If there’s an artist who needs no introduction by now it’s Ozzy Osbourne (well, this scribe’s French teacher never heard of the man, but anyway). Back into action with his new album, “Scream”, and a new, young band that possess a lot of dignity so Ozz doesn’t look a bear in the kindergarten this time, Osbourne still cuts it as proved by his triumphant show in Israel where the veteran wasn’t in a top shape of voice yet was flying high. This little conversation took place a couple of days before the fantastic show.
– Ozzy, what OzzFest is for you as opposed to a regular concert?
I still perform my same set as any other concert, but with OzzFest you get more bands for your money.
– Does it take much effort to always be modern, on the cutting edge of the business, and still remain faithful to your own style?
I don’t ever think about being modern or cutting edge but I don’t try to stay in the same place musically either. I’m not afraid to try something new but in the end I still want my records to sound like me. I was talking to a musician friend of mine recently on how the business has changed so much. We’ve got these talent shows they’re having on TV now and that seems like the only artists that record companies are signing now. It’s just a different world but… I wonder who’s going to have the longevity in the future. I’ll just continue to be me.
– Does flying the black flag on the “Scream” cover mean a defiant “No Surrender”?
No. It was just Sharon’s idea when we did the photo shoot.
– The main theme of the album seems to be mortality. Is it becoming a more sensitive matter as of lately?
I think when you’ve been around for a while you naturally begin reflecting back on your life.
– Could the “If you’re gonna go down – go loud, go strong, go proud” line be your motto in these day and age?
It’s more of an audience battle cry. It’s whatever you’re into – music, sports, etcetera.
– Your songs become more and more anthemic, which is fine but, as I see it, it ruins whatever concept your last records, as oppose to the first ones, have. What did influence your writing in such a way?
There’s no doubt that “Let Me Hear You Scream” has an anthemic feel to it, but I’ve never done a concept record. That’s too much planning for me. Whenever I start a record I never know what the end result is going to be until I get there. I suppose it’s part of the journey. Each song is like an individual with it’s own personality.
– You said recently, you’d like to have a disguise group to play a different kind of music, not metal. What genre would it be – a Beatlesque pop?
Perhaps. I’ll keep it a mystery just in case I ever decide to do it…or maybe I’m already doing it.
– Your Prince of Darkness image is a unique one but don’t you find it stifling sometimes?
No, not at all.
– How do you think: after the immense popularity of “The Osbournes” show, what percentage of your new admirers really listen to what you’re saying in the songs?
I can’t really say “The Osbournes” show had any impact on CD sales or people buying my concert tickets because I don’t think it did. I’ve been lucky that I have kids discover my music every day. I’ve been in this business for forty years now, and it amazes me when I see how many young kids are at my shows signing along to the songs of my “Blizzard Of Ozz” album which came out nearly thirty years ago.
– With Randy Rhoad’s undisputable role in getting you back on track and Bernie Torme‘s important cameo in your band, Zakk Wylde has been with you the longest. How does it feel to be working without him after twenty years together?
Zakk will always be a part of my life. He’s like part of my family. I’m the godfather of his son. But it was time for me to get some new blood on guitar. Zakk is doing amazing with his band, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. The group’s new record [“Order Of The Black”] is really great.
– Is it essential for you to be playing with young musicians?
No, it’s not essential, but it definitely pushes me. The energy in my new band is amazing. Some people have even told me that they think this is the best all-around band that I’ve ever had.
– Geezer Butler said recently he wouldn’t rule out the BLACK SABBATH reunion. Is there really a chance?
To be honest with you, I would love to do a killer BLACK SABBATH album. It would make my life – my whole thing round up perfectly for me. We’re talking, and that’s a good sign. I can’t give any dates because I don’t know anything. I even don’t know whether they want to do it with me or whatever, but we will see.
– Which of your albums makes you cringe and wish you’d re-cut it?
I’d rather focus on new music then worry about re-cutting past albums.
– How did the idea of promoting “Scream” at the Madame Tussauds’ come about?
The record label were talking about marketing ideas for the album, and someone had the idea for this as a connection in to the album title scream. I thought it was corny at first, but I actually had fun doing it.
– There’s a lot of web gadgets you’re spreading your message by. How skilful are you with all these computer things?
I’m learning to operate some of this shit. I have an iPod, an iPhone and even an iPad now. I’m not really technically minded so in a moment of frustration I could possibly end up on throwing the fucking thing at the wall at any moment. But I’m getting there.
– You’ve recorded with Ringo Starr and asked Paul McCartney to record with you, although he declined. Do you have any more dreams to fulfil?
Becoming friends with Paul McCartney was the ultimate dream fulfilled for me. I don’t think anything will top that. My only dream now would be that my kids have a happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.
– Could you imagine other life for you, the one not connected to music?
No. I’ve tried retiring once but I didn’t really know what to do with my time. I still enjoy making and performing music so I’m just going to keep going for now.
© Exclusive photos by Eugene Veinard