Bill Ward on Black Sabbath’s ’13’: ‘If I Want to Rip My Guts Out, I’ll Put It On’

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Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward didn’t play on the band’s recent reunion album, 13, due to a series of prolonged contractual issues. And today, Ward can’t even listen to the album because “it’s too painful.”

“The only thing I’ve heard from 13 is maybe 40 seconds of the first song, and then I turned it off,” the drummer told Rock Cellar. “I haven’t heard anything off that album at all. And to be quite honest, I don’t care to either. (…) If I want to rip my guts out, I’ll put it on.”

Ward was originally supposed to reunite with the classic Sabbath line-up (frontman Ozzy Osborne, bassist Geezer Butler, and guitarist Tony Iommi) back in 2011, but the drummer backed out after he and the band were unable to settle on payment. Osborne also made remarks saying Ward wasn’t in the proper physical condition for a lengthy tour. Tommy Clufetos filled in for Ward on-stage, while Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk sat in during the 13 sessions, produced by the legendary Rick Rubin.

Obviously Ward has been struggling with this awkward situation, but he’s found plenty of support from a very loyal fanbase.

“The fans have been brilliant,” he says. “I feel like I’ve got a real close contact with them. I’ve never reached such a point of really having such closeness with everybody. I’m trying to grasp this moment now. Their reactions and their words. Even up until last night when I went shopping, I bumped into a guy who was absolutely wonderful and he had wonderful things to say to me.”

“I’m at a loss for words,” he continues. “It tears me up, you know. Even as I’m talking to you now, I’m not far away from a tear. I had to follow my heart under the most difficult circumstances.”

While 13 certainly doesn’t rank among Sabbath’s classic ’70s landmarks like Paranoid and Master of Reality, it’s still a solid comeback album for these metal icons. Nonetheless, it’s bittersweet having Sabbath around without Ward.

What did you guys think of Wilk’s performance on 13? Did he do Ward justice? If not, who should have been Ward’s replacement?

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