Robert Gray of Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with HEAVEN & HELL / BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi as part of a series entitled "Hit The Lights." Topics of discussion included the HEAVEN & HELL album "The Devil You Know", working at Rockfield Studios, reuniting with Ronnie James Dio, and what has prevented the recording of a new BLACK SABBATH album with Ozzy Osbourne. Several excerpts from the interview follow below:
On how "The Devil You Know" came to fruition:
"We toured Japan as part of our last trek, and went out for dinner. We began chatting, and had a few drinks. Someone said, 'Does anybody fancy writing a new album?' and everyone replied, 'Yeah, that's an idea. Why don't we do that?' Really, that's how 'The Devil You Know' started."
On how things developed following initial writing sessions for "The Devil You Know":
"We just wrote some material at my studio — 'Breaking Into Heaven' was the first track we wrote, I think. I just then continued to write some riffs and gather some ideas, placing them onto a CD. The other members did the same. We agreed to meet up in Los Angeles, due to the simple reason that Geezer, Ronnie and Vinny are all based in Los Angeles. It made more sense for me to travel to Los Angeles, as opposed to everyone travelling to England. I travelled to Los Angeles, and we then just all presented our ideas. We listened to all our ideas in a room, and said, 'Yeah, let's work on this idea.' When we finished writing 'The Devil You Know' in Los Angeles, we went into a pre-production stage where we played everything live, and just kept on playing that material until we got used to playing each song. When we went to Wales, we could just enter the studio, and play those songs. We didn't have to play those songs five to six times, as we knew them, and could play them within the first two takes. That was the great thing about recording 'The Devil You Know'."
On "The Devil You Know" featuring many mid-paced tracks:
"Yeah, we did write a few mid-paced tracks. If you listen back to a lot of our material, you'll realize that it's very similarly mid-paced. Not everything we've written has been fast, though I think people seem to think that we always write fast tracks. We don't. We might include two to three quick tracks on an album, but that's usually about it. We've never written a whole album with solely fast material. We always wrote a selection of slow and fast songs, and that's really what we did in writing 'The Devil You Know''s tracks. We wrote two to three fast songs, while the the rest are mid-tempo. We could write an album of fast songs, but what we do is write material that we like at the time."
On what has prevented a new BLACK SABBATH album being recorded with Ozzy Osbourne:
"Really, one of the problems was communication, and being able to get down to work onto a new album. Ozzy had all these ongoing MTV projects, and various other projects. If you're going to record an album, you've got to channel all your concentration into that. You can't spend a day recording an album, spend another day handling a TV project, and spend another day conducting interviews. You've got to move onwards, and record an album. You have to channel your mind into recording that album, and become involved in making that album. You have to give a hundred percent commitment. Otherwise, it isn't worth making an album."
On bassist Geezer Butler stating that scrapped BLACK SABBATH material resembled Ozzy Osbourne's solo material:
"That's possible, though I can't remember. Ozzy has recorded a lot of solo material, and one of the problems with him is the fact that he tends to combine his solo career into what we're up to. We don't want our sound to be the same as his solo material. Sometimes he treated BLACK SABBATH like that, and we're not that type of group."
On whether HEAVEN & HELL will perform all of the tracks from "Heaven and Hell" during 2010 to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary:
"We might perform all of 'Heaven and Hell''s tracks live. To be honest, time creeps up on you so quickly that you forget how long it's been. The first SABBATH album was released nearly forty years ago."
Read the entire interview at Ultimate-Guitar.com.
Colombia's Shock.com.co has uploaded an eight-minute collection of video highlights from HEAVEN & HELL May 5, 2009 concert at Coliseo Cubierto El Campín in Bogota. Watch the clip below.