Glenn BurnSilver of the Phoenix New Times recently conducted an interview with legendary BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Phoenix New Times: How is playing together — recording together — after so many years of tension and not being in the studio? The last album with the original lineup was in 1978... [Singer] Ozzy [Osbourne] was booted out in 1979...
Iommi: Tensions? The tensions over the years have mainly been about business. It's not been personal at all. We always got on well on a personal level. It's been going really good. It's just a different attitude now. When we got back together to record this album ["13"], everybody had a different attitude toward what we were doing this time. We wanted to make an album together. We all really appreciated each other and respected each other. That's really the only way to go into it — a full band commitment — and everybody was ready to put everything into it. We did try back 12 years ago, and nobody could settle on it then. It wasn't the right time, there were to many things going on. Ozzy was doing MTV, so it just didn't work then. We weren't going to do it until everybody was fully committed, and that was this time. [Producer Rick] Rubin was interested in doing the album [in 2001]. We played him some tracks but that's as far as we got with it. We pulled the plug on it. We never got into the studio. We'd just played him some tracks."
Phoenix New Times: Where do you rank "13" among the many BLACK SABBATH albums?
Iommi: Every album you do means something of that time period. Certainly the early stuff I like. I liked the stuff we did with [Ronnie James] Dio. If you try to rank it against with the Ozzy stuff, I think it ranks right up there.
Phoenix New Times: Where's [original BLACK SABBATH drummer] Bill [Ward]? I know all of you have worked together on and off since that 1997 reunion, but is Bill even able to perform right now?
Iommi: Of course — we were hoping Bill was going to do it. When we first got together, Bill was involved. It was Bill who pulled the plug, it wasn't us. Bill decided on his own he didn't want to do this, because he didn't like things the way it was. But we still don't know exactly what that was, because Bill won't exactly talk to us about it. He got his lawyers to talk with our lawyers, and it went that way instead of talking to the band personally. It got to be a silly situation. It would have been nice to have had Bill on the album, but it was getting too complicated. It had been after a year of this stuff, and we just had to get on with it.
Phoenix New Times: Given how well this is going, and the success of the record, will we see more of this BLACK SABBATH in the future?
Iommi: We're not looking at like that. We're looking at in the moment. Unfortunately, we have to work around my treatments. I'm still having treatments for the cancer. I have to go back to England every seven or eight weeks, and I have to come off the road while my system adjusts. Then we go back on the road. It's all been very new to me. I didn't know how it was going to work. I haven't done a tour since I was ill. Maybe a couple of shows, but I haven't done a day on, day off, day on, day off tour. I have to treat my life quite differently than I did five years ago. So we don't plan things too far down the road since I don't know how I'm going to be after this tour.
Read the entire interview at Phoenix New Times.