Ozzy Osbourne recently spoke to Revolver magazine about his four-disc retrospective box set, "Prince of Darkness", and the upcoming 10th anniversary edition of his Ozzfest traveling festival, among other topics. A couple of excerpts from the interview follow:
Revolver: What made you decide to record a covers album at this point in your career?
Ozzy Osbourne: "For many years now, I've thought that it would be great to do some covers, old songs that mean something to me. So anyway, on the Ozzfest in 2003, I was talking to someone from the record company and I said that I've always wanted to do a covers album. So we started making a list of songs, and we narrowed it down. Then I forgot about it.
"Jumping a year forward, Sharon tells me about the box set. I thought, 'A box set of what?' The record company has already raped my back catalog! They can't do it anymore. There's already been 'The Best of Ozzy' and 'The Ozzman Cometh' and all these other fucking things, and they're all just the same fucking album with a different cover. So the box set originally started out as mainly a collection of rarities. Then the record company asked me if I was still into doing the covers album, and Sharon said that it would be something extra for the box set, so people are getting more than the same songs they've heard 50,000 times before."
Revolver: Do you think that by doing cover versions you might prompt people to say you're running out of ideas for your own solo material?
Ozzy Osbourne: "I'm not too bothered if it gets slagged. It's just giving people something different. You can download a lot of the other stuff on the box set from the Internet, anyway. The record company was going to release it with or without the covers album, and I felt embarrassed, to be honest. If I'd insisted on doing a full studio album for the box set, it probably wouldn't have come out until the end of next year. I've done this covers album as a stopgap so people can have something different. It's just me having a bit of fun with some songs that are already proven. There are gonna be two covers albums. There's the one on the box set, which will have some of the songs that will be on the other one, and some that won't."
Revolver: Ozzfest was a huge success again this year, but did you ever worry that your fans would feel excluded by the success of the TV show and your acceptance by the mainstream?
Ozzy Osbourne: "One of my big fears about the Ozzfest after the success of 'The Osbournes' was that I wondered if the audience would think I'm an asshole, or that people would come along expecting to see a Vegas cabaret act, because that's not what I'm about at all! After the accident, this Ozzfest was nowhere near as strenuous, and I did the best I could. But in the end it was great. I'm doing the 10th one next year. I'm stunned by that, to be honest."
Revolver: Will that be with BLACK SABBATH or your solo band?
Ozzy Osbourne: "This is what usually happens: Sharon will ask me whether I want to do it with my own band or SABBATH, and I'll say, 'I'll do it with SABBATH.' And she'll say, 'Are you sure?' I'll say, 'Yeah,' so she'll say, 'Okay, but if you do it with SABBATH then there'll be problems.' So I say, 'Okay, I'll do it with my own band.' And she'll say, 'Are you sure?' By this time, I'm not fucking sure either way! All I know is, I'll be there."
Revolver: If it's your solo band, what will the lineup be?
Ozzy Osbourne: "One big problem I've got is finding a good guitar player to write with. Nobody plays guitar anymore, they just make a noise. There ain't no fucking rock gods, and even the good guitarists are fucking nuts."
Revolver: What about Zakk Wylde?
Ozzy Osbourne: "He's fucking nuts! It depends on a lot of things. He'll probably be with me. I don't know at this point. I really want to find someone to write with, too."
Revolver: Have you held any auditions?
Ozzy Osbourne: "I tried out that Buckethead guy. I met with him and asked him to work with me but only if he got rid of the fucking bucket. So I came back a bit later and he's wearing this green fucking Martian's-hat thing. I said, 'Look, just be yourself!' He told me his name was Brian, so I said that's what I'd call him. He says, 'No one calls me Brian except my mother.' So I said, 'Pretend I'm your mum then!' I haven't even got out of the room and I'm already playing fucking mind games with the guy. What happens if one day he's gone and there's a note saying, 'I've been beamed up?' [Laughs] Don't get me wrong, he's a great player. He plays like a motherfucker!"