Chris Gillen, one of the founding members and vocalist of Detroit legends, Overloaded, spoke with National Rock Review about the band.
Overloaded is one of the top local bands in Detroit since their formation in 2004. Though, after their breakup in 2009, fans are still as passionate. Overloaded has been performing reunion shows once a year for the last several years, bringing in their old fans and gaining new ones. Chris Gillen recently talked about the history of the band, their reunion show with Ray Street Park and Red Stone Souls at the Token Lounge on Dec. 19, and what is in store for the band’s future.
NRR: Overloaded formed back in 2004, how did the band start?
Gillen: Well, it feels like a lifetime ago. It’s been over a decade. Overloaded formed, they were a band already named Inner Recipe. It started with me and Erik Kluiber at an open mic jam in Redford Michigan at the Double O, and he was looking for a singer for his band. We freestyle jammed Metallica all night playing Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Megadeth and all that. The next thing you know, he says “Dude, you gotta be in my band.” So I went and auditioned, and I was in a week later, and that was that.
NRR: So, why did you guys change the name from Inner Recipe to Overloaded?
Gillen: Because I wasn’t Inner Recipe, plain and simple. You know, they wanted me to learn their songs, and I did, but it just wasn’t my style whatsoever. I was more of a Pearl Jam like rock style of music, and of course there was the greasy Overloaded style. And it was at a point where I just wasn’t working, was ready to quit, they weren’t really feeling me. And then all of the sudden, the bass player had the riff for Feeling Overloaded and started playing it, and I started singing it, the whole band started jamming, and we basically wrote that song an hour later, and the rest is history. I mean, I was practically out the door, ready to quit, they were ready to fire me, it was done. We’re all just sitting there frustrated. Then the next thing you know, an hour later our lives were changed forever.
NRR: That’s amazing, because that’s one of your most popular songs.
Gillen: For sure, especially the fact that it was the first one we ever wrote, and it brought us a lot of success. We instantly knew that we needed to change direction, change the band name, this is a completely different project. And so we just started writing, that’s it. No covers, no nothing, it’s always been a pure original project.
NRR: Overloaded was definitely an original band, how would you describe your sound?
Gillen: It’s tough, I don’t really think about things like that so much. Let’s see, musically it’s like Nirvana meets Metallica. And vocally, it’s like it’s just me. It’s Chris Gillen with Erik Kluiber. It’s something original. For someone who’s never heard it before, I’d say if you like music like Metallica, Nirvana with vocals like Sebastian Bach and Iron Maiden, then I’d say you’d like this band.
NRR: I agree with how hard it is to describe the band, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like Overloaded before.
Gillen: Well thank you.
NRR: You guys played with acts such as Motley Crue, Skid Row and Krokus. What were some of the highlights of your time in the band?
Gillen: Well, the top moment for Overloaded was opening as direct support for Godsmack at The Fox Theater and then at The Soaring Eagle Casino. We won a contest from the WRIF and we were direct support, there were no other bands on the bill. We did their sound check and had the full lights, full sound, I mean it was amazing.
NRR: Who are Overloaded’s biggest musical influences?
Gillen: Metallica’s number one, Erik and I have that in common. It’s actually Metallica, and the Deep Purple, Nirvana, Sound Garden, and then Skid Row, and Iron Maiden.
NRR: That’s an awesome mix. So, what happened with Overloaded?
Gillen: Well, the band was going through trouble. And, while I never wanted to leave it or Erik [Kluiber], I accepted a job to sing with Tokyo Blade. And since that took away from my time, Erik decided to pursue another band in L.A.
NRR: You guys have done a reunion show almost once a year for the last few years, not many bands do that. What keeps bringing you guys back together?
Gillen: We love the music, plain and simple. Time goes by, and we just get the itch to play it. We do it because we love to perform, and a lot of people want to see it. The band is still alive, even though we’re not together.
NRR: Since you guys love to play together, do you think there’s a chance of any new Overloaded material in the future?
Gillen: I really think there is, more than ever before. I think Erik’s going to come up and play this show, and be inspired again. The material is really standing the test of time. You know, we’ve gone through a lot of cover bands, done a lot of stuff, and there’s just nothing that compares. It’s still the best band that any of us have ever been in.
NRR: I know you’ve done some great work with Planet of Fun and The Allies in the past year, what have you been up to lately, and what plans do you have for future projects?
Gillen: I play in the acoustic band The Allies, with Mike Adkins of Uncle Kracker. When he isn’t touring, we go out and play acoustic shows. Keeps my voice up, keeps me active. I always want to stay in something, I don’t want to retire. I’ve tried putting original projects together; it just hasn’t been the same. Overloaded is, to me, untouchable, untoppable really. So, I’d love to get something going, I definitely plant to get something going in the future. I’d really love if Erik would consider writing new Overloaded material.
NRR: What kind of stuff did you grow up listening to, and what kind new music do you listen to these days?
Gillen: I grew up listening to, obviously, Metallica. I started off loving country, if you can believe it. I really love a bit of everything; country, high energy pop. Obviously the things you’d typically think like Pantera, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, that’s what I really worshiped. I like anything with high energy. Anything that gets you going. Recently I’ve liked a couple of Volbeat, seems now like they’re starting to sell out though. I like that band Wilson, and Battlecross recently.
NRR: Overloaded was based in Detroit. How would you describe the music scene there?
Gillen: When Overloaded was in its prime, the music scene was amazing. We would play shows with band like Ray Street Park, Mind Candy, The Brian Schram Band. We would pack every room that we played, slam every venue. Tons of people came out, every show was a success. Between that and all the nationals that were coming to town, Overloaded never played a bad show. We had a really great career, really great time playing here in Detroit. Of course, we would up to Cincinnati, but not much further, we’d play shows in Ohio, that’s about it. We just had good gigs here, the scene was alive and well and amazing. Now, if Overloaded could get together, we would do one, two week tours. We’d play wherever we could get, Canada, Chicago, Florida, just wherever we’d get booked.
NRR: Tours would be a great option, because you guys are known all over thanks to YouTube and the internet. People have fallen in love with your music all over.
Gillen: Yea, maybe the best moment of my music career was playing this festival in Germany called the ‘Keep it True Festival’ with Tokyo Blade. We played in front of 6,000 people, and getting off the stage, there’s this dude who has me sign Overloaded CDs. That was amazing, I’ll never forget that. I’ve seen Overloaded CDs in Italy; I’ve seen them in Greece. I mean, Erik was a workhorse; he had those CDs all over the world.
NRR: What’s the best advice you can give to musicians starting out?
Gillen: Well, first you have to get in a band with people who respect you and you respect them. They have to have gear, and they have to have time. And then, you gotta get the chemistry down, and you start writing as a band. You have to write your own stuff, and not give a fuck what other people think about it, and it’ll just keep getting better and better. There’s hardly such a thing as ‘making it big’ anymore, so you really have nothing to lose. There’s going to be a revolution in music, I can really feel it. You gotta accept that there’s no such thing as that billionaire rock star anymore. It’s just all about playing the stuff that you love, and if it catches on, it catches on. You have to work hard at writing the songs too; most people just try to bust them out and try to make a career out of it. Overloaded spent 4 years writing two albums worth of material. “Hellfire” was written collectively in 2 hours’ time, and then “King of the Landfill” took 4 months to write. You just have to really be dedicated, because people will be able to tell. That’s why we have fans to this day, because we put in the time and worked our asses off.
NRR: What can the fans expect from Overloaded at the show on the 19th?
Gillen: Expect to have a good time. We’re going to rock, and we’re going to go all out just like we always do. It’s going to kick so much ass, I can’t wait. You have to be there to see it for yourself and find out why this band that only played reunion shows keeps packing it. The infection is still around, more and more people keep coming to these shows, you don’t want to miss out on it. The material is just too much fun, we love it and the people there are going to love it. The whole show’ going to be amazing. And the opening bands are awesome, the whole bill is incredible.
NRR: Any last words for the fans?
Gillen: We would love to see as many people as possible. Erik and I love this material so much; we just want as many people to know about it as possible. Fans have been asking us for years to write another album and play more shows, and that can’t happen unless we get the support. You know that itch I was talking about for us just wanting to play shows? The same thing is going to happen with the material. I can feel that Erik is itching to write Overloaded material again, I know we want to work together again. We’ll just see what happens after the show. It’s going to be a very important show; I think it’s either going to be the end of Overloaded, or the beginning of another album. Seeing as we only have two, to release another album would be huge for Overloaded fans and us. I hope a lot of people can make it to this show, they really need to. I really appreciate the support. I can’t wait for the show, it’s going to be good, it’s going to be awesome.
Enter the Overloaded Prize Giveaway to win a pair of tickets to see the show on Dec 19, as well as a copy of their album Regeneration.