BLACK SABBATH BASSIST GEEZER BUTLER SAYS HE DOES NOT SPEAK WITH OZZY, NEW MEMOIR, “INTO THE VOID: FROM BIRTH TO BLACK SABBATH―AND BEYOND,” OUT NOW
Matt Wardlaw of Ultimate Classic Rock spoke with Black Sabbath bassist, Geezer Butler, about his new memoir, Into the Void: From Birth to Black Sabbath―And Beyond, out now. Highlights from the interview appear below.
Ultimate Classic Rock: I loved reading near the end of the book, when you mentioned [Black Sabbath bandmate] Tony Iommi in the acknowledgments, you added, “who actually still keeps in touch.” It’s great that you still have a friendship like that. That means a lot.
Geezer Butler: Yeah, he’s always been there for me. You know, he’s a good friend. We can slag each other to death. It’s like marriage, really. You have terrible arguments, you fall out and you come back together. But he’s always there. He always is. I hope he is after this book, as well. I still love [Black Sabbath drummer] Bill [Ward], but he’s not on the internet. If you want to talk to Bill, you have to email his wife and she has to tell him. It’s really awkward. [Laughs] Ozzy [Osbourne] I don’t speak to at all.
Ultimate Classic Rock: In the book, you say that you and Ozzy Osbourne are good, even though you don’t talk. Do you think there’s a chance those lines of communication will open back up at some point?
Geezer Butler: I very much doubt it. We didn’t fall out, it was the wives.
Ultimate Classic Rock: So many bands disown their first album. Yet the first Black Sabbath album is rightfully regarded as a classic. What do you hear when you listen to it now?
Geezer Butler: I didn’t realize how naive it was until we did the 13 album. Rick Rubin took us down to his house in Malibu, he put the first album on and he says, “Listen to this, this isn’t metal. This is before the word ‘heavy metal’ or anything. This is Sabbath.” We listened, and I was blown away at how much we got accomplished in two days on that album. How raw it was and how it still stands up over all of the years. Because it was just a recording purely of us. There are hardly any overdubs, no technical tricks or anything like that. I think that’s why it stands the test of time.
Ultimate Classic Rock: Some of the best songs are the ones that come along at the last minute, and Paranoid seems to be in that camp.
Geezer Butler: It came together really fast. Literally, [producer] Rodger Bain said to us, “You’ve got three or four minutes to fill, otherwise it’s not going to be counted as an album.” An album had to be a certain length back then. Otherwise, it would have been called an EP. To be called a LP, a long-player, you had to have so many minutes on the disc. Rodger said, “Come up with something three or four minutes long.” We said, “Well, we’ll go out and have a think about it.” We came back in and Tony was there, and he just played Paranoid to us and we went, “Oh, that’s great!” I thought it was too commercial at the time. It just goes to show how much I know about things. Rodger Bain said, “Yeah, that’s good. Three or four minutes, just record it!” Ozzy came up with the vocal line and I quickly wrote down the lyrics, and that was it.
Ultimate Classic Rock: That demonstrates how much benefit there is in not having time to overthink something.
Geezer Butler: Well, that’s what I liked about those early albums. If we’d had a lot more time, we’d have ruined them, because there would have been tons of overdubs and I’d be thinking, “Oh, no, that bass part, I think I can do better than that kind of thing.” Ozzy would have done different vocal things. You’re right, it’s just like, the more time you get, the more you try and overdo it. I think that was the great thing about those first three albums. We didn’t have any time to overthink it.
Read more at Ultimate Classic Rock, here.
Order Butler’s, Into the Void: From Birth to Black Sabbath―And Beyond, here.