After a 35-year break, heavy metal vets, Black Sabbath, are back with a new album and a reinvigorated Ozzy Osbourne returned to the helm. Equally exciting, however, was the man twiddling the magic knobs: the legendary producer, Rick Rubin.
As a life-long aficionado of the band, Rubin enjoyed every minute of production. As he explained: “I have been a fan of Black Sabbath my whole life and getting to come to work with them every day, and hearing Black Sabbath play it, stimulates something in me just like when I was 14 years old. The same thing that stimulated me when I was a kid listening to the vinyl. That same thing gets turned on and it’s a really good feeling.”
Rubin began his career honing hip-hop artists like LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys, but cemented his legendary reputation through rock, working with everyone from Metallica to Neil Diamond.
For Ozzy Osbourne, Rubin’s mythology comes with him into the studio: “He a little bit like a guru, but he knows what he is looking for and when he’s satisfied with what he’s got.”
For bassist, Geezer Butler, working with Rubin was experimental by nature: “Its great with Rick Rubin in charge. He has a great track record and he comes with some great ideas. Some don’t work – but that’s the point, it’s worth trying.”
For the drummer Brad Wilk, it was a process of self-development to work with Rubin: “The great thing about Rick is that he is really good in getting the best out of you, getting the best out of your performance and getting the best out of the song itself.”
Described by MTV as the ‘most important producer of the last 20 years’, both he and the Sabbath are hoping his luck continues.
For the ‘Great Producer’ himself, it was a symbiotic process: “We talked about mission statements of what we were trying to accomplish and then they would write songs and play them for me and ask whether these fitted within the boundaries of what we are going for and more often than not they did, and in a couple of cases they did not. We are all working together to find whatever works best for them. The idea that we are making an album that hopefully can sit alongside the best Black Sabbath albums is exciting. We’ve definitely all worn out the old ones.”
Black Sabbath’s new album ‘13’ – complete with Rick Rubin’s midas touch – is out now.