Top 5 Ozzy-era Sabbath Songs w/ Spirit Adrift
For this week’s Friday Guest List we spoke to Nate from Spirit Adrift and Gatecreeper about his massive new album, why he sold his soul for doom, and all things Black Sabbath.
Hi Nate, today you’re going to release your second album in as many years for Spirit Adrift, combined with some splits and a bunch of stuff with Gatecreeper, are you feeling particularly inspired currently? Or is it more a matter of forcing yourself to focus on creating as often as possible?
I think it’s a combination of forcing myself to focus as well as forcing myself to be continually inspired. I make sure I’m doing something related to music basically every waking moment. Listening to it, reading about it, practicing, thinking of ideas for the next album, whatever. It’s also a matter of momentum. Things have been going so well with both bands, my bandmates and I have no choice but to keep working.
Speaking of inspiration, do you remember what originally inspired you to play music?
In the wake of Tom Petty’s death I had some pretty intense flashbacks to my childhood and realized he was the first guy I was aware of as far as music goes. That’s when I was really young. The guys that later got me into playing were Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Slayer, and Pantera in that order.
Hah! That’s exactly same as my introduction, except swap out Skynard and Hendrix for Mum’s Led Zeppelin tapes. Back last July on the TovH podcast you said that Gatecreeper was your primary musical focus, with Spirit Adrift picking up wind with each passing release, is this still the case or has the balance shifted somewhat?
I never expected Spirit Adrift to take off like it has. I would say both bands have equal focus. That’s the only fair way to do it. It’s really important to me that I’m 100% invested in whatever I’m doing in the moment. That being said, in order to pull off something like this, you have to be willing to let it totally consume you. At home, I don’t do anything anymore, unless it’s related to one of the bands. I don’t go out really, I have no interest in it. On this recent European Gatecreeper tour, it’s things like sneaking off to do vocals warmups so that I would be prepared for the Spirit Adrift album release shows when we got back. On guitar, I would warm up with the Gatecreeper set, then the Spirit Adrift set, then back to the Gatecreeper set. That was every day of that tour. I want both bands to be the absolute best in the world at what we’re doing. That takes a lot of work, but also requires you to live in the moment and not worry too much about the future.
Understandably so. The split you released with Khemmis a couple of months back was one of the most apt pairings of bands in recent memory, how did that come about?
I had the idea of covering “Man of Constant Sorrow”. Actually, my grandmother had the idea and I thought it would be cool. The Khemmis guys and I are really good friends so we talked about doing a split, and wondered what other Public Domain song they could take a stab at. They came back with the idea to do “A Conversation With Death”. The underlying joke there is that both songs are in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou, hence the title of the split. Steve Joh at War Crime Recordings is a huge supporter of both bands, and he offered to release it. Basically, it was a bunch of friends wanting to do something cool together.
Nice! Are there any other current bands you think would make for an interesting split release?
I keep pestering Inter Arma about it but they just blow me off. Those guys are assholes, man. If Metallica wants to do a split some day I’d be into that too. Somebody tell their people to call my people.
Sadly I think Metallica are too busy releasing splits with themselves. You mentioned you’re going through a phase of re-obsession with Black Sabbath, what do you think makes their music so appealing to swathes of metalheads still to this day?
Everything about Black Sabbath is awesome. They invented heavy metal. Tony Iommi can astral project to the center of the space time continuum and pull back the most powerful riffs ever written. I don’t believe in a lot, but believe in that. Geezer is easily the most bad ass bass player in metal. Not necessarily the most technically skilled, the most bad ass. His lyrics are insane too, just pure psychedelic emotional imagery that seems so familiar and even ancient at times. He fucked around with the dark arts and it warped his mind to write the most incredible lyrics. Every singer they’ve had is amazing. Don’t even get me started on Dio and what he brought to the table. I love every period of Black Sabbath. It all offers something different.
This leads us to your topic for today, your Top 5 Ozzy-era Sabbath Songs. Did you have a particular selection criteria in mind here or just whatever still jams the hardest for you?
I wanted to cover the Ozzy era because that’s the stuff that got me completely obsessed with music and heavy metal in particular. These are the songs that blew my mind the hardest when I first heard them and that haven’t lost the initial spark as the years have gone by.
Let’s see what you’ve chosen…
5. “Black Sabbath”
Black Sabbath 
I’m including this not necessarily because I think it’s one of their best songs, but because it’s their most important song. In my opinion, this is the beginning of heavy metal. Think about the fact that they were playing this in 1969. As far as the history of rock and roll goes, this is the heaviest song of all time in relation to the period in which it was written. I have the notes to the main riff tattooed on me as a constant reminder of what to strive for.
4. “The Thrill Of It All”
Hearing Sabotage was a pivotal moment for me. I was already a huge Sabbath fan, but this album and song in particular made me realize that there aren’t any rules. If you have the balls and the integrity, you can make whatever kind of music you want to, without fear. The chorus of this song changed my life, really.
Vol. 4 
A perfect song. All four guys individually and collectively create something flawless here. 90% of the guitar tricks I use can be found in this one song. The chorus is possibly my favorite guitar part ever written. I was fortunate enough to see them play this live on their last tour, and it was one of the best moments of my life.
2. “The Writ”
Back to Sabotage, which is my favorite Black Sabbath album. This is the band at their angriest. They were having a really hard time in their lives during this period, and you can feel it. To me, this is Ozzy’s finest vocal performance. It’s so intense. I remember reading an interview with Zakk Wylde when I was a kid and he said he asked Ozzy how in the world he did the vocals on Sabotage. Ozzy answered with one word. “Drugs.”
1. “Spiral Architect”
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath 
I just finished reading a book about Sabbath (Symptom of the Universe), and according to the author, this was the band’s attempt at being taken seriously by the high-brow critics beyond the heavy metal world. They succeeded. This song is beautiful, progressive, emotional, heavy. It displays a contrast between light and dark unlike anything else they ever recorded. This is another one of Ozzy’s finest moments as well. Geezer has said that he woke up one day and wrote all the lyrics from beginning to end, without even really thinking about it. I think they’re his best lyrics. They paint a picture of this psychedelic future that’s somewhat dystopian but also romantic. I don’t have any idea what the fuck he’s actually talking about, and neither does he, but it’s beautiful.
Thanks for your time!
Thank you! Oh and I was just kidding about Inter Arma. I love those guys even if they won’t do a split with us.
There ya go, now you can head off and check out the rest of Spirit Adrift’s album which releases today. Find it on Bandcamp or get it through 20 Buck Spin directly. Also you can follow Nate on Facebook here to see if you can keep up with his prolific ass.