By Kyle Harcott
It don’t mean a thing if don’t got that caveman swing.
Heavy metal’s birth, squalling and screeching, is, invariably, always credited to the guitarist of Black Sabbath – who, while unquestionably the band’s de facto leader, is given free-pass, metal-mutha deity status for his uncanny ability to issue sheet lightning from his severed fingertips. As if heavy metal could thrive on tritones alone.
After all… what is lightning without thunder?
When the gods made heavy metal, it was the thunder issued from Bill Ward’s fists that set the scene, at least as equally as Tony Iommi’s lightning. You could not have had that demon birth with a lesser drummer at the helm. Mixing the satanic swing of jazz with sheer brute clobbering force, Bill Ward’s drumming turned the oldest form of long-distance communication into a manifesto of power. And a thousand children picked up sticks.
This summer, I fulfilled a dream and spoke to a personal hero of mine, Mr. Bill Ward, about his latest art project, Absence of Corners, as well as his radio show Rock 50 and the finer points of heavy metal drumming.
How did the Absence of Corners project come to fruition?
A few months ago, I was approached by Scene Four, who had already done some of these portrait series with other drummers, using similar techniques. They wanted to use me, and I was interested, so I said yes to the idea. At first, the idea -I thought- was for me to show up with my drums and just play in the dark. They were going to give me different-colored sticks. I didn’t realize that it would become much more than that.
Were you aware of Scene Four doing this before they approached you? Had you seen their other drum projects?
No- this was all brand new to me.