Bill Ward: From Jazz to Black Sabbath Part 2-2
BW: Oh, they're totally cool. They're totally cool. But the 20-inch action, it's so smooth, you know, it's like 20 inches, man. It's like having grease on the neck, man, especially when you're playing these lolloping big drums that I play. I mean, the drum kit that I use is over 26 years-old, the one that I'm currently using on the stage. 26 years-old, man.
AAJ: Is that your old Ludwig kit?
BW: No, it's a Tama. It's one of the very first Tama kits. Yeah, custom made. Special little designs on that one. But I have other kits that are somewhat newer (laughs). But when I play with Black Sabbath I always use the Tama kit. They like the sound of that kit, and that's the first kit that we used on Heaven and Hell.
So, yeah, I try to think outside the box all the time. A lot of the time I'll just beat (taps out rhythms on the coffee table).... You do all that stuff all the time in the doctor's office while you're waiting. I mean, I don't know what people think of drummers sometimes because drummers will just start slapping it around in the doctor's office, the dentist's chair, you know.
AAJ: I gave Elvin Jones a photo that I took of him in 2000. I went back to the dressing room at the Jazz Alley and I was just going to show it to him, really, and all of a sudden I was overcome with this urge to give to him. So I gave it to him and he was like, "Thanks." (Laughter) You know, because he was eyeing it. Michael Shrieve was back there with me and as we were walking out, before the gig was about to start, Mike says, "You just had to give it to him, didn't you? Don't worry about it. I know how it is."
Gregg Keplinger was telling me about this time when he had an old pair of 16-inch K's (vintage Zildjian hi-hat cymbals), like really old 16-inch K's.
BW: Very nice. Yeah.
AAJ: He went back there to show them to Elvin and he had to hide them because Elvin had his eye on them.
BW: Oh, shit. Cymbals, man. Everybody is always looking for cymbals. Everybody is looking for cymbals all the time. Absolutely, yeah. We are trying new things all the time with cymbals. I am trying out some very heavy 26-inch bells and cymbals. Sabian have been really flexibly trying to make some things. But we always seem to be experimenting and trying to move forward a little bit. Really, all it is, and I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here, the wheel was really good. There were really good wheels in the 1940s and '50s (laughs), and all I'm trying to do is basically get something that I started out with.
You know, in some ways it's like, my god, where did those cymbals go to? So everybody that's got good cymbals are hanging onto them. I've got all my originalnot all of them now, because a lot of them have gotten broken over the yearsbut I still have my original Zyn, but there's no way that I'll take them on the road. I did all of my first recordings with the Zyn, and I used them since I was a kid, you know, because I couldn't afford Zildjian. There was no way I could afford Zildjian. But the Zyn cymbals were affordable and, at the time, they had a great sound. But, I do have them. They're pristine, but there's no way I'll play on them. I won't use them. The cymbals that I used to pick up years ago in the early seventies, I might pick something good up at Manny's in New York, or pick up a cymbal or two in Nashville on Skid Row, whatever it might be.
You can't find for the love of moneyanybody that's got cymbals, they're going to hang on to them. So, trying to find cymbals now, I'm really well-supplied with all my rock cymbals from Sabian but I'm trying to find the cymbals that I used to play on for authentic rock, for the authentic sounds of the late sixties and 1970, and introduce that into the world of Sabian. So, that's why we're trying these enormously large 26-inch major heavy crash-rides. We've got some great cymbals, and they would all work. It's hard work using them live, but they would work extremely well in the studio. I definitely have great cymbals to use in the studio, you know, with the Sabian line that they are making. But to be fair to Sabian and myself, all these are in their prototype stage right now. We're trying to work on making just these much morethat embraces the past and can still maintain a very solid sound in the now, of where we are right now, and for hard rock playing, or, as people call it, metal playing.
AAJ: What kinds of things do you do to stay creative?
BW: I don't do anything that I'm aware of. My life is so full (laughs), it's everywhere, it's every day. I mean, I don't know what that is. I don't know, my creativity is abundant. Every day, I'm either writing something or singing something. It's just incredibly alive. I don't do anything. It seems to be just there and there's always, always lots of information that presents itself every day where one can feel sad or good or bad, or you can just be so sensitive that one can write something lyrically or try to capture something.