What Tony Iommi Learned From ‘Very Different’ Producer Rick Rubin
Tony Iommi joked about what he learned from producer Rick Rubin while they worked on Black Sabbath’s final album, 13.
Released in 2013, the record was an attempt to round out the band’s career with a nod to their beginnings five decades ago. But, as Iommi told Spin in a recent interview, in order to achieve that goal, Sabbath experienced some of Rubin’s famously eccentric behavior in the studio.
Asked if he had learned anything from the producer, the guitarist replied: “Yeah, I learned how to lie on the couch with a mic in my hand and say 'Next!' ... It was just different, the way he works. He wanted to find the original Sabbath sound. He said, ‘Have you got your original amps?’ I said, ‘Rick, that was 50 years ago. Do you have any amps from 50 years ago? … ‘I don’t have them, they’ve blown up. They’re gone long ago. I’ve got my own amps now.’ He said, ‘No, we need the old stuff.’
“So, I get to the studio, and there are 20 different bloody amps there. He goes, ‘They’re vintage amps.’ I said, ‘That doesn’t mean they sound good; they’re just old.’ He went, ‘Well, let’s try them.’ I tried them, and I didn’t like any of them.”
Iommi said it took “a bit of a backwards and forwards” until the pair got used to each other. And while the resulting album had the “basic” feel Rubin was going for, the guitarist wasn’t entirely convinced. “I’d done a lot of the songs from the last album in my studio at home,” he said. “I thought the sound was better, to be honest. But there was more stuff involved. I put more instruments on it. He just wanted it very bare and very basic, which, you know, was good.”