GEEZER BUTLER 'Got Used To' BLACK SABBATH Being Called A 'Heavy Metal' Band

July 1, 2023

During an appearance on this past Wednesday's (June 28) episode of SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", BLACK SABBATH bassist Geezer Butler was asked how he feels about being considered one of the originators of the heavy metal genre. He replied: "I got used to it. It's just a term, like any other. People try and classify all kinds of music — try to put it in a bag or whatever and they come up with all these different things to call it.

"I think they called us heavy metal because we were a lot heavier than most hard rock bands that were around at the time. We'd gone one step heavier than anybody else, so they couldn't call it 'heavy rock'; they called it heavy metal."

Butler also acknowledged that SABBATH being called "heavy metal" tied in to the fact that he and his bandmates grew up in Birmingham, England, a city known for its former bleak industrial zones and often rainy streets, and worked in its factories.

"It was the first place to have factories — Birmingham was the very first place to have factories in the world, and it was part of the industrial revolution. That's where all the cars were made and all the ammunition and tanks and everything, Spitfires during World War II were made. It's always been an industrial part of England. I think that translated into the type of music that we wanted to play."

A little over a year ago, Geezer told "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk" that the first time he heard the term "heavy metal" in connection with BLACK SABBATH, it was being used by a music journalist in a disparaging way.

"When we were on tour in America, I think it was the second tour in the [United] States," Butler told Trunk. "I read this review, and the guy said, 'This isn't music. It sounds like a bunch of heavy metal being smashed together.' Somehow that got over to England, and from then on it was like the sarcastic thing they used to apply to us — 'this isn't music, it's a load of heavy metal being smashed together.' And for some reason we got stuck with it."

Back in 2018, BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi told BBC that he and his bandmates initially simply referred to their music as "heavy rock." He added: "The term heavy metal came about from a journalist when I came back from America [in the '70s]. He said, 'You're playing heavy metal,' and I said, 'No, it's heavy rock — what's that?'"

"At first, we didn't like being called heavy metal," Butler admitted in the same interview. "But everyone likes to put you into certain pigeon holes, so we sort of got used to it. And then instead of it being derogatory, it became a whole lifestyle."

"We wanted to create a vibe like you get off horror films — try and create a tension within the music," Iommi added. "We thought it would be really good to get this sort of vibe, this fear and excitement. It was a struggle. There was nothing like what we were doing. We'd taken on something because we believed in it, and loved what we were doing."

Butler concurred, telling What's On Birmingham: "To other people it may have felt like a new genre of music. But to us it just felt like an extension of the bands that we liked, like [Jimi] Hendrix, CREAM and Robert Johnson. We just made songs for ourselves. We didn’t think 'this is rock' or 'this is metal' or anything like that; it was just music to us."

Butler is promoting his autobiography, "Into The Void: From Birth To Black Sabbath – And Beyond", which was released on June 6 in North America via HarperCollins imprint Dey Street Books and on June 8 in the United Kingdom.

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