Geezer Butler ('Black Sabbath')
'Still Learning Life's Lessons'
GZR, the quartet led by legendary Black Sabbath bass guitarist and lyricist Geezer Butler, will release its new studio album Ohmwork through Sanctuary Records on May 10, 2005. Ohmwork is Butler¹s first album in eight years.
Butler is joined by vocalist Clark Brown and guitarist Pedro Howse, his longtime collaborators, and new drummer Chad Smith. Ohmwork is Butler's third solo band release. His first project under the GZR banner was 1995's Plastic Planet while 1997's Black Science was credited to Geezer. Howse has worked on all three albums. Brown performed on Black Science.
Taking some time out with the legendary bassist, I asked questions that related to Black Sabbath, Geezer personally, and firstly, to his new album Ohmwork:
Why has it taken 8 long years for us to get another solo band album out
of you? "BECAUSE IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE LAST ALBUM I REJOINED SABBATH FOR NUMEROUS TOURS, OZZFESTS, AND RECORDING. I STARTED WRITING THIS ALBUM IN 2002, AFTER WHAT I THOUGHT WAS THE FINAL SABBATH GIGS. I KEPT ON WRITING UNTIL I FELT I HAD THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF SONGS TO RECORD, AND THE RIGHT DIRECTION IN WHICH TO GO, AS WE HAD WRITTEN OVER 40 IDEAS IN VARIOUS MUSICAL STYLES."
Is this new CD title Ohmwork in relation to something, and what else could it so easily have been titled? "IT WAS ORIGINALLY CALLED HOMEWORK, THEN OMEWORK [THAT'S HOW WE PRONOUNCE 'HOMEWORK' IN BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND] AND THEN FINALLY OHMWORK, BRINGING IN THE ELECTRICAL ELEMENT. I THOUGHT ABOUT CALLING IT AURAL SECT [SINCE A MUSICAL BAND IS AN AURAL SECT], BUT THOUGHT IT WAS TOO CLEVER FOR THE AVERAGE PRIEST!"
Which song on the new album is the most poignant to you personally - and
why? "PROBABLY 'PARDON MY DEPRESSION,' BECAUSE WHEN I WAS SUFFERING WITH DEPRESSION PEOPLE THOUGHT I WAS BEING ANTISOCIAL. AND I WAS QUIETLY SUFFERING WITH ANXIETY AND DESPAIR. I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS GOING ON UNTIL I SAW MY DOCTOR, AND HE TOLD ME HOW COMMON IT IS, AND QUICKLY DIAGNOSED AND TREATED ME. IT'S ONE OF THOSE AILMENTS THAT NO-ONE SEEMS TO TALK ABOUT."
Having recorded it in such a very quick space of time, what element does
that bring to the table rather than having more time in the studio? "WITH ALL THREE OF OUR ALBUMS, WE HAVE HAD A FINITE AMOUNT OF TIME TO RECORD THEM. WITH PLASTIC PLANET, BURTON BELL HAD TO GO BACK TO FEAR FACTORY AND I HAD TO TOUR WITH OZZY, SO WE HAD EVEN LESS TIME TO SPEND ON THAT ALBUM. BLACK SCIENCE WAS RECORDED QUICKLY - DEEN CASTRANOVA WAS ON TOUR WITH JOURNEY, AND WE HAD A VERY SMALL OPERATING BUDGET. THIS ALBUM ACTUALLY TOOK THE LONGEST, AS WE HAD EXTENSIVE REHEARSALS BEFOREHAND, AND A LONGER TIME TO MIX THAN THE PREVIOUS ALBUMS. CLARK HAD TO BE BACK IN WORCESTER. MASS BY NOVEMBER 1ST, SO WE HAD TO GET IT RECORDED QUICKLY. I PREFER WORKING UNDER PRESSURE, AS EVERYONE CONCENTRATES MORE AND GETS DOWN TO IT, RATHER THAN PISS ABOUT FOR HOURS. PLUS WE WANTED A LIVE FEEL TO THE RECORDING. IT'S NO GOOD HAVING AMAZINGLY COMPLICATED ARRANGEMENTS AND TONS OF OVERDUBS IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE TIME TO DO IT PROPERLY."
What's the main differences between performing with GZR and playing with
Sabbath? "WITH GZR, I'M ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE OVERALL BAND, ALTHOUGH PEDRO HAS JUST AS MUCH SAY IN IT AS I DO. WE BOTH HAVE CHOSEN WHO SINGS, WHO DRUMS, WHO MIXES, WHERE WE DO EVERYTHING, ETC. I DON'T REALLY HAVE MUCH SAY IN SABBATH THESE DAYS, ALTHOUGH WHEN WE STARTED WE ALL HAD EQUAL SAY IN EVERYTHING. WHEN I DO A GZR GIG, I FEEL VERY MUCH AT THE FOREFRONT, WHICH I REALLY DON'T CARE TOO MUCH FOR, SO I FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE PLAYING WITH SABBATH AT LIVE SHOWS, BECAUSE THE SPOTLIGHT IS NOT ON ME SO MUSH - I CAN BLEND IN MORE, LIKE A GOOD LITTLE BASS PLAYER SHOULD."
Having recorded both Black Sabbath and Paranoid in very quick time back when, what are your memories of those recording sessions? "TO BE HONEST, I DON'T REMEMBER THEM AT ALL, JUST LITTLE BITS HERE AND THERE. I REMEMBER THERE WAS A GRILL IN THE ROOF, AND WE COULD LOOK UP WOMEN'S SKIRTS WHEN THEY WALKED ABOVE. AND I REMEMBER OZZY LOSING HIS VOICE AT THE END OF THE FIRST ALBUM, AND COULDN'T REDO A PART IN 'WARNING' THAT HE WASN'T HAPPY WITH. BUT WE WEREN'T ALLOWED ANY MORE TIME ON IT, SO IT HAD TO STAY LIKE THAT; ALSO, THERE WERE TWO VERSIONS OF 'WARNING,' AND THE WRONG ONE WAS PUT ON THE ALBUM!"
Which is your favorite Sabbath song to play live and why? "PROBABLY 'PARANOID,' BECAUSE IT GETS THE BEST REACTION, AND IT'S USUALLY THE ULTIMATE OR PENULTIMATE SONG, AND I CAN GO HOME AFTER IT!"
How long can Sabbath go on for live and if Ozzy quit/retired would the
band ever replace him ... ala what Queen have just done? "I'VE NO IDEA HOW LONG SABBATH CAN GO ON LIVE - NOT MUCH LONGER, AS TIME IS DEFINITELY CATCHING UP WITH US. I WOULDN'T BE INVOLVED IN A SABBATH WITHOUT
OZZY; I'D LOVE TO PLAY THE 'HEAVEN AND HELL' ERA STUFF AGAIN, BUT NOT AS
When did Terry become 'Geezer' and why?! "TERRY BECAME GEEZER WHEN I WAS A CHILD - MY BROTHERS HAD BEEN IN THE ARMY, AND THEY WERE IN A COMPANY WITH LOTS OF COCKNEYS/LONDONERS, AND THEY WOULD REFER TO EVERYONE AS A GEEZER, [COLLOQUIALISM FOR MAN]. WHEN MY BROTHERS CAME HOME ON LEAVE, THEY WOULD CALL EVERYONE A GEEZER. CONSEQUENTLY, I PICKED IT UP AND USED IT AT SCHOOL, AND EVENTUALLY EVERYONE REFERED TO ME AS 'GEEZER'."
Tell me something about the man Geezer Butler that doesn't get noted in
the press and that you would like known "I AM A VERY, VERY PRIVATE PERSON, SO I WOULDN'T WANT ANYTHING KNOWN ABOUT ME PERSONALLY."
Finally, if you were placed into a studio along with three other
musicians and given 24 hours to record a charity record, who would those
three musicians be and what would the name of the song be? "BILLIE HOLIDAY, JOHN LENNON, AND JOHN BONHAM. THE SONG WOULD BE 'GIVE PEAS A
CHANCE,' IN HONOUR OF THE VEGAN SOCIETY!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win a copy of this brand new CD Ohmwork, just answer this easy question: Before becoming Black Sabbath, they were named Earth ... but what were they originally named even before that?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one one of these wonderful CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before May 15th with your answer and the subject title 'GZR CD' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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