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Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath Opens Up About His Battle with Cancer and the Struggle to Make '13'

Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath Opens Up About His Battle with Cancer and the Struggle to Make '13'

So you were laying down the solos live. But what’s your process like when you are writing them? Do you plot them out in advance?

No, I can’t sit down and work out solos. I’ve never been able to do that. I just play them. And if I don’t capture them in so many takes, I’ll just leave it and come back to it later.

“Epic” contains one of the album’s most lyrical solos. Do you ever think about Ozzy’s parts when you’re soloing?

Yeah, I know where Ozzy might sing or roughly where he might go. I did the main theme for “Epic” at home in England, and we started putting in the tempo changes and stuff in L.A. And since Ozzy was there while we were doing it, I knew what he’s going to do, roughly.

Because of all the expectations around a new Sabbath record, did the weight of your own legacy ever distract you during this process?

Well, you know it’s got to be good. But you can’t let that take over. Otherwise you’ll be all over the place and get too confused. You can’t be led by what everybody is expecting. You’ve just got to play. If you start following trends, it doesn’t work. You’ve got to believe in what you are doing. This is what we do. And if we like it, we know our fans will like it.

You’ve completed the record, are recovering from cancer, and are about to hit the road. Have you come out of the other side with a clearer vision about what you want to accomplish in the future? Or are you just taking it a step at a time?

It’s really hard, because I have to take it in stages. I don’t know what’s down the road. I just do what I can and enjoy it while I can. No one knew if Sabbath would ever put out another record. So that’s done. And now the next thing, of course, is to do a great show. We don’t have to prove anything. We just have to go out, play our music and enjoy what we do.

Photo: Travis Shinn

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