Ozzy Talks About Scream and the Possibilty of Retirement
Jane Stevenson of the QMI Agency recently conducted an interview with legendary heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
On taking on Jesus Christ in a new song called “Diggin’ Me Down”:
“That’s what I’ve always done [never backed down from controversy over his 40-year career with BLACK SABBATH and as a solo artist], and why should I change it now?
“What that (song asks) is, ‘How bad does it have to get before (Jesus returns)? If he’s not coming now, what the fuck have we got to do? A nuclear war every hour? I mean, how many people have died for their religion and how many still are? I’m going to Israel this year. I’m quite interested to go because (there are) Christians and Muslims and Jewish people all in the same area. And if they can’t get on, what chance has anybody got? Too many religions but only one God.”
On being raised Anglican in Birmingham, England as one of six children:
“I wasn’t religious in the sense that I went to church all the time. I’d go now and again … But Sundays were boring back then, there was nothing to do. So I could go to the Sunday school, just to do something. But most of my friends were Catholics and I used to get pissed off ’cause they’d have holidays from school when I had to go. And I used to get really upset about that.”
On the departure of guitarist Zakk Wylde:
“Zakk was just helping me out for a while, he’s got his own band, he doesn’t need me. He’s got BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. He’s a road dog. He’s on the road all the time. When I told him I wanted to get a permanent guitar player, he said, ‘Go.’ We haven’t fallen out, at all.”
On his new guitarist, Gus G.:
“He’s a great little guitar player. He just stood out. What really impressed me about him is he plays all the old stuff as it was. You get guys come in, and go, ‘It’d be better if you played it in this key.’ People get too clever and they give themselves a boot out of the position. You get Gus along and he played as it was. I think he did a good job on this album but I think on the next album I’m really excited to work with him. Because (Canadian producer) Kevin (Churko) and I basically put the foundation down, and he just filled the holes.”
On whether Gus G. will be the permanent guitarist for his band:
“You never know. You live with them more than you do your family when you’re touring. I’ve had some wild (experiences). I’ve had people suddenly found God halfway through the tour. ‘Oh, God, here we go.’ ‘I don’t like inverted crucifixes on a T-shirt.’ And I go, ‘Are we a fashion show or what?’ I’ve had it all over the years. I’ve had a lot of crazy stuff.”
On saying in an interview with USA Today in 2008 that he would retire after making two more records:
“You’ve got to be careful what you say in this world, because it’ll come back to kick you in the pants.
“Sharon [Ozzy‘s wife/manager] gave me the year off and when I retired before, you’ve got to have something to retire to. You can’t just go, ‘I’m wealthy, I’ve got a house here, and a house there, and a car here, and a car there.’ And you drive around the house and you drive around the streets, you drive around a few things, and then what? One thing I learned was, you’ve got to have something to retire to. My father got early retirement, he died a year after. The routine that we build ourselves into is our mechanism, and once you throw a spanner in the works, you throw it off.”
On being inspired by the real-life 1993 mercy killing committed by Saskatchewan farmer Robert Latimer on the song “Latimer’s Mercy”, from his new studio album “Scream” (Latimer was convicted of killing his cerebral-palsy-afflicted teenaged daughter by carbon monoxide poisoning. Ozzy found out about the case from his Canadian producer Kevin Churko, who hails from the Prairie province):
“He was telling me about him one day. (The song’s) not saying anything, really, but I was reading a thing about it one time and I asked myself, ‘What would I do?’ I asked myself the question. ‘If I had something like that happen, what would I do as a parent?’
“It’s a very tough decision … You’re actually killing your own child… I’m glad I’m not in that position. I’m not saying he’s innocent. I’m not saying he’s guilty. It’s a very, very tough one.”