“I never thought we’d still be going strong in 2013,” said Osbourne, whose solo career and well-publicized battles with drug and alcohol addiction led to friction with other members of Black Sabbath. “But it’s great to be back together again.”
“13,” the original band’s first studio album since 1978, was released Tuesday. A tour is scheduled to begin this summer in the United States, including a stop at Virginia’s Jiffy Lube Live on Aug. 2.
Osbourne said the band had tried to get back together in 2001 but nothing jelled.
This time, the music flowed.
Osbourne said Iommi, who is being treated for lymphoma that was diagnosed a year ago, had great riffs and the band narrowed them down to 10 tracks.
“I think working on this album helped Tony take his mind off his illness, but he never talks about it,” Osbourne explained in an interview. “And no matter what we have to complain about, it’s nothing compared to that.”
After the band members agreed on the songs, they brought in record producer Rick Rubin to help shape the material.
Songs like “Damaged Soul,” “End of the Beginning” and the first single “God Is Dead?” fit into the band’s canon, but others, like the jazzy “Zeitgeist,” might confound some fans.
“It was just a warm-up jam originally,” said Butler, “but Rick thought it was great, so it ended up on the album.”
Butler and Osbourne resist the notion that Black Sabbath typifies the heavy-metal sound. “I’ve never been able to get my head around the word ‘heavy-metal,’ ” said Osbourne.
He added that the 1970s were better for him than the 1980s. “And I kind of missed the ’90s, you know — I must have been in a cocaine haze, because I can’t remember the ’90s at all.”
Despite having been together so long, Butler said the band is attracting younger fans.
“We’ve gotten older but the audience has stayed the same,” he explained, “and then you get like a few people at the back that are our age and you see all the gray hair glinting.”
For Osbourne, touring now is better than it has ever been.
“It’s all right until I have voice troubles, and it takes me a couple of gigs to get over the fact that I’ve been the leader of my own band for 35 years or so and that I have to step back and be a band member. It’s just getting used to it, and it has worked out great in the end.”