Tony Iommi returned to Regent Sounds on 27 July 2017, the very place where Black Sabbath recorded their first two albums, 'Black Sabbath' and 'Paranoid', both released in 1970. The Black Sabbath founder spoke about the forthcoming 'Ten Year War' box set and his time in the band that spawned Heavy Metal.
Speaking about his plans for the future, Iommi said: "For me, it's good to have some time and to be able to look at things and what I wanna do, because for nearly fifty years… I never had time to really come down, because you're getting ready for the next tour or the next album or the next interview. The thing is I'm actually doing more now… I mean, I thought we were gonna come off tour and I'd stop and I'd put my feet up and I thought, 'That's what I wanna do,' but I haven't had time. We've been working on the forthcoming DVD, and I have been overseeing the mixing for the DVD, of the music. Everybody else is sunning it up in L.A. But, you know, it's what I do. It's what I've always done. So I haven't really had time to think about what I want to do next. I get offered a lot of stuff, and you can keep doing it forever, and I just wanna think about what I wanna do and take on different things that I really enjoy. As far as touring, yeah, I wouldn't wanna tour the world again. For me, I get pretty tired of doing it now. I love being on stage — that's the ultimate thing — but people don't understand the rest of it. They just see you there for a couple of hours and they don't know it's taken you eight hours to get there, doing interviews and press before the show, and then after the show, you've gotta wind down and get back to the hotel. Sometimes you don't get back to the hotel until four o'clock in the morning."
Sabbath played the final gig of their final tour in their hometown of Birmingham on February 4th this year and there is little doubt that it really is the end of lengthy bouts of touring for Heavy Metal Metal's founding fathers. However, a contented and engaging Tony Iommi delivered the clearest sign yet that the Metal pioneers could well take to the stage once more, while expressing his desire to see Sabbath's original drummer, Bill Ward, play in the band again. Tony was speaking at the 'Ten Year War' box set launch event in London where the subject of Sabbath playing again arose. Host Phil Alexander said:
"We all hope that it happens to be honest - Sabbath - the four of you actually. There's something that happens that other people don't have and it is quite a remarkable and unique thing."
Guitar legend Tony responded: "It would be nice to have done these last shows with Bill... but it just couldn't happen, it just didn't happen. And it's silly really because I think it would have been good for the four of us, even if Bill would have just played a couple of shows it would have been great... but he wouldn't. I don't think he quite realizes how hard it would have been on him. So we wanted to bring another drummer just in case Bill ended up saying 'I can't do it' for a couple of days or whatever. It's too risky to go out and then have Bill say 'I can't do it,' and you have to cancel a show on seventy thousand people, or whatever it might be. It's very hard, and it's not fair on the fans and it's not fair on him."
Before Tony Iommi's entrance, Bill had spoken at the event via live video feed. The drummer did not take part in the reunion that took the band around the world twice on mammoth tours and made no suggestion that he would be seen on the Sabbath drumstool again. During his ten minute appearance, he recalled his days with the band fondly and enthusiastically and ended with the words: "I love you still, no matter what."
He had earlier enthused about his favourite Sabbath song, 'Hand Of Doom', saying: "I wish I was still playing it. It's part of who I am."
We four virtually lived together for all of those years," remembered Iommi, "But all those things brought us together, all the ups and downs we had, we stuck together because we had to fight the whole world at first, to get people to listen to us. For some reason the British press just couldn't stand us, so we eventually just got to a point where we said, 'That's it, we're just not going to do any more press.' It just wasn't worth it, we were getting better press by not doing press.”
Tony has also spoken out on his first impressions of Ozzy, Bill and Geezer and how those first gigs went down. The 69-year-old rock legend said: “At school Ozzy and I didn’t really associate because he was a year younger than me. He was a pain to be honest and I probably was too. I liked Bill, who I was in a band with before Sabbath, I really got on well with him. I thought Geezer was a nutter to be honest, because he played in this all-nighter club in Birmingham. He used to climb up the walls and we thought, ‘Blimey, he’s a weird bloke. Little did we know we were going to end up in a band together. Weird combination, but it worked. It didn’t at first for the first few shows though. Bill and myself used to live up in Carlisle, so we did some shows up their through our agent there. But they didn’t particularly like us. This one bloke comes up after a show and says, ‘Your singer’s crap!’"
It also turns out out that Black Sabbath’s bassist, Geezer, wasn’t really a bassist at all.
“I didn’t even know that Geezer wasn’t a bass player, he was a guitarist. He didn’t have a bass, so he borrowed somebody’s – three strings on it for our first gig. And we wore different sorts of clothes. Geezer had this sort of hippy dress on and I wore a leather jacket. We looked like a right bunch really. But it worked at the end of day.”
It turns out Black Sabbath’s bad press would continue, despite growing fans and their multi-million selling second album, 1970’s Paranoid. In the end the band published The Ten Year War brochure, which poked fun at their critics with the witty tagline: “More good press than most – more bad press than any.” The pamphlet has now be immortalised with Black Sabbath’s new The Ten Year War Limited Edition vinyl box set.
Tony said: “Really it was an idea that came to us. This idea of all the slagging off we had in the early days. We weren’t exactly the most popular band. Journalists just didn’t like us.”
Tony explained a number of photographs from the band’s early studio sessions which saw him bearing a black eye, recounted the story that would eventually spark ‘Fairies Wear Boots’. “We got into a fight a couple of days before we were due in the studio with some mods, who of course didn’t like us rockers. We ended up in this ginormous fight, Ozzy hit someone over the head with a hammer. There was only the four of us and one of the crew, you had to have a weapon of some sort! A hammer did the job, although Ozzy’s got a gun now…”
He remembered the sudden and unexpected vault to fame that greeted the band once ‘Paranoid’ became a hit record. “That song threw us in a different direction, we didn’t want to do Top of the Pops. We were attracting screaming girls, but that wasn’t us, that wasn’t the band. We wanted to be accepted musically, not as flavor of the month. Paranoid threw us off the rails a bit.” The record’s dark lyrics, he argued, became lost in the madness of sudden fame. “I think at the time bands were in and out so quickly that I don’t think anyone bothered to work out what it was about, they just liked the rhythm of it.”
Metaltalk.net, 28 July 2017