BLACK SABBATH Bassist: 'It's Great When Bands Cite Us As Their Influence'

Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with legendary heavy metal bassist Geezer Butler (BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN AND HELL). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Ultimate-Guitar.com: During the 1980 tour behind the "Heaven And Hell" album, Bill Ward exited BLACK SABBATH and Vinny Appice came onboard. Did you have change the way you approached your bass playing with Vinny after having played with Bill?

Geezer: No, because Vinny was a big fan of the band and loved Bill's playing. Bill was one of his favourite drummers and so he knew all his parts and my bass parts and he adjusted accordingly to everybody in the band. He was brilliant. He came in and totally filled Bill's shoes.

Ultimate-Guitar.com: Before the recording sessions for "Heaven And Hell" you had left the band so Craig Gruber played bass on some of the demos for the album. You returned a short time later, so did you end up utilizing any of his Gruber's ideas from those demos when it came for you to come up with your bass parts?

Geezer: No, as I didn't want to hear what he had done. When I came back as I didn‘t want to do any of the stuff that he had done so I didn't listen to what he had done until the album was finished.

Ultimate-Guitar.com: Ronnie seemed to have come in at a pivotal time in the band's career?

Geezer: Yeah, the band was on the verge of breaking up. Once Ozzy had gone off to start a solo career, the band was either going to be destroyed in the process or needing a drastic change to happen. So we decided to give Ronnie a go to see if we could make it work for the both of us. And when he came in, it was such a shock to hear somebody with so much enthusiasm. And somebody that could bring songs to some of the music that we had already written. Songs that Ozzy wouldn't sing on. But Ronnie came in and completely changed our attitudes so it was great and it was a breath of fresh air.

Ultimate-Guitar.com: With Ronnie coming in and contributing to the songwriting process, it must have freed you up to concentrate more on your bass playing?

Geezer: Absolutely, because I was sick and tired of like coming up with lyrics and I was also running out of things to write about. Ozzy was so out of it at the time and I had spent weeks doing all these lyrics and yet he wouldn't even read them. So I was so pissed off, that I stopped writing lyrics and wanted to concentrate on bass playing which is why I am a bass player in the first place. When Ronnie came in and with him being a lyricist also, he came with a total different attitude so it totally freed me up to concentrate on the music side of it.

Ultimate-Guitar.com: How did the songwriting process for the three new tracks on "The Dio Years" compilation compare to the band's early days?

Geezer: Well, those three new songs were written by Tony and Ronnie. I wasn't even involved at the time because this whole thing basically came about so fast. This time last year we weren't even thinking of doing this HEAVEN AND HELL thing. Initially the record company approached us about putting out a BLACK SABBATH compilation album and asked us if we had any unreleased material which of course we haven't. And then Tony and Ronnie got together and wrote three new songs, told me about it and sent me the new songs and asked me if I wanted anything changed and whether I liked them or not. And they sounded great! So I went over to London and laid down the bass. Later Vinny came over and put the drums on and then we suddenly got all these offers to do a tour. And originally it was going to be just a six week tour and now it has turned out to be a whole year.

Ultimate-Guitar.com: How do you feel about the enormous influence BLACK SABBATH has had on other metal bands?

Geezer: It is fantastic especially when other musicians and bands I like, bands like SLIPKNOT and METALLICA come and say how much they love the stuff we have done. It's an honor especially for us because we were slagged to death when we first started by all the critics in England who said we didn't have any chance whatsoever. Then in 1980 when Ronnie came into the band everybody said we were doomed yet we proved everybody wrong. So it's great for us when all these bands and people cite us as their influence.

Ultimate-Guitar.com: I hear you're not particularly fond of the '80s metal period especially the hair metal bands from that decade?

Geezer: Yes, I hate it. There were all these bands then like POISON and CINDERELLA and whatever else they're called, they're all wearing makeup and lipstick and have great big hair, and they're all really pop bands. Just because they had long hair and leather jackets, they call themselves heavy metal? And you know, I'd rather be listening to the BACKSTREET BOYS any time than any of those bands!

Ultimate-Guitar.com: Finally will there be another BLACK SABBATH album with Ozzy?

Geezer: It is something that we've thought about and it might happen and it might not. But it would be nice if it did happen just one more time because that original band line-up really hasn't really toured practically anywhere outside of America since like the Seventies. When we got back together ten years ago we just basically played Ozzfest in America, that's all we've really done really. So it would really be nice to get together one last time and do a complete world tour.

Read the entire interview at Ultimate-Guitar.com.

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