Two questions we had before interviewing Ozzy: What more is there left to learn about the man who has been in the (black) light for decades? And would we be able to understand him? Sure, he’s in magazines more often than Viagra ads are, and he’s had a Behind the Music special and an entire reality series devoted to his tumultuous life. His candid autobiography, I Am Ozzy, was on the New York Times bestseller list. A movie about his life is in the works. And by the time you read this, his tenth studio album, Scream, will be hitting retail and iTunes (it’s well worth a download, by the way).
But as Ozzy’s following lucid words prove, he’s still one of the most dynamic, frank, and fascinating personalities in rock. Long live the godfather of heavy metal.
INKED: You’ve been performing and recording metal music for 42 years. How do you stay in touch with the angry young man inside?
OZZY OSBOURNE: You know what? I don’t know. There is a stigma attached to metal, and I’ve never been completely comfortable about the word metal because it has no musical connotations whatsoever. They think anybody with long hair and tattoos—bass player, guitar player, drummer and a singer—is heavy metal. The ’70s were heavy. The ’80s were heavy. Then in the ’90s and the new millennium, on Ozzfest, it was just these growling people. I can appreciate it, but I don’t understand what happened to melody.
Nu metal left a lot of people cold for that reason. But they like it, you know. Nu metal is very, very aggressive. I said to my father many years ago, when he was alive, there was this new band, the Beatles. He said to me, “They’ll never do nothing. They’ve got no melodies.” And here’s me at the age of 61 saying exactly what my father used to say. But the whole industry has changed. I was quite shocked to find out that new bands that get signed to record companies now have to pay a certain amount of their concessions, publishing, and gig money. It’s fucking crazy.
How have you changed?
I don’t drink anymore or smoke anymore or do drugs anymore—apart from the ones that I need now, not the ones that I wanted to try.
You’re going to be doing dates with Mötley Crüe on Ozzfest this summer. The last time you toured together was in 1984. You guys partied like hell back in the day. What’s it going to be like now?
You know what? Now I just go and do my show. In the old days, when we came off stage, I went to the bus to get more drugs and alcohol inside me. I don’t even know whether they still do that. If they want to do that, fine. I don’t have a problem with that—I’m not one of these holier-than-thou guys. Believe me, if I knew I could have a good time with it I’d do it again. I’m not turning nerdy. I just never gave sobriety a chance before, really.
You have surrounded yourself with young musicians throughout the course of your career. Your new guitarist, Gus G, from Firewind, is half your age. Is it both invigorating and intimidating to have this younger talent around you, like Rick Wakeman’s son, Adam, on keyboards?
It’s not an age thing, but I don’t want a band of beer-bellied, balding guys with bandannas tied around their heads thinking they are still 25. I work out. I try to watch what I eat. My responsibility is to look as good as I can for the audience. Every day I work out for about half an hour, just to keep myself going. I’m addicted to that now.