Black Sabbath Interview (1986)

Posted: February 12, 2013 in Classic Rock - Interviews, Deep Purple Family, Retrofuture 6 - Celebration issue


This interview with Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi was printed in a couple of newspapers in Sweden as well as in DEEP PURPLE FOREVER issue 2 and 16 (plus RETROFUTURE 6 in 2013) later on. Tony visited Swedens capitol Stockholm to promote the brand new “Seventh Star” album and he made a very good impression. I loved “Seventh Star” personally although Tony Iommi certainly had a hard time to defend the band back then. Enjoy.

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Lets go back to the period with Ian Gillan and the tour you made with him. It has never been fully explained if he had Deep Purple waiting in the wings when he left the band.

– Well, first of all the entire “Born Again” tour turned out a bit disappointing. And prior to that we had been shocked about how poor the album pressing was. We were already out on the road by then so we couldn´t stop that from coming out. It didn´t take very long until we heard that things were going on with Deep Purple, but Ian didn´t know that we knew (laughs). We heard about it about six months before it happened.

So the tour lacked a true commitment from the band?

– No, we played well, but to me Ian Gillan is better off singing with Deep Purple. It may have suffered because we were four stars entering the stage. I like Ian though. He was good on the album and I like him.

The show was really something to behold.

– Yes, in fact we didn´t know just how huge it would turn out in real life, and in the end we only performed with the full stage set on one single gig, in Reading on the festival there. I mean, we couldn´t even get it into the big halls in America. We didn´t know when we saw little models of it that it would turn out bigger than a bloody hotel. Spinal Tap stole the idea but they turned it around in the movie (laughs).

So have you learned from the mistake? Will the next tour be a bit more down to earth maybe?

– Yes, but it will still be a nice show. I think it will look great. On the left side of the stage there will be like a city, with chimneys and stuff, and then there will be like a bridge that go by the drums to the other side of the stage, that will represent the future with lasers and stuff. So we are looking at a bridge into the future. A time machine. The idea is to present Black Sabbath entering the future. We have rehearsed for three months. We´ll do “Zero The Hero” from the last album, the rest will be classic stuff and songs from the new album. But Glenn don´t want to do any Purple songs, I don´t think he wants to even think about that period to be honest. It´s nice to see him enjoy himself now, I don´t think he cared much doing Gary Moore and things like that.

He used to have a drug problem.

– Yes, but he is in control now. He has had problems but that is true for all of us really. He had a bad period in his life when he was ill and gained weight, but he is in a new phase in his life now where he wants to focus on his life and his career again. It´s hard to stop somebody that has made a real commitment and he knows that we are all there for him.

After Ian Gillan there was talk about a certain David Donato joining, a guy from Los Angeles. What happened there?

– The record company were in a hurry to show that the band would continue. David was there but nothing was really set in stone. On the other hand, and this is not known until today, we had had a meeting with the original band after Gillan and we had decided to reunite within 12 months. Nine months later we are doing Live Aid together in Philadelphia and suddenly it was all to clear that the problems on the business side were just too big for us.

I remember the interview you did in Kerrang with David Donato in the band, you said you didn´t want to say anything, that you didn´t want to put your foot in it.

– Yes (laughs). Well, the Donato thing was done in haste, it never should have gone that far. We went public before we were sure about it. This is typical, we´ve made so many mistakes like this in our career. In the old days everybody used to come to me, I used to handle everything. I picked up the lads to get them to the rehearsals and so on. I was a little older and they were always asking me for my opinion. I was like the father in the band and I think we needed that at the time. The period of the first three records were like that, they always came to me and asked for my thoughts on things, but I really didn´t want it to be like that. I just wanted to be a guy in the band. I wanted everybody to be involved. Once that finally happened, everything turned into chaos. No decisions were being made and it was past the point were I could have the final say because now we were a band. I don´t want to repeat old mistakes again and the last band was so false. I want to do it right this time. The guys I´m working with now are very eager to prove themselves. A lot of well known people were in touch with me but I wanted hungry guys with me, people with no past. Glenn has a reputation, but he still has the hunger that I´m looking for. He has something to prove on his own.

Are all plans to reunite the original Sabbath over now?

– Yes, that was the end of that. Geezer had been writing stuff that didn´t sound like Sabbath at all and he was just fed up and wanted to try that stuff out somewhere else. I emmidiately decided to carry on as Sabbath then, with or without the other guys, and get my solo-LP out with that name on it. All the music was written for it.

It certainly sound like Black Sabbath to me.

– Yes, but then I´ve been the main song writer since day one, 95% of the stuff has been mine. So if it sounds like Sabbath it is only natural.

So how did Glenn Hughes come into the picture?

– Glenn has been a friend for years. I used to know him when he was in Trapeze, way before Deep Purple. In fact, when Ozzy left we considered Glenn for Sabbath at the time. We jammed but for different reasons the timing just wasn´t right. But now, as I asked him to contribute with his voice, and later when I told him that I wanted to call it Black Sabbath, he was very eager to give it shot.

How will you plan the tour? Surely you will not forget about Europe this time as well?

– No, I´m totally aware that we must spend more time in Europe. We need to play here much more than has been the case in the past. We start in Chicago on the 15th and we´ll do the States first, then we will come to Europe for shows here. In fact, I´ve been talking to the manager about cutting the american leg of the tour short so that we can play more here in Europe. But in all honesty, there was a time when nobody wanted to book Black Sabbath in Europe and that is why the band did so many tours in the States. Lately, there has been a real interest for the band here, but the problem with the States is that the market is so big that you can spend months on the road there before you enter top 50. Personally I wouldn´t mind just dropping America but it isn´t that easy. I´m aware that Sabbath should be here and that is why I´m doing this promotional tour right now.

What would a real Tony Iommi solo album sound like?

– Exactly like “Seventh Star”. I have always tried to do exactly what I feel like on the Sabbath albums, like jazz stuff for instance. Like the stuff on “Never Say Die”. We also did guitar based stuff with the London Philarmonics on “Sabotage”. I have written stuff for the next LP that sounds more like typical Sabbath. I have quite a lot of songs ready to go and the only reason that I haven´t recorded them yet is lack of time.

On “Seventh Star” you have written the lyrics as well.

– Yes, that was a new experince for me. Glenn and Geoff helped me out with that. When Ozzy was in the band everything was written by Geezer and after that we had Dio and Gillan doing most of it. My main job has always been the music. The main theme comes from a Nostradamus prediction that says that there will be a re-birth when the seven planets line up in the sky. Things like that has always interested me. The idea for the cover goes back to the title track, there´s nothing there. I´m looking at nothing, a re-birth. You know, Geoff has been a member of the band since 1980 and I´ve been thinking about letting him onstage playing a guitar synth. He is a very good guitar player. But I don´t know, maybe people will think that it looks strange with two guitar players? I want him to be seen now.

What do you think will happen with mankind in the future?

– (laughs). I think deep down we all know what is going to happen.

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Michael Eriksson (c) / Top image is scan from FOLKET newspaper

(No part of this interview may be copied without permission)

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  1. […] COVERDALE (1981), JON LORD (1981), MICK UNDERWOOD (1982), JON LORD (1984), BLACK SABBATH (1983), BLACK SABBATH (1986), JUDAS PRIEST (1986), TOTO (1988), GLENN HUGHES & JOHN NORUM (1988), BLACK SABBATH (1987-1989), […]

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