All across the world, adolescent boys and girls grow up with posters of rock gods on their walls. With the stereo turned up as loud as the parental units will tolerate, kids play air guitar and daydream about getting to take the stage with their favorite band. For 99.9 percent of kids, the dream will fade away after a few years, with only a tiny fraction of them actually following through. Andrew Watt was one of the few—he didn’t just imagine playing with his heroes, he made it happen through sheer determination and a tiny bit of coincidence.
“The idea just popped into my head, ‘How cool would it be if Post and Ozzy did a song together?’” Watt says. “It’s happened to me before in my life where I say a wild fucking thing out loud and my friends are like, ‘Ok, yeah.’ Sometimes you say the crazy things out loud—like Post Malone and Ozzy Osbourne should do a song together in 2020 and there should be a guitar solo on pop radio—and it fucking happens! There’s a level of magic to it. There’s throwing the idea out there, giving it your best, and then the idea takes flight.”
For the last decade, Watt has been unleashing plenty of crazy ideas and making them happen. When he was only 10 years old, Watt purchased his first three albums. While recording Osbourne’s “Ordinary Man,” he played with two of the men who inspired him to love music in the first place.
“My mom would run errands and leave me at the record store,” Watt recalls. “I remember being 10 years old and being handed ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ by the Chili Peppers, ‘Appetite for Destruction’ by Guns ‘N’ Roses and ‘Led Zeppelin I.’ I literally remember being handed the records, looking at the album covers and listening to every single morsel of those records. They’re in my DNA as a musician.
“Then sitting with Duff (McKagan) and Chad (Smith) and actually making an album for Ozzy,” Watt continues, “we’re not talking about real life. This is dream-level stuff.”
Even while the project was starting to come together, Watt was a little hesitant to move forward with it. There is so much history with Osbourne, particularly when you look at all the iconic songs and albums he has put out since Black Sabbath’s self-titled debut 50 years ago.
“That was a huge mountain in my mind that I had to overcome,” Watt says. “I believe some shit is fucking ordained, I was supposed to make this album with this guy and that’s why I’d been listening to all this stuff. Ozzy has said it many times before, you only meet so many people in this life and there’s such a thing as coincidence, but also there’s really not. Why are you meeting this person at this point in your life, then going on to make this great thing that so many people love? There’s a reason for all that.“Ozzy was huge in getting me to just be present,” Watt continues, “and not think about living up to the legacy and just doing my best. I just tried to make something that 12-year-old me would have thought, ‘This is fucking awesome!’”
The album was much more than just a realization of Watt’s childhood fantasies. In addition to making an album that rocks incredibly hard, everyone who took part in it walked away with an unforgettable experience. What better way to remember such an event than with a tattoo?
“Ozzy, Kelly [Osbourne] and Chad made sure that everybody involved with the album who wanted one got the bat tattoo,” Watt says. “When we made this album it was such a beautiful experience that brought us together. It brought Ozzy back from the depths of despair, it made my dreams come true. It was such a positive fun time, we traveled all over the world to do it. That experience, that bat, means so much, and I have it on my fucking hand."
Going through Watt’s tattoo collection, you very quickly learn that most of his work is directly tied to music in one way or another. As a guitar player, Watt spends a ton of time looking at his hands, so he wanted to tattoo them with pieces of inspiration. There’s a blackbird to remind him of his favorite Beatles song, a portrait of George Harrison on the finger he uses to play slide to remind him to be “melodic and simple.” Then there are two very special tributes, each tattooed on the day the man passed away.
“On my right hand is a portrait of Bowie and a Prince symbol because those were the two coolest motherfuckers to grace this Earth,” Watt says with great enthusiasm. “I want to always make sure I’m doing the right shit. I can look down at my hands and I have my favorite people there to guide me.”
Drawing inspiration from the giants has helped Watt become one of the go-to producers in the industry, regardless of genre. His discography boasts a diverse array of artists including Justin Bieber, Blink-182, Avicii, Selena Gomez and Osbourne. Each experience is different from the last, both in the process and in the sound of the final product. Through them all, one aspect has remained a constant—Watt’s love of collaboration. Vibing with people and creating has become his passion, and as he sets out to write and record an album of his own material, he is focused on collaboration.
“I’ve made a lot of music with a lot of different people, but I’ve always wanted to make my own thing,” Watt says. “What if I made an album that feels like a band, feels like today, and has all these different guests with their fingers on it. An album with the feeling of all the classic records I love but based on today’s sound, with a guest on every song. An album based on collaboration that’s really light and fun. You’re going to hear people really stretch and get out of their comfort zone. I’m looking forward to playing and connecting with people.”
From the posters on the walls of his childhood bedroom to his very first tattoo—script on his ribs that says “Track 01,” inspired by the screen on his CD player as it played Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times”—music has been a dominant presence throughout Watt’s life.
“You know, I’m lucky to pick up my guitar every single day,” Watt says. “I literally think about it every single day. I’m like, Holy shit, today I am going to pick up one of my guitars and I’m going to create with it and that’s my job. I’m blessed to do it.”