Original BLACK SABBATH drummer Bill Ward was interviewed for the latest episode of VH1 Classic “That Metal Show” co-host Eddie Trunk’s podcast, “Eddie Trunk Podcast”. You can now listen to it at this location. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On why he chose to go public with his reasons for bowing out of the reunion of the original lineup of BLACK SABBATH:
“The first I wanted to do… I had to go public because I knew that we were being asked to sign an unsignable contract again. And I made a solemn vow to myself after the last tour that we did, which I believe was 2005, that I would never ever sign into another contract like I’d been signing into. And so, based on that criteria, we started to negotiate a contract in very, very early 2011. And all the lawyers were involved. The lawyers just didn’t show up out of nowhere. All the lawyers were involved right from the very start. And we tried to negotiate a deal for the entire year of 2011. When the turn of the New Year came, 2012, we were a given a kind of a… their marching orders, which is, basically, ‘We’ve come as far as we can…’ This is not necessarily the band, but the band’s representatives. ‘We’ve come as far as we can in the way of the contract.’ And we just went, ‘You know what? I’m just not gonna do it. I’m not going to do it. It’s as simple as that.’ So that was what primarily was going on. But there was something way more important that was going on: I was being advertised as a member of the band, and there were three or four live gigs which had my name and likeness posted on them. And so, across the Universe, I think there was one gig in America and three gigs in England, the posters were saying that the originals band was gonna be playing, and I needed to tell the truth about that. And so, that’s why I went public and I made a public statement, basically letting everybody in the fucking world know that there’d been problems with the contract, [and] that I would not be appearing. The biggest thing, for me, was I didn’t wanna be part of something which I felt was misleading to the fans. And so, that’s why we asked for my name and likeness to be removed. We asked for our name and likeness to be removed from the advertising that promoted the first three or four live gigs in 2012. That’s it. Which brings up another side issue, of course, where, as you probably may have noticed, my name and likeness has been gradually disappearing from BLACK SABBATH. And the claims, on their behalf — not necessarily the band again — but the claims have been that it was me that asked for my name and likeness to be deleted, which is a complete fucking lie and complete bullshit. I’ve never asked for anything like that. I asked for my name and likeness to be deleted from the promotional posters that could have been misleading to the fans. I don’t like misleading people, and I like to be honest and transparent. So that’s why it came out.”
“There were several other motivating things. One was the students. I needed to do something. It was a terrible ordeal going through that period in early 2012. There’s a lot of young guys that I know [that were] gonna come and watch me play — a lot of young drummers. And I cried for weeks, actually, on and off. I mean, I did. I was really so upset, and I felt like I was letting these guys down and letting a lot of other people down. And at the same time, I knew that I had to make a tough decision, and I had to stay by that tough decision that I was masking. I felt it was the truth, and it was the truth, and I was standing by what I felt was honest and sincere, but above everything else, I had to do this for the students. And I kept thinking to myself, and I talked to my wife, Jackie. We were talking. I said, ‘You know, if I don’t stand here, then all the drummers to come, and all the people that are gonna get fucked in this business… I’m gonna have to do something and stand for something.’ And, basically, one of the things that I was standing for was publishing — that publishing equals drumming. Because one of the things that… One of the things that was… There were certain things in the contract that disallowed publishing. So I said, ‘No. My drumming equals writing.’ I just don’t just notes or beats or whatever… I’m an enthusiastic member of that band, and I play musically, and everything counts. That was one of the issues that we were trying to get something from — not equality; equality was out the window — but something at least.”
On whether he puts any responsibility for what has happened with him and BLACK SABBATH on the other three members of the band:
“Some camaraderie would have been nice, but I let go of that camaraderie back when we started the first reunion. The first reunion took place without me, and one of my friends from FAITH NO MORE played drums instead. Mike Bordin… Mike’s a good kid, man. I like Mike. So I knew that it was gonna be strictly business; I already knew that going in. Camaraderie would have been nice, but nobody touches the business — nobody touches the business. And I stay out of what their personal relationships are with their management. I’ve always taken it that that’s none of my business, and that they keep that private, and I stay out of that. I wanna be respectful that those are their arrangements, and that’s that. And that’s why I’m prefacing [some of my answers by saying] ‘not necessarily the band.’ I don’t know where the sources of decisions are made, but I always preface it by… You know, Tony’s [Iommi, BLACK SABBATH guitarist] not the kind of guy that would sit down behind a contract and work out terms and what have you. He might — I mean, for all I know. But the kind of lawyers that they have, they definitely sit down and work out terms.”
On his recent war of words with BLACK SABBATH singer Ozzy Osbourne:
“I was painted that I was physically unable to do it, and also, I was painted as having other motives besides wanting to play with the band. I mean, I was accused of a lot of things in those statements. And I was absolutely fucking furious.”
On how much of what Ozzy has said can be attributed to Ozzy’s wife and manager, Sharon Osbourne:
“I’m not sure. It seems to me like Ozzy started out making those statements. I know that Sharon definitely dislikes me, and she has for a long, long time. And I also know that she is inside all these contractual things and these unsignable contracts and everything else. She’s right there, right in the center of everything — as are the other lawyers as well, the other representatives. But, you know, the statements were made by Ozzy, so… It’s broken up the friendship that we had; there’s no doubt about it. I mean, it fucking killed the friendship. I detached from him. And I’ve already stated what will renew our friendship. But I think the day that he amends those statements, that will be one hell of a day. I think that’ll probably happen in the next life or further down the road. I don’t think it’s gonna happen in this life. But that’s my criteria, again, and I’m gonna hold him to those statements, because I know that those statements are incorrect.”
On whether the success of BLACK SABBATH’s “13” album and the tour behind it took him by surprise:
“I didn’t think it was successful at all. Well, in terms of live attendance, I think it’s gonna go, ‘cause the band’s really well known. But I really didn’t… I was working on detachment — serious detachment — and I wanted to make sure that I went down the line and detached myself as much as possible. I had to stop loving them, because if you’re loving a dog as it’s biting you and ripping your insides out, it’s hard to love a dog that’s doing that. So I actually stopped loving them, and I had to learn what we call detachment. So whatever they were doing, I could care less. I wasn’t interested in the fucking album ’13’. I’ve heard twenty bars of it — that’s all I’ve heard — and then I turned it off and said, ‘That’s a pile of shit,’ and that’s the truth. And I couldn’t care less what they were doing on tour.”
On reuniting with BLACK SABBATH members Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler (bass) to accept the “Lifetime Achievement” award at this year’s Ivor Novello Awards in May in London, England:
“Yes, I saw them. I gave them a hug, and wished them well. And I still said the same thing… Even at the Ivor Novello Awards, the press was there asking questions, and I said, ‘Yup. I’d like to play with the band again — providing that they get a signable contract, and providing that Ozzy makes amends for his statements that he made in 2012 and 2013.’ Yeah. Hey, if you wanna get the band together, if you wanna make it happen, I’m ready to play. But I’m already busy with everything else, but I can play — I can still play in BLACK SABBATH.”
On August 15 and August 16, Fathom hosted the West Coast premiere of Ward’s fine art exhibition, “Absence Of Corners”, a collection of 15 abstract works created from Ward’s drum performance.
The “Absence Of Corners” exhibition is a special limited engagement and only hangs at Fathom through August 29.
For more information, visit www.fathom.gallery.
Ward has released his first solo album in 18 years. Titled “Accountable Beasts”, the record can be purchased on iTunes.