BLACK SABBATH's GEEZER BUTLER Talks Lyrical Inspiration, 'Rock Band', 'Iron Man' Movies

June 29, 2010

IGN recently conducted an interview with legendary heavy metal bassist Geezer Butler (HEAVEN & HELL, BLACK SABBATH). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

IGN: You were the main lyricist for BLACK SABBATH for many years, and you've been known to draw inspiration from science fiction, fantasy and religion. So what specific mediums and material were you drawing from back then?

Butler: Just real life, I suppose. "War Pigs" was about the Vietnam War, which we thought we were going to get drawn into. "Hand of Doom" is about the experiences of soldiers. We played at an American army base in Germany and it was sort of a half-way house for soldiers coming back from Vietnam. And they were telling me that to get through the horrors of Vietnam they were turning to drugs over there, which, you know, was never broadcast on TV or anything like that back then. So it was all new to me and I thought it was a good subject to write about. "Electric Funeral" was about the atomic war that was imminent back then. The Cold War was at its height. Everybody thought they were gonna get blown to bits any second. So it was just all about real life and what was going on.

IGN: You used to play guitar with Ozzy in RARE BREED which was more of a soul and blues band. What made you transition into playing bass guitar and heavy metal when you moved to BLACK SABBATH?

Butler: I switched from rhythm guitar because a lot of the bands were getting into CREAM and HENDRIX and people like that. You're either a lead guitarist or a bass guitarist, and there was just no call for rhythm guitarists if you wanted to play that kind of stuff. When I went to see CREAM, [I] couldn't believe the way that Bruce played bass, and it sort of totally inspired me to take up bass. That's the direction I wanted to go in. Everybody in [SABBATH] liked CREAM and HENDRIX and ZEPPELIN, and I suppose it was a natural progression for us to get even heavier than they were.

IGN: A lot of your songs have been making their way to video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero. How do you feel about that? Do you think it's a good way to introduce a new generation to your music?

Butler: Yeah, I mean it's a really popular thing to get into. All the kids I know, from my family and stuff, are into that kind of thing, and half of them don't even know that it's a SABBATH song. [laughs] They never bothered to listen to the albums, but they'll hear it on Rock Band and get into it. But, yeah, it's good. Plus it's probably better than just listening to the radio. You know, it gives them something to do as well.

IGN: There's been a lot of "Iron Man" buzz since the sequel came out last month. How does it feel to hear your song being used as the title theme for that franchise? Is it weird to hear that song in any of the promos they run on TV? Are you a fan of the movies?

Butler: I liked the first one. I haven't seen the second one yet. But yeah, it's great. We had written ["Iron Man"] forty years ago not thinking that people would even care about it six months later from when we wrote it, and here it's forty years later and it's on commercials on TV. It's incredible.

IGN: What would you say was the craziest thing that's happened to you on stage or after a show?

Butler: Probably the craziest thing was when I got hit in the head with a bottle in Milwaukee. It was on the first "Heaven And Hell" tour, and between songs the lights went out and I was starting the bass intro to "N.I.B.", and some idiot threw a bottle, hit me on the head. It completely knocked me out, and when the lights went up there was no bassist there! I was just unconscious and there was blood everywhere. They took me off stage and we'd literally only done one song, and nobody bothered to tell the crowd what had happened. So it was like a complete riot going on. And when I got to the hospital these kids were coming in that had been [hurt] in the riot, right next to me — not knowing who I was, thank God.

Read the entire interview from IGN.

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