Former OVERKILL And VIO-LENCE Guitarist BOBBY GUSTAFSON Is Still Looking For The ‘Right’ Singer For His PAINWARD Project

In a new interview with RichardMetalFan, former OVERKILL and VIO-LENCE guitarist Bobby Gustafson spoke about the status of his recently launched new project called PAINWARD.

When the 58-year-old musician, who is based in Florida, first announced the formation of the new outfit, he said he would be joined by his SATAN’S TAINT bandmate Jim McCourt on drums and MASSACRE bassist Mike Borders. A singer for the project has not yet been announced.
Asked by RichardMetalFan when fans can expect to hear the first music from PAINWARD, Gustafson said: “I’ve got the album written, and I actually wrote some extra songs while I was waiting. I came up with three other songs that actually pushed two songs off, which are gonna wind up being on the EP.”

He continued: “Mike from MASSACRE has been a longtime friend. He lived down in [Fort] Lauderdale. We’ve known each other over 20 years. So he’s gonna do bass. I’m actually looking for a different drummer. I think I’m going to use Jim just for SATAN’S TAINT so it’s different. So we have a drummer right now that we’re talking with from Ohio. We had a singer here, but he’s kind of MIA right now. I don’t know what happened. I think he caught COVID a couple of weeks ago and then he just disappeared. So we’re still searching for a singer. I wanna get the right guy. So I’m taking my time, because just so much judgment of a band is always put on what the singer sounds like. You either love it or hate it — same thing with Blitz [OVERKILL‘s Bobby Ellsworth], same thing with Sean [Killian, VIO-LENCE singer]; you either loved it or hated it. So I’m trying to get something that’s gonna be more people that love it.”

Elaborating on the musical direction of the PAINWARD material, Bobby said: “[The songs are] sharp and to the point. There’s no bullshit. There’s no clean parts. They’re all aggressive. I’m excited about it. I can’t get it out yet. I’m trying.”

Regarding why it has been so hard finding the right musicians for the PAINWARD project, Gustafson said: “Everyone’s in five bands. I mean, I’m literally asking people that are already in bands to be, like, ‘Hey, could you could you add another band on your list of five people you fucking play with?’ It’s hard. South Florida has always been hard to find musicians. It’s been that way since I started playing down here…. Most of the musicians, they seem to be in Tampa, Orlando area. Tampa’s about three hours and Orlando’s about two hours, which isn’t that bad. To do [an in-]person rehearsal, it’s not a bad deal, ’cause sometimes I’ll go up there just to see the show and drive back. There are some good musicians down here, but everyone is already playing, so their time is taken up with whoever they’re with. We’ve got Derek Roddy down here on drums, Patrick Johansson on drums, but they’re all busy. The critical element is gonna be that singer. So we’ve gotta find the right guy. I’m gonna have that vocals on SATAN’S TAINT, ’cause it fits, but there’s too many of the cookie-monster vocals. And I don’t wanna go too far with the dirty and I don’t wanna go too far with the clean. So I’m trying to find somebody in the middle.”

Gustafson joined OVERKILL in 1982 and played on the band first four albums — “Feel The Fire” (1985),“Taking Over” (1987),“Under The Influence” (1988) and “The Years Of Decay” (1989) — before being shown the door in 1990 amid growing tension between him and OVERKILL bassist D.D. Verni.

Bobby told Metal Rules a few years ago that he was never officially asked to leave OVERKILL. “It wasn’t something where they came out and said, ‘Hey, you’re fired!’ It was more of a verbal fight between me and D.D. about doing a show where they wanted to do it strictly for money and I didn’t want to do it because we had just sold out Studio 54 in New York, our biggest show, and they wanted to do a Halloween show that was kind of goofy,” he claimed.

In a 2016 interview with Rock & Metal In My Blood, Gustafson said that he would “never play with [OVERKILL] again. They stole from me back then and continue to steal from me till this day,” he explained. “They haven’t paid me for the use of my songs for the past 30 years and now they are even re-recording ‘Feel The Fire’ live. I’ve never seen a band claim so adamantly that they don’t live in the past, yet most of their set list is from the first four albums I was on. They have had so many albums after me and never play songs from them. I just can’t play happily with backstabbers and liars.”

Regarding the fact that OVERKILL replaced him with two guitarists, Gustafson told Noisecreep in a 2011 interview: “Some might say it was like a compliment. I would tend to agree. Plus every album after me, when they had two guitar players in the lineup, never topped what I did. ‘The Years Of Decay’ is still our best-selling album and I had a really short time to write it. I did it short breaks within a six-month period. D.D. had years to put together their next album [‘Horrorscope’]. So his opinion that two guitarists would make them heavier failed.”

Gustafson joined VIO-LENCE in January 2020 as the replacement for Ray Vegas.

When Gustafson‘s departure from VIO-LENCE was first announced in October 2020, the band cited “logistical difficulties that weigh too heavy to function in a productive manner” as the reason for the split. He later told Into The Pit about his exit: “[The split happened] for the same reason all these bands are canceling tours. It’s just gotten so expensive to do. Even within that three-short-year span, the price of plane tickets really shot up after the pandemic. They’re not playing all the time — they’re doing sporadic shows here and there — and to spend that much money to bring me out there, it’s understandable.”

Gustafson went on to say: “I thought it was pretty much a solid band when I had started. But I know Phil [Demmel, VIO-LENCE‘s founding guitarist] has his eyes on something bigger. So if other projects come along, he wanted to really be with something at the level he was used to, which is understandable. You get used to that level, and it’s hard to go back. I wish them well. Whatever happens, happens.”

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