A conversation with Eddie Van Halen and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi
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    Default A conversation with Eddie Van Halen and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi

    Ed and Tony Iommi forged a particularly tight bond, and the guitarists would often hang out after every show to drink and commiserate until the early hours of the morning.

    Ed and Tony stayed in close touch over the years after that, so it wasnít difficult to get the two guitarists together for an interview. The following discussion took place in August 2010 at a photography studio in Los Angeles. Iommi showed up dressed in black from head to toe in characteristic metal god attire. Ed brought along the same hot-pink jumpsuit that he wore in 1980 during the album art photo shoot for Women and Children First. The outfit still fit him like a glove.

    Tony, what was your first impression of Van Halen?

    TONY IOMMI: From the very first minute I heard them, I knew straight away that they were something special. The way that Ed plays is very different. He came up with a style thatís been imitated a million times. And they had great songs. Often after the shows we would get together in my room and chat about guitars. Weíd ramble on for about ten hours before weíd go to bed.

    EDWARD VAN HALEN: Or not. (laughs) ďWhat time is show time? The bus has left without me!Ē That was awesome.

    IOMMI: Thatís right! (laughs) I really enjoyed that tour. Brian May is the only other guitar player Iíve ever associated with, and weíve never been on tour together.

    VAN HALEN: Tony is the sweetest, most humble, down-to-earth, normal guy. He has no attitudeÖ and look at what this guy has done! I could name a handful of people who I still respect but I no longer look up to. After I met them, I was like, Fuck you! Youíre no better than I am as a person. So many people are a bunch of pompous fuckiní pricks. What makes them think their shit doesnít stink?

    IOMMI: We lost contact for a bit, but ever since the early days it was like we were always together.

    VAN HALEN: And you live in England. Itís not like youíre right around the corner.

    IOMMI: When Van Halen came to England, we would get together again. But then there was a gap where we lost contact. But we hooked up again, and itís been really brilliant.

    Tony, your playing on Black Sabbathís Heaven and Hell album, which was the first record you released after touring with Van Halen and after Ozzy left Black Sabbath, progressed significantly. Was that partially inspired by touring with Ed?

    IOMMI: The whole thing was different because we had a different singer, and we developed a different sound. It was a different approach, really.

    VAN HALEN: Itís just the chemistry.

    IOMMI: Yeah. Ronnie [James Dio] was someone who we could sit down and work with. He brought new life to the band. When Black Sabbath did Never Say Die!, which we probably shouldnít have called the album since we broke up after it came out, it was really tough. Ozzy left after we wrote the first song, and then about three days before we were due to record the album, he wanted to come back.

    VAN HALEN: Iíll say it for him. Dealing with singers is like pulling teeth. I should have been a fuckiní dentist! (laughs)

    IOMMI: Working with a different singer influenced me to approach my playing in a different way. It injected the band with a bit of life. Ozzy didnít participate that much towards the end and wasnít coming up with any ideas, and when Ronnie came along, he came in with some input.

    VAN HALEN: Itís similar to when Hagar joined the band. Itís just the element that a different person brings to the band. Itís just like my son being the bandís bassist now. He approaches everything differently, and the rhythm section is now like this huge wall behind me. Iíd want to play with him regardless of whether he was my son or not. Itís not to knock anyone. Itís just when you change elements of a band the chemistry also changes. One little change can change the whole dynamic. Itís not that itís getting any better or worse. A lot of people ask me which Van Halen singer was better. You canít compare them. Itís 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 canít really answer it.

    VAN HALEN: Music is not the Olympics. Itís not a sport. Itís a form of expression. There is no such thing as bad music. There may be music that you personally donít like, but if you donít like it, donít listen to it and shut the fuck up! Donít listen to it and complain about it. Thereís lots of music that I donít care for, but you canít say itís bad. Thatís subjective. That would happen if we put out something new now also. After we released our first album and were done touring, we recorded our second album. When it came out, the critics and some fans went, ďHey! Itís different than the first one.Ē Well, yeah! Itís 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 canít 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. Iíve got all kinds of music that I could put out if I wanted to. But they donít take into consideration the other members of the band. Maybe the singer doesnít want to do that. And if we do put something out, the first thing people are going to say is that it isnít as good as the classics. Okay. Put it in your closet for twenty years and then it will be classic.

    People seem to forget that we put three new songsóďItís About Time,Ē ďLearning to See,Ē and ďUp for BreakfastĒóon Best of Both Worlds in 2004. The reviews didnít even mention those songs. When we played the new songs live, people would just stand there. Why go to all the trouble, spend all of that time in the studio, and spend tons of your own moneyóthere arenít even any record labels anymore to put our shit outóto record a new album when people are only going to complain about it or ignore it or some cocksucker is going to download it from the internet for free? We might not record something new. Thereís 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: Whenever we do a show, people are always saying that we didnít play enough songs. Nobody understands that you only have a limited time. There are curfews and union rules that you have to obey.

    VAN HALEN: Or youíve got a guy with a decibel meter telling you how loud you can play.

    IOMMI: And then people complain that the band wasnít loud enough. What can you do? You can try to fight these things, but you canít refuse to go on. I wish that people had a better understanding of what is going on.

    VAN HALEN: People only see the end result of something. Itís like todayís photo shoot. Theyíll only see the cover shot and go, ďWow! It must be neat to be a rock star.Ē They have no idea what goes into this or how many hours it takes. They donít see the wardrobe person hemming and pinning things up. When you walk onstage, they donít take into consideration the years of practice, the attitudes and egos of other people that you have to deal with, the songwriting, the recording, the record producer, the crew, designing the stage. All they see is the show.

    IOMMI: And then they complain that you didnít play a certain song.

    VAN HALEN: When people see Van Halen or Black Sabbath, it conjures up a certain image in their minds. If thereís just one albino pubic hair outside of that image, they wonít accept it. I play classical piano. I play a little bit of cello. I write all kinds of different music that certain singers or certain musicians donít want anything to do with. So what do I do?

    It wouldnít make sense for Ed to record the first Van Halen album again or for Tony to make Paranoid again because youíve already done that. Youíve both moved on considerably from then, so going back would be counterproductive.

    IOMMI: Early on with Sabbath I had done a couple of instrumentals on Master of Reality. For Sabotage, I wrote this song called ďSupertzarĒ 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, they were telling me I couldnít 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, but even my own band was against the idea. I feel that as long as you write it, itís you.

    Itís interesting how you both made your initial impact and found success by coming up with something that was very original. Then after thousands of imitators copied you and you wanted to go onto something else, the fans didnít want you to change. It seems like the more successful you become, the harder it is to do what initially made you successful.

    IOMMI: Thatís why I just do what I like.

    VAN HALEN: Iím just glad to be able to play. I recently had hand surgery and arthritis treatment. I just found out that Tony was having the same problems I was, so I turned him on to my doctor. Itís funny how there are so many parallels between Tony and me.

    IOMMI: I was already booked for surgery in London with this specialist. Then Eddie told me about this guy in Germany who he went to for the same problem, so now Iím going to see him instead.

    VAN HALEN: My hand hurt so much I couldnít even play. On the last half of the last tour, I was in pain. Tony is in pain now, and people are giving him shit about not wanting to tour. This is what we do for a living. Itís not only our livelihood and our incomeóitís the only thing I know how to do! You donít know how I felt not being able to stretch my hand to play because of that pain. And then I had to go under the knife. I was scared shitless that it wasnít going to work.

    IOMMI: I know that as soon as I go in, all of these things are going to come out on the internet and in the press.

    VAN HALEN: Itís nice to have some avenue to explain this to people.

    Why wouldnít you want to get a problem fixed? You want to be able to play. Everyone should understand that. Les Paul suffered with arthritis for years. Itís too bad he didnít find out about your doctor.

    VAN HALEN: I knew Les very well. Iím glad that my son and I got to hang out with Les when we were on tour in New Jersey. He lived a long life and he always did what he wanted to do. He didnít do it for fame or vanity.

    IOMMI: He played right up until the very end.

    VAN HALEN: He was a musician. His death was a loss as a friend, but the guy had a rich, full life and he did what he wanted. He was still cracking jokes about pussy to Wolfie and me.

    I was just looking at your guitars and I noticed that Tony uses the same type of fluted knobs as Eddie has on his guitar, only larger.

    IOMMI: Itís so ironic.

    VAN HALEN: And the back of his guitarís neck is stripped, just like mine. I never liked having any kind of paint or lacquer on the neck. Tony took all of his offóthe same thing!

    You both also liked to modify your guitars. Tony, you changed pickups on your guitars very early on when it wasnít common practice to do that. The only people I can think of who did that before you guys were Les Paul and Eddie Cochran.

    IOMMI: Itís weird how weíve both done a lot of the same things. I bought a guitar company because I couldnít get anybody to make the guitar that I wanted. Back in those days, Gibson didnít want to know me. So I started a company and I had a guy build me guitars with twenty-four frets and everything else that I wanted. Gibson told me that it couldnít be done.

    VAN HALEN: Personal need is where it all comes from.

    IOMMI: Youíve got to do it for yourself.

    VAN HALEN: And then people want one. You try to give people what they want, but if the company that makes it is substandard, the people blame you. It ainít my fault the thing broke off! Mine broke too! Donít blame me because my name is on it. I just invented it for myself. Do you think people blame Henry Ford for a bad Mustang?

    IOMMI: Companies always try to keep costs down. Itís expensive to make things right.

    What were some of the most significant events for you over the last thirty years?

    IOMMI: The band broke up and got back together again.

    Both of your bands did!

    VAN HALEN: Some things have changed, but with me itís always been a family thing. It still is. My son joined the band. Contrary to peopleís beliefs, I didnít get rid of anyone to get him in the band. We needed a bass player and when I asked if he wanted to play bass, he said sure. Itís always been my brother and I and whoever else. It used to be my dad, a lead singer, and a saxophone.

    IOMMI: People would ask me over the years, ďWhy did you get rid of so and so?Ē They donít understand that sometimes people donít want to stay or they donít want to work hard anymore. You have to replace them. You may not be happy about it, but itís like a factory. Just because somebody leaves, you donít close the factory down.

    VAN HALEN: You donít stop making music just because one of the guys doesnít want to play with you anymore.

    IOMMI: There are so many different aspects to it. Sometimes they donít want to carry on and want to do their own thing, so you replace them.

    And sometimes you donít know when hell is going to freeze over and youíll work with someone again.

    VAN HALEN: Whoever thought weíd be back again with Roth? He went off and did his own thing. He just got tired of what we were doing. We did our thing and now weíre back together.

    IOMMI: Black Sabbath got back together with Ozzy. Even when Heaven and Hell got together with Ronnie James Dio a few years ago, we didnít think we were going to record a new album, but things worked out so well that we did it.

    Youíve both worked with personalities who became larger than life.

    IOMMI: Yeah, but we became the arseholes.

    VAN HALEN: I was thinking about that old joke while I was on the way over here: What do you call a guy who hangs out with musicians? A drummer. But I beg to differ. In my experience, itís been singers.

    They never have to pack up any gear after gigs, so theyíre always out there after the show chatting up the hottest chicks.

    VAN HALEN: Theyíre not musicians. They like to vocalize. They remember every goddamn thing under the sun except the lyrics. It does take a special breed to be a singer.

    The best singers usually have the biggest personalities and that comes with a lot of baggage.

    VAN HALEN: The problem is when they start believing that theyíre larger than life. The bottom line for me is Iím just happy to be here with my friend Tony. Iíve had a hip replacement, Iíve beaten cancer, I had my hand operation, and I stopped drinking. Something inside of me just went, Iím done. People always ask me if Iím in a program. AA didnít do anything for me. Itís a strange thing. If you donít want to quit, you wonít. Rehab didnít work. Nothing worked. I canít tell you what happened. It just did. I donít need to drink. Iím not jonesing for one. I donít even think about it anymore. Itís like God gave me one big bottle and I drank it all, so now itís gone. Iím done. Iím just happy to be alive and to still be able to play.

    How would you like to be remembered?

    VAN HALEN: What, do you want an epitaph here? I just want to be remembered for being a nice guy. Iíd say for both of us that not a hell of a lot keeps us down.

    IOMMI: Weíve done an awful lot.

    VAN HALEN: Weíve made a lot of mistakes.

    IOMMI: And you learn from it.

    VAN HALEN: Weíve come up with a lot of cool stuff and weíre far from done. Weíre certainly not the assholes people think we are!

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    Masters of Metal: Tony Iommi and Edward Van Halen

    https://www.guitarworld.com/features...2010-interview


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    Reading that aggressive rant that itís pretty easy to see why Wolfgunt is a prick.

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    Yup
    Little Dreamer

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    "Itís always been my brother and I and whoever else." This about sums up Ed's feelings about Van Halen. I'd like to think there were years or moments where he saw the whole band as brotherhood, but this was his default.
    <VH>

    "I'm not like this because I'm in Van Halen. I'm in Van Halen because I'm like this."

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarnalKnowledge View Post
    Reading that aggressive rant that it’s pretty easy to see why Wolfgunt is a prick.
    Tree didn't fall far from the nuts.
    <VH>

    "I'm not like this because I'm in Van Halen. I'm in Van Halen because I'm like this."

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    "EDDIE VAN HALEN: What, do you want an epitaph here? I just want to be remembered for being a nice guy. Iíd say for both of us that not a hell of a lot keeps us down."



    It's sad reading that part. Now that Ed is no longer with us.
    Right Now you're reading my post!


    I can't stand rap....people who can't sing do rap....you can sing rebellion as well as talk it....Hitler would have been in a rap band...

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarnalKnowledge View Post
    Reading that aggressive rant that itís pretty easy to see why Wolfgunt is a prick.
    Holy shit, you ain't kiddin'.

    "Sweet and humble Ed". LOL


    My favorite parts..

    EDDIE-"Music is not the Olympics. Itís not a sport. Itís a form of expression. There is no such thing as bad music. There may be music that you personally donít like, but if you donít like it, donít listen to it and shut the fuck up! Donít listen to it and complain about it. Thereís lots of music that I donít care for, but you canít say itís bad. Thatís subjective.."[/b]

    Says the guy that flat out told Hagar his solo music sucks and wanted to see if he could sing to his music.


    EDDIE-"My son joined the band. Contrary to peopleís beliefs, I didnít get rid of anyone to get him in the band. We needed a bass player and when I asked if he wanted to play bass, he said sure."


    Umm...You needed a bass player because you scumbagged the bass player you had.


    IOMMI- Yeah, but we became the arseholes.


    You both sure sound like it here.


    EDDIE: I was thinking about that old joke while I was on the way over here: What do you call a guy who hangs out with musicians? A drummer. But I beg to differ. In my experience, itís been singers.


    Theyíre not musicians. They like to vocalize. They remember every goddamn thing under the sun except the lyrics. It does take a special breed to be a singer.

    Another variation of "my songs" and "my Band" and another great example of "sweet and humble Ed". Very disrespectful comment.



    EDDIE: What, do you want an epitaph here? I just want to be remembered for being a nice guy. Iíd say for both of us that not a hell of a lot keeps us down.

    IOMMI: Weíve done an awful lot.

    EDDIE: Weíve made a lot of mistakes.

    IOMMI: And you learn from it.

    EDDIE: Weíre certainly not the assholes people think we are!





    No, not at all, ED. LMFAO


    So is there any doubt where Wolf gets his attitude from now?


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    "But being number one doesnít really mean jack fuck all. We sold twice as many records as other records that year (1984) that landed in the Number One position." ~Eddie Van Halen

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    You hear a ton of anecdotes where Ed is sweet n' humble Ed. And then a lot of evidence to the contrary.

    As long as there's no depth to a relationship, he probably did default to generous and kind. But man, he did not have the skills to handle interpersonal conflict. And you can't have a real relationship without conflict arising at some point.

    Lots of reasons why that's the case, and they've all been talked about here. But yeah, that was a cringey read. 😬

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    Funny that "the singer never seemed to matter in Van Halen" until VH III ...
    "It's so lonely at the top because it's so crowded at the bottom" - Diamond David Lee Roth

    "The truth sounds like hate to those who hate the truth" - Todd Wagner

    "Women and Children First ... The REAL Van Halen III"

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    Quote Originally Posted by I Coulda Hada VH View Post
    Funny that "the singer never seemed to matter in Van Halen" until VH III ...
    †"He has a swaggering retro machismo that will give hives to the Steinem cabal" -Camille Paglia on Donald Trump

    "But, fucking with Brook is like fucking with hot shit on and ax handle. You just don't get a grip"-track5

    "Make way for the bad guy"- Tony Montana

    'This hamburger don't need no helper"- David Lee Roth

    "I wish Bon Jovi would've given me a call before he recorded all of his hits, because the lyrics would've been smarter, the melodies would've been much more smashing, and they would've sold a lot fewer records." -David Lee Roth

    "My beef is people thinking Bon Jovi is good cuz they sold lots of records to housewives." -tango

    "But being number one doesnít really mean jack fuck all. We sold twice as many records as other records that year (1984) that landed in the Number One position." ~Eddie Van Halen

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  21. #12
    I'm The One

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    It all depends on when you interview Eddie. He did another one like a year or so later after this one, maybe just before A Different Kind of Truth, and he was in a much happier mood.

    I look at the overall picture of the guy. He was up and down all the time. When there was drama, and there was A LOT of drama, he would said some stuff that was pretty negative. But then when things were trending up, usually after the completion of an album, he was in a great mood, very positive and had nice things to say about everyone. He'd say he loved a certain song, then years later, he'd say that he actually didn't like it that much, or didn't like how it was recorded, etc. That's just how he was. When things were bad, he would go scorched earth on people. When things were good, everything was the best it could ever be. In reality, it was probably somewhere in the middle. LoL. I guess it all evened out to me.
    Leave everything to me!-Powdered Toast Man

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    No different than a lot of us except it's all on permanent record on the internet for the famous ones.

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  24. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiveBomb View Post
    No different than a lot of us except it's all on permanent record on the internet for the famous ones.
    Be all fair and logical, fine

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    I thought it was a pretty good article. They voiced their opinions. I have that Guitar World magazine with them on the cover.

    I always thought itíd be the coolest thing ever if VH & Sabbath toured together towards the end. To go out with Sabbath the same as when they started back in 1978. It wouldíve been perfect.

 

 

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