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Rachael Becker on Creating Guitar Straps for Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi + Geezer Butler

Liz Ramanand, Loudwire

Rachael Becker, strap maker and owner of Heavy Leather NYC, is the craftswoman behind the straps that Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler are sporting on the road this year.

Becker has made straps for notable artists like Slash, Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, Eric Peterson of Testament and many others. She has also begun making camera straps, bags, wallets and belts. Loudwire had the opportunity to chat with Becker about her custom guitar straps, the experience of making a Vegan strap for Geezer Butler and much more.

How did this whole opportunity of creating straps for Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler come about?

I was put in touch with their management a couple years ago and I said that I wanted make them straps – this was well before they announced they were going on tour. I sent over a couple of straps that I custom made with them in mind and they both loved them. Geezer’s a vegan, so it was a challenge to make a non-leather strap. I’ve done straps in denim before but never anything that had to look like leather.

It’s a big year for Black Sabbath. What are your thoughts on their comeback and how do you feel to be a part of it since they will be wearing your guitar straps onstage.

It’s pretty cool, it’s always really exciting when I see my work onstage with any band, especially Sabbath. I don’t know how to put it, they play such huge venues and I’m always amazed when I get to see my work on those giant screens.

When trying to decide on a design for Geezer strap, which has crosses, and Tony’s, which has skulls,  how did you approach each?

We’ve gone through a whole process of different styles and picking a part what details [Geezer] liked and what details he didn’t like so that was an evolution. One of the straps that I made for him had an embroidery of the Sabbath devil angel and a cross and he asked to get rid of the angel and just have the cross.

I collaborated with these guys who own this company called Shirts & Destroy, and they helped with the engraving on both Tony and Geezer’s straps. For Geezer, the next evolution of his strap was their artwork engraved so I told them to keep in mind that he liked crosses. For Tony, he was a little more open to having artwork that wasn’t just the cross.

For Geezer, you had to make a Vegan guitar strap. Can you talk more about the material for the strap itself and the process of making it?

At first I found this faux leather that’s really expensive, it’s more expensive than leather and it was not easy to work with but it was really soft and had quality so that was the first strap that I made and I used that with some woven materials. It had a similar look to a strap he was already wearing, I didn’t want to veer too far off of what his style was. Now I’m working with a really high quality vinyl, it looks cool and I use it in small portions.

Any other major straps you’re working on for any notable musicians that you can tell us about?

No one I’m really working on right now; Lemmy [Kilmister] will be wearing my stuff. I mean I don’t know if there’s a future in this, hoping there is but I went to go see Moving Sidewalks and I was able to hand a strap off to Billy Gibbons so that was pretty cool. [Laughs] Hopefully, I will get to work with him some more and I know Turbonegro are coming to town and I hope to get them strapped when they’re in town, so I will be making straps with them in mind.

If you could make a guitar strap for any guitarist whom you haven’t created a strap for yet, who would that be and why?

Oh god, this question. [Laughs] Let me see, the obvious like the Stones, Prince and Weird Al Yankovic! There are so many artists – any of the top rock stars of the early ’70s. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of the ’80s heavy metal bands covered.

The last time we spoke, you stated, “I like working with music, that’s why I love what I do because I work with musicians and I get to see my work onstage. I don’t want to be part of fashion.” Since then, you have made incredible camera straps, belts, wallets and bags. What inspired the change of heart and wanting to expand your talents?

Yeah, I’ve moved forward from that, I guess I feel like it’s relevant and I’ve just gotten so many requests from people. I made a bag for myself and a lot of people were asking about it. As long as I can do fashion on my own terms and I can keep my own style and people buy into that, which they have been, then I’m okay with doing fashion. I don’t like the theme of the industry where everybody directly copying is a positive thing for creativity. I dig making product in America, as so much fashion has moved to China. As long as production stays here, I’m happy making all sorts of goods.

For more on Rachael Becker and Heavy Leather NYC, click here.

Check Out Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi’s Custom Guitar Straps Below:

Geezer Butler [Vegan] Strap:

Heavy Leather NYC
Heavy Leather NYC

Tony Iommi Guitar Strap:

Heavy Leather NYC
Heavy Leather NYC

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