GEEZER BUTLER Says It Has Been 'Really Hard' Re-Learning DIO-Era BLACK SABBATH Songs

Jeb Wright of Classic Rock Revisited recently conducted an interview with BLACK SABBATH/HEAVEN AND HELL bassist Geezer Butler. A few excerpts from the chat follow:

Classic Rock Revisited: When did you first hear about [the possibility of a HEAVEN AND HELL tour]?

Geezer: I knew that Tony [Iommi] met Ronnie [James Dio] and that they had written two or three songs. We are going to be putting out the anthology CD of the Dio years of SABBATH. Rhino asked us if we could come up with some new stuff to put on it. Ronnie and Tony wrote three new songs. Word got out about it and we started getting tour offers. We started putting a tour together to go with the album release. I went over to England and put the bass down on it and that was that. The album will come out in [April].

Classic Rock Revisited: Are there future plans yet or are you going to see how the tour goes?

Geezer: It is just a year-long thing. Because of things that happened in the past we don't want to press our luck. Everyone is happy with a year-long tour.

Classic Rock Revisited: Bill Ward was going to be involved.

Geezer: Bill was involved originally. Bill was in the studio when I went over there but he didn't want to tour so he didn't go any further with it.

Classic Rock Revisited: You played together back in the '80s and the '90s and the band was called BLACK SABBATH. Now you are HEAVEN AND HELL. Why is the name different this time around?

Geezer: Back then SABBATH was dead and buried, as far as Ozzy is concerned. The record company insisted on calling us BLACK SABBATH and we were contracted that way. I think Tony wanted to carry on with the name BLACK SABBATH anyway. Due to the restoration of the original SABBATH now, we couldn't go out that way. We didn't want to confuse everyone by going out this time as BLACK SABBATH with Ronnie and then next year going out as SABBATH with Ozzy. Both things are hopefully going to be ongoing.

Classic Rock Revisited: SABBATH is still alive?

Geezer: Yeah. With the original BLACK SABBATH lineup that did the reunion, we have really only played North America and a few European places. We have always wanted to do a world tour.

Classic Rock Revisited: You have not visited the Dio-era SABBATH material for some time. Has it been easy for you to revisit those songs?

Geezer: No, it has been really hard. For this tour we are doing strictly Dio-era songs. Apart from "Neon Knights", "Heaven and Hell" and "Mob Rules" — which we have done live before — we have not done a lot of the others live. There are several songs we have never played live. We are playing a lot of stuff for the first time since we recorded it. It is hard to remember what you played on a lot of these songs.

Classic Rock Revisited: Are you just putting the CD on and playing along with it trying to figure out your parts?

Geezer: Absolutely. The stuff that we have played a lot before is not a problem but there is a lot of stuff on "Dehumanizer" that we never played. I don't even remember recording half of it. Those songs have a lot of tempo and time changes which make it quite hard to do them. For the last two weeks I have been going through all these songs at home. We are going to be getting together for two weeks of rehearsal soon. Everyone is doing their homework right now and then we will get together and bang it out.

Classic Rock Revisited: You will play no Ozzy-era material at all?

Geezer: No, we are not doing any of that. The Ozzy thing is still ongoing so I think it is best to keep them totally separate.

Classic Rock Revisited: Were there any hard feelings from Ozzy when you guys wanted to do this?

Geezer: I think he got a bit upset at first when he thought we were going to go out as BLACK SABBATH. When I told him that we were not going to do that then he was fine with it.

Read the entire interview at ClassicRockRevisited.com.

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