He also recalled the band’s early days, when he couldn’t afford a bass, their rise to success, and how technology affected their attitude.
The metal giants will release new album 13 – their first with Ozzy Osbourne since 1978 – on June 11th, and will tour the UK in December.
Butler tells The Metal Forge, “Since all our albums date back to the 1970s, that is the decade we will be dealing with. We always have to play the staples, such as Iron Man, Paranoid, Black Sabbath, War Pigs, Children Of The Grave, but it’s good to include more obscure stuff.”
Thinking back to their first studio experiences, he recalls, “The first and second albums were recorded on two four-track machines, the first album in two days, the second in five days. It was basically like doing a live gig in the studio.
As technology advanced, it was almost a curse to have so many tracks to record on; we lost focus of what the band was supposed to be about. It was great for experimenting, but we wasted a lot of time – and money – just pissing about in the studio on the later albums.”
That followed Butler’s early struggle to buy an instrument, after Cream inspired him to focus on bass. “I’d never seen anyone play bass like Jack Bruce before,” he says. “Everyone would be staring at Clapton while I’d be staring at Jack.
The main obstacle was I couldn’t afford a bass. I had a Fender Telecaster guitar at the time. I was paying it off at 50 pence a week over four years, so I couldn’t sell it until it was paid for. When I got together with Sabbath, I tuned the guitar strings down to simulate a bass.
On our first gig I borrowed a friend’s Hofner bass. It only had three strings – and that gig was the first time I’d ever played a bass. I swapped my Telecaster for a Fender Precision bass, and that was that.”
While Sabbath will mainly live in the past when it comes to setlists, Butler says they’ll also squeeze in a couple of tracks from the new album and he reflects on how recording 13 was a completely different experience from those that took place 40 years ago.
“These days it’s great – you can have the equivalent of a major studio on your laptop, so you can save a lot of time and heartache by recording your ideas at home and then playing them to whoever you are working with, to get instant feedback. There is nothing to replace jamming live together, but it is great to have a reference point, to give direction.”
The bassist admits writing the album was a challenge, “You have to feel extremely comfortable with each other to write and record. We have seen each other almost every day for the last two years – but we persisted, and we have done the almost impossible.”
additional source: Metal Hammer