Metal Exiles Interview – March 2005

The following interview was done with Geezer Butler by Jeffrey Easton.  The interview originally appeared on the Metal Exiles website here.  Check out the Metal Exiles website for more interviews and news!

Jeffrey Easton interviewing Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath/GZR!

What can you say about Geezer Butler that has not already been said? He is the forefather of metal along with his brothers in Black Sabbath, the first one there in my opinion. He has reformed his solo act GZR and is set to release his third solo effort for the publics consumption. If you liked the original GZR, you will certainly find this new disc appetizing. I got the rare opportunity to talk to this legend about GZR, Sabbath and history itself.

Jeff: Greetings Geezer, I have been wanting to talk to you.

Geezer: Great.

Jeff: You have a new GZR CD coming out entitled Ohmwork, lets get into it. Why did you decide to come back out with GZR now?

Geezer: I think I finally got the direction right. For the last seven years I have been writing tons of songs but they are in different directions.

Jeff: What kind of directions?

Geezer: I was writing some Jazz stuff, keyboard stuff, some acoustic stuff, all different types. Over the past few years I have been getting together with the guitarist and decided the main thing was to pick a direction. We decided to go in a heavy direction for this record.

Jeff: What made you decide to go in this direction?

Geezer: I wanted to be able to play it live or in rehearsal situation whereas the keyboard stuff I was doing was strictly studio.

Jeff: Well, that is what you got, a heavy, raw CD. Will the other stuff that you have written ever see the light of day?

Geezer: Some of it will when we get a chance to go back to it. We have quite a lot of material left over from this album as well. I did not want to put to many songs that sounded the same on the same album.

Jeff: That is true, you get stagnate after awhile.

Geezer: We also have some acoustic stuff that might be on the next album as well.

Jeff: What kind of acoustic stuff?

Geezer: We experimented with bluegrass mixed with metal.

Jeff: Wow.

Geezer: It is a totally different sound but I want to get it right before I put it on album.

Jeff: That is something I have not heard before. How do you mix bluegrass and metal?

Geezer: Well, you will know when I do it next time.

Jeff: Your last GZR came out in 1997, why did it take so long for you to come out with the third CD?

Geezer: I think most of it had to do with the Black Sabbath stuff that has been going on as well as finding another direction. The last album I did, the Geezer album Black Science, had a lot of keyboards and it did not work. It sounded great in my studio but when I took into another studio I realized it was going to take months to do. When I go into the studio it has to be raw and to the point. I like to do things quickly because I do not have much patience.

Jeff: I read that you did this in ten days, like the early days of Sabbath.

Geezer: Yeah, if you polish things to much then it loses the feeling I think. Towards later days of Sabbath instead of going in and knocking out what songs we did in rehearsal we would polish them to death.

Jeff: The album is really heavy and the songs are very dark, what inspired them?

Geezer: Just the world we live in. Depression, the war in Iraq, being ruled by a bunch of pissing business idiots.

Jeff: Where did Pseudocide come from?

Geezer: Pseudocide is faking your own death, it is about starting over.

Jeff: How long did it take you to write the music and what inspired it?

Geezer: We finally got down to it over the last few years because we had so many songs so we picked about sixteen songs and worked on them. So we have been seriously working on them for about a year.

Jeff: How would you compare this to Plastic Planted?

Geezer: I feel that this is the sequel to it, it has the anger back.

Jeff: It does have a lot of anger in it, it is a real reflection of the times right now.

Geezer: Yeah, I would not want to write something about something I do not think about.

Jeff: Would that be where Dogs Of Whore came from?

Geezer: That is about George Bush.

Jeff: I take it that you are not a big fan of George Bush?

Geezer: Not at all, neither any of the other pissing mad war mongers.

Jeff: So you feel that all he is doing now is a mistake?

Geezer: Absolutely, I cannot believe in this day and age this dog going to war over these things. He could have solved all of this diplomatically.

Jeff: You think so?

Geezer: Yeah, or sent someone in to assassinate Saddam Hussein. He did not have to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people and thousands of young American soldiers.

Jeff: To me it is a mistake and there are other ways of doing it. I think he just did this because his dad failed at it.

Geezer: Absolutely and his companies own all of the oil interests out there. He does not get what Iraq is all about, all of the mad factions there. There are six different factions there that all hate each other and it was like opening a Pandora’s box.

Jeff: He went about it wrong, he sent an army to fight something that is hard to win with what we have.

Geezer: No, you cannot and this is going to end up like the Vietnam War. There will be no end to it and all it will do is make the world a worse place with all of these Looney terrorists.

Jeff: Back to GZR, who is in the band now?

Geezer: There is me, Pedro Howse on guitar, Clark Brown on vocals, who was on the last record Black Science and Chad Smith from St. Louis. Not the Chad Smith from the Chili Peppers.

Jeff: I was wondering that when I first saw that.

Geezer: I wish he would change his name. He did the last tour with me for Black Science.

Jeff: You are doing OZZFest this year, how will you be able to promote this new CD?

Geezer: By doing interviews.

Jeff: Will you be able to take GZR out after OZZFest is over?

Geezer: OZZFest came up well after the album was done and when I was in the middle of putting together my own tour. I would love to take the band out on tour after the OZZFest is over.

Jeff: Will you have the time to?

Geezer: I will find the time later on the year.

Jeff: Will it be an American tour?

Geezer: It will be the whole world if they will have me.

Jeff: I am sure you will not have that problem at all. Speaking of OZZFest, what do you think of Sabbath going out again?

Geezer: It was a surprise because we just did it last year and I do not know if this will be Ozzy’s last year or not. It was out of the blue that Sharon called up and asked me if I would do it.

Jeff: Do you think that Sabbath are still relevant?

Geezer: We still have a following and it is nice to be able to play the old songs.

Jeff: How does it feel to come out on stage with Sabbath touring with all of these bands and knowing that you are an originator and you started all of this and still doing it better in some cases?

Geezer: It is nice because when we first started people put us down, said we were not relevant, said our music was not real music, totally put us down. It is nice all these years later to be still playing it and be acclaimed for doing it. When you see all of these bands citing you as influences it makes you feel relevant.

Jeff: Did you see yourself being here over 35 years later?

Geezer: Absolutely not, back when we first started I was 18 we thought 25 year old people were old people and pop groups would last a few years and could not go on because they were to old. We grew up in an are when you just could not be old. It was like The Who song , I hope I die before I get old, but now it seems like the older bands are bigger than ever. Now we get a mixed crowd where you have kids and up to old blokes like me.

Jeff: You and Black Sabbath have been there since basically day one of the evolution of metal, what is your opinion of the evolution of metal since then?

Geezer: I think the 80’s were the worst period.

Jeff: Why is that?

Geezer: Because you had these horrible pop bands growing their hair and calling themselves metal. Bands like Poison and Warrant and all that, it was horrible, all of those horrible ballads and all of that sickly crap. It was not furthering anything as far as I am concerned. Then you have good bands like Anthrax and Metallica that took it back to where it should to be.

Jeff: So your heart is in the heavier metal?

Geezer: Oh yeah, absolutely. If you are a pop band don’t say you’re a metal band. Poison and Warrant were about as metal as the Backstreet Boys.

Jeff: Well, most of those bands did it for the money anyway.

Geezer: People can see through that easily and that is why none of them are not really around much anymore.

Jeff: Going back to GZR, your album is coming out in May, world tour this fall, will you keep GZR together after this?

Geezer: Absolutely, I still have loads of stuff to say and more ideas.

Jeff: Do you think GZR fits into today’s climate?

Geezer: I don’t even think about it like that, I just have fun doing what I do. I am certainly not doing it for the money because there is certainly not any money in it. It is good that I can go out for the music again.

Jeff: Most people are in it for the money so that is a good to hear.

Geezer: I make all of my money from Sabbath so that lets me go out and do GZR.

Jeff: You have the money so you have the freedom to do what you want. I know that this will be good because your heart is in the right place with it. On that I will say thank you for your time, it was a pleasure and an honor to talk to you.

Geezer: Thanks Jeff.

Interview is (c) 2005 Metal Exiles.

Errata:

1) In the original interview, it was mentioned that Chad Smith toured with Geezer in Black Sabbath.  That is incorrect, it is on the GZR 1997 “Black Science” tour.

2) In the paragraph about assassinating Saddam Hussein, the original article did not mention the name Saddam Hussein (no name at all was used), and Geezer wanted the name in there for clarification.