By Steve Jenkins
For well over 40 years, Black Sabbath has shaken the earth with their HEAVY sound and have forged the way for many bands to come. Influencing artists ranging from metal to rap, many have Black Sabbath to thank for paving the way with their groundbreaking sound and rock n roll attitude, taking music in a brave and creative new direction.
All good things must come to and end, and Black Sabbath’s long and illustrious career is no exception. We spoke to founding member, Tony Iommi, about what it’s like to write and perform for so many years, their diverse and dedicated fan base and saying goodbye on their final tour.
“It’s fantastic, I mean it’s not only heavy metal bands, we’ve inspired so many people in the business from rappers to heavy metal. But there’s a lot of different sorts of musical styles that have looked at Black Sabbath as an influence and it’s an amazing eye opener, it’s hard to believe.”
After only a short time away, Tony is still keen to get back and play for Australian crowds for one last time.
“Well we like Australia, it’s a great place to play and you know that’s what we do, we want to play wherever we can get to really. We were there a couple of years ago and it’s always a brilliant time, so we’re very much looking forward to it this time around.”
It’s this hardworking attitude that has seen the band leap from milestone to milestone over the years, maintaining a level of success over such a long lifespan that few bands could ever dream of – not that Tony seems ungrateful.
“You never know how long you’re going to be playing for, it’s always like; you do what you do and you enjoy what you do and you just go on. It’s happened to turn into a long period of time and to keep going for this long and to keep going at this level is quite remarkable. The tours that we’re doing now have been phenomenal, they’ve been all sellouts and it’s just been fantastic. It’s hard for us to believe that after all this time we can still do that.”
The music of Black Sabbath may be heavy for some, but it has a habit of transcending generational gaps, a fact that can be witnessed through the variance in age at their live shows.
“We see fathers and grandfathers, it’s really great to see and I must say our fans are just fantastic, they’re 100% with us and it’s great to that they bring their kids and they’ve been brought up with it as well. You couldn’t wish for anything better really, we really do have a great following.”
No matter what era of Black Sabbath you were introduced to, there’s definitely something for everyone, with a mix of classic and new material promised for their upcoming shows. When asked if Tony had a favourite song to play, he couldn’t pinpoint one amongst their large catalogue.
“I actually don’t get tired of playing any of them, it’s a part of what I do and it’s a part of what I’ve written and performed. So I never really get tired of it, it’s quite nice to play the classics and even then we’ll still throw in an odd one that we haven’t played for a long time, which is really good and refreshing. But I never get tired of playing any of them. But of course you’ve got to play the classics because if you don’t play them then people will complain that you didn’t play them. We’ve been playing, Hand Of Doom, lately in the show which I’m really enjoying, we haven’t played that for 40 years or something.”
Through good times and bad, Tony and the band have kept going despite the obstacles thrown at them. When asked what has motivated him to get through the tougher times, his answer was very clear.
“Well it’s just what you do and it’s in your blood when you play. You’re going to have ups and downs whatever you do; I just believed in sticking to it and keep on going because I enjoy what I do. It’s always good to have a challenge as well and to make you work harder to achieve something and that’s always been my thing. It’s only been up until now that we of course have to come to an end at some point. We’ve had a great time and even in some of the more bad times it’s still been good if you know what I mean? Those things are there to try and stop you but it just proves that you believe in what you do, you just keep going through it.”
Now, putting all of that in the past, Black Sabbath is ready to blow the minds of Australian audiences one last time in a final send off.
“It’s going to be a spectacular show I think. I mean, at the moment everybody has been knocked with the show so we’ll see how it’s received. It’s been going down very, very well. The band are playing really good and tight at the moment. I’m looking forward to seeing how the lovely Australian fans react; I think it’s going to be very memorable for everyone. It’s going to be very emotional playing these places for the last time, it’s almost unbelievable because we’ve done it for so long.”
When asked if he had a parting message to the loyal Australian fanbase who have stuck by Sabbath’s side throughout all of the years, Tony had this to say:
“Well this really will be it, if you want to see Sabbath then this is the time to see them otherwise it will be too late. There’ll be no more after this, and it’s very sad but at the same time it has to come to an end. I’m just grateful that our fans have stuck with us for all these years and hopefully they’ll still maintain, once we stop touring, listening to Sabbath. I’m sure they will. I can’t thank everyone enough for all their support.”
Joining Black Sabbath on their Australian tour will be Five Finger Death Punch.
Black Sabbath Tour Dates 2016
15 April – Perth Arena, Perth
17 April – Entertainment Centre, Adelaide
19 April – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
23 April – Allphones Arena, Sydney
25 April – Entertainment Centre, Brisbane
For complete tour and ticketing details, visit: livenation.com.au.