Black Sabbath at Jiffy Lube Live

I’ve been to literally hundreds of concerts through the years but there has always been something special to me about seeing Black Sabbath play live. When the band’s final tour, dubbed “The End,” came to Jiffy Lube Live on Sunday, August 21st it would be the last time they would play in the greater Washington DC area. Black Sabbath are the fathers of the metal genre and my favorite band, but they’re also so much more than that. They’re one of the few bands that every time they play, no matter how many other people are there, no matter how close or far I am from the stage, I always feel like they’re playing just for me. They’re the reason I am a metal head today, and probably the reason a lot of you are too.

I have a lot of memories seeing Black Sabbath play Jiffy Lube Live (formerly named Nissan Pavilion) in the past. The original Reunion Tour, when Ozzy Osbourne rejoined Black Sabbath again, which I never thought would actually happen, started its US leg there back in 1997. That’s right, we were the first in the US to see Black Sabbath on the Reunion tour. That was one of the early Ozzfests and I got my first tattoo at that concert to commemorate the event, the letters O-Z-Z-Y on my left hand knuckles. Ozzy played a solo set with his band and then came out and did a full set with Black Sabbath right after, I’ll never forget it. The only original Black Sabbath member missing from that tour was drummer Bill Ward on drums, he was tied up with other touring commitments at the time. Ward did complete the original line up when he performed with the band in 1999 when Black Sabbath again headlined Ozzfest, a farewell tour the band called The Last Supper Tour. Despite this they came back to play for us at Jiffy Lube Live/Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia, again in 2001, 2004 and 2005. Black Sabbath was forced to change their name to Heaven And Hell when the late Ronnie James Dio returned on vocals, and this version of the band also played here in 2008 on the Metal Masters Tour. When Black Sabbath released their album 13 in 2013, their first studio album with Ozzy on vocals since 1978, they toured to support the album and again played Jiffy Lube Live. Now, on another final tour (which, judging by their ages, seems pretty likely to actually be their last this time), Black Sabbath once again played for us.

It rained earlier in the day but it let up in time for the tailgaters to start pre gaming in the parking lot. I missed the opening band, Rival Sons, because they weren’t even a metal band and really shouldn’t have been on the bill to begin with. At the end of their set I did hear them thank “Bristow,” I guess not realizing that very few people at the venue were actually from Bristow. When Black Sabbath finally took the stage around 8:45pm I was excited. Hell, who isn’t excited when their favorite band plays? The short intro video ended and that iconic opening riff to the song “Black Sabbath” immediately demanded everyone’s attention. I had pretty decent seats, in section 102 on the aisle on the Tony Iommi side. Not lower orchestra but still I had a pretty good view and I was right by the sound board. They played a great set of older classics, though they left some big ones off. No “Sweet Leaf,” no “Supernaut,” no “Electric Funeral” (despite the Shepard Fairey designed tour poster heavily quoting and referencing that song, I still bought one for $40 anyways). Nothing at all from the albums Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage. Most surprisingly, their set list didn’t include even a single song from 13. They did play a few songs that weren’t really hits such as “Dirty Women,” “After Forever” and “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” (including the Wasp intro). Every song on the set list besides “Dirty Women” came from the first four albums but it didn’t really matter what songs they played, the riffs just keep coming with Sabbath.

The band doesn’t have the energy on stage that they used to of course. Even when Ozzy played those back to back sets in 1997 (was it really almost 20 years ago?!?!) he had more energy on stage than he does now. He had trouble singing in key Sunday night and even flubbed a few lines here and there, most glaringly missing the classic “I am iron man” line at the start of “Iron Man.” The video monitors had a slight delay, and half the time they used so many psychedelic effects you could hardly tell what they were showing. Other times they focused way too much on Not Bill Ward drummer for hire Tommy Clufetos, the only “member” of the band nobody at the show had actually bought a ticket to see. His extended drum solo during the Bill Ward drum solo song “Rat Salad” seemed to be a slap in the face to Ward and his fans. Geezer Butler was great on bass, no surprise there, but it was nice to see the guy’s still got it. He was getting some sick tones out of that bass too. And Tony Iommi, even after all these years, mutilated fingers and battling back from cancer, he still plays everything so damn smoothly live. I swear he could play those songs just as well in the dark. There were still a few new touches he threw in, like the bonus intro part at the start of the band’s perennial encore song, “Paranoid.” There’s a reason he is nicknamed the riff master and the night’s set was a showcase of some of his most classic riffs played to perfection.

This wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen Black Sabbath, but it was a great show. It really had me thinking about all the times I’ve seen them before, all the people I’d seen them with and the different places in life I was at each time. Black Sabbath wasn’t the first metal band I liked, I already had a few Metallica and Megadeth tapes and the like when I traded for a copy of Black Sabbath’s best hits album We Sold Our Souls For Rock ‘N’ Roll, but that album is what changed me from being a casual music fan to a die hard metal head. While Black Sabbath played songs from that album I thought about the day I first listened to it, I still remember. And I thought about how cool it was getting to interview and then meet Bill Ward in 2014, certainly the number one highlight of my time working on this very blog. I was hoping the show would never end because I didn’t want to deal with the cold, hard fact that I’ll never get to see them perform live again. But reality has a way of always winning out and time waits for no man. After the show ended the band all took a bow and Ozzy’s daughter Kelly came out on stage and shot a short video of the audience still going wild. I talked to a lot of people before, after and even a few during the show. Friends old and new, strangers, people who knew me from this website, random people crammed in line next to me while we waited to buy merch, drunks in the parking lot, everyone there to see Black Sabbath for one last time (or maybe even their first time). I had a great time and yeah, I’m bummed that I won’t have any more great times at Black Sabbath concerts, but I’m grateful that I got to see the band that started it all perform one last time for us and just for me.

Thanks for reading this. Below I’ve posted a few videos I shot at the show. I didn’t have a photo pass and these were all shot on my phone. I think the sound quality came out pretty good though. I hope you enjoy them!

Black Sabbath – N.I.B.

Black Sabbath – Dirty Women

Black Sabbath – Paranoid

Interview with Bill Ward of Black Sabbath

On Tuesday, April 8th I was given the opportunity to interview one of the founding fathers of heavy metal, Bill Ward, the original drummer for Black Sabbath. He played with the band through the Ozzy years and on the first album with Dio as well as on Born Again then came back into the fold in the late 90s when the band reformed for their reunion tours. In November of 2011 the four original members of Black Sabbath reunited again and announced they’d be creating their first album together since the late 70s. However issues arose and Bill Ward ended up not being a part of the new album. He hasn’t slowed down at all though and one of the things he’s done is work on a new visual art project called Absence Of Corners. We’re really lucky because they’ve decided that the public viewing of this collection will be in Annapolis, Maryland, and on May 9th and 10th Bill Ward will be on hand to speak about the pieces himself! Even better, if you purchase (here) one of the very limited prints you’ll be invited to a special reception on May 10th where you can meet Bill Ward yourself, have him sign your piece, get your photo with him and even ask him any questions you think I might have left out of this interview (more details here). This isn’t a traveling art display, this is the only exhibit so don’t miss it!

This interview is 32 minutes long and we covered a wide range of topics from the art exhibition to his time with Black Sabbath, his time after and even what new metal bands he’s into (spoiler: there’s a lot of them). I suggest reading along while listening to the stream of the interview as I’ve packed this post with photos and links related to what we’re talking about. You can also download an mp3 of the audio here. I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I did! My words are in bold below and you can click the orange play button to start the stream.

Bill Ward

This is Metal Chris of DCHeavyMetal.com and today I’ve got a very special guest with me, Bill Ward, the original drummer of Black Sabbath. Mr. Ward will be in Annapolis, Maryland on Friday, May 9th and Saturday, May 10th at the Annapolis Collection Gallery showcasing his new Rhythm On Canvas visual artwork series known as Absence Of Corners. The viewing is open to the public for free and limited prints will be available for purchase by fans. Anyone who does purchase a piece will be invited to an exclusive VIP reception with Bill Ward where he’ll be available to sign your piece and answer a few questions and just talk to fans as well. So to start off Bill, why don’t you tell me about how this Absence Of Corners project came to be.

Thank you. It started back in the spring, I think it was the spring of 2013, and we were approached by [the] two main guys in Scene Four, that would be Cory [Danziger] and Ravi [Dosaj]. They’re the technicians and the producers and they had already established this new way of producing art in terms of drummers just playing their drums completely in the dark and having lighted sticks or lighted brushes and just playing whatever they wanted to play, for the most part, and taking all kinds of pictures. And the all kinds of pictures really was all kinds of pictures but at times I think we probably had between two and three photographers right in and out of the kit. There were so many different lights that were going on. And that’s how all this started. We were just approached, we liked the idea, Liese Rugo was heading it, and Liese said let’s think about this and go ahead and do it. It might be a nice change for you right now so I thought OK. So that’s how we went ahead you know, it’s quite simple. That’s how it started.

Did you use your own drum kit for this?

Oh yes sir, yes I did. Yeah in fact I used the master kit. When I say a master kit that would be a kit that I would normally use with Black Sabbath. It was set up in its drum rehearsal mode and we went in and I just slammed. I slammed for probably an hour and 45 minutes. We just jammed, jammed, jammed everything out, yeah.

Wow. Now so they took a lot of photos here. Did you have any input as far as to which ones they used of which angles they used or anything like that?

No, not at all. I stayed out of all that. I followed direction. I let them tell me what they wanted. As far as the playing I went wherever I wanted but as far as any kind of cameras or anything to do with their end of it, I stayed well out of all that [and] let them do their thing. I only started to collaborate at the point when I began to view the pictures. And when I viewed them you know it’s like… it took me a while to digest everything but the collaboration began when they said, “Well Bill can you suggest some titles,” and I love writing. I love coming up with words and things like this so I said OK. That’s when I started to realize what each picture meant to me personally and it’s when I came up with the titles and then we just started to gain some depth as to where it was all going so it was a nice collaboration. That was very enjoyable actually.

I saw you made some videos that describe the naming process of these pieces and I found the one for “Soundshock” particularly interesting. Can you describe to me what sound shock is exactly and is it something you deal with on a daily basis?

My idea of sound shock is pretty tricky stuff because it’s something that, through all the years and years and years of playing on stage, and playing very loud, I think that there are some prices to pay. One is in the way that I perceive the sound of right now, the sound of your voice, Chris. The sound of the room around me, the sound of the fan that we have on right now. And I can hear, I guess, well enough but sound shock becomes more apparent if I went into a super market or a grocery store or into a restaurant where there’s multiple voices and multiple sounds. Train station, airport, anything like that and I have a very difficult time listening to things that are right next to me. If someone’s talking to me I can barely hear them but I can actually hear things that are going on two aisles over so my hearing has become unique I guess. Not unique to me. I think other people have this phenomena also. It’s very strange. When I first started getting this it was a bit scary you know. I was just wondering what was going on. It’s been going on now for a number of years. It’s something that I’ve definitely gotten used to. It can also be called mixer’s ears. Just recently I’ve spent an awful lot of time in the studios finishing up a piece of work I’ve been trying to get done there for quite some time and only the other day I was in the studio and I can only listen for about three hours now and I went, you know what? My ears have completely gone. And I was hearing things that weren’t there and you know that happens to a lot of musicians when there at the final stages mixing and things like that. But what happens with mixer’s ears is when we break, take five, sit outside or whatever, the sound of being outside is a little bit different than what it was three hours before going into the studio. So I have that too. There’s imbalance and incorrect perceiving of sound. I think that’s the best way I can describe it. I did see a documentary a few months back now. It was about a soldier that had been in Iraq and they were focused on this soldier and what he went through when he walked into supermarkets having been around bombs and explosions and I was intrigued by what he was sharing because I thought oh my god. I said I feel the same way. I feel just like this guy, the things that he was going through. I went to see a couple of doctors to talk about it, neurologists. So we’re still researching it ya know, we’re still going through it and I’m sure there’s other musicians, I’m sure I’m not unique in this at all, other musicians that are either on their way and got a better understanding of it. It’s not like something that I’m desiring to fix. It’s something about learning exactly like, oh this is what I live with now and I have an explanation for why things can sometimes sound really strange. Especially in a restaurant. I can hear the other people talking three tables over [louder] than I can my own wife whose in front of me. She doesn’t think of– my wife doesn’t mind ya know? She’s used to me being kind of crazy you know so, hahaha, so it can be taken as quite rude I think. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in Annapolis when I start talking with everyone.

“Soundshock”

Are you interested in doing more visual art projects in the future?

I think I would have to really take a look and see what it might be. There are some other things that I would like to get to and it’s trying to have the time to get to it. So I did have something else on the back burner but it would not be working the same way that I did with Ravi and Cory in terms of playing drums to create art. But however it depends. I like to keep an open mind. One never knows. It could be something that’s completely different so if it appeals and I can feel the nature of it and it has some substance and it can be meaningful to other people then you know I’d look at it, yeah. I think I’d say yes to that, to that question. Yeah.

Are there any specific pieces about Black Sabbath or your time with the band or your time after?

I think that there are actually and I didn’t realize that until after. It was during the time I mentioned earlier, Chris. There was a period that happened where we started to collaborate, you know myself and Liese and Ravi and Cory, in terms of going into each piece and what it meant. That’s when I– it started to hit me. It really came quite strong actually. There were some things that were primarily related to the turbulent emotional stuff that I was going through after the contractual agreement [with Black Sabbath] couldn’t be sorted out. You know it just couldn’t be sorted out. And I just felt so horrible about everything about that not being able to be sorted out as I believe they did but I’m not going to quote them or anything else. I read something from Tony [Iommi, Black Sabbath guitar player] that he was not particularly happy either so, well neither was I. But that turbulence and that emotional upheaval, I think some part of it may have reflected through my playing. There’s that one piece, I’ll just use the most poignant piece if you like, it’s called “Grief.” And somebody had put the picture, a huge picture of “Grief,” and it was leaning against some cases, we were in the warehouse, I was up at the warehouse just signing off a bunch of paintings and what have you. And I hadn’t seen “Grief” prior to going to the warehouse, and I turned around, it’s almost like I felt something in my back and I turned around and I looked down and I saw this– I made out a face immediately. I was about maybe fifteen feet from the painting, Chris. I just peered into it and I went, “Oh my god.” And I said, “What’s this?” And they were smiling and they said, “That’s one of your paintings, Bill.” You know and I said, “Oh my god you’ve got to be kidding.” And I came up with the title immediately. It’s so sad. It was so, so, so, so, so sad. And that’s exactly how I felt about it you know. Even as we speak I’m still recovering from all of this you know. And “Grief” would have been my number one choice in attaching something to the emotional well being, or the unemotional well being, of that period. 2012, 2013, very, very, very tough years. Would you like me to give you a couple more examples?

“Grief”

Sure, yeah.

“Grief,” it’s really quite morbid looking. Kind of right up my street, haha. It’s very gray. It’s gray looking and I think to really feel “Grief” you have to stand about ten feet away from the picture. And you see it and it’s just this tormented soul. It’s just really… not OK at all. Of course, technically, Ravi and Cory showed me in the picture where my arms were and what I was doing at that particular point from a drumming point of view, not what I was actually playing in terms of notes. But because I couldn’t see, I couldn’t make it out. You know was I playing with brushes, what was going on there you know?

Yeah.

It scares me to be honest with you. It really scares me. It really bothered me, bothered me a lot. But at the same time it brought a semblance of relief because I thought, you know what? I’m in a lot of pain man. And all of this stuff that we’re talking about, Absence Of Corners, became more of a therapy session for me. A long therapy session which is still continuing. And it turned into that. I didn’t expect that. Nobody planned that. But that’s what it became then you know. And I’ve discussed Absence Of Corners with people from all over the world and they give me their– how it touched them you know. What it means to them and we sit down and we rap for two or three hours you know talking about emotions and what have you so it’s been very fulfilling. Very, very fulfilling spiritually.

That’s good.

Yeah, it’s great. One of the things also that’s connected with the turbulence that I felt, emotional turbulence [is] this one that I have it’s called “We Focus. We Persevere.” And that one as well I can see myself. I think I was actually playing jazz because it looks like I’m using the brushes in the picture. That one was particularly nice. It was about drummers and that comes back from the way that I was brought up as a drummer not only as a child but into my teenage years and then of course into my later teenage years when I was 18 of course I’d been playing with Tony for two years. When I was 18 and we were already in some pretty good bands you know and Black Sabbath was just around the corner. I didn’t know that but it’s just the influences. I look at the picture and I can actually see my study. I can actually see that I’m focused and I’m really enjoying playing. And that came from a lot of discipline and a lot of listening to blues and jazz which were all incredibly influential inside Black Sabbath. In fact I think more people now are recognizing just how much blues and jazz was inside Black Sabbath and how we utilized that. How we would have our grooves if you like and how that structured itself inside everything that became metal. But that’s a particular favorite of mine, that one, Chris. We overcome. We persevere. No matter what. We come through. We have to ascend our difficulties and we have to come through and that’s part of the action of my life. It’s a very strong, living statement for other drummers primarily and of course for other people or interested parties that might be interested in them. If they can receive something from those things in terms of heightened senses then more power to them. It’s beautiful you know. I didn’t invent it. It’s just something that is part of my life as well and part of a lot of people’s lives and I’ve seen this happen with a lot of other drummers who are friends of mine, some of the people who have passed away, that I dearly love. So yeah, that’s a little bit about that one.

“We Focus. We Persevere.”

OK now in November you did an interview with Rock Cellar Magazine and in that interview [read it here] you said that you hadn’t listened to any of the new Black Sabbath album, 13, except for maybe about 40 seconds of [the promotional track] “God Is Dead?” Have you listened to that album since then?

No and I probably won’t.

You don’t think you ever will?

I, I– Maybe if I reach a point of serenity where I’m able to give it a listen but no there’s nothing of value in there for me to listen to. I love the guys. I really hope that they receive blessings and wonderful things in their life. [I’m] communicating with Terry [“Geezer” Butler, Black Sabbath bass player], I’m communicating with Tony, privately. We always send our very, very best wishes to each other and our love to each other. But no I’m not interested in the album. It was something that I wanted to play on. I was completely able to play on it. There’s no question in my heart at all. [This refers to comments Ozzy Osbourne made (here) about Bill Ward not being on the new Black Sabbath album because he was out of shape.] So you know it’s still something that I don’t care, I don’t care to listen to it. Even if it was the most brilliant album in the world I don’t care to listen to it.

That leads me to the question, do you ever see yourself as a part of Black Sabbath again?

Well a lot of things have happened to me. Starting in September, 2013, I had a horrible illness which I’m still recovering from and it created some other things that I am still recovering from. That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t come to [my previously scheduled appearance in] Annapolis you know. So aside from me now having to do a lot of work to gain my health and my strength back, you know and I’d be the first to admit it if I can’t cut it physically as a drummer then my answer would be no. I would not be prepared to play with Sabbath you know. I would never, ever, ever elude to being able to play with Sabbath if my health wasn’t absolutely smack on. And my health right now is not bad but it’s not good enough to certainly play in any band never mind Black Sabbath. I have to get a lot stronger than where I am. I lost a lot of weight. I’ve got to gain all my muscle back. I lost all my muscle. And I’m doing some stick practice but if I was in a good position where I felt strong enough I can overcome the hits that I took, the verbal hits, I can overcome all that stuff. I can overcome you know just the shut down and the way that I felt and everything else. I can overcome all of those things. All of the things that were like at the time just like– what the hell? I can certainly recover from all that stuff actually. I can do it pretty good. You know in fact I’ve recovered from most of it as I’m speaking to you this morning. I’ll always have an open mind to playing with Black Sabbath. I love the band. I miss them terribly. And so my answer would be leaning towards if something could be worked out. Something that I could live with and I’m talking politically now, contractually. And not the kind of things that I’ve done in the past. I’m talking about the very core of what I talked about in my big statement of February 2012 [read it here]. If we can come to some terms and we’re all OK with each other and the most important thing for me is being able to know that I can play drums the way that I want to be otherwise I wouldn’t even enter into any kind of conversation with them if I knew that I wasn’t back on the mark. Then I would be moving forward. I think that a lot of fans have suffered horribly through these undertakings of the last couple years and I fully, fully blame the inconsiderateness of just a few people who created, and I won’t talk about who, but a few people who created such a huge wasteland of real, real pain when everyone was just so excited to see the original band with an original record. And I’d already stated my boundaries quite early in all this. It didn’t come overnight. It wasn’t a shock. You know it wasn’t something that suddenly happened. We’d been negotiating for over 15 months. Things like that so. But I have to be careful in overstating because there’s still a political agenda attached to this. So I’ve definitely got an open mind. I miss playing with Terry, Geezer, just horribly. I absolutely miss him to death. And I miss playing with Tony just… every day. I mean every single day I– it just blows me away man. And obviously I miss Oz [Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath vocalist]. I’ve had to– with Ozzy I– I’ve lost a friend as far as I’m concerned. A man that I dearly loved, and I still dearly love but I’ve had to really now readjust just how much I’m going to trust and love him. He fired back on some pretty mean stuff in the press so. And I’ve gone OK. Like with any of us when we get hurt we’re going to pull back our love and our considerations for another human being when they kick out at you and you know. So that’s been a big loss.

In the last couple years in the world of metal there have been several high profile drummers that have either been kicked out of their bands or just kind of you know similar situations to you I think where there’s contract issues and things where I think the drummers feel like they’re not getting at least a respectable compensation for what they’re doing. I’m talking about like big bands here like Dave Lombardo of Slayer, Mike Portnoy leaving Dream Theater, and I’m sure there’s others as well. But do you think drummers right now, in the world of modern metal, do you think they’re just being under valued?

Yeah there’s something going on. Just for the record I know Mike and Dave Lombardo is a very good friend of mine. Me and Dave have had many Indian food– much Indian food and we’ve discussed these things in the last two years, that’s for sure. Yeah, I think what’s going on is we find the key players and the other players have less value and its become some kind of new modern thing, modern thinking. It’s like the other guys don’t count as much or they can be replaced. Let’s just focus on who we think are the stars in the band and you’ll see it all the time. It’s been going on for a long, long time. A lot of other bands have adopted this similar idea. It’s been around for a while. I think it comes out of a managerial idea, for the most part. Not a very good managerial idea at all. But it’s just something that’s going on and I’ve had private discussions with a lot of people about this and I think it’s not only necessarily aimed at drummers I think it’s aimed at other people as well. And it’s not just because the guys are being [night] owls or whatever you know. It’s nothing to do with that. Back in the day that was like it’s about him, it’s about him and let’s blame him and that and that and that you know. And it’s not about me. I absolutely refuse to take any responsibility of blame that’s been thrown at me. I will be accountable to the fans and I will be responsible to the fans because they are extremely important to me. I think what we’re seeing is something that’s been going on for a while that’s starting to take seed and we’re now seeing the results of defocusing other people and we’re seeing that more focus goes on the primary players and that’s been going on since, well I’ll probably get into trouble with this, since all of the teams. [Mick] Jagger and [Keith] Richards and all the way through. And I’m not saying for one second that the [Rolling] Stones‘ set up is like that OK. I’m not saying that. It’s a very interesting subject and as more is being revealed I can probably be a little more revealing but it’s so bloody political that I have to watch what I’m saying. Because otherwise– I know that there are some people that would probably love to sue my ass and I would think they would get a great deal of pleasure from that.

Well I’m not trying to get you in any trouble here either so…

No, no I know. I know. No, I’m enjoying the interview but I just have to be careful you know. And a lot of the times I wear a lot of my stuff on my sleeve. I’m so bloody transparent and I hate having to play hopscotch but I feel like I’ve been as honest as I can be with you right now.

“Solidarity”

You are also the host of a radio show called Rock 50. You play a lot of metal, both older and current and I was really surprised that you are a fan of a band that was a favorite of mine growing up. You are a big fan of Cryptopsy it turns out.

Oh definitely, yeah.

Phenomenal drummer Flo [Mounier] in that band. Are there any other bands that people might not really expect the drummer from Black Sabbath to be into? Any other modern metal bands like that?

Oh God I go right across the board. When I play my radio show I only play bands that I sincerely really like, really, really like. That I’m a fan of. These are some of my long standing bands. The first one has got to be Slipknot you know. I got a couple of guys in Slipknot that are real good friends of mine.

They’re another band that’s recently had drummer issues as well with Joey Jordison leaving.

Yeah. It’s hard for me to say anything about that but Slipknot’s one of my favorite bands. An example Sunday night, I’d just gone Sunday night I was watching– Vinny Appice used to be in the band… Kill Devil Hill. Anyway the reason why I went to see them play was because there is a couple of guys in the band that I know and love. Especially I went this time because it just so happened that Johnny Kelly, who is a friend of mine he played drums with Type O Negative, Johnny has replaced Vinny. When Johnny told me that I was like, “Oh my god.” And they were playing only a mile from where I’m speaking. The band came down. I went to see Johnny and Rex [Brown] was playing bass from Pantera and they’re fucking outstanding man. Outstanding bass player. Johnny did a great job. The other guy, Dewey [Bragg] the singer, I’ve known Dewey for years man, years and years and years. And they absolutely kicked ass man. They were great. We were in this little club. Nice club, at least they’re doing a shout out for metal. It’s called the Gas Lamp down off Pacific Coast Highway here in Longbeach. There’s another band that was supporting them called Seeds Of War and I really liked Seeds Of War as well. I like anything Mastodon. I’m a huge Mastodon fan. Slayer all the way down the line man. All the way down the line. Megadeth and Skeletonwitch. We met them when they were first new and I’ve always supported them. Always played their records on our radio show. Their production is getting better and better and better. Their songs are tight man [their] playing has become better. They’re really good you know. So I’m right in the mix. I’m right in the middle of it all and I feel completely at home. I sit there with my metal brothers and my metal sisters and drink my tea and I just like to be by myself. I like to sit nice and quiet and watch the bands and everyone’s nice enough to come up and say hello. I just look at them all and it’s just a wonderful part of my life. It’s a very sacred part of my life. I love metal.

DC has quite a few metal bands from this area and I was kind of curious are there any from the DC area or Maryland that you’re a fan of?

Oh I’m sure if you name me the bands I can tell you instantly.

Some of our bigger ones are Clutch, Pig Destroyer, Darkest Hour, Deceased

OK can you stop? Haha. We play Deceased, Darkest Hour, Clutch and what was the first?

Pig Destroyer.

Pig Destroyer. I think that they elude me, I’m not sure about Pig Destroyer. All the other bands have been regularly played on Rock 50 for years.

Pentagram and The Obsessed, they’re both from here too.

OK, yeah. I know Pentagram.

The Obsessed was Wino’s old band before he started [with] Saint Vitus.

Oh yeah Wino OK yeah.

But he’s from DC originally and his band out here was called The Obsessed.

OK, yeah. I don’t think I’ve heard The Obsessed but I’ve heard of Wino before.

Yeah well, they’re not as big as Saint Vitus but to DC people you know we love ’em.

Yeah of course. You’ve got your home grown metal man. It’s like that’s where it’s at you know for sure. It’s got to keep rolling. The doors are open and the sky’s the limit. And I’m just glad to be a part of the journey. I’m glad I’m on the bus and just riding with everybody. It’s a real honor. It’s a real privilege. I was sitting at the side of the stage. I’m like ten feet away from Dewey when he was singing the other night. You know sitting on the side of the stage and some of the audience were looking saying, “Who’s that gray bearded old man sitting there?” I don’t give a fuck you know. I’m on stage rocking out man.

That’s the way to do it.

Yeah, I’m a fan. That’s just where I’m at you know.

So how often do you go to see live shows these days?

Well, since I got sick not that often because if I go into population, in other words I’m not coming in back stage, if I’m in population I have to take a bunch of security guys with me. And it’s not because I’m scared in case somebody’s going to beat me up. I’m scared in case somebody’s going to run up and give me a big hug and it’s so painful right now cause they cut my stomach open three or four times so it’s still pretty sore even though it’s been– January the 7th was the last operation, January 7th, 2014. So I’m afraid that, haha, somebody’s going to give me a big hug. They’ve already done it OK. They’ve gone oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. Whenever we go out anywhere when I know I’m going to be in public we have to have a little security shield say, “Don’t touch him. Don’t hug him so hard,” you know. Haha. It’s pretty crazy man but it’s what it is right now and I laugh about it. I like getting hugs from people. I love people. To answer your question I like to get out a little bit to be honest with you. Obviously if we’re touring with Black Sabbath then I’d see all the bands. Any band that was playing I’d watch them all the time or I’d go out afterwards, maybe see a little jazz in a club.

You also have another solo project in the works, Accountable Beasts I think I heard the name thrown around.

Accountable Beasts and right now it’s 9:15 here in Pacific time and in about an hour and a half I’ll be on a mixing board. We had to stop the final, final, final mix of “Accountable Beasts” the song on Sunday because my ears went. We were talking earlier about sound shock. My ears went and I went, “Oh my God I just don’t know if it’s there or not.” So this morning we’re going in with fresh ears and we’re just signing off on just a couple of little things. It’s like OK we got that, it’s there, oh that does exist you know. You weren’t dreaming it it’s still there. And once we’ve got that that’s another song done. I’ve got two more songs that are ready for final mix. They’ve already been mixed but they have now to do a final, finite mix, which is making sure the balances are OK. Does it feel good? Have we got everything there? Are we happy? Can we live with it? We gotta kind of go through that kind of measuring stick and that’s it and that album goes to mastering.

When do you think we’ll expect to see that, either download or physical form that we could actually buy?

I think we might be able to make an announcement because Liese Rugo, she’s my publicist and she watches very carefully about the things that I might say, haha, and say “Don’t say it’s coming out in six months. Wait until we know it’s coming out in six months,” but I think that we’ll probably be making some kind of an announcement pretty soon. On our timetable right now, this morning, we’re hoping to be finished with the two songs but I know I’ve been whistling that tune for a while but I can’t see anything in front of me that could can stop me. And I thought “Don’t say that either,” you know because I was doing this back in September and I got a perforated diverticulitis so I better not say anything at all. Haha. So I’m just going to keep it nice and quiet and say we’re on our way to really, really coming to the end of this album and more will be revealed and we’re going to let everybody know when we’re in a better position to get more information out. I think that’s the most polite way of putting it right now.

Well I’m coming to the end of my questions here. One thing I wanted to know though is what is your favorite Black Sabbath album?

The first one. I like the naiveté. I like the camaraderie then. It was a band. It was a real band. It was everything that I thought a real band– or while I was learning what a real band ought to be. Camaraderie, it was the four musketeers. It was everything. And hard, tight. Just playing a lot of gigs. It was a live band and then they went and put us in a studio for 24 hours, 36 hours, whatever it was. And they managed to get us on a piece of tape, Tom Allom and Rodger Bain, they just got us on a piece of tape and it was just absolutely incredible so it’s because of that. It’s because of the naiveté and the spontaneity and it’s all that and I listen to it very, very fondly.

Black Sabbath cover art

It’s been a real honor for me to get a chance to talk to you today. I’m a big fan of metal and all its genres but the thing that got me into it all was when I first got a copy of We Sold Our Souls For Rock And Roll and nothing was the same for me in my life since then. The chance to speak to you today has been a real honor and something I won’t ever forget.

Thanks, Chris. Thank you I really appreciate that. I’ve really enjoyed myself. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you when I get into Annapolis.

Yeah I can’t wait. I’ll be very excited there and I’m excited to see your work as well. It should be a fun day and this winter seems to be finally ending so hopefully it will be very nice around here too.

Very good.

Alright well thanks so much for your time this has been an awesome interview.

You’re very welcome.

Well take it easy, have a good afternoon.

And you.

Black Sabbath and Mayhem Fest Ticket Contest

Mayhem Fest and Black Sabbath

There’s a couple of kick ass metal shows coming up in the next few weeks at Jiffy Lube Live and DCHeavyMetal.com wants to make sure as many of you can go to these shows as possible! Rockstar Energy Drink’s Mayhem Fest is headlined by Rob Zombie this year and will be at JLL on Wednesday, July 24th and we’re giving away a pair of pit tickets to it! Ozzy Osbourne is back with Black Sabbath and they’re coming to JLL on Friday, August 2nd and we’re giving away a pair of seated tickets to that show as well! To enter: Just leave a comment on this post telling me which concert you want to go to and why. You can enter for both if you want, but you can only win tickets to one of the concerts. On Friday, July 19th at 5pm EST I’ll use Random.org to select 2 winners, one for each show, to win a pair of tickets to the show they chose. Make sure you enter in a valid email address you check regularly when you submit your comment so I can contact you if you win, though it doesn’t need to be in the comment itself. Don’t worry, I won’t add you to any email lists or sell your info, I hate spam too. If I don’t hear back from a winner within 24 hours another winner will be chosen. If you can’t wait to see if you win the tickets, or the contest is over when you read this, you can buy tickets to Mayhem Fest here and Black Sabbath here. Now here’s a little more info on each show…

This year’s Mayhem Fest will have over 18 bands playing on four stages! On the main stage you’ll find Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Mastodon and Amon Amarth, the last of which will be bringing a giant viking ship on stage (you can catch a glimpse of it in the video below)! But don’t think there aren’t any bands worth seeing on the other stages. Machine Head, Children Of Bodom, Job For A Cowboy, Battlecross, Huntress, Scorpion Child and many more are going to be tearing it up on those stages as well. It’s going to be a hell of a day for metal!

Just last month Black Sabbath put out their new album 13 (read our review of it here), the band’s first full length with Ozzy Osbourne since 1978! The godfathers of heavy metal will be playing their classics along with some of the new material for a show that is going to please metal fans young and old. I’m not sure what else I should really write here, it’s fucking Black Sabbath, if you’re a metal head then you need to be there!

Review of 13 by Black Sabbath

Band: Black Sabbath
Album: 13
Release Date: 11 June 2013
Label: Vertigo Records (Universal)
Buy From Amazon: Here

Cover of 13 by Black Sabbath

DCHeavyMetal.com focuses on metal in the Washington DC, Baltimore and Virginia area, and usually I only do reviews of albums by bands from inside the area. However, I’d like to break one of my own rules today and post a review of the new Black Sabbath album, 13. They’re my favorite band and metal is about breaking rules anyways, right? So let me dive into Black Sabbath’s first album with Ozzy Osbourne since 1978…

If you’ve ever met me in person you might have noticed that I have O-Z-Z-Y tattooed on my left knuckles, my first tattoo back when I was 18. When Sabbath reunited with Ozzy Osbourne in the late 90s the first show of the US tour was at Nissan Pavilion (now known as Jiffy Lube Live). They had a tent there and people were waiting hours to get tattoos but when they heard I wanted Ozzy on my hand they rushed me right in. The people working the tent were taking pictures and shooting videos of me getting my tattoo, it was a fun experience. I figured if there was ever a day to get Ozzy tattooed on my hand that was it. I used to draw it on there with a ball point pen every day anyways so this saved me money on ink costs. Since it’s a visible tattoo people often ask if I ever regret it and I never have, though it’s funny when people ask if (or just assume that) my name is Ozzy, haha. Anyways, a lot of people have asked for my opinion on the new Black Sabbath album, 13, since I’m such a big Sabbath fan. Is it as good as the classic albums from the 70s?

No. I don’t think it realistically could be. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a really good album. I think the track order (here) is poor and the better songs tend to be later in the album. I like the first two songs, both of which are over 8 minutes long, but I don’t think they were the best songs to get people into the album. Casual fans of the band, or people just interested in all the hype, may lose interest and not make it past that point. Also, the choice of the slow to build up second track, “God Is Dead?,” as the lead promotional song seems kind of dumb. I think the shorter song “Loner,” which has a catchy riff right from the start, would have been a better choice for drumming up early interest. The song “Zeitgeist” is my least favorite of the album. It’s basically a rehash of “Planet Caravan,” from their 1970 album Paranoid, but far less interesting and just not as good. That said, I think the band really starts to sound good on later tracks like “Age Of Reason” and my (current) favorite song from the album, “Damaged Soul.” The sad riff on “Damaged Soul” along with the use of a harmonica shows Black Sabbath still have their roots in the blues. “Live Forever” is another really solid song that I think should have been the album’s opening track. The closing song of the album, “Dear Father,” discusses the issues with priests hiding crimes by the clergy, though it isn’t as somber as you’d expect due to one of Tony Iommi’s signature heavy riffs.

Ozzy’s voice is heavily processed throughout 13 but that’s pretty typical these days for any older studio vocalist (hell even the younger ones can’t quit their Auto-Tune addictions). Even in the studio he doesn’t have the energy that he used to in his youth but this isn’t a band of 20 somethings anymore, they’re musicians that have been making music for over 40 years now. The Black Sabbath sound has matured and aged with the members and that’s not a bad thing. Tony Iommi’s riffs are as thick and heavy as ever, further proof to everyone that he’s still the Riff Master. Geezer Butler’s bass playing is excellent throughout 13 reminding us all that there is a place for bass guitar when mixing metal albums. As for the drums, well, Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave drummer Brad Wilk is probably the weakest link of the band. He isn’t really an official member but just did session work after contract disputes (thanks Sharon) left original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward out of the production of the new album. To put it bluntly, Brad Wilk’s drumming on 13 is just boring. It is so uninspired that they may as well have gotten a drum machine instead. This might not even be his fault though. With the Sabbath guys and producer Rick Ruben all running things in the studio, he was probably just told to keep things simple to have the focus on the three other musicians. This might work for newer fans of the band but to those more familiar with Ward’s work in Sabbath it just makes his absence even more apparent. I really hope that Tommy Clufetos does a better job playing live with Sabbath on tour this year than Wilk did in the studio.

The album closes with the fading sounds of rain, thunder and a church bell that is almost exactly like the intro to the song “Black Sabbath,” the first song on the band’s self titled debut album. But wait, there’s more! Four original bonus tracks not on the regular album can be found in various places. My favorites are the riff filled song “Pariah” and the faster paced “Naïveté In Black”. There’s also a live version of “Dirty Women” that was recorded at a show in Australia in April 2013, suggesting they might be playing the old song on their upcoming tour. Which, by the way, comes to town on Friday, August 2nd at Jiffy Lube Live (details here). In all this isn’t my favorite Black Sabbath album but it is the one we got in 2013 and I’ll be damned if I don’t play the hell out of it. New Sabbath fans might want to start with one of the first five albums, or maybe even the best hits collection We Sold Our Soul For Rock ‘N’ Roll, but long time fans shouldn’t have any gripes about adding this to their Sabbath collection. The most anticipated metal album of the year is here and it is definitely worth the listen.

Feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think of the new album. Did it exceed your expectations or do you think it was just a cash grab? Is it better than the 2009 Heaven And Hell album, The Devil You Know, with Tony, Geezer and vocals by the late Ronnie James Dio? If you think you could have written a better review check out this post and see if you’ve got what it takes to review albums here on DCHeavyMetal.com And of course, be sure to check out a few new songs from the album below that I picked to give you an even better idea of what’s on 13.

Track 6: Live Forever

Track 3: Loner

Track 7: Damaged Soul

Black Sabbath ticket give away

Black Sabbath at Jiffy Lube Live

The fathers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath, will be coming to our area on Friday, August 2nd, 2013, to perform live at Jiffy Lube Live! Needless to say, that’s a big deal here at DCHeavyMetal.com! Tickets will go on sale this Friday at 10am (here) but we’re so damn excited that we just can’t wait that long to give away a pair to one of you lucky readers of the site. You don’t want to sit on the lawn to watch this sure to be epic show so we’re giving away a pair of seated tickets! To enter just tell me your favorite Ozzy Osbourne-era Black Sabbath song in the comments section at the end of this post. At 7pm EST on Thursday, May 9th, 2013, the contest will close and a winner will be chosen at random (using Random.org) from all valid entries to get the free pair of seated tickets to the show. If I don’t hear from the winner within 24 hours then I’ll randomly pick another person to get the tickets. Be sure to enter with a valid email address you check regularly so I can contact you if you win. Don’t worry, win or lose I won’t add you to any email lists or anything like that, I hate spam too. If you enter more than once then all of your entries will be disqualified. If you need help remembering what Black Sabbath songs Ozzy sang on, click on the following links for the track listings of his each of his albums with the band: Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master Of Reality, Vol. 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage, Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die!

Black Sabbath released their self titled debut album on Friday the 13th of February 1970 and with it and the albums that followed they laid the foundation that heavy metal and all of its splintering sub-genres are built upon. Ozzy Osbourne was very publicly ejected from the band in the late 70s and aside from a couple of bonus songs at the end of their Reunion live double-album in 1998, they haven’t released any new material with him since. That ends on June 11th when Black Sabbath releases 13, Black Sabbath’s first full length album with Ozzy on vocals since 1978! The master of heavy riffs, Tony Iommi, is still at it on the band’s new track God Is Dead?, which you can listen to below. The support on this tour is being provided by the hard partying Andrew W.K. Now check out the new Sabbath track and a few of my personal favorites as you leave your comment to enter the contest!