What really needs to be said for a band like HEAVEN AND HELL? If you don't know who they are, you cannot call yourself a true fan of Heavy Metal. For the first time in fifteen years, Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice will share the stage and deliver the classic Dio-era BLACK SABBATH to rabid audiences across the world. This indeed marks a monumental chapter in Heavy Metal history. Legends don't get any bigger than this.
What prompted the reunion?
"Well I talked about it with Geezer while we were doing the last Ozzfest, I said it would be nice to go out and play some other songs, maybe we should think about getting together with Ronnie again and doing sort of the Dio lineup, 'cause that would be nice to do, to get out and play and he went 'oh yeah, that would be good'. We thought about it; it went from there, really. I went to see Ronnie when he played here in England, 'cause I hadn't seen him for a long time, and it was great - we got on great and... it really seemed good, you know. And of course, the next thing is that the record company was going to do the 'Dio Years' album and they wanted to put some other tracks (on it) and they asked me if we'd got any stuff that we'd recorded that we hadn't used, and of course we had, but I didn't think... I think we should write something new. So that sort of idea went into talking to Ronnie and seeing if he would be up for it and of course, Ronnie was, so it was brilliant. So it enabled us to be able to get together and start writing again. And one thing lead to another, really, and we got on so well and it was a great vibe and everything and now here we are going on tour, so it's great."
Tell us a little bit about the songs that have been recorded for the upcoming "Dio Years" album.
"The three - we've got a slow song, a medium one and an up-tempo one and the slow song is 'Shadow Of The Wind'... and that's a really heavy song and Ronnie came up with the initial riff and I added other riffs and other parts from there. Really good song I think and we really like it; it's very... it resembles that old feeling of when we were together before; it's got that classic sort of sound, you know. The next one is 'The Devil Cried' and that's a mid-tempo track which is... riff-based again, great vocals and I think that's really good and then we've got an up-tempo one, which we felt we should do, then it pleases everybody then, and that's called 'Ear In The Wall'... and that's a really good, fast song."
Now I know the question has already been answered in various outlets, but there's still a lot of people that aren't sure why the reunion is being called HEAVEN AND HELL, as opposed to BLACK SABBATH.
"Well, originally, it started up; we were going to call the tour 'Heaven And Hell' and it went from there to 'yeah, let's call the band HEAVEN AND HELL and separate the two things so people know what they're getting.' It's not the Ozzy version of... if we go out as BLACK SABBATH, it could confuse things because we've just done a tour as BLACK SABBATH with Ozzy, and so we thought it'd be nice to have a fresh start... go out as something different, because all the set's going to be Dio-era music. So it just sounds right to call it HEAVEN AND HELL. I mean, we could call it SABBATH. I own the name, but we thought it was best to do this and call it... then you don't get everybody going 'oh, bloody hell, I thought it was BLACK SABBATH'. And it keeps it clean, I think and we like the idea of going out as something different and we don't need to have to play the old BLACK SABBATH stuff if we don't want to."
Why was Bill Ward unable to participate in the reunion?
"Well, it started off with Bill. Bill came over to England here and I worked with him for a week, but we didn't feel as if it was going quite right from both sides, from Bill's side and our side... and we thought a majority of the set we'll be playing is what Vinny's played anyway. So we thought it would probably be best if Bill thought it would be best for Vinny to do it, to be honest. Which there's no bad feelings; there's no bad vibes or nothing. It's no breakup or anything like that; it's just a choice and Bill thought it would be best to have Vinny do it as anybody."
Can we expect the possibility of a new studio album?
"With Dio... well, nothing's out of the question. I think... we actually talked about it when everybody was at my house here, when we were recording these three tracks. We said 'bloody hell, we could record an album at the moment', and we had to sort of stop ourselves at three songs. And at first, the record company didn't want to put three songs, and anyways, we sort of said 'we've got to have three songs', but we were already together. We could have done it and who knows? I mean, it would be nice to do an album I think. I think whatever comes now to just take it and do it, you know; I've got no boundaries at all."
What about the possibility of a live CD and/or DVD from the tour?
"Yes, we're talking about that. We're talking about doing that on this tour. And that would be nice to do that. I think it would be good to have that... I think the fans would like that."
What are your expectations for the tour?
"I don't even have any expectations; I just want to get out and play and do... and play good and have a good set. I mean, I know with the people involved in this lineup, it will be a good set, and that's what I want. I want to be able to go out and enjoy it, really. I don't look for... I'm not looking for problems or anything like that - I just want to go out and play and enjoy it and hope the fans enjoy it and I think it will be very interesting."
Any specific songs we can expect to hear?
"Well, you'll be hearing 'Heaven and Hell' and all those, 'Mob Rules' and 'Children of the Sea' and various others. We don't exactly know what the setlist is going to be yet. I get together with the guys next week and we're going to pinpoint exactly what songs we're going to play, but we've certainly got a great selection and I'm sure people will be pleased with it."
Will we hear any of the new songs live?
"Oh yes, we'll be playing the new songs. Absolutely."
What kind of stage show can we expect, or are you guys just going to go out there and play with no pyro or anything?
"We've got a stage set, but I don't know if we're going to be using pyro or anything. I haven't been involved in that. I mean, I've seen the stage set and I've had my opinions on things and... the main thing for me is to get out and play whatever... blowing things up is another thing, but the main thing is the music. But we possibly may be using things like that. I don't know; I'm not sure yet 'til I get to the States.
What are your thoughts on playing some of the larger European festivals?
"I'm looking forward to that as well. I think it'll be good, it'll be interesting and I'm looking forward to actually getting out and playing those. I'm looking forward to getting out and playing everywhere, to be honest. I mean that's the idea of this tour, so we can get out and play as many places as we can."
As far as North America, are you surprised at all that you're playing full-fledged coliseums with this particular lineup rather than, say for instance, more mid-sized, five-thousand capacity venues?
"No, I'm not surprised. The whole thing... we wanted to go out in a big way. It's no point and going out and playing the little club up the road and stuff like that. I think you've got to go out and be able to be what's best for you, you know, to be able to play on these gigs and I'm looking forward to that."
As far as the U.S. leg of the tour, is that going to be a full U.S. tour or is it just going to be more like select cities?
"I've not got any definite things on that yet. We've been treading very lightly, really, to go out there and things are being changed at the moment now, as we speak. In fact, I spoke last night to my management and dates are being swapped 'round now for the States, because we're supposed to be going to Brazil after the Canadian tour. After New York, we were going to go to Brazil, but I think we're swapping 'round now, so I can't give you any information on that, I'm afraid; and the only thing that's set in stone after is the European tour. Then we're negotiating when to do Australia and Japan, I'm not sure if that's before or after now."
As somebody who was extraordinarily on the genre, what are your thoughts on the current Heavy Metal scene?
"As far as what?"
I mean, just the whole explosion of the genre. I mean, BLACK SABBATH, being the first Metal band... you've influenced absolutely everybody.
"Oh, I think that's fantastic! I'm very pleased with the whole thing. I mean, I can't not be pleased with that; that's a great compliment, you know, to have all these bands out there citing me or SABBATH as their influence... or started them off. It's brilliant; I think that's fantastic, you know."
Has there been anybody, within any music genre, that you've wanted to do a project with, but haven't been able to yet?
"I think I'm more or less getting around to doing most things I want to do now. I've worked with the people, and I still am working with the people that I like to work with and that's the great thing - I think now, more than ever, is we've had the opportunities now of working with people that we want to work with, and it's been nice, again, working with Ronnie and last... couple of years ago, I worked with Glenn Hughes, which was great, you know. All this is still there and it's great to be able to touch on that at any time and say to Glenn, you know, 'do you want to do another album?' or 'Ronnie, do you want to do an album?' And see, just so it's around, instead of saying, 'Oh, it's got to be one thing.' I think it's great now; I think it's more open to be able to do an album with who you want. If they want, of course."
What's your opinion on a lot of the live bootlegs of BLACK SABBATH throughout the years? Do you see it as more of a tribute to everything the band has accomplished or just people trying to make a quick buck off your name?
"Of our live albums?"
No, just bootlegs of various live shows.
"Oh yes, somebody trying to make money, isn't it? You know, I mean... the fans will buy them and it's a shame because some of them are probably really crap. Some of them might be very good, but it's obviously... somebody wants to make money out of it and that's what they do."
Now I know the answer to this will probably be no, but I know there's a number of bootlegs floating around of the shows that Rob Halford filled in on vocals for. Is there a possibility of those actually being officially released, maybe like as a fan club thing?
"Yes. (laughs) That's the way you're putting it. (laughs) No, I don't know. I haven't even thought of that, to be honest. It was mentioned quite awhile ago about that, but I haven't given that any thought for a long, long time."
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
"Well, again, you see, there with Rob Halford... I mean, that was another great thing and to the other guys, though. I mean, things like that, many, many years ago would never happen, but the door is open a lot more now and you can go on stage... you know, nobody would ever be able to walk on stage before like that and just get on a show with SABBATH and sing. And that was brilliant that Rob did that and I really take my hat off to him. He did a great job and he's a great guy and it just shows, you know, you can still go out and work with all these different people and it's all good." [FIN]
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