Geezer Butler Says Metallica’s ‘Black Album’ Restored His Faith in Rock and Roll – ‘I Wish I Had Written That’
In Geezer Butler's new memoir, Into the Void: From Birth to Black Sabbath―And Beyond, he leaves no stone unturned as he shares his life story as the bassist and main songwriter for Black Sabbath.
From Sabbath's earliest days to raking in $85 million on their farewell tour, Butler puts his songwriting chops to use in telling the tales of one of the biggest bands in the history of music.
He also shares some surprising stories in the book—like how actually never listened to much heavy metal in the '80s.
"The modern metal bands had nothing to do with the sound Sabbath had apparently invented," he wrote in Into the Void. "Metallica's Master of Puppets was a massive album in 1986, but I was more likely to be listening to soul or jazz."
There's no question that Butler and Sabbath's connection to Metallica runs deep. Metallica performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony when Black Sabbath were inducted—and Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield were the ones who inducted them—and Butler joined Metallica onstage to play with them during their 30th-anniversary celebrations in San Francisco in 2011.
In the same paragraph where he admitted to not listening to Master, though, Butler noted that it was Metallica's "Black Album" that actually restored his faith in rock and roll.
"I thought the riffs were great, great riffs," Butler explained to Chuck about why he enjoyed the "Black Album" so much. "I always thought, 'God, I wish I had written that.' It's just really good riffs and something I could relate to. I couldn't really relate to their earlier stuff. I mean, a lot of people think the earlier stuff is the true Metallica, but it didn't really appeal much to me. But when the "Black Album" came out, it felt more appealing to my taste."
Butler admitted to Chuck that the "Black Album" was "one of the few metal albums I could listen to from beginning to end. I really enjoyed listening to it. There are very few albums of any genre that I can listen to from track one to the end. It's one of those albums that I could listen to the whole thing and I'm really impressed with it."
Geezer Butler Shares His One Regret in Black Sabbath's Career
Into the Void is a big step for Butler as he considers himself a relatively private person. But when he decided to tell his own story, he did so for one very specific reason.
"When my parents died, years after they died, I always thought I don't hardly know anything about their early lives or anything," he told Chuck. "I've got five grandkids now and I thought, I'm gonna write a memoir for them to read and pass onto their families. I wrote it while the lockdown was going on in the pandemic and my wife Gloria read it and she said it's really good and you should turn it into a book."
Butler wrote with honesty and transparency throughout Into the Void, though he told Chuck there really isn't anything that was published that he was nervous about the world reading.
"The things I was nervous about aren't in the book, the publisher deleted them," he said, laughing. "There's a lot of it that the publisher took out, they said I couldn't mention that."
And while it may seem like there are moments of regret for Butler or the band here and there, he told Chuck that he really only has one regret—Sabbath's 1978 album, Never Say Die!.
Butler dedicated a few pages in his memoir to the record, writing, "Everything about making that album was like pulling teeth, which is why so much of it brings back bad vibes when I hear it."
He told Chuck that it was the only album he was disappointed in.
"It was like the end of the original version of Sabbath. I could feel that the band...something had to go in the band, and that turned out to be Ozzy. I just wish we had somebody there to get us together and give us more confidence in what we were doing. Like a good producer, for instance. But we didn't have that. Not having somebody from the outside saying, 'Yeah, this is a good album, but I think you can do better'—not having that put yet another nail in the coffin of the original band.'"
What Else Did Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler Discuss on Loudwire Nights?
- What surprised him the most while writing Into the Void
- How he and the band persisted in the face of constant criticism
Listen to the Full Interview in the Podcast Player Below
Geezer Butler joined Loudwire Nights on Tuesday, June 13; the show replays online here, and you can tune in live every weeknight at 7PM ET or on the Loudwire app; you can also see if the show is available on your local radio station and listen to interviews on-demand. You can get more details on Into the Void at this location.