Tony Iommi and Eddie Van Halen: Cast a Giant Shadow
VAN HALEN It’s similar to when [Sammy] Hagar joined the band. It’s just the element that a different person brings to the band. It’s just like my son being the band’s bassist now. He approaches everything differently, and the rhythm section is now like this huge wall behind me. I’d want to play with him regardless of whether he was my son or not. It’s not to knock anyone. It’s just when you change elements of a band, the chemistry also changes. One little change can shift the whole dynamic. It’s not that it’s getting any better or worse. A lot of people ask me which Van Halen singer was better. You can’t compare them. It’s like asking which guitarist is better. Nobody is better than anybody. Every player is their own person.
IOMMI I get asked that question about singers all the time, and I can’t really answer it either. I really have worked with some amazing musicians and singers.
VAN HALEN Music is not the Olympics. It’s not a sport; it’s a form of expression. There is no such thing as bad music. There may be music that you personally don’t like, but if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it and shut the fuck up! Don’t listen to it and complain about it. There’s lots of music that I don’t care for, but you can’t say it’s bad. That’s subjective. That would happen if we put out something new now also. When we released Van Halen II, the critics and some fans went, “Hey! It’s different than the first one.” Well, yeah! It’s a different record. If it sounded like the first one then fans and critics would complain that it sounded the same. What the fuck?
IOMMI You can’t ever win no matter what you do.
VAN HALEN You just do what you do. If anyone has a better way, show me how to please everyone all the time! For some reason people love to complain about everything. The internet has made it easy for people to do that. Shut the fuck up and get a life, or show me how good you can do it.
People think they know what I should do. A lot of fans are complaining that Van Halen should put out a new record now. Everybody is going, “Eddie should do this. Eddie should do that.” I’ve got all kinds of music that I could put out if I wanted to, but they don’t take into consideration the other members of the band. Maybe the singer doesn’t want to do that. I play classical piano. I play a little bit of cello. I write all kinds of different music that certain singers or certain musicians don’t want anything to do with. So what do I do? When people see Van Halen or Black Sabbath, it conjures up a certain image in their minds. If there’s just one albino pubic hair outside of that image, they won’t accept it. And if we do put something out, the first thing people are going to say is that it isn’t as good as the classics. Okay. Put it in your closet for 20 years and then it will be classic.
People forget that we put three new songs—“It’s About Time,” “Learning to See” and “Up for Breakfast”—on Best of Both Worlds in 2004. The reviews didn’t even mention those songs. When we played the new songs live, people would just stand there. Nobody said anything about them. Why go to all the trouble, spend all of that time in the studio and spend tons of your own money—there aren’t even any record labels anymore to put our shit out—to record a new album when people are only going to complain about it or ignore it or somebody is going to download it from the internet for free? We might not record something new. There’s an element of satisfaction and joy to creating something new, but not when it comes solely at your own expense and when people are just going to shoot it down, no matter what you do.
IOMMI Early on with Sabbath I recorded a couple of instrumentals on Master of Reality. For Sabotage I wrote this song called “Supertzar” and I wanted to have a choir on it. I got a choir in the studio, and even my own band members were wondering what I was doing. People from the record company came to visit, and when they saw the choir and this harp player they thought they were in the wrong studio. At the time it wasn’t the normal thing to put this heavy guitar with choir and harp on an album, although it did finally make it there. I was just experimenting and trying something new. I feel that as long as you write it, it’s you.
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