BLACK SABBATH's TONY IOMMI On Riff-Writing Process: 'I Have To Feel It In Myself'

BLACK SABBATH's TONY IOMMI On Riff-Writing Process: 'I Have To Feel It In Myself'

SF Weekly recently spoke to BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi about the making of the band's new album, "13" — the first in 35 years to feature Tony, singer Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler. Asked what it was like working with legendary producer Rick Rubin, who is notorious for being very "in and out" of the studio while records are being made, Iommi said: "At first I was a bit apprehensive, because I didn't know how he was going to work. We all were. But at the end of the day, yeah, I think it worked out really good. It's good to have somebody in control as such, because to control this band, it's hard when you're one of the members. I really did stipulate that when we got together that we need a producer. It's alright saying, 'Oh yeah, we can do it ourselves,' which we probably could. But you get into this stage where you lose track again, and you start, 'Well, I'll put an overdub on that, and I'll put a harmony on that,' and it gets out of control. By having somebody like Rick, he kept us to the basic thing. I actually did put a couple of harmonies on when he wasn't there. But then he took 'em off."

He added: "Rick wanted me to play the solos live, which I haven't done for years. I've normally put the backing track down, then go in and put solos down. And I'm going, 'Well, I don't really know what I'm going to play yet.' And he'd go, 'Well, just try something.' He encouraged me to try different things, and that's what happened on 'Age Of Reason' and 'Damaged Soul'."

Iommi also spoke about the riff-writing process for "13", saying about his endless backlog of material: "I have got a closet full of riffs, but I very rarely go back to them, to be honest. I always think, 'Well, I'll put this away, and I'll put that down,' and when it comes time to do something, I always seem to come up with something new. For this album, I did write purposely, so I could have an armory of songs or ideas to play to the other guys. I didn't want to walk into a room and everybody look at each other and go, 'What we gonna do now?'"

He continued: "I have to feel it in myself; it comes from within. You do a riff and you think, 'Oh yeah, I really like this.' I'll go back to [it] and listen to it again and go, 'Yeah, I like this.' I mean, I've done thousands and thousands of them. I can walk into the studio and play for a couple of days and just come up with no end of riffs. I might not ever use them."

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