Ozzy Osbourne Interview
GW What made you pick Gus?
OSBOURNE There was something about him that shone for me. He’s a great player, and I’m looking forward to recording something from scratch with him, because most of the groundwork was done on the album by the time he arrived. There’s a part of Gus that I don’t know. I’ve never worked with him full time on the road. I’ve done a couple of gigs with him in Los Angeles for a charity thing. When you work and live with someone on the road you always find out some weird shit about them.
GW How are Gus and Zakk different?
OSBOURNE They’re worlds apart! Zakk is established and successful in his own right. I said to Gus, “You’ve got big shoes to fill.” I really hope the fans give him a chance and remember that Zakk was like Gus at one point—he was a new boy.
GW There always seems to be an interesting dynamic between the guitarist and the singer.
OSBOURNE I like to give everybody a fair cop. I look at the band like an orchestra: one guy’s the conductor, one guy’s the piano player, one’s the violinist, et cetera. There’s always one guy at the back and all he does is clang a bell once in a while. But that one bell is important. So I always try to make the bell ringer as important as the guitar player. It’s the end result that I’m looking for. And when you get a band that locks in from constant work, you know it. In Black Sabbath’s early days, we would lock in like a machine, and nobody could touch us. I remember doing a gig at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Rod Stewart was closing the show, and he wouldn’t let us do a soundcheck. So we went, “Right, we’ll show him.” And we played our arses off and blew the fucker offstage.
GW What drives you to record, tour and promote a new album?
OSBOURNE It’s what I do. When I’m at home I don’t go out of the house. On my recent book-signing tour it was great to meet people, because your fans can become faceless.
GW You could have easily had a very comfortable career doing greatest-hits tours like a lot of artists from your era. Isn’t it quite a risk producing new material in such an unpredictable climate?
OSBOURNE Everything you do in this game is a risk. You don’t wake up every morning and write a hit. Most of my big hits have come at the 99th hour. I don’t think anybody goes into the studio and says, “You know what? I’ve been very successful for 46 years—I think I’m going to go and make a bad record.” And as Zakk used to say, “You can’t always hit a home run.”
GW You have a unique, instantly recognizable vocal style. Where did that come from?
OSBOURNE I don’t know. I just sang. I don’t think there’s anybody else that sounds like me. I’m glad that people like it.
GW In your formative years, who were your influences?
OSBOURNE Mick Jagger. In his day he was brilliant. Robert Plant’s a great singer. The Beatles were an inspiration. They always had great harmonies, great melodies. Speaking of which, my son has been doing a documentary on me over the last three years, and the other day he said, “Dad, if you could have me interview anybody, who would it be?” And I said, “What about Paul McCartney?” And he said, “I’ve done him!” I thought, Fucking hell! I wonder what he said about me.
GW Is there anything new that excites you?
OSBOURNE I’m 61, and I can’t really get my head around the new stuff. It’s all been done before.
GW You appear on Slash’s new album, on the song “Crucify the Dead.”
OSBOURNE Working with Slash was easy; he’s such a nice bloke, and he’s helped me out on a few TV appearances where he’s been an understudy for Zakk. Slash is one of those people who seems to be everywhere at once. But he’s got himself together, and I like that. He’s a great guy and a family man. My wife and his wife get on fine, which I don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad thing—as long as they don’t go shopping together.
When I work with someone like Slash who’s got his shit together, it’s fantastic, because there’s a lot of ego involved in this business. If Slash calls me up to do something, I say, “Sure.” I don’t have to have a fucking itinerary.
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