dialogue with Ozzy Osbourne
EmptyOzzy Osbourne is a busy man these days. The annual Ozzfest trek is fast approaching, and the metal veteran's "Black Rain" — his first album of new material since 2001 — came out Tuesday. The pro-ject is a milestone for Osbourne in that it's the first in his career he recorded sober. "I thought I'd never write again without any stimulation," he says. "But you know what? Instead of picking up the bottle, I just got honest and said, 'I don't want life to go (to pieces).' " Osbourne has enticed fans this year to come to his festival by offering free tickets online, and "Black Rain" has an Ozzfest tie-in: A limited number of copies contain a code that buyers can enter on the Web site to increase their chances of securing access. Osbourne recently discussed the album, the tour and more with Billboard's Christa Titus.
Billboard: I was planning to ask how long you were going to keep working, but after hearing "Not Going Away" and "I Don't Wanna Stop" on the album, it kind of blew that notion.
Ozzy Osbourne: I've always said to myself, "If the audience dwindles, I will not start doing this fucking club thing." … I understand why people do, because it's work. What I see myself eventually doing is working more in my studio.
BB: Your guitarist, Zakk Wylde, wrote for this album.
Osbourne: He laid some stuff down. People say, "Why do you keep going to Zakk?" 'Cause you know what? There ain't no one else like him. He comes up with the stuff, plus the fact he's a family member. If he said to me, "Ozzy, I need you to do this, will you do (it)?" I wouldn't think twice. … He's always told me where he's at. Instead of going, "Ah, fucking great tour," he goes, "Next time, you got to (do this)." He's real. He don't fuck around. He's like meat and potatoes. I was very disappointed that his album didn't do better than it did last time. He's getting better and better. … There's no one like Zakk Wylde anymore.
BB: How is it being married to your manager?
Osbourne: People often ask me this, and the only answer I can give is, when (Sharon Osbourne) talks to me about something, I have to work at whether she's talking to me as a loving wife or a fucking scumbag manager. But either way, I was drunk every fucking day, out of my mind on something and alcohol every day of my life. … My therapist said to me: "Imagine something for me. Imagine you are the sober person and your wife is the fucking screwball drunk and fucking lying on the floor and covered in puke or what-ever. How long do you think you'd last? Twenty years?" I (thought): "Oh, wow, I wouldn't have lasted 20 fucking minutes. I would have been gone."
She makes mistakes; we all make mistakes. I'm not very good at understanding these fucking contracts, what they all mean. I have to let someone do it for me, and if someone's going to rip me off, I'd rather my wife do it then someone else. I don't for one second (think she is, though).
BB: Does Ozzfest being free have anything to do with people saying it's expensive for food and drinks at the show on top of the ticket's cost?
Osbourne: That's not Ozzfest (that sets the prices). … I remember we did one in the early days, we did a show in Florida, and they moved so much fucking beer. I mean, it was ridiculous how much beer they moved. … It's not me or Sharon, it's the venue people … they want to get as much out of it as they can.
BB: Are you doing any more work on your play about Rasputin?
Osbourne: It's kind of been nearly done. The thing about it is, I'm singing some of the parts, and it sounds OK, but then, when it does get picked up, it's not as easy as making records. It's a big thing because you've got to get choreography to put what you've written into a stage thing and insert the songs for this thing. And Elton John was telling me, "Well, you do so and so, so and so." I (am more like): "Right, fine. Write me another four (songs). We don't need that many songs about a fucking flower."