Last week, U.K. musician Billy Morrison—who plays in guitar for Billy Idol—released a solo album, God Shaped Hole, via his own King Mob Music label.
On the disc, Morrison is joined by Idol bandmates Steve Stevens and Erik Eldenius, plus Jane's Addiction's Dave Navarro and none other than Ozzy Osbourne, who sings lead vocals on "Gods," which he co-wrote with Morrison.
In this exclusive interview, I spoke with Morrison and Osbourne about the new track, Morrison's album and, as you'll see, a lot more.
GUITAR WORLD: Ozzy, How did you and Billy get together for “Gods”?
OSBOURNE: Billy’s been a longtime friend of mine. He called me up one day and when I asked him what he was doing he said, “I’m making an album.” That’s when I said, “Well, I’d love to sing on your album!” So we got together, worked up a couple of melody lines and it literally took us half an hour to write.
Billy, when someone like Ozzy tells you he wants to sing on one of your tracks, what goes through your mind?
MORRISON: If the Prince of Darkness says he wants to sing on your record, you don’t say “No,” now do you? I remember Ozzy sent me a text that said, “Do you have a ballad?” and I said, “Yeah!” But of course, I didn’t! [laughs]. So I wrote the music and took it down to South America when we both went and we literally wrote it in about 20 minutes. It was amazing watching him write those lyrics.
OSBOURNE: And I’m not just blowing smoke up your ass when I say it came that quick. I even remember saying to Billy, “You know? I don’t think we wrote this song. I think it was given to us by someone.” Because you can literally sit in a rehearsal room for months and not come up with anything. But then there are times when you just strike gold, and it’s a great feeling when you do something like that. It’s like giving birth… but without the pain!
MORRISON: I also think both of us have written enough songs to know that some take a long time and some just write themselves. And when they write themselves, you’ve just got to let it be what it is, and we were very good at just letting that song be what it is.
OSBOURNE: Steve Stevens plays a great guitar solo on that track. I was really pleased with the way it came out.
Do you approach writing a song for Billy in the same way as you would for yourself or for Black Sabbath?
OSBOURNE: Sabbath is a completely different animal. In Sabbath, Tony Iommi comes up with a riff and I’ll try to put a melody to it. It’s a completely different thing with my solo stuff as well.
MORRISON: We really had a lot of fun working on this song, and that’s because we’re not business partners. We’re mates who happened to have written a couple of songs together.
Billy, “Gods” appears on your new album, God Shaped Hole. What else can you tell me about it?
MORRISON: It started with me just wanting to do a couple of covers of bands no one has heard of but meant a lot to me. I worked quickly and a few weeks later had a full album with some original songs. Oz was on one of them, and he actually named the album. He wrote a lyric in “Gods” that said, “I found myself another God-shaped hole." That’s when he looked at me and said, “There’s the title of your album, son.”
Ozzy, with the absolute final Black Sabbath tour about to take place next year, what are you most proud of?
OSBOURNE: One of the things I’m really proud of about Black Sabbath is that we weren’t a band that was created by some business mogul or anything like that. We were four guys from Birmingham who got together and said let’s have a go at making a record. Then when the first album went into the charts I remember thinking, “OK, this will be all right for a few years. It’ll be like an extended party and I’ll have a chance to be famous for a couple of weeks.” I thought we’d have just a couple of albums and then we’d be done. And here we are now, almost 50 years later.
But this is the last tour for Black Sabbath. We’ve been on the road a lot of years and have decided to do 80 to 100 shows and call it a day. We all went our different ways for a while, but the nucleus of Sabbath is back together. I’ve played these songs for so long with my own band, but no one plays them like Sabbath. It’s one of those animals that was just meant to be.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.