Interview With Tony Iommi of Heaven & Hell: Knowing The Devil

On heavy metal Mt. Olympus, Black Sabbath/Heaven And Hell guitarist Tony Iommi is more or less Zeus. Around the house we call him “The Man From Whose Fingers Heavy Metal Sprang” (clearly not into the whole brevity thing), and though there isn’t much that hasn’t already been said about the original riffer over the 40 years since the agonizing strains of “Black Sabbath” first appeared on the scene, there always seems to be more questions to ask—even though most of them round down to, “How the hell do you do it?”

Even Brian May asked that one.

2009 saw, among other things, the release of Heaven And Hell’s first full-length studio album, The Devil You Know (Rhino). The line-up of Iommi and fellow immortals, bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Vinny Appice and singer Ronnie James Dio (AKA Sabbath circa Mob Rules) took to the stage first in 2006 and haven’t stopped yet, headlining arenas, festivals and anywhere they can like a bunch of 20 year olds who didn’t already change the face of metal three decades ago. And for that, we’re thankful.

But there’s more to them than iconic status and major market touring (though they will be at MSG Aug. 25 and in Atlantic City Aug. 29), and Tony Iommi Himself graciously granted some of his time for a phoner to field queries he’s no doubt heard thousands of times before in order that the word might get out. We’re pretty thankful for that too.

Now that the album has been out for a while and people have had a chance to digest it, have you gotten a sense at the shows of how the audience has taken to the new material?

Yeah, actually. The new songs we’ve been playing have been going down very well. ‘Bible Black,’ ‘Fear,’ they’ve been going down very well.

Has your opinion changed at all since you’ve had a little distance from making it?

No, I like the album. You always criticize it somewhere along the line, saying, ‘We should have done this, we should have done that.’ But it’s what it is and we’re onward to the next one now (laughs).

The next one?

(Laughs) No.

In terms of putting the record together and capturing the band’s vibe and all that, how was that different from not only the three songs for The Dio Years, but in general?

It’s been just great. We had a comfortable time doing it. My idea doing this album was to be able to do it sort of live, to be in the studio and play live without having to keep going over and over it. We wrote the songs and then rehearsed them and then went into the studio so we could capture them pretty quick and capture them live instead of having to redo this and redo that and redo the other. It worked really well. I thought the whole process really worked comfortably. Quick.