Geezer Butler says that he’s happy he and Black Sabbath mates Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi “were able to come together and do one final album” — “13,” which comes out June 11 and is currently streaming on iTunes.
“Well, I guess you should never say never,” the bassist tells Billboard. “It could be, though. We’ll see how this album goes, see what happens.” And Osbourne, who’s appearing on his first Sabbath studio album since 1978’s “Never Say Die,” also prefers caution when talking about future Sabbath recordings. “Let’s put it this way; it’s taken us 35 years to do this one,” he notes with a laugh. “So if there’s gonna be (another) album there’s gonna be an album but I don’t want to say if there’s going to be a follow-up. I wouldn’t mind doing another Sabbath album with them, though.”
The Rick Rubin-produced “13” — which features Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk on drums after Bill Ward bailed out last year — surfaces after some false starts in the past, most notably 2001 sessions that yielded a handful of songs Butler says the group “didn’t feel were up to standard” after a pair of new tracks (“Psycho Man” and “Selling My Soul”) appeared on the 1998 “Reunion” live album. Starting work in late 2011, Sabbath recorded 16 songs, eight of which appear on the standard version of “13” with three more on a Deluxe Edition and yet another on a special Best Buy version. The Japanese edition of the album will carry 13 songs, and Butler says “there’s two other tracks that sort of disappeared. I’m sure they’ll turn up somewhere.”
Black Sabbath previewed some of the new material during April and May shows in Australia and New Zealand and at the OZZFest in Tokyo, and Butler says the group is looking forward to including more “13” songs when its North American tour begins July 25 in Houston. “We actually did four of the new songs (live) and they sounded great — especially ‘Methademic,’ which is on the deluxe versions,” Butler notes. “We’ll definitely be doing three or four (per night) on the (North American) tour, I’d say. It seems so long since we started working on the album; everybody’s known for months that the album is coming out, so it’s like I can’t wait for the bloody thing to come out now. It already seems like an old album to me.”
Osbourne, meanwhile, says he’s been surprised by the rapid response to the Sabbath reunion so far. “If Australia and New Zealand and Japan are anything to go by, it’s gonna be great,” he says. “In Japan they’re usually very polite; they give you a round of applause and sit down again. But when we were there they were fucking going crazy. I’m baffled myself; I don’t understand why it’s happening. I am blown away. I mean, 45 years down the road and we’ve got a really great album to put out — talk about icing on the cake! It’s unbelievable.”
After Sabbath’s North American run wraps up Sept. 3 in Los Angeles, the group heads to South America during October for dates with Megadeth, then starts a European run on Nov. 20 in Finland that finishes with a pair of shows Dec. 20 and 22 in the group’s home town of Birmingham, England.