Ozzy Osbourne Interview
GW Scream is your second album with producer Kevin Churko. How did you two get together?
OSBOURNE I think the guy who was building the studio at my old house, where we filmed the reality show, was also helping Kevin build a studio and one thing led to another. Kevin comes from the Mutt Lange camp, so he’s used to spending months in the studio. Before I just used to get together, jam with the band, and then we’d come up with ideas. Kevin would come to me with a riff and then we’d work it up from there.
GW Are any of your lyrics autobiographical?
OSBOURNE Sometimes, but I never like discussing my lyrics—they are whatever you think they are. I’ve written stuff in the past that has meant something completely different to what the fans thought. Quite often they’ve got a different take on it, like with “Suicide Solution” [from 1980’s Blizzard of Ozz]. I remember hearing “Purple Haze” and thinking it was about Jimi Hendrix kissing a guy.
GW The new album was originally called Soul Sucka. Why did that change?
OSBOURNE I remember when I first heard the song I loved the chorus—“soul, soul, soul sucka”—and I thought, What a great title for the album. Then my office put it out on the web page, and the fucking thing lit up with complaints because it’s a hip-hop saying. I don’t listen to hip-hop, so it was a simple mistake.
GW On the new album, there are a few tracks where you sing in a lower register.
OSBOURNE Yeah! Do you know why? Because I said to Kevin, “Listen I’m going to be doing some of these songs live, so make sure I can pull it off onstage.” Normally he doesn’t give me any air breaks. I’m used to singing off the Richter scale, which is easy to record, because you can stop and drop in the next line and then stick it all together.
GW Was there any material leftover from Black Rain that Zakk had worked on?
OSBOURNE No. Zakk came in at the beginning of the new one, but he was still drinking. When you’re drunk and somebody else is drinking, it’s okay, but when you’re sober and somebody’s blabbering away in your ear, it ain’t. I mean, Zakk’s a great player and I love him. I love his playing. But in the end, it came to the point that I had to get another guitarist. Not because I fell out with Zakk, but it was hard for me to be around someone who is actively drinking. I heard he’s not drinking anymore. I don’t know if that’s true or not.
GW How are things between you and Zakk?
OSBOURNE I would never slag the guy off. We’re good friends, and we’re like family. I feel that the whole thing was partly my fault, because Zakk was doing his own band, his own tours and helping me out when he got back. On the last tour he was with his band opening the show and my band closing the show, and that’s really hard. So I’d been thinking of getting a replacement for a while, but I was procrastinating.
GW In one interview you said that your band was beginning to sound like Black Label Society.
OSBOURNE Very much so! But that’s not a surprise, because Zakk is Black Label. I love his playing; he’s one of the greats. But it was the drink getting the better of him. I couldn’t watch him die. In one sick respect, it was good for me to see, because that’s what I was like, and worse. Believe me, if I started drinking now you’d think, Fuck, this is bollocks! I’ve got to get out of here. That’s how I felt around Zakk toward the end.
GW So now we come to the new kid on the block. How did you find Gus G.?
OSBOURNE I started the auditions, and then I got the guys at my office to do some background checks, and through a process of elimination it got down to about five people. I always feel bad when I audition, because I think, What fucking right do I have to say, “He’s no good” and “He’s got the gig”? Because, put it this way: anybody playing an instrument is better than me.
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