Bill Ward: From Jazz to Black Sabbath Part 2-2
Even kids, little kids that I know that have just grown up into drummers, now have gone past their eighth notes and sixteenths. I mean, they do it and I'm looking at them going, "How do they do that? How do they play like that?" To me, those are real drummers. Those are proper drummers. So, for a long time there was very much of a wasteland in me because I didn't know. I thought, well, how do I categorize myself? I couldn't identify as a drummer. It's like these other guys pick it up and they seem to play in time and they seem to know all these things about drumming, and I have never been able to do that. I have no concept of what they're doing. I went to Roy Burns with all my heart and soul trying to learn how to play drums. I thought, 50 years-old, I'm going to learn how to play drums, finally. You know, I'm clueless. I'm absolutely clueless, yet I can play with a band and just feel the musicians and just play to wherever it's got to go, and that's something that just comes absolutely natural to me. So, I don't get it.
Several things happened to me as I was really, really growing up this time. I stopped looking at what I couldn't play and I stopped being angry about what I couldn't do, and I started to focus on what could I do and could I do it well, and if I could do it well and if I could do it properly, then what I decided to do was enhance that and let that grow, and I stopped wasting my time looking at other drummers thinking about, well, how do they play and how come I can't do that. And from that very day, when that happenedthat happened a number of years ago nowI've been in love with other drummers. All the envy, all the anger that I felt, has all dropped away. It's nonexistent. I have such an open mind and a complete enjoyment for any drummer. Anybody, you know, I know that I'm going to enjoy their drumming because drumming now is something to me that has a totally different dynamic. It's like...how can I explain it.... Drumming now is...well, I see it without envy. 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. I feel like I can really, really listen to a drummer whether he is 96 years-old or six years-old, and I give the six year-old just the same amount of credit that I would the 90 year-old because they are in the same process of achievement as drummers. So my outlook towards drumming has completely changed.
My relationship with my drums has gotten a whole lot better because I used to look at my drums and they used to be like mountainous to me. That looked like a mountainous problem sometimes and it's like, how can I overcome these drums? How can I master them? So, I just stopped trying to do that. I surrendered. Now I play them instead, rather than trying to overcome them. There's a big difference there, you know? Like learning how to play. Aynsley Dunbar, years and years and years ago, years ago, manthis is when Aynsley was playing with Zappa, years agohe watched me, and I had this technique of playing up here like this, when I was a kid. I'm 22, 23 years-old and I like to play up high, and he suggested to me one timeI can always remember this; I don't think Aynsley would remember this, but I know I doand he said, "Why don't you lower your cymbals and play from the shoulder a little bit more?" And today, I have lower cymbals and I play from my shoulder just like Aynsley taught me (laughter). I don't know, there's so many different things here that I'm learning.
But I've written a couple of albums and I've got another three or four albums in the works. I like working with all kinds of people. When I'm not with the Sabs I like to work with all kinds of musiciansrock musicians, metal musicians. In all walks of life, it doesn't make any differencejazz musicians, brasswhatever it might be. Musically, I feel very rich. I feel that by surrendering up everything that I thought I wanted, instead I found an overflowing well or an overflowing spring that just brings up music endlessly all the time.
AAJ: What kinds of things do you do to practice and to stay in shape as a drummer?