Sabbath's Iommi Steps Out

Guitarist lines up new collaboration, tour

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While Tony Iommi has released albums under his own name before, he has never toured outside of Black Sabbath. This should change next year, after the guitarist issues a new album with ex-Deep Purple vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes.

"Glenn's a true professional, and he's very energetic," says Iommi, who plans to tour with Hughes stateside. "He comes up with stuff instantly."

Iommi and Hughes both hail from northern England, and they've crossed paths many times as members of Sabbath and Purple (most notably at the mammoth 1974 Cal Jam festival). Hughes briefly joined Sabbath in 1986, singing on Seventh Star and fronting the band for a handful of shows before abruptly exiting. A decade later, Iommi and Hughes recorded a collection of songs that were shelved when Iommi reunited with the original Sabbath lineup. This past September, the tracks were finally issued as The 1996 DEP Sessions.

The album's release rekindled the veteran rockers' desire to work together, and they -- along with ex-John Mellencamp drummer Kenny Aronoff -- are currently working on new songs in England. They plan to enter a recording studio around Christmas, and release the new album next year on Sanctuary Records.

Compared to the melodic DEP Sessions, the new material is "more riff-oriented," explains Iommi. He also promises that, like its impromptu predecessor, the songs will "come together very, very quick."

As for Black Sabbath's long-rumored follow-up to 1978's aptly titled Never Say Die, Iommi is holding out hope for regrouping in the studio with Ozzy Osbourne and Co. "I'd like to think that we'll be doing another album," he says. "With Sabbath, things just happen. We weren't supposed to be doing the last Ozzfest, but we did."

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