‘A sort of jazzy, bluesy feel’: Geezer Butler previews upcoming Black Sabbath reunion album

Geezer Butler says the forthcoming Black Sabbath album returns the group to the feel of its initial trio of recordings, even if they’ve had to move on without original drummer Bill Ward.

The founding Sabbath bassist also tells Frankie DiVita of 96.7 KCAL Rocks that producer Rick Rubin established a more workman-like schedule for the group, with Butler, guitarist Tony Iommi and frontman Ozzy Osbourne coming in for five-hour sessions daily between 1 and 6 o’clock. For the first time too, he says, Black Sabbath recorded sober.

Butler adds that it was also Rubin’s idea to replace Ward with Brad Wilk, of Rage Against the Machine fame, after contract negotiations with Ward broke down. Butler said Wilk actually had much in common with Ward, in that he wasn’t a typical heavy metal-style drummer.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Brad Wilk joins a list of Black Sabbath drummers that only begins with Bill Ward. They are also guys associated with Kiss, ELO and the Clash, among others.]

Fans get health updates during the KCAL talk, too. Butler confirmed that Iommi’s cancer recovery is on track, and that Osbourne is doing well after his injury during a house fire last week. The singer is wearing a cast, Butler said, after burning his hand.

Butler, Iommi and Osbourne played a trio of shows last year, including an emotional May homecoming in Birmingham, then the Download Festival last June and finally August’s Lollapolooza in Chicago. Tommy Clufetos, Osbourne’s regular solo-band drummer, sat in for those dates.

Black Sabbath burst onto the scene with 1970′s self-titled release and the concert favorite “N.I.B.” But, before the sessions for 13, Butler, Iommi and Osbourne hadn’t recorded together since 1978′s Never Say Die.

“It’s got the feel of the first three albums, back to the basic rawness,” Butler says of 13. “The lyrics are about life, death, doom and everything else.”

As for Wilk, Butler adds that Rubin selected a drummer who fits the group’s modern sound perfectly.

“He didn’t want a typical heavy metal drummer on the album because it’s not really a heavy metal album. It’s more heavy rock,” Butler says. “Rick suggested Brad because he’s more in the vein of Bill Ward. We jammed with him and he sounded great with the stuff, so we went with that. We’re sort of back to the way we used to be in the ’70s and that’s Brad’s feel – a sort of jazzy, bluesy feel.”

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