Five minutes alone with Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler

a shot of geezer butler
Geezer Butler: not resting on his laurels during his \u2018retirement\u2019

How did it feel bowing offstage with Sabbath for the last time this year?

“It felt like the right thing to do. Tony decided he didn’t want to tour anymore, and after what he’d been through with his lymphoma treatment, I fully respected his decision. It was good that we went out at the top of our game, and with our friendship intact. It was sad, for me, to say goodbye to touring, as I really enjoy travelling and playing all over the world. It didn’t really hit me that it was all over until I got home. I felt quite lost for a few weeks after the final show.”

What was the atmosphere like at the last Birmingham show?

“Backstage it was like family time; it seemed like each of us were entertaining our families and friends. There wasn’t much quiet time, like there usually is before we play. The actual showtime atmosphere was electric, to use a cliché. It really had a special feeling, a mixture of excitement, nervousness, adrenaline and hope. The crowd were well up for it. It seemed that the love they had for us was tangible, like an invisible wave washing over us.”

What was your favourite part about the last trek together?

“That we played our socks off at every show. I realised that it’d be the last time anyone would see this line-up and I think we gave some of our best performances.”

What do you think of the metal scene in 2017?

“I don’t listen to much metal anymore. In fact, I was never really into that many metal bands. The only metal I’ve bought recently has been Gojira, Mastodon and Metallica, but I really like Soundgarden and Royal Blood albums. It’s hard these days for metal bands to really make a breakthrough. It seems like festivals are the way to go for most bands now, unless they can catch a support slot on a more established band’s tour. I’m sure there’ll be a breakthrough band sometime soon.”

What’s the biggest difference for you now, compared to 30 years ago?

“The biggest one is that I’m 30 years older. I don’t feel immortal anymore, I’ve slowed down, I don’t booze or do drugs anymore – I’m quite boring now. I’m more concerned with where I’ll be buried than what gigs I’ll go to. But I’m enjoying life, what’s left of it.”

What’s next for you?

“I’m always experimenting in my studio and writing music, so there might be another Geezer album next year. I’m still debating whether to finish my memoirs. I’m a private person, and not sure I’d be comfortable sharing my life – what I can remember of it – publicly. I want to finish writing about my life so my grandkids can read it when they are old enough. I always wished I’d have asked my parents more about their lives; I still have so many questions I’d loved to have asked them.”

What can you tell us about Sabbath’s new box set, The Ten Year War?

“It’s based on a publication [we put out] in the 70s called The Ten Year War, which deals with the animosity of the media towards Sabbath, even though we’d sold millions of records and sold out thousands of shows. It’s a box set of all the albums from that era, with facsimile memorabilia and quotes from various people.”

Under what circumstances would you be interested in doing one final Sabbath show?

“I’d love to do a show at Villa Park, actually in Aston where Sabbath was born. Also, we never did do shows in India or Africa, so I’d be up for that, and we didn’t do Japan on our farewell tour, so that’d get me off the couch. But I’m content to leave it as it is, the end of the end.”

The Ten Year War, Sabbath’s limited-edition box set, is released on September 29 via BMG. It brings together their eight, Ozzy-fronted albums on vinyl and a Crucifix USB stick, plus The Ten Year War brochure and other rarities

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