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ROCKET Interviews Branko Zugaj of OVERLORD

Canada’s OVERLORD self-released “When Worlds Collide” album in 2021, and this absolutely fierce collection of eight tracks are extremely well-produced by the band with producer & engineer Justin Koop, kicking off with “The Meltdown/Dedworld”, a brutal sounding gem that finds vocalist Garret Alto showcasing his truly haunting voice, along with the excellent guitar shredding by Ryan Haines, and stellar drumming by Dave “Thunder” Toms. The solid low end is held down by the band’s founder Branko Zugaj on bass. There are elements of thrash, doom plus acid rock to bring their unique metal sound forth.

Randy “Rocket” Cody of TheMetalDen.com conducted an email interview today on March 18, 2023, with Overlord founder and bassist Branko Zugaj.

ROCKET: Where were you born and raised?

BRANKO: I was born in Hamilton Ontario Canada, and I was raised in Burlington Ontario.

ROCKET: Do you come from a family with a musical background?

BRANKO: No, there was no musical background in my family. My parents came from Yugoslavia (which is what it was called back then which is now Croatia) and had a hard life of just work and survive so there wasn’t any money and very little enjoyment.

ROCKET: How did you get into playing metal music?

BRANKO: My best friend from basically grade school picked up playing guitar and I was at that point playing bass so we decided to get together and jam. We were both very into Black Sabbath so we jammed out so tunes and decided we liked it and decided let’s form a band and have some fun.

ROCKET: You formed Overlord in the early eighties, correct? What has kept you going all these years?

BRANKO: Yes, we formed it in 82-83, and it was a very rough ride being a Canadian band no one really cared about us. I did end up leaving the band in 1994 after being so disillusioned with the whole music industry and wasn’t happy with the musical direction we had taken, but we did develop an underground following in Europe and I decided to start it back up again and take the band in a different direction, one that I thought would turn more heads our way. you have to love the music to stay in it so long without major success, I love creating music and the satisfaction of each song is a major achievement whether its a success or not.

ROCKET: How would you describe your music to someone?

BRANKO: It’s difficult to describe your own music, our most recent cd would be described as a blue collar straight forward smash you in the chest heavy sound with a touch of doom, a little prog and power metal. with the hundreds of sub-genre metal out there i wouldn’t know where to put us. And the was a problematic thing with us in the past. We were told by record execs. that we weren’t glam, and we weren’t thrash we were slipping between the cracks of what was going on at the time, and this is what is the most frustrating always having to be categorized or we don’t know what to do with you.

ROCKET: Let’s talk about Overlord’s 2021 album “When Worlds Collide”. I really love it and was wondering how the reaction has been so far for it?

BRANKO: The reaction has been the best we have ever had for all the recordings we have ever done. Anyone who listens to it even if they aren’t into metal seem to enjoy the songs and women have enjoyed it also which is a positive, so I’m hoping that we turn heads in the record industry mainly metal record labels and finally sign a deal.

ROCKET: Who did the song writing for “When Worlds Collide”? Was everyone involved?

BRANKO: I wrote all the songs for this one. I came with the basic riffs and structure of each song and each member put their parts to them. I’m not a lyricist but I did write the lyrics to “Liv’in on the Poverty Line” which is the worst one out of the bunch, so I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. that made me really appreciate what singers have to go through that’s probably why my favorite singer is Ronnie James Dio. Amazing lyricist!!!!!

ROCKET: What kind of bass guitars do you play live and in the studio?

BRANKO: I have 6 basses but the one I use for studio and live is my custom Furlanetto. I had it built in 1988 and that has been my baby ever since for studio and live. I did use my LTD viper bass for one song on this album but my Furlanetto is my go-to bass for everything.

ROCKET: What amps do you use?

BRANKO: I use a 2001RB Gallien Krueger head and 4×10 and 2×12 Gallien Krueger cabinets.

ROCKET: Who are your biggest musical influences?

BRANKO: Musically, I would have to say Black Sabbath is the biggest, but I grew up in the 70’s so Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Motorhead, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Rush etc. and once we hit the 80’s Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy solo, and the list goes on. I guess that’s why it seems hard to pinpoint on a description of our sound, I have such a melting pot of influences that I take from everything that was old and things that I listen to now that are new. I love Black Label Society, Slipknot, Korn, Lamb of God, Static X and that list continues also.

ROCKET: Do you recall your first heavy metal concert?

BRANKO: I do, it was Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Oz tour. I was 16 and I went with Mark Platt who was my best friend and who 2 years later would be the guitarist in Overlord. But I don’t remember much because we bought a micky of Canadian club rye drank it in the parking lot got blitzed and all I remember were the songs Sweat Leaf and War Pigs the rest was a blur. but I did get to see Randy Rhoads live before he died.

ROCKET: How is the metal scene doing in Canada? Are there many clubs that allow metal bands to play?

BRANKO: The metal scene in Canada has always been so so, the 80’s where the best there were many clubs to be able to play in and all within walking distance. but that has disappeared, Toronto was the meca of the metal scene and yonge street was the place to be now all the clubs that were around are all gone and the scene has gone very underground. Some cities near me still have a big metal following and the province of Quebec still love their metal. But all in all, its weak.

ROCKET: Have you begun to start writing new songs for a new Overlord album?

BRANKO: Since covid hit it’s been hard to get motivated to write new material, but I’ve start with some new ideas and this time the current guitarist Ryan Haines is going to be more involved with the writing so we might even get heavier cause Ryan likes the heavy stuff, and I do also.

ROCKET: What record labels impress you that around today?

BRANKO: l would have to say the labels that have stayed true to the metal bands out there, they still push metal and realize the metal will never go away.

ROCKET: You are currently looking for a new singer. What is the best way that someone who sings metal music can apply for the job as singer for Overlord?

BRANKO: The best way to get us you music is to send a sample of your voice to [email protected] put in the subject line vocalist and we will have a listen and get back to you whether you fit us or not. But please send us a proper recording not you singing in the shower or serenading your girlfriend, those submission kill me and I want to hang myself.

ROCKET: You have plans to tour America, right? What states do you think you would like to play in?

BRANKO: We would love to tour the states it all depends on tour support and record labels. I think the best response we are going to get in the US would be the southern states. I want to play Texas real bad to me that’s where the metal is at and always will be. Don’t know what the scene is like in LA or New York but down south is where it’s at down and dirty.

ROCKET: Where are the best places online to keep up with Overlord?

BRANKO: You can find us on facebook.com/overlordcanada reverbnation.com/overlordcanada , overlormetalband.com ,youtube.com/@overlord2378 or email us at [email protected] and our music can be bought on all the major digital formats and if anyone wants to buy merch and cd go to our website and you can find our cd for sale anywhere online if you just search Overlord and the album title.

ROCKET: Thanks for rocking this out with me, best of luck with the band, any last words for the fans?

BRANKO: Thanks for having me, Rocket. I enjoyed it and I would just like to say to the Overlord fans out there thanks so much for all your support and we will see you soon and stay tuned for a new cd in the future. UP THE HAMMERS