Justin Donnelly conducted an interview with legendary heavy metal bassist Geezer Butler (HEAVEN & HELL, BLACK SABBATH) on Friday, April 17. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
On the writing and recording process for HEAVEN & HELL's debut album, "The Devil You Know":
"All together, it took about twelve weeks to write 'The Devil You Know'. We seriously started laying down the ground work on the new album about last May, where we did about six weeks worth of writing. We then took a break and went out on tour for a month in the U.S. (The 'Metal Masters' tour), before we came back, and did another six weeks writing. That was about it. We had finished writing the album in around twelve weeks. I think we had another couple of ideas and songs that we were working on, but they weren't as strong as the ten songs that appear on the album, so we didn't pursue them any further. We felt that ten was a good number of tracks, so we left it at that. Once we had finished writing, we went right into rehearsals, and played everything live so that we got to know the songs really well. All the bass runs, the drums rolls and all that kind of stuff were worked out during the rehearsal sessions. So when we got into the studio, it took us about three weeks to put down the tracks, and around a month to mix the album. It was a really quick process for us, because usually it takes us fucking ages to record an album. So we were all pretty happy with the studio experience this time around."
On the album title, "The Devil You Know":
"Everybody was asking me if I had any ideas for the title of the album. So I got a few titles together, and that was the one that everybody seemed to like. So you can say that I was the one responsible for coming up with 'The Devil You Know'. The meaning behind the title is really quite simple. Everybody still calls us and sees us as BLACK SABBATH. So even though we call ourselves HEAVEN & HELL, we're still very much the devil you know in the sense that we're still BLACK SABBATH. That's the story behind that."
On the addition of the numbers twenty-five and forty-one on either side of the band's familiar winged demon logo on the front cover of the HEAVEN & HELL album:
"I've seen tons of explanations on the forums! Some of them have been really quite funny! (Laughs) But the real meaning behind the numbers is quite simple. We've had the winged demon logo for a long time, and the record company wanted to use that logo once again on the new album. So I thought that rather than do the same thing once again, I decided that we needed to do something a little different. So I came up with a verse from the bible. It's from the gospel according to Matthew, chapter twenty-five, verse forty-one. The verse goes, 'Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels!' It's about those who sit at the left hand side of God who are cast down into hell. That's all."
On HEAVEN & HELL's tourng plans:
"The tour starts on May 5th in South America and Columbia. That should be interesting. We then go from South America to Russia, and then we'll be playing a lot of the European summer festivals. That will include some gigs in Germany and France as well. And then I think we're back in the U.S. in August. Obviously with a new album, we'll be playing some new songs on this tour. We start rehearsals tomorrow, so in the lead up to that, I've been listening to the album again and again. At this moment, I really like 'Follow The Tears'. It's a track that's taken a few listens for me to really appreciate. It's really grown on me a lot. I really like 'Eating The Cannibals' as well now. That wasn't one of my favorites before, but that's come up in my estimation as well. So we'll be playing at least four songs off the new album. Well at least for South America and Europe anyway. We'll also be including tracks like 'Time Machine' (from 'Dehumanizer') into the set this time around, because we didn't get to play that last time we were on tour. I think it's really good to vary the set list from tour to tour. I think that if there wasn't a new album from us, we wouldn't have bothered touring. But with a new album behind us, it does give us something new to work with. And it's also more of a challenge too, especially when it comes to trying to remember everything again! (Laughs) It gets a little difficult at my age! (Laughs) At the moment, we're just seeing how things go, so we've only booked shows up until September. I think we'll probably see this year out, and then maybe do a few things next summer. After that, I think that will be it. We'll just have to wait and see what's happening at the time. That's the good thing about this band. I think when you're not planning something, it's always a surprise when something good does happen. But hopefully the album will do well for us, and we'll be able to revisit a lot of the places we played a couple of years ago, including Australia. I really do hope we get back down there! I love it down there."
Read the entire interview at this location.