Bill Ward: From Jazz to Black Sabbath Part 2-2
“ I try to look at drumming with humility and in doing so, I see the musician and I see the heart and I have no jealousy, or envy, or anything else. ”
Part 1 | Part 2
In part one of this interviewwhich took place on August 10, 2005, the day before Ozzfest pummeled through Seattle with an outstanding line-up that featured Rob Zombie, Shadows Fall, Zakk Wilde's Black Label Society, and Iron Maiden with Black Sabbath headlining and proving once again, after more than 35 years, that they rule the underworld of heavy metalBill talked about his childhood, growing up in Birmingham, England, as a drummer heavily influenced by blues, jazz, and rock and roll, and his career in the early days with Black Sabbath. Following completion of this interview, Bill also mentioned time, that is, playing in and out of time, citing the song "Black Sabbath" during which, as Bill pointed out, there are sections where there is virtually no time being played by the band at all. In the conclusion of this interview, Bill takes a deeper look at his musicianship and his own experience as a lifelong career musician.
All About Jazz: Can you talk about some of the things you have done musically outside of Black Sabbath?
Bill Ward: Well, I made a lot of mistakes in the sense that I didn't finish anything. First, when I finally dropped out of the public eye during the Heaven and Hell tour, I tried to do some things with other guys but, again, I didn't know it at the time but in hindsight now I can look back and go, "My god, no wonder you couldn't get anything done," because I was so fucked up all the time behind the dope. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't complete anything. And I get these crazy-ass ideas in my head to fly from America to England and at one time I did and I picked up a musician from England, brought him back to the States, and tried to do these incredible things and nothing worked out because I couldn't get it together.
So, I think I disappointed a lot of people, to be honest. I think I was more of a nuisance than anything else. So, those were my first early things (laughs). But it was after I got sober that I'd become more defined in '84. I started writing again. We did the Born Again album but I fell apart with the idea of touring. I got so much fear behind touring, I didn't talk about the fear, I drank behind the fear instead and that was a big mistake. So, I blew the Born Again tour and Bev Bevan, who is a very, very, very nice man, a very good drummer, took over the drum chair on that one.
In '84, I had reached the point where I tried to go back to the Sabs with yet another singer and at the time I just couldn't hang with the idea of trying to do something without Oz. All that was too fresh. It was just too much for me. I took time out and that's when I had to spend a lot of time in recovery. But at that point, that was the point where I sat down and I really started to look at music inside me that I hadn't attended to for years.
All of us were writing things on the side. We always did outside of Black Sabbath. But I started to become very vigorously interested in where it was. I tested my parameters, and that small start, if you like, has escalated into something that's absolutely blossoming because I've tested myself in production now. I've tested myself as a songwriter, I write parts for other musicians, I have my own drummer in my band. But I feel like over the years that I've really tried to learn a lot about just music, period. I even went to a drum teacher for the first time. When I was 50 years-old I kind of had cap-in-hand and felt quite ashamed of myself, and I went to Roy Burns and I asked Roy if he could teach me drums. He kind of had a smile on his face and he said, "Well, you pretty much know how to play drums already, I think." And I told him I didn't consider myself to be a drummer. If anything I consider myself to be an orchestrated drummer. I define that. But, man, Roy gave me some written stuff to learn. Oh man, I found it so awkward, so hard to read. So, I'm still just on eighth notes. I'm still there, you know. He started me off on quarter notes and I moved to eighth notes and I haven't been able to move on since then.