Kyle Harcott of Hellbound.ca recently conducted an interview with estranged BLACK SABBATH drummer Bill Ward. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Hellbound.ca: Your radio show, "Rock 50", is well-rounded and always versed in classic heavy metal, but also showcases loads of up-and-coming metal bands. Clearly you keep up. How do you choose what music goes on an episode?
Ward: Well — I like to make sure that I keep current with bands that are releasing albums, and so I try to give them some support, in the name of heavy metal. As far as I'm concerned, there's very little in the way of credible air-support for metal bands, especially in southern California. So if, say, SLIPKNOT has a new record out, they're gonna be played. But I also try to play songs from lesser-known bands, and I try to get the bands on the show when I can. I like to fool around, playing things that are compatible with the shape of metal, so it's not unusual for me to play something operatic, or classical. I'm having a lot of fun playing around with it. Like, I might be playing DEVILDRIVER, and then, depending on how their song ends, the mood might allow for a sixty-second interlude of classical music. I'm always trying to deal with the moods and energy of the music. If I've done a five- or six-song set of high-energy songs, I'll need to take a breath, so I want to give the listeners a breath as well. If I'm slamming six songs from some of the best bands in the world, that's a lot of power coming at you. So I like to back off a little, let it breathe and then pour it back on again.
Hellbound.ca: Do you find you're constantly listening to new metal bands? How do you find about out new stuff?
Ward: Well, I know a lot of the guys in the bands — but I keep my ear to the ground, and there are always friends who send me stuff to hear. Occasionally, I check in with my buddy Mike at Bionic Records, check out his roster of what's new and go for it. Word of mouth, mostly. One of my friends in, say, SLIPKNOT, will ask if I'm heard something, so I'll go check it out. Lately I've been listening to some new Dave Lombardo [ex-SLAYER drummer] tracks — and his stuff is incredible! He just blows me away.
Hellbound.ca: What bands excite you as the torchbearers in modern metal?
Ward: Oh God, there are so many! AMON AMARTH are progressing really well. And I've got to wave the flag for bands like SOILWORK, who are not necessarily new, but what they are doing is progressing, and they're playing so fucking well. Same with a band like DEVILDRIVER, where I'll be listening and wonder, "What are they gonna do next?" I'm blown away by those guys. Another one of my favorite bands is CELTIC FROST. I also really like TODAY IS THE DAY. And — I know it'll never happen, what with Henke's passing, but I also wish we could have a reincarnation of DISFEAR.
Hellbound.ca: Do you have a particular style or subgenre of metal that you're drawn to?
Ward: Not really — if the music catches my heart and my ears, then that's it. I usually find out afterward what the genre might be called. If it sounds great, I'm going to pick up on it — from CRYPTOPSY, or ARCH ENEMY, KRISIUN — it's all such good stuff, very dramatic ways of playing. See, it's the energy that turns me on. I have an open mind, and I try to be critical of none of the bands, even if something's not to my personal taste. After all, somebody worked really hard on that music.
Hellbound.ca: You changed the face of rock drumming in the 1970s, and the hard-hitting swing you incorporated is legendary. What you think about the current state of heavy metal drumming? Are you a fan of blastbeat drummers, or is it still all about the groove?
Ward: I'm so-so on the blastbeat. A couple of my mates play that style. I'm not a huge fan, no — and the only reason for that is because it distracts me from other elements of the dynamics. It's a little overpowering! But I think those drummers are fucking fantastic. My flag flies high for them, but I'm also so pleased and so happy that there's been such an enormous and intelligent growth in drumming. I'm just blown away by it. A few of these guys I know pretty good, and I watch them play, and I don't know how they do it. Gene Hoglan is one of my friends, and when I watch him play, I'm blown away; I can't believe what his body can do. We're really in great musical times, as drummers and bass players — from what we used to have. I think that drummers have come a long way, but they haven't forgotten players like Gene Krupa, or the other jazz players. A lot of these guys are putting in jazz techniques and swinging. One of my newest records was a CHILDREN OF BODOM album, and I can hear some of those jazz movements in what their drummer is doing.
Read the entire interview at Hellbound.ca.