Rick Rubin: 'It Was a Little Bit of a Struggle With Black Sabbath'

The producer talks about getting the metal icons to write as much new material as possible.

Ultimate Guitar

Globally renowned producer Rick Rubin recently discussed his latest work with Black Sabbath on their current record "13" and getting the metal icons to try his work approach by writing as much new material as possible.

As Rubin told Newsweek, stockpiling as many riffs as possible is the best way to go, "because you never really know. The best song you write might be No. 25, not No. 12.

"An artist who has made a lot of records, sometimes they're not really up for that," the producer said. "It was a little bit of a struggle with Black Sabbath, for example. We never got up to 30 [songs]. But they probably wrote more than 20. We probably recorded 16. And there are eight on the album."

The producer continued, saying, "I just think they'd never done it before. But it made sense to me because in the past they were on a roll from album to album, and now they havent been a band together in 35 years. The idea that after 35 years the first 10 songs you write are perfect is unrealistic."

Rubin then went on to discuss the group's past work, pointing out that it's the jam session that made Sabbath the music legends they are.

"Back in the day, Black Sabbath was essentially a jam band," he said. "That's how they wrote. And they had gotten away from that. They were used to making demos: here's a click track, here's where the guitar riffs are."

"But what made Black Sabbath Black Sabbath was the way each of them interpreted what the others were playing," Rubin continued. "Those reactions create tension - they create the band's sound. My goal was to get Black Sabbath back to performing together - to jamming - because they are experts at it."

"13" dropped on June 11 via Vertigo/Universal Records as the nineteenth studio effort in the Sabbath opus. With 155,000 units shipped in the US within the first week, it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.

30 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I was almost sure it was Gandalf from the thumbnail...
    Misty morning, clouds in the sky Without warning, the wizard walks by Casting his shadow, weaving his spell Funny clothes, tinkling bell Never talking Just keeps walking Spreading his magic...
    I just wished they'd release the left-out songs on a B-side album...
    We'll get all that stuff after someone (Ozzy/Iommi) dies.
    Blimey lol, I bet your the life and soul of a party!
    Yeah, I jump up on a table, put a lampshade on my head and start reading from the obituary columns. Okay, I maybe came across a little...umm..."somber". I was thinking of all those crap collectors boxes filled with all the material that the (deceased) artist didn't feel was really any good, but now they're dead and no longer have any say in the matter.
    Oh so Jesus gets to joke about death because he just wakes up 3 days later.
    Dude, I have this great deal for you! You worship me and I'll grant you too everlasting life!! That's a pretty good thing to have in the rock business.
    like it or not, Rick Rubin is probably a huge reason why the new Black Sabbath album sounds so good. A lot of other producers would've missed the point and just gotten sabbath to release some generic sounding heavy metal for the cash. Rick Rubin is not overrated. He helped discover the Beastie boys and is one of the very few producers who can work with hip hop artists like Jay Z and then make the transition seamlessly to working with artists like Slayer, System of a Down and even Black sabbath. You guys are just quick to judge him because of what you've heard, not everything else hes accountable for.
    Being a producer is a very thin tightrope to walk. A delicate balance between your own creativity and your job. You can never expect someone to always make the right call, but we expect producers and engineers to do just that. I was quick to judge at first, but when I read what he wanted from them and why it made me smile, and think "damn, he's right". The best producers should nearly always be right. Whether about writing new tracks or recording just one more take, they need to know enough to be correct most often.
    It was a struggle for Black Sabbath? Sure, like turning the knobs all the way up and making the soundwaves not even show was a struggle Rick. Jesus,
    Why must he wipe his ass on everything. the new sabbath album couldve been much better if he didnt produce it.
    It was probably hard because you didn't do a shitty job at it like Death Magnetic.
    how long are we gonna keep blaming rick rubin for the horrible sound on death magnetic? the man didn't mix the album; he's not a professional engineer. people talk like rubin recorded DM into his phone, burned it to CDs and distributed them to record stores personally. unless of course you actually didnt like songs themselves, in which case to each his own, but i blame the free-thinking members of metallica for that more than rick rubin
    Because we all know that Rick Rubin encouraging excessive riff writing is a good thing, right? *cough* Death Magnetic *cough*
    I used to see Rubins name and go wow, but I've heard so many horror stories now, I just don't understand why you would use him. I find his comments on how he has treated a group of musicians who have been recording albums since the 1970's belittling, at best. Maybe "they're not up for that" because they got better things to do. And why would that be difficult for YOU?
    Here's the struggle. Get a better mixer. End of. Rubin, you do what you do and you clearly do it well, however, I'm sure the mixer used on projects you are involved with is a friend, but the guy who mixed Death Magnetic is awful. The Sabbath mix was awful (the music was marvellous). Why don't you start working with a real mixer, I think his name is Bob Rock or something, I've heard he is the greatest metal mixer on the planet. Actually I think I remember now, oh yes, he's the man that made James Hetfield's rhythm guitar sound so heavy that it would melt an old lady's face and mixed songs like Wherever I May Roam, with multiple doubles and trebles and harmonies without 'Pro-Loops' (as I've dubbed it for the lazy bastards out there today) that sound so crystal clear, and so fuking perfect that it went down as one of the greatest albums ever made. AND MIXED. but it's ok, because we all like compression and autotune and pre-amps these days. We loved that intro to My Apocalypse that sounded like a rusty robot farting through a tin can.... It was much better than that Sad but True shit. RUBIN, MAKE YOURSELF ANOTHER HUNDRED MILLION AND USE A REAL MIXER, YOU IDIOT.
    Damn producers, if you want to be involve in the creative process why don't you start your own band.