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Bill Ward practices drums in the bath, loves Cryptopsy and Today is the Day

by Doug Moore

Bill Ward (right) with Black Sabbath, before being redacted in 2012
Black Sabbath

If it wasn’t official before, it is now: drummer Bill Ward is the most likable member of the original Black Sabbath lineup. While his erstwhile bandmates are busy photoshopping him out of old band pics and releasing new music of dubious quality with tremendously creative cover art, Ward has been keeping a relatively low profile. He has a solo album, entitled Accountable Beasts, floating around somewhere in the mixing/mastering process, though it doesn’t have a release date yet. He also recently participated in a weird but cool visual art project involving colorful, psychedelic performance shots.

Hellbound.ca ran a great interview by Kyle Harcott with Ward today; he comes off as not only thoroughly genial, but quite openminded about newer metal (he did write a Hails and Horns column for a while) and remarkably hard-working for an established player, to boot:

How often do you practice?

Every day, but that’s not necessarily stick practice, I work on rhythms probably two or three hours a day. I work on out-of-the-box ideas, I reinvent ideas. I challenge myself, make it incredibly difficult to perform on some of things I do. For example, when I’m using my keyboards, I write with my left hand, but I play drums on the keyboard with my right, so that one hand has to play all the drum parts – so by the third or fourth hour of doing that, my hands are killing me. I’ve taught myself new techniques in the bathtub by putting my feet out of the water and tapping the side of the bath – trying to create rhythm against the resistance of the water, which is really difficult to do as well. But by playing and practicing these really hard rudiments, when I actually play stick-to-snare, it all fits much nicer, like, oh, this feels good, when the pedal actually rebounds. These are just little techniques I’ve built up over the years to be a better player.

What bands excite you as the torchbearers in modern metal?

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.

Do you have a particular style or subgenre of metal that you’re drawn to?

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.

So there you have it: Bill Ward loves Today is the Day, Krisiun, Celtic Frost, and Cryptopsy. Awesome.

There’s some diversity of opinion regarding 13, the Bill Ward-less new Black Sabbath album. I personally thought very little of it, but a lot of other music writers (including at least one Invisible Oranges contributor) rated it highly. If you haven’t heard it yet, you can stream it in full below in preparation for Sabbath’s upcoming North American tour. Dates for that tour, including its March 31 stop at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (tix here), are listed in full below as well.

Black Sabbath – ’13’

Black Sabbath — 2014 North American Tour Dates
Mon 3/31 Brooklyn, NY Barclays Center
Thu 4/3 Halifax, NS Metro Centre
Sat 4/5 Quebec City, QC Colisee Pepsi
Mon 4/7 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
Wed 4/9 London, ON Budweiser Gardens
Fri 4/11 Hamilton, ON Copps Coliseum
Sun 4/13 Ottawa, ON Canadian Tire Centre
Wed 4/16 Winnipeg, MB MTS Centre
Fri 4/18 Saskatoon, SK Credit Union Centre
Sun 4/20 Calgary, AB Scotiabank Saddledome
Tue 4/22 Edmonton, AB Rexall Place
Sat 4/26 Los Angeles, CA Hollywood Bowl

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