Feature: Black Sabbath Stories From Kirk Hammett, Philip Anselmo, Tom Morello, Billy Corgan, Slash, Munky, and more
Tue, 14 May 2013 07:02:00
Music can be divided into two categories. There's everything before Black Sabbath. Then, there's everything after Black Sabbath.
Things would never be the same after Birmingham's finest four forever impacted pop culture with their eponymous 1970 debut. Geezer Butler revolutionized the way audiences viewed bass. His thunderous playing stood out with pure, potent, and powerful bombast. Meanwhile, Tony Iommi still influences generations to pick up guitars. His riffing can't be bested by anyone. He drove Paranoid, Master of Reality, Vol. 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, and Sabotage with some of the most malevolently memorable six-string work ever. At the eye of the storm, Ozzy Osbourne reigned supreme. His voice could wake the dead, and it's resounded through generations with a brutal beauty. You think of rock 'n' roll, and you think of Black Sabbath now. That's just the way it is.
On June 10, Black Sabbath return with 13, available via Republic Records. Preceded by the single "God Is Dead?", it's everything rock fans have waited for all this time, and it's bound to be a landmark for the genre.
Given Black Sabbath's influence, ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino spoke to Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Philip Anselmo of Pantera and Down, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins, Slash, Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers, James "Munky" Shaffer of Korn and Fear and the Nervous System and more about Black Sabbath.
When did you first hear Black Sabbath and what drew you to them?
Kirk Hammett of Metallica
Kirk Hammett: My friends and I were camping. We were just teenagers at about 14- or 15-years-old. There were no adults around, and we were around the campfire. Someone put in Black Sabbath's second album Paranoid, and it was the first time I had ever heard "War Pigs". We were outside. It was dark, there was a campfire, and I got scared [Laughs]. I thought, "Oh my God, here it is! This is the perfect blend of horror and music". Of course, I became a Black Sabbath fan right away. I even knew where they got their name from—the 1960 movie with Boris Karloff. I totally got their imagery, their lyrics, and attitude. I thought it was great.
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden
Steve Harris: I don't remember the exact first time; I remember the time period though. The first albums I got into were the second and third records. However, I asked my parents to buy me the fourth album, Vol. 4, for Christmas. It was vinyl in those days. I remember blasting it all over the Christmas period, jumping all over the place, and driving my parents mad [Laughs]. They regretted the day they bought me that. That's for sure.
Philip Anselmo of Down & Pantera
Philip Anselmo: Well, I think I can guess when I'd heard Black Sabbath as a kid. I was probably riding around in my mother's car when she picked me up from after school or something like that. Paranoid was out in full swing. I believe they not only played "Paranoid" but "Am I Going Insane?" on the radio as well. Those were some of the first couple songs I'd ever heard. I actually got into Black Sabbath at about 13- or 14-years-old. Of course it was the Paranoid record once again. Then, Sabotage was when things got deep.
Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins
Billy Corgan: I had an uncle who played drums. He had a fairly progressive record collection in the back of my grandparents' house. He didn't want me touching the stereo, but for some reason, my grandmother let me. He had a stack of albums. The first album on was Master of Reality. I was eight-years-old, and I put it on side A. I remember putting the needle down and hearing Tony Iommi coughing. It was "Sweet Leaf". It was one of those rare moments in my life where time stopped and the sound of those guitars and his voice was the greatest thing I'd ever heard. I started listening to Black Sabbath religiously at the tender age of eight. It has a lot to do with the way I hear music. I still think they're one of the great all-time bands just for being unique and having such a great sound. They never age. It's unbelievable. You can put on Sabbath today and they still sound incredibly contemporary. They're so futuristic. They were so underrated in the '70s and the '80s. Only in the '90s did they really start getting their due.
Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine
Tom Morello: This is going to date me somewhat [Laughs]. Do you remember the Gerald Ford Physical Fitness test? Everyone had in America had to pass this physical fitness test or you didn't graduate grade school. We were trying to do our pushups or whatever. I was really young. I must've been nine- or ten-years-old. Some older kid brought in Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and played it on the record player in there. I remember literally being scared while I was doing pull-ups. I saw the album cover, heard the music, and thought, "Something ain't right! Something's wrong with the world, yet I'm drawn to this!" That may have planted the metal seed in me.
Slash: Do you really want to know? [Laughs] I first remember hearing Black Sabbath when I was in junior high school. It was 1978, and I was on acid. I heard "Iron Man," and it had a huge impact on me that night [Laughs]. Anyway, that was my first experience that I remember with Black Sabbath.
James "Munky" Shaffer of Korn & Fear and the Nervous System
James "Munky" Shaffer: The first time I heard Black Sabbath was through my older brother. He was playing records. I actually think he was trying to play some shit backwards. He was forcing the motor on the turntable backwards. There was one part on "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" was the scariest thing I'd ever heard in my entire life. It probably still is! Listening to a Black Sabbath record backwards is the most evil shit [Laughs]. Tony Iommi's amazing.
Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chickenfoot, & Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats
Chad Smith: My brother is two years older than me. He played guitar so I listened to a lot of his records. I got into Sabbath on their Vol. 4 album, which has "Supernaut" and "Snowblind". Then, I went backwards. I think I heard Paranoid. This was 1972 or something and I was about 10-years-old. I remember my brother getting Vol. 4 and listening to it though. Then, I'd come home from school, close the door, and crank it as loud as it would go. A. I knew it was really pissing my parents off. Being the rebellious youngster I was, that made me very happy and B. it was some of the heaviest shit I'd ever had [Laughs]. I was looking at the album cover thinking, "Look at these guys. Oh my God, they must be insane!" It was mind-blowing. They were great at Lollapalooza this year! They played "Into the Void" and all of the songs you'd want to hear. Ozzy was in good form. Tony and Geezer were great. Tommy Clufetos, who was playing with them, is a fucking pounder! He just pounded! He had a lot of good energy, and he played the songs right. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society and Ozzy Osbourne
Zakk Wylde: I got We Sold Our Souls for Rock 'n' Roll, and I was sitting in my room. My buddy had it in art class in sixth grade. I was about 12-years-old. It said "666 Black Sabbath", and it had a skull like the Black Label skully. It had a lightning bolt through it, and he said, "This is my older brother's favorite band!" I was like, "That looks really cool". I never heard them, but I went and got the record. I got the double-album obviously. My mom said I could get one record so I bought the double-album just to be a complete douche. I remember putting it on and being terrified. It scared the shit out of me. I kept listening to it over and over. I'm just addicted to Black Sabbath.
Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch
Ivan Moody: I first heard Black Sabbath when I was 13- or 14-years-old. That was when I started smoking weed. I was on that trip [Laughs]. It was different. That was the same time I heard King Diamond's Them, Megadeth's So Far, So Good...So What!, Metallica's Garage Days, and lots of other great albums. It was that era. Black Sabbath prevented me from doing less. I couldn't not be in a band that did something receptive.
What's your favorite Black Sabbath song?
Stay tuned for more artist stories on Black Sabbath…