were just the Atlantic Bank and Trust Company. A place where we got money from to record and tour....P.S..You need to pay your artist bitches!

MC: Do you ever still pick up the guitar and play and what was the make and model of what you played and how did you come up with your guitar sound?

BG: I keep an acoustic near the bed at all times in case of emergencies. I used the Gibsons for the tracks and Fenders for leads. But I'm sure I mixed it up a little. EMG's for pickups. Find the eq numbers you like and stick with them. Years of Decay was always my sound, but Terry Date was the only one to get it right.

MC: Have you met any fans or musicians from back in the day on any of these social networking sites and stuff?

BG: Are you kidding...it’s my second job! But I love it. New fans and old I can answer those burning questions they always wanted answered. I’m fucking TMZ over here.

MC: When I say the words "fanzine" and "tape trading" what stuff pops into your head?

BG: Licking envelopes....

MC: What was the best thing and worst thing about being in a band?

BG: Best thing ..Vagina. Worst thing...traveling to the next Vagina.

MC: Did you mind stage diving when you were playing or you didn't mind it? Did you play with more a fury depending upon how the crowd was going?

BG: I didn’t mind it if it was up and off. Some kids wanted to run the length of the stage. If something broke or got unplugged it could ruin the night for people who paid good money to see us play. It’s always the better they are the better we are. You definitely feed off each other.

MC: Best live band you ever saw?

Probably Kiss in 79.It was my first real show and I was in shock.

MC: Do you still go to shows at all and if so does anybody recognize who you are?

BG: I don’t go to shows much. The last shows were Mayhem and the Big 3...I mean 4.Some of the older fans remember me.

MC: Bobby thanks for the trip down memory lane, horse up for the interview and any last words?

BG: Nothing more than thanks for all the great memories I have in my life from playing back in the day. No one can steal that from me.