Geezer Butler Biography
Ohmwork (Sanctuary Records) is Butler's first album with GZR since 1997's Black Science. But unlike other legendary rockers of note, the delay between releases is not because he's spent his recent years locked away like a mad professor in search of the ultimate solo album; no, the real reason for the hiatus was the small matter of a reunion between the original Black Sabbath members after twenty years apart. And it is the spirit of Black Sabbath that Geezer cites when searching to explain the spark that finally sent the members of GZR – completed by guitarist Pedro Howse, vocalist Clark Brown, and drummer Chad Smith – hurtling into the studio in October 2004 with a hectic 10-day recording schedule to hit.
"There's a spirit of spontaneity and freshness that can only be achieved when you approach a record in that manner," recalls Geezer. "It's the way the first two Sabbath albums were done. Black Sabbath was recorded in two days and Paranoid took a week and that's what I wanted with my new record – 10 days done 'n' dusted."
Geezer maintains that there is a certain intensity of musical vision that can only be achieved when you've stripped out every unnecessary distraction in a search for the heart of each song. Tracks such as the vicious album opener "Misfit" or the wry but booming "Pardon My Depression" are positively dripping with fear and loathing for the modern world.
"I like recording an album while it's still fresh, that way you can treat it like an exorcism of ideas and pull the feelings right out of your soul, because it's only then that you're truly capturing something real."
Key to this mantra of keeping things real is the notion that GZR only really functions as a band and not as a whimsical solo project. While GZR is clearly Butler's baby it's also one being reared by three other equally enthusiastic parents (Smith, Howse and Brown).
"It's good to come together and blast things out as a band!" laughs the bassist. "You can come up with as many song ideas as you like, but it's only when you play as a real band that you realize what's any good!"
Although the record may have taken only 10 days to record, the genesis for Ohmwork has been some five years in the making. "Originally we started work five years ago," explains Geezer. "Clark came to England to work on some ideas but musically I was really into experimenting with keyboard sounds. Eventually I got bored with it and scrapped that entire direction. I transferred all the best bits to a sampler and waited 'til a pissed off GZR mood took over.
"I'm perfectly happy doing heavy music – it's what I do best," affirms the bassist. "This was a keyboard album five years ago, but it had to be scrapped because it isn't me. I love being part of a band with energy and aggression in the mix. I have nothing against very experimental records, but I do think you have to give it all or nothing – I tried to push things on [1997's] Black Science myself, but they do take forever to put together in the studio."
The title of Ohmwork came about because all the songs were written in Geezer's home studio and it was like 'homework.' " But back home in Birmingham, when one said the word 'homework' the 'h' sound was dropped during the pronunciation and so it sounded like 'omework'. And since modern music can't exist without electricity, (and since the 'ohm' is defined as a unit of electrical resistance) the title became Ohmwork." Be assured, however, that listening to this album will not be 'work.'