TONY IOMMI Talks New BLACK SABBATH Album, Cancer Battle

Paul Cole of Birmingham Mail recently conducted an interview with BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

On BLACK SABBATH‘s new album, “13”, and upcoming tour:

Tony Iommi: “The recording and rehearsals have been going very well indeed. There’s a really good feeling about it all.

“We’re very pleased with the new album. But after all the work in the studio it will be good to get out and do some shows.”

“I have to admit that [the new BLACK SABBATH album is] not what I expected. I could never have imagined that the album would turn out so well, but it has.

“I think it sits comfortably with our first three albums — ‘Black Sabbath’, ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Master Of Reality’ — and I think it’s one you’ll like.

“We wanted it to sound like the way we played in our early days, back to basics, and we recorded pretty much all of it almost live as a band.

“We didn’t want to go through the usual trip of recording the drums, the guitars and the vocals separately. So we played together.

“We’d also written more songs than we ever have for previous recording sessions. There are 16 tracks in total, and all of them will appear in some form or other on the album when it is released. There will be different versions, including a deluxe edition.”

On his relationship with BLACK SABBATH singer Ozzy Osbourne:

Tony Iommi: “The truth is that Ozzy and I have never really fallen out personally. When there have been issues, it has been purely business. Even when there has been a problem we’ve carried on talking. There’s never been a bad vibe.

Ozzy was the one who kept on at me to go to the doctors because he was concerned about me, and he has been very supportive since I was diagnosed [with lymphoma]. In fact, all the guys in the band have been great.

“Even now, when we arrive at the studio they ask how I’m feeling, if I’m up to it, making sure that I’m OK.”

On being diagnosed with lymphoma after Ozzy pestered him to get a pain in his groin checked out:

Tony Iommi: “I was gutted. I went home thinking, ‘Christ, that’s it, I’ve had it!’

“Cancer meant death to me. I started writing myself off. I would lie awake at night, thinking about selling this, getting rid of that, and preparing everything: who should speak at my funeral and where I’d want to be buried.

“But I also kept thinking, ‘I’m not ready to go yet. I’ve got too much to do, and I like being here’.”

“I have to have an antibody administered by drip every six weeks or so to keep the lymphoma in check. It sort of coats the cancer cells, stops it from going anywhere else. I have to come back home no matter where I might be in the world.

“The tour dates are arranged so that I can always get back for treatment. It’s the only way I can manage my illness and keep on the road. I’d love to play more shows than we’re doing but my health has to be sorted out first.

“The infusions I have are part of the chemotherapy regime. It’s relatively new treatment and they don’t know what all the side-effects might be yet, but I wanted to try it.

“After each session I feel sick and tired, and that lasts for a week or so. I’m finding that it takes around 10 days to fully recover from each round of treatment, but if that’s what it takes, I have to accept it.

“In myself I’m feeling OK now. When I first found that I had the illness, it was a dark time and I was a bit spaced out. Since we’ve been in rehearsals and recording sessions, I’ve felt pretty good – great even.

“I think that the album and tour have given me something immediate to get my teeth into, something to accomplish.

“It’s not a case of taking your mind off the lymphoma — you want to be strong about it, but there’s this little doubt in your mind that keeps nagging: what if this pops back — but it is something to get excited about.”

“Medics say that the condition is manageable with treatment. I enjoy where I’m at now, I really do. It’s a good place. I’ve got a good home life and a good family, great friends and support. And I’m fortunate because I’m still able to go out and play music.”

Read the entire interview from Birmingham Mail.