Brad Wilk: Swinging The Chain

One of the bigger challenges for Wilk was the fact that, as Bill Ward’s biggest fan, he intended his drum playing on the new Sabbath album to be a tribute to Ward’s drum mastery. But Wilk’s his own man, too, an artist obligated to bring as much of his own thing to the table when the tracks were recorded. “I felt really blessed that they let me come up with the drum parts, and it was something that was a weight on my shoulders,” he says. “Yet it also felt great to be able to have that creativity with this. On one hand every song that I played, in my mind it was like, Would Bill Ward be proud of this? Would Bill Ward be okay with the way I’m playing this? It’s an uncomfortable question to be asking yourself, and there was that coupled with a second question: Are you staying true to yourself and keeping your own identity?”

Any nervousness about his role was allayed by his Sabbath mates’ easygoing attitudes and playful camaraderie. It was helpful that the entire crew was “mature” enough not to bring their various dramas with them into the studio. “When we were all around together, it was great because none of them took themselves too seriously, and there was a lot of good times and laughter. And I just tried to absorb as much from my listening as I could – their personalities, their humor, their riffs, what Ozzy’s singing, what Geezer’s playing, what Tony was playing, and how they function as a unit.”

And to find his space in that unit without sticking out – not too much, anyway. “Because this is not the Brad Wilk record; this is a Black Sabbath record. That was always in my mind, too. I just want to do right by Black Sabbath.”

Wilk's Setup for 13 Recording Sessions

brad wilk

Drums Ludwig (Vintage)/ Gretsch
1 22" x 14" Ludwig Bass Drum (circa 1962)
2 14" x 6.5" Ludwig Black Beauty Snare Drum (circa 1970)
3 12" x 10" Gretsch Tom
4 16" x 16" Gretsch Floor Tom
5 18" x 16" Gretsch Floor Tom

Cymbals Paiste/Zildjian
A 14" Hi-Hat
B 18" or 19" Crash
C 18" x 19" Crash
D 21" or 22" Ride

For the recording of 13, Brad Wilk also used Tama Bell Brass and Gretsch snare drums, Remo heads (Coated Emperor batters, Clear Ambassador resos), DW 9000 and 5000 series double pedal, and Vic Firth Extreme 5B sticks.

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