Contributor’s Note: In an era where heavy rock supergroups have become the norm I was ready to dismiss yet another.However the personnel comprising this particular one certainly made me sit up and notice. Consisting of heavy metal icons Bobby Blitz (Overkill) on vocals, drummer Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs, Sons of Apollo), bassist Mark Menghi (Metal Allegiance) and guitarist Phil Demmel (Vio-lence, ex-Machine Head) they recently announced new details regarding their debut album.
BPMD will release their upcoming full-length, American Made, on June 12, 2020 via Napalm Records. The 10-track homage to some of rock music’s greatest treasures is turbocharged by the experience and enthusiasm of its four creators, and its first single, “Toys In The Attic” – an Aerosmith classic just begging for a heavy reimagining – is only the first boisterous sliver of proof.
The “Toys In The Attic” video was directed by Victor Borachuk / JupiterReturn, with art direction and motion design by Natália Tanus and Leonardo Gill. Watch the brand new video for the track below!
Watch the brand new video and listen to BPMD‘s “Toys In The Attic” HERE
Frontman Bobby Blitz says about “Toys In The Attic”:
“I remember waaaaaaaaaaay back when Overkill formed, we were cutting our teeth on covers as I was finding my way around the mic. The Aerosmith covers were right in my wheelhouse, so when Mike [Portnoy] picked ‘Toys’ to cover, I was like… ‘Hell Yea’!”
Guitarist Phil Demmel adds about recording the track:
“It was tricky because Aerosmith have two guitarists, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, playing different things. So, as one guitar player, I had to pick a medium place between the two that sounded good. I trashed it up a little by adding a lot of down picking and some gallops and triplets.”
I was lucky enough to recently be able to talk to both Bobby and Mark about the origins of the band and what lay ahead for BPMD for Madness To Creation. Fans can find BPMD at the following locations:
Mark Dean: Hi Mark. How are you?
Mark Menghi: How are you?
Mark Dean: I’m good. Are you both there together?
Mark Menghi: Yeah. We’re here. Sorry about that. The last one ran a little bit later. So I apologize.
Mark Dean: No worries. I’m just wondering, it’s a strange situation for the world. How are you guys getting the days in with all this inactivity and sitting about?
Bobby Blitz: Hey man, this is Bobby from Overkill right here at BPMD, joining this conversation.
Mark Menghi: Go away. Nobody wants you.
Bobby Blitz: Oh, God. It’s a fucking hell. God, bass players. Well, things here are a little bit different, like the rest of the world. The New York, New Jersey area is obviously a hotspot. This is where Mark and I make our homes. But I’m a little bit more rural at this point. I kind of live out in what’s called the Skylands. It’s very close to Pennsylvania and not very populated. So for me, sure the bars changed, the restaurants are closed, but I’m on my motorcycle. It looks beautiful in the spring. And I’m very optimistic that America and the world come out of this.
Mark Dean: What about yourself, Mark? How’s things been for you?
Mark Menghi: Yeah. I live in New York on Long Island, and I’m about 45 minutes outside of New York City, 45 minutes to an hour. But where I live, it’s heavily populated by Coronavirus. And so I have to be a little more careful what I do, where I go, who I see, etc. So I’m just… because it’s pretty hard where I am.
And it’s still going on. State’s still closed, at least Long Island’s still closed. They opened up half of New York State, more in the upstate, mountain, rural areas, but New York City and Long Island are still closed. So just doing a lot of BPMD, press promo, videos, playing a lot of bass and just kind of getting ready to unleash this record.
Mark Dean: How did the band come together?
Bobby Blitz: Mark owed me money. Mark, you can take this one. It’s actually your question.
Mark Menghi : Last summer, my son… My younger son kind of put the idea in my head to cover Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Saturday Night Special. We were listening to it in my backyard, just hanging out, awesome summer night. And he said, “Dad, you guys should play this.” And originally he meant Metal Allegiance, which wouldn’t have worked. But as the song was going on, I heard things that I would do to the song if I were to record this or play this and how I would do it. And then just the light bulb went off and I called Blitz. I was like, “Hey man, I got this idea. What do you think?” And within 30 seconds, he was in. And here we are, not even a year later.
Mark Dean: How did it gradually then progress to doing that one track to actually becoming an album?
Bobby Blitz: It progressed very quickly. That conversation started before the night was over. So, I think it was July of last year. But we had both decided on who we were going to ask to join us. They both accepted, Mike and Phil. So the progression was quick, but the idea was spontaneous. The forming of the band was spontaneous and quick. The rules, “Everybody picks two”, and we vote on two, everybody follows the rules. We were recording within a month, probably three weeks.
Mark Dean: So did you record all the tracks? Or were there any tracks that just didn’t work? That you thought, “Yeah, that’s going to be good”, and then you actually got to the studio and it didn’t work?
Mark Menghi: No, we knew the songs that we wanted to do. We got together at Mike’s house, It was… I mean, there wasn’t a single song that said, “Eh, this might not work and we shouldn’t do this.” And that was part of the challenge, was to make it work. And not only to make it work but to make it sound good too.
Bobby Blitz: That could have been the key to this, was that that spontaneity was going to be the most important part. Not about overthinking it, because it was… The idea was simple and you can really fuck up simple ideas. I remember thinking about it, so. Listen, we were rehearsing these songs at home before we got together probably three days after we all had a conversation.
Mark Dean: Was there not a bit of a quandary? Obviously you want to pay respect and homage to the original, but at the same time you want to do something a little bit different to the track as well.
Mark Menghi: Yeah. I think that we did do a lot of things differently. Some we kept the same and just upped the tempo a little bit. But a song like Tattoo Vampire is completely different from what Blue Oyster Cult recorded, completely different. 100% different. So, it depended on the track, it depended on whose track it was, the vision that particular person had. In this case, Phil, Phil Demmel, that was his selection, he had a vision for the song. And it was a great one. And so, yeah, it would just depend on the track.
Mark Dean: What about then touring plans for everybody at the moment’s up in the air? Did you have any plans long term, after you recorded the album, to go out and actually perform the songs live?
Bobby Blitz: You know, we had brought this to Napalm Records because we loved the diversity that they had with regards to who’s on that label, that they can handle things from the heavy, deathier stuff to more melodic metal to rock and roll. And when we presented it to them, they presented to us, “How about we book specialty shows?” And Mark and I, and the other boys, were a hundred percent on board with it. So, were there plans? Yes. Did they come to fruition? No, they didn’t. But I do look forward to the future because I think that would culminate this whole project into completion.
Mark Dean: Has the chemistry that you guys established on recording the album and laying down those tracks… Has it sown the seeds for anything maybe in the future, musically, maybe doing something original between you guys?
Mark Menghi: Well, never say never. But that wasn’t the initial plan. It was… We’ve only gotten together one time and that was to record the drum tracks and arrange the music, so we didn’t have time. We didn’t even think about it. And the goal was to maybe do Made in the UK, 70’s, etc, etc. So we don’t know what’s going to happen, especially right now with Corona and all the other crap in the world. Our guitar player’s 3000 miles away, so seeing him anytime soon is probably not going to happen. So who knows? Who knows what’s going to happen?
Mark Dean: Okay. If we could just move on then to some general questions. . Both of you have been in the… music business-operating as professional musicians for quite some time. Looking back on your careers individually, what would you be most proud of?
Bobby Blitz: Well, I think I’m most proud of longevity because I think longevity shows value. I’ve always thought of the heavy metal, as heavy metal in general, as being a community. I think that it thrives, it thrives more than survives, based on the fact that all in that community are equal. And I think that’s a great testimony to the value of what the music’s about. People don’t just feel it, they live it. And that’s what gives me legs or gives me that longevity, is its purity and the purity that it was, let’s say, founded upon. So I think that my biggest accomplishment was… And it’s not by anything by hand, but was being attracted to this and being able to, let’s say, be part of that community now for a 40-year period.
Mark Dean: Yeah, what about yourself, Mark? What stands out there in your professional music career?
Mark Menghi: Diversity. I get to write music with a lot of different people, which is awesome. One day I can be co-writing lyrics with Whips, the next day, I’m co-writing lyrics with Randy, from Lamb of God, the next day I’m writing a song with someone totally different.. So it’s being able to adapt into any given situation, which is quite a task at hand. And not so much bass playing, but lyrically, to be able to write lyrics for different singers that have different vocal phrasings, that have different styles. It’s something I worked hard on over the years to try to develop that. So, that’s probably one of… At least that stands out in my mind at this point in time.
Mark Dean: What would be the key lesson that the music industry has taught you both?
Bobby Blitz: Don’t drop the soap in the shower. I don’t know if it’s taught me a key lesson. I think that to some degree with my experience being that of Overkill primarily, I learned to adapt to it and, to some degree, reinvent myself with D D Verni over the years. Because if you’re not, you become a dinosaur. So we had to embrace Pro Tools, we had to embrace the fact that the download was going to be the thing of the future when it was the thing of the past. So I think that being diversified, reinventing yourself, embracing changes as opposed to fighting them, these are sort of the things that have kept my career, let’s say, in a relative spotlight for this long.
Mark Dean: Okay. To you both, again, outside of Overkill and Metal Allegiance, what musicians would you like to work with or cooperate with in the future that you haven’t worked with yet?
Mark Menghi: Good question. Bobby?
Bobby Blitz: Oh, geez. I’ve always aspired… I did one tour with him, to be Rob Halford or to take that inspiration. That was one of the great things for me. I did a tour with him on the Halford tour back in 2002. And I’m still a student of his to this day. So I would love to do a duet with him at one particular time. But not like I have his chops, but for sure I’d like to have.
Mark Dean: What about yourself, Mark? You mentioned there that you’ve enjoyed doing diverse things and different things in your musical career to date. Anybody that you still want to work with? Any boxes that you still want to tick?
Mark Menghi: Well I have worked with some major thrash metal bands And we’ve had some members of Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. There’s always been that one band who’s been missing. And I would love to, not even write, just to be on the same track as Kirk Hammett I think that would be pretty awesome, just to hear his riffing and his right hand guitar playing, chopping along. I think that’d be cool.
Mark Dean: Just a final one. I’m sure you’ve both done many interviews over the years, both together and individually, but who would you most like to sit down and interview, maybe a personal hero or inspiration? Maybe not even a musician.
Bobby Blitz: I’m a big hockey fan. The New Jersey Devils are my team. I would like to sit down and interview Martin Brodeur.
Mark Dean: And yourself, Mark, anybody that stands out there?
Mark Menghi: I had a thought but I’m not going to throw that out there.
Bobby Blitz: The answer’s me. Mark, the answer’s me. You’d like to interview Bobby Blitz.
Mark Menghi: Interview with a sports team, I’m a huge football fan… American football fan. And I would love to sit down for a conversation with Lawrence Taylor, and not even ask him any football questions. I want to go, “What the hell were you thinking in the 80’s with some of the personal choices you made?” So, I would love to interview him.
Mark Dean: That’s great, guys. Just again, obviously we don’t know what the future holds, but I mean this BPMD album, do you see it being the first of maybe a series or just a one off?
Bobby Blitz: Well, distinct possibility. I mean, when we presented it to Thomas at Napalm, we didn’t present it as, “Hey man. Pay us and you’ll never see us again.” The idea was… And this could have legs, this could go places. There are so many choices. Maybe do some shows in Europe, like I’m reiterating right now. So it’s not necessarily anything confirmed. I’d like to see what this record does first and then be able to decide what we’re going to do. But I would love to take this idea around the world.
Mark Dean: Okay. That’s great. Thank you very much for chatting to me.
Bobby Blitz: Hey man, it was great talking to you.
Mark Dean: Cheers, Mark. Cheers, Bobby.
Mark Menghi: I appreciate it. Thank you.
Check out their cover of “Evil” originally by Howlin’ Wolf below:
Check out the track listing for “American Made”, due out June 12th via Napalm Records:
- Wang Dang Sweet Poontang
- Toys In The Attic
- Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
- Saturday Night Special
- Tattoo Vampire (featuring Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult)
- Walk Away
- Never In My Life
- We’re An American Band
Fans can find Mark Dean at the following locations: