After writing extensively about its past in his new book “Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell With Black Sabbath,” guitarist Tony Iommi is cautiously optimistic about a future with bandmates Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward.
And he’s not giving any hints about the Nov. 11 press conference the group his holding in Los Angeles.
“We’re talking,” Iommi tells Billboard.com, adding that “we’ve always been talking, to be honest. We’ve always been in touch with each other. There might be a lawsuit in-between us, but we still talk to each other like nothing’s happened.” The most recent legalities occurred in 2009, when Osbourne sued Iommi over the latter’s ownership of the Black Sabbath name. The matter was settled out of court in June of 2010, and the terms have never been revealed.
Iommi says the quartet assembled earlier this year at Osbourne’s home in California to play some music “for a bit of fun, and to see if we could all play. It was good, but it was just purely, ‘Let’s have a go and see what happens.’ ” Iommi says the group plans to get together again “very soon…to discuss things and see what’s going to happen and see what we’re going to do. It’s all in the air at the moment, but it’d be nice to think we can actually do something.”
And in his heart of hearts, Iommi says he’d like to see the lineup make its first new album together since 1978’s “Never Say Die,” save for two songs it added to the 1998 live album “Reunion.” “It’d be nice to do another album with the guys, yeah,” Iommi says. “There’s always unfinished business, isn’t there?”
While he’s busy waiting for Black Sabbath to make some decisions, Iommi is happily flogging “Iron Man,” which he began working on with co-writer T.J. Lammers some years back and “didn’t think it would last, to be honest. I’d do, like, three or four days, then we’d go on tour or whatever and when I’d come back I’d do a bit more, so it just happened over a long period.” Iommi, who began his book before Osbourne decided to do 2010’s best-selling “I Am Ozzy,” writes frankly about his life and musical career — including the 1965 sheet metal accident, when Iommi was 17, in which he lost the tops of the two middle fingers of his right hand and led him to learn a new way of playing guitar and essentially inventing light gauge strings.
“It certainly changed my life,” Iommi says. “Once that happened, it really made me more determined to play in some way; I said, ‘Whatever it takes, I’m gonna play.’ I’ve always had to try and get over barriers, whatever they may be, and do things. People have said over the years, ‘Why do you still keeping playing and still hold Black Sabbath together through the different lineups?’ It’s because I’m determined to do it. I’m determined to carry on. I’ve been like that with everything.”
But Iommi seldom expresses ill will or rancor towards any of the circumstances or characters that flow in and out of “Iron Man’s” 383 pages. “That’s what happens in life in general, isn’t it? You always get ups and downs and frustrations and annoyances,” Iommi says. “It’s all part of life, and I’ve just put down what the story is, really. We’re all going to get ups and downs, but it could’ve been me that made things miserable.”
Iommi professes to be happy with his lot now — with or without Black Sabbath. He’s planning to make an audio book version of “Iron Man” and has signed a deal to score three movies for reality TV show and film producer Mike Fleiss to score. Iommi and Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan are also talking about another joint recording project to follow their WhoCares to benefit a music school in Armenia. And he’s not ruling out more from where “Iron Man” came from.
“There’s always more stories,” Iommi says. “When I did this originally it was twice as thick, but (the publisher) only wanted a certain amount. They said it’s not good to do it too big — and there was probably a lot of waffling going on in there, anyway. I was probably going off about my friends and more things that I do. But there are more stories, yeah, so maybe I’ll write another one someday.”