Metal Chris of DCHeavyMetal.com recently conducted an interview with legendary BLACK SABBATH drummer Bill Ward.
DCHeavyMetal.com: In November, you did an interview with Rock Cellar Magazine and in that interview 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?
Ward: No and I probably won’t.
DCHeavyMetal.com: You don’t think you ever will?
Ward: 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. 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.
DCHeavyMetal.com: That leads me to the question, do you ever see yourself as a part of BLACK SABBATH again?
Ward: 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 [for an art exhibition], 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 allude 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 shutdown 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. 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 of 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.
DCHeavyMetal.com: 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 undervalued?
Ward: 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 it’s 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‘ setup 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.
DCHeavyMetal.com: Well I’m not trying to get you in any trouble here either so…
Ward: 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.