He’s refuted the suggestion that he wouldn’t have been physically able to deliver the goods – and he remains open to the idea of returning, although he’s determined not to fall victim to “nicety and placations.”
Sabbath hired Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk for 13, their first album with singer Ozzy Osbourne since 1978. It followed Ward’s announcement in 2012 that he wouldn’t take part because he hadn’t been offered a “signable” contract.
The drummer tells Guitar International: “It was one of the toughest decisions that I ever had to make, Because I absolutely and without question wanted to play. I hated the fact that I’m not on the tour and I couldn’t play Birmingham. That was absolutely punishing to go through.
“Tony was sick and I wanted to be with Tony. It was a very hardcore decision to make.”
Despite making that call, he regards himself as a member of the band. “I’m the drummer in Black Sabbath,” he emphasises. “I didn’t walk out; it wasn’t like that at all – I just didn’t sign the contact and life took its own course.”
Asked why he didn’t take the band up on their offer of appearing for parts of shows amid the suggestion he couldn’t deliver an entire set, Ward says: “I want to do the entire show. I play all or nothing. Playing partially would kind of be aligning to my demise in Sabbath and minimise me.
“I would never, ever show up for a commitment that I could not do physically.”
He says he’ll pay attention if he’s invited back, but adds: “All the nicety and placations in the world will mean nothing unless I get the right contract.”
He reflects: “You have to stay true to your heart and make a stand, and sometimes you have to make a very painful stand.” Asked what he’d like to be remembered for he replies: “That I really tried hard to have integrity.”
Sabbath will tour the UK without Ward in December:
Dec 10: 02 Arena, London, UK
Dec 12: Odyssey Arena, Belfast, Ireland
Dec 14: Arena, Sheffield, UK
Dec 16: Hydro, Glasgow, UK
Dec 18: Arena, Manchester, UK
Dec 20: LG Arena, Birmingham, UK