TONY IOMMI: 'I Wanted To Create A Huge Sound That Was Really Horrific In Some Ways'

Matt Blackett of Guitar Player magazine recently conducted an interview with legendary BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Guitar Player: [BLACK SABBATH had] never worked with [producer] Rick Rubin before. How was the overall vibe [during the recording sessions for the new SABBATH album, "13"]?

Iommi: It was fine once we got used to him. We didn't know how he was going to work, because through the writing period, we didn't see a lot of him. He'd say, "Phone me up when you've got an idea and I'll come down." So we'd have a track together and phone him up or email him, and then he'd come down and say, "Yeah, I like this part, but I don't like that part" or "I like everything," whatever it may be and then he'd go. He was only there perhaps ten or 15 minutes at the most. We didn't know how he was going to approach recording. It was all a bit of a mystery to us.

Guitar Player: This record does have an immediacy and an honesty to it, and it seems like a lot of his productions do. Maybe that's part of what he brings.

Iommi: Yeah. It's sort of left to the last minute, and then he throws it at you. He just pushes that much more, and that's difficult for a band like us. We've been around so long, it's hard to accept criticism from somebody we've never worked with. But we did, and it was good. It was really good. We might be working on a track, and he'd go, "Oh no, it doesn't feel right. Try it again and try extending that part." So we'd do it and then we'd be thinking to ourselves that it may be too long, but we'd do it anyway. And then he'd go, "That doesn't feel right. Let's try another one." And then he'd say, "Okay I think we've got it, but do you want to just try another one?" So we would try another one, and he'd say, "Okay, let's leave it now." So we never knew exactly which one he was going to pick.

Guitar Player: Brad Wilk [RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE] plays drums on this record. Is your rhythm playing and your soloing different with him, as opposed to playing with Bill Ward, Cozy Powell, Vinny Appice, or any other drummers that you've worked with?

Iommi: Well, I play what I play. And certainly with Brad, he picked up on that. He knew to listen up a little bit to follow, and when you listen to the record, you can hear these little things he put in. It was very subtle — much like what Bill would have done, really. Bill would listen to little accents that I'd do, and a lot of drummers don't. They don't hear it. They just hear the immediate riff or chord or whatever. But with Brad, he was picking up little accents like Bill did, and it was good. And he was thrown right in the deep end, poor old Brad, because he didn't have much time to work on these songs. That was probably another good thing from Rick's point of view. I think he wanted to have this element of jamming where you're on edge all the time. Every time we'd track a song, when we'd do it again, Brad would play something different, because he was obviously feeling stuff out. So it was really good. He was doing stuff off the cuff. I thought he was excellent.

Guitar Player: You are widely credited with inventing heavy metal. What influenced you and drove you to create that sound?

Iommi: I think it was the dramatics of it all. I used to listen to the old classical stuff with the dynamics in the music, and I wanted that sort of dynamics in what we were doing — something that was really dramatic and big. And that's what I tried to achieve guitar-wise. I wanted to make this big, powerful thing come over you — like what happens when you go and see a horror film. I wanted to create a huge sound that was really horrific in some ways, if you know what I mean.

Read the entire interview at Guitar Player.

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