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Tony Iommi Recounts The Making Of Paranoid Album (5/30/2006)

Guitar One magazine recently conducted an interview with BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the band's "Paranoid" LP, which is regarded by many as the first real heavy metal album. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Guitar One: Do you recall a specific early moment when the SABBATH sound began to take shape?

Iommi: "I had a band with Bill Ward called MYTHOLOGY, which was into a sort of bluesy, jazzy thing. But it went into a totally different, heavier side as well. I recall one time at rehearsal when I played this riff that made the hair on my arm stand up. It was such a different vibe, I knew that was it. That riff led to 'Wicked World'; 'Black Sabbath' came soon after. 'Wicked World' still had a very jazzy feel, as you know. But 'Black Sabbath' took a total turn, and it grabbed us all. That started me writing in that darker vein."

Guitar One: Did you make that change, at least in part, for commercial reasons? Did you see a possible opportunity?

Iommi: No, never. We never thought about commercialism. It was just that the style grabbed us. We tested that sound out at a blues club, of all places, and it was interesting to see the shock on people's faces in the middle of our blues set. But they seemed turned on by it, or so we gathered. Anyway, we knew we liked it."

Guitar One: When did the material for "Paranoid" first start to appear?

Iommi: "When we were on tour for a bit after the first record. We had a six-week stint at a club in Zurich, where we'd start at 3:00 p.m. and play seven 45-minute sets for six weeks! Well, we didn't have enough songs, so we'd keep playing the same things, which got really boring, as you can imagine. So we used that time to start jamming and making up things, especially in the off hours, when there only a few people in the club. That's when 'War Pigs' came about. At the end of the six-week period, we had two or three real songs to start the new album with."

Guitar One: So then you went in to record "Paranoid".

Iommi: "Right. The recording of 'Paranoid' went very quickly. We went in, and five days later it was finished. Most of my ideas came from gigs I'd throw them in, a little riff here or there. It was tricky, though, because you had to remember it in those days; there were no simple recording devices. A lot of the ideas were structured at shows, and when it came time to do an album, we'd have to recall them and put them together."

Guitar One: There must have been a lot of pressure on you to come up with material.

Iommi: "They looked to me to come up with the music. If I didn't come up with something, we didn't do anything. You couldn't start with the drum thing, that didn't work for us. The guitar was the most tuneful element in the band, so everything stemmed from it."

Guitar One: It's been written that you worked well on the spot.

Iommi: "I tended to come up with stuff on the spot all the time. I wasn't the type to go home and think about it and work on something I don't know why I couldn't do that. I'd go in with nothing, but I took it upon myself to not let anyone else down. I couldn't tell them, 'I can't think of anything, guys, sorry.' I had to come up with something."

Guitar One: Did you ever hit a wall and come up empty?

Iommi: "It wasn't until the later years, while we were recording 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath', that I hit a blank, but that was five records in. I really did hit a wall, too. I couldn't think of anything. I was gutted. The band had shipped everything all our gear to L.A., where we'd rented a house for six months. But I was dry, so we basically turned right back around and went home."

Guitar One: Then what happened?

Iommi: "We came back together a bit later and went to Clearwell Castle in Wales. We set up in the dungeon and made sure the mood was right for us. Not long after we got there, I wrote the riff for 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath', and we went from there. That song set the album up nicely."

Guitar One's entire interview with Tony Iommi appears in the magazine's July 2006 issue, available on the newsstands now.

Source: Blabbermouth

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