Bill Ward: From Jazz to Black Sabbath Part 2-2
BW: To stay in shape, I walk. Right now we haven't been doing that many gigs. We've had a couple of problems on Ozzfest this year and hopefully now we're back in the groove and we're going to be able to rock out with the songs, with the shows. But usually, playing a tour as long as we've been on tourwe've been on tour now for a little whilethat normally keeps my weight down just playing, regular playing. These days I don't eat, like, anything that I want. I can't eat anything that I want anymore. I have to eat things that are good for me (laughs), which has taken a lot of getting used to. And that, again, by changing those things another release of anger comes, because at first, whenever you can't have something, with me at least, I'm always angry about, like, how come I can't still have large pizzas and all this kind of stuff. Well, the bottom line is you can't have large pizzas because you're going to die if you don't change. So, I try to keep myself very fit. When I am at home I do a lot of walking, every other day, 10 mile walks, eight mile walks, and I walk in the sand five miles to keep my back legs nice and strong.
As a drummer I don't need to have a lot of muscle, but I do need to have stamina. So, to maintain stamina, that's why I do the five mile walks in the sand. They build up back muscles, they're good. Drummers need strong lower backs, as far as I'm concerned. We're sitting on drum stools all the time, you know. I do some very light weights just to keep my shoulders intact. Over the years, mate, there's been so much wear and tear on my body now that my shoulders have gone. I have had one operation on my left shoulder because it was so torn up. It's just gone from playing. You know, it's ripped to pieces. I think most of my fingers are broken except for a couple. With that comes arthritis. It's just the wear and tear of playing over the years. There are all kinds of things that I do though. I can't say enough about massage. I'm talking about sports massage, or Chinese massage, or Japanese massage, where I can keep myself supple and try to keep relaxed. Meditation is a good tool; relaxation is a good tool, learning to relax. All these things are essential.
Breathing, especially in hard rockI know breathing is important when you are drumming, but breathing in hard core rock, like in some of the songs we do, I have to conserve energy, conserve my breathing, and then when I'm coming to a crescendo, I need to find more air at that point. So, in order to find that extra air, what I do is I shallow breathe from the center, in my stomach, so I can conserve the air I need for when the crescendo comes because I can't always get air from nowhere. One has to breathe when you are playing.
But I learned to do that and then I didn't know this but I went to a master class to see Louie Bellson, and of course Louie talks about that, and I was just so pleased because I didn't know about that. It's a technique that I learned and I had to kind of learn how to do that because, especially when you've got so many different things all at one time going on, it can get really busy sometimes on a drum kit. When I first saw Louie doing that I felt really validated. I felt like, oh my god, this is something I've been doing for some years and I didn't even know! (Laughs) But when Louie pointed it out, the importance of it, especially with double bass drums and just breathing shallow, relaxed breathing, totally relaxed, you're actually very relaxed when you are playing. And then having all that extra breath when you need it for force so you can bring out force in crescendo, I think that that's very important.
Things that will create more independence or create awkwardness for myself, I try to make things difficult and awkward, especially in practice. I like to do things like that and I do those on a daily basis without even thinking. It's like isometrics, like force against force, well, this is the same kind of thing. I don't even know that I'm doing it. There are all kinds of patterns that I do on different materials. If I find a good floor, you know, when we go into a place sometimes like the doctor's office and they've got a good floor so you just feel that (taps on the floor with his foot), you can feel that sound. And so I'll just put other patterns up here somewhere (taps on the coffee table) completely independent of the patterns down there, and try to do different things to try to make things as ripped apart as possible. Right now, stick practice to keep flexible is important. I was doing some stick practice earlier. I have an incredible little practice kit on the road with me. At the gig, it's about two 20-inch bass drums and they're the ones that don't have any sound in them. They have the little, like, tennis racket heads.
AAJ: Oh yeah! I have never actually seen those.