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Bill Ward Explains His Side Of Black Sabbath Spat, Disputes Claims Regarding His Health


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In an interview unfortunately conducted prior to yesterday’s incendiary rebuttal from Ozzy Osbourne, estranged Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward further explained his position regarding the group. Earlier in the week, Ward released a statement in which he stated that an apology from Osbourne for various remarks, including this one, and a ‘signable contract’ were needed before he would rejoin the outfit.

According to Rolling Stone, Ward declined to comment directly on Osbourne‘s statement in a later follow-up. Some excerpts from his q&a can be found below.

On if he’s been contacted for the bands forthcoming final studio album, etc.:

“No, they haven’t approached me directly. They talk about it, and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to be vocal about this now, because I feel like sometimes when I hear those stories, they’re talking about me, but they don’t actually directly contact me. The only person that’s directly contacted me was [bassist] Geezer [Butler], and that was a couple of years ago. He was asking me if he could do one more gig with me, and I basically said, “Well, you better ask Sharon [Osbourne].” That actually was my answer. On my part, it was rather not a very good answer, but at the time, I wasn’t in a very good mood about these things.”

On what’d he’d like to clear up:

“One of the most painful things for me was Ozzy claimed in 2012 that I ought to have spoken up to the band and admit that I couldn’t cut it. But in my world, there was no such reason to do that. I was completely capable of playing in the studio and on tour.

I came out with the “signable contract” statement in February of 2012, and that’s because I needed to bring everything out into the open. Since then, nothing’s been spoken about the signable contract. Instead, they talk about my character and they blame me for pulling the plug, which is not true. I’m so loyal.

Actually, it hurts when I talk about it. I’m so loyal to Black Sabbath, and I would never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, go into a situation with them under false pretenses. Tony and I have been playing together since we were 16 years old. How could you possibly derive that I wasn’t able to admit that I couldn’t cut it?”

On being “overweight” as alleged by Ozzy:

“The truth is that I was overweight for playing onstage, but I wasn’t overweight for the studio. I could cut tracks with the weight that I arrived at. All of those guys know that I have a really rigorous exercise regimen. In August 2011, I started to drop weight because, at that point, I thought, “OK, we’re probably at five or six months away from actually doing a tour.” When we were in England, I was walking six miles before breakfast, I was doing bench presses, I was walking possibly two to three miles in the evening, and I was playing, like, three to four hours a day.”

On what would have made the contract agreeable:

“I wanted to earn some better money than we had been in the past for festival gigs. I think it was somewhere like $80,000 for the festivals, which I can hear everybody gasp now, but $80,000 is not a lot of dough when you’re playing festivals. And for all the other gigs in between, I was prepared to negotiate in a correct and proper manner.

And I would like to be included in some publishing and want my name and likeness to have a secure contract because the name and likeness has been a problem in the past. I’m paid a flat fee for my name and likeness on merchandise, and we’ve been fighting with the lawyers to try to have a correct contract to use my name and likeness. That’s been going on for fucking years. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work.

I also wanted a little piece of the action in publishing [songwriting revenue]. It was just a gesture of good faith that “drumming means writing.” If you’re laying a track, you’re writing. I don’t play beats. I hate playing beats. I’m an orchestration drummer. I’m a musical drummer. I’m a visionary drummer and I have been for a long, long, long time. I was asking for recognition. Nothing of what I asked for is exorbitant, wrong or over the top. I thought I was actually very reasonable.”

On making things public:

Oz chastised me in public. Had he just chastised me behind closed doors, we’d probably just have a good argument, and say, “Hey, fuck you.” But he did it in public. So I’m using the same forum that he used. He’s out in public. I’m out in public.”

On his health issues:

“I did get sick in October 2013, which was well after all of this has been talked about. I had perforated diverticulitis [a disease of the colon] that kicked the shit out of me. I actually lost another third of my heart when that happened. So I was in really bad shape; I was on death’s door for a little while. When they cut out my stomach, I got some scars now that I can show everybody.

Four days before I got the perforated diverticulitis, I had right shoulder surgery. That’s what happens to drummers who slam. The shoulder surgery was successful. It was nice and quiet and I thought, “Great, it doesn’t look like I’m going to be on tour so I’ll take care of my shoulder. This is a good time to do it.” I wound up with a frozen shoulder because the perforated diverticulitis took center stage.

I went into cardio rehab to rebuild the heart muscle, which I’m doing really well with. They’re trying to get me back up to 70 percent heart; I’m probably back up to maybe 50 percent now. Your heart muscle will grow again, providing that you’re exercising. And my shoulder is way, way better now. I still go to shoulder therapy, but I’ve been playing now for well over a year and I’m slamming hard. I can fucking play drums.”

On Sabbath‘s latest album “13“:

“I haven’t listened to the 13 album actually. I’ve only listened to one song, and I think it was called “God Is Dead?” I listened to it for 30 seconds, and then I listened to a drum pattern that I used originally on the track, and I switched it off. I’m not saying that to create a problem or anything or be clever about it.

I’m just saying I don’t want to hear my ideas being played by somebody else on the album. I won’t listen to that album. I just don’t want to find out what else is on there. And quite frankly, I didn’t like what I heard. It doesn’t sound anything like what I consider to be Black Sabbath.”

There’s a lot more to be read from Ward over at Rollingstone.com.

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