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Taken from LouderSound (May 30, 2023)

We got Tenacious D to interview Ozzy and it turns out even Jack Black gets star struck

Metal, movies and Randy Rhoads - this is what happened when Tenacious D interviewed Ozzy Osbourne

by Joe Daly


(Image credit: Stephanie Cabral)
(Image credit: Stephanie Cabral)


A sign hangs over the front gate of Ozzy Osbourne's house: "Never mind the dog. Beware of the owner." It's a sentiment Jack Black, here with Tenacious D bandmate Kyle Gass on this sunny LA morning to interview the former Black Sabbath singer and all-round metal icon for Metal Hammer, can relate to.


"Ozzy was my introduction to heavy metal music," says Jack. "I bought Blizzard Of Ozz back in the early 80s and it changed my life. He's a true inspiration and a hero of mine, but I'm pretty nervous right now. I might be too scared to interview Ozzy."


In fairness, it was their idea. "Metal Hammer asked us, ‘Who would be your dream pick to interview for this special edition?' and we said, ‘Ozzy,'" explains Kyle. "You know what? We're not professional interviewers. We're usually the ones being interviewed. So we're not expected to be [venerated US TV journalist] Mike Wallace right now. We're just fellow rockers getting to know each other."


But it's too late now. As the pair sit down on a couch in the cavernous front room chez Osbourne, the sound of footsteps echoes behind us, and the owner of the house descends the white marble staircase.


"Holy crap," says Jack uneasily.


"Oh God, no," adds Kyle. "This is nerve-wracking."


Then Ozzy enters the room and flashes a smile, and those nerves instantly dissipate. Clad head-to-toe in black, the singer greets his guests warmly, shakes everybody's hands and then sits on the couch opposite. A tiny dog named Pickle leaps into his lap and the interview begins.


Jack: "Do you remember the first song that you enjoyed as a child?"


Ozzy: "The song that made me decide what I want to do in my life was She Loves You by The Beatles. I had this blue transistor radio – I remember it like it was yesterday – and I went, ‘Fuck… what is this?' It was so profound! They just fired my imagination. I wanted to be a Beatle. I wanted Paul McCartney to marry my sister! My bedroom wall was covered in fucking Beatles pictures."


Kyle: "I felt the same way when I saw them on Ed Sullivan when I was four years old. It was like, ‘Why would you want to do anything else?'"


Ozzy: "My son asked me one day why I liked The Beatles. I said, ‘For me, it was as profound as going to bed in a world that was black and white and waking up to a world in colour.'"


Jack: "What was the best concert that you ever saw? Is there one that stands out?"


Ozzy: "I think Paul McCartney. He's my idol, you know. I was once explaining to a reporter the way that I felt about McCartney and The Beatles and you know what? This kid says, ‘That's the way I feel about you.' I almost fell over. I was freaked out! I never think of myself like that. I try to be as normal as I can."


Jack: "But in the same way that people think of The Beatles as inventing rock'n'roll, I think of Black Sabbath as inventing heavy metal."


Ozzy: "It's a nice thought, but we were very influenced by The Who, Led Zeppelin, Kinks… Fuckin' hell, when I heard The Kinks' [proto-heavy metal 1964 single] You Really Got Me, I bought the single and I played it to fucking death. I couldn't stop listening to it. I don't get that anymore with music that I hear. I don't listen to much modern music. There's no new music at all – it's all fucking rehashed."


(Image credit: Stephanie Cabral)
(Image credit: Stephanie Cabral)


Jack: "Those are all great bands that you mentioned but Black Sabbath invented a genre, in my opinion. You changed the landscape of modern music."


Ozzy: "If people wanna believe that, it's great, but I don't go around like, ‘Oh, I'm the singer in Black Sabbath, I invented this or that…' With Black Sabbath, it was a great camp to be in. Tony Iommi was the law. He was the guy. I've never yet met a guitar player that can play such demonic riffs."


Jack and Kyle [together]: "Yeah!"


Ozzy: "When we first started, the only place you could get a rehearsal spot was this place where we had to go at nine o'clock in the morning. The rehearsal spot was across from a movie theatre and Tony or Geezer said one morning, ‘Isn't it strange that people pay money to see horror films. Why don't we start doing horror music?' I thought they were joking and then Tony goes, [Ozzy intones the riff to the song Black Sabbath]. I was like, ‘Fuckin' hell!'"


Kyle: "That was the moment! The birth of heavy metal, right there."


Jack: "What's your favourite horror film?"


Ozzy: "Our manager came to us one day when we were on tour and says, ‘You have to go and see this film called The Exorcist.' We said, ‘The Exorcist? What the fuck does that mean?' He said, ‘Just go and see it.' We were in Philadelphia in this fucking movie theatre and we were shitting ourselves! That one was just so real. We were freaked out! Here we were, Black Sabbath and I'm the Prince Of Darkness and all this, and we had to go see another movie – [US caper film] The Sting – just to stop thinking about it. It was so amazing."


Jack: "For me, the most powerful moment in that movie was ‘Your mother sucks cocks in hell!' How can you fucking say that in a movie?"


Ozzy: "On [1988 solo album] No Rest For The Wicked, I put a message backwards: ‘Your mothers sells socks that smell.'"


Jack: "What is Crazy Train about?"


Ozzy: "It's about me, really. It's about, you've had a fucking day and you just wanna get out of it and go nuts: ‘I've listened to preachers / I've listened to fools / I've watched all the dropouts / Who make their own rules…' It's about, I've seen it all and I'm fucking crazy. ‘I'm going off the rails.' [Ozzy's original solo band guitarist] Randy Rhoads was an amazing guitar player. When I first met him, I don't know what it was but I knew this kid wasn't gonna be around for too long."


Jack: "Really? Wow…"


Ozzy: "He was fucking clever. You know what he'd do? Every day off, I'd go, ‘Come to the bar!' He'd go, ‘I have a classical lesson.' He'd open up the Yellow Pages, find a classical guitar player and go to his studio. He played his guitar every fucking day. And he was a guitar teacher at his mother's school. His mother, we'd keep in touch after he died, and every time we'd go, I'd feel so bad, man. She died a few years ago. It's every parent's worst nightmare to bury one of their kids."



Jack: "You won two Grammys in 2023 for Patient Number 9. Can we talk about Jeff Beck a little bit? Because you've got him playing on the record…"


Ozzy: "Yeah! When we were doing the record, Andrew [Watt, producer], said, ‘It'd be great to get Jeff Beck.' I said, ‘Jeff Beck wouldn't fucking play on an Ozzy album.' I'd met Jeff Beck, so Sharon goes, ‘Well, you're a fucking businessman, phone his manager.' So I called his manager and said, ‘You wouldn't ask Jeff if he'd put a solo on a song?' He said, ‘Sure.' I sent him the song and when it came back, I was freaking! Then he goes, why not get Eric Clapton? And I go, ‘Now you're fucking pushing it.' He fucking played on it as well! He was great."


Jack: "After the first time that you severed ties with Black Sabbath, a lot of people said, ‘Well, that's the end of Ozzy. That's gotta be the end of his career and maybe the end of his life.' What was that time like?"


Ozzy: "When it ended, I was somewhat relieved – I wasn't getting on with the music because we had legal problems and we were working to pay the fucking lawyer's fees. It was the best thing that happened to them that I went, and it was also the best thing to happen to me. I went to Le Parc Hotel [in Hollywood] and I thought, ‘Well, that's it. I'm gonna get fucked up for a couple months and stay in my room.' I lived in this room and got visited by the fucking Domino's pizza delivery and a coke dealer. So Sharon comes out and says to me, ‘If you get your shit together, we want to manage you.' I said, ‘You wanna manage me? You're fucking crazy!' Then Randy came. Me and him were meant to be with each other. I used to pick him up when he played guitar. It was great fun."


Jack: "I want to change the topic. I've always felt like you have such incredible charisma and stage magnetism. I wonder if any film directors have ever approached you about starring in a motion picture."


Ozzy: "To do films, you've gotta have patience. I can't sit still and wait. I did videos for MTV and also The Osbournes reality thing. When you see a movie, you don't realise it's taken a fucking year to make. I've done a few cameo parts but I dunno… I've never really thought about it."


(Image credit: Stephanie Cabral)
(Image credit: Stephanie Cabral)


Jack: "What show of yours do you remember as totally fucking epic?"


Ozzy: "I remember some good gigs and I've done my fair share of fucking bad gigs. A guitar player can change his guitar. A drummer can change the drum. If my voice goes, I'm fucked. One time I was at a gig at Nassau Coliseum in New York. On the way to the gig, my voice went out. The kids were already there and I thought, ‘What the fuck am I gonna do now?' I went out and tried to sing and they gave me a standing ovation. The kids would rather see you being bad than go home. I mean, doing a live show is what I live for. I've had to cancel my [2023] European tour but I'm determined. I've gotta do more gigs if I have to get someone to wheel me out there. I mean, you can't retire from this game. It's not a job, it's a fucking passion. I don't know how to do anything else. The thought of sitting in my house all day… I'm a road dog, you know? I've been doing it fucking 55 years. It's the best thing to have ever happened to me."


Jack: "I wanted to ask you another stupid question. You have a song called No Bone Movies…"


Ozzy: "It's about pornography."


Jack: "OK, I thought that maybe it was about horror movies but [gestures to his crotch] it's that kind of bone. Got it. I only have one question left. Are there any more people you'd want to collaborate with, living or dead?"


Ozzy: "I'd love to do something with John Lennon or Hendrix. I'd love to do something with Randy Rhoads again. I'd love Paul McCartney to play on one of my albums. He's a great bass player."


Jack: "That's a great band. There's no drummers in that band, though. You'd need to get a drummer."


Ozzy: "Tommy Clufetos is my drummer now and he's a great drummer. That 13 album that we did with Sabbath [in 2013, with RATM's Brad Wilk on drums and Rick Rubin on production], I wasn't really crazy about that album. Rick Rubin was gonna produce [Ozzy's 1991 solo album] No More Tears and in pre-production I said, ‘Do you wanna hear the album?' and he goes, ‘Yeah.' He goes, ‘Scrap this and start again.' That was one of my biggest albums! I mean, Rick's a good guy. He's a straight-talker and that's what I like about it. He doesn't fuck around."


Jack: "He's kind of a guru, isn't he? Isn't he kind of spiritual?"


Ozzy: "I don't know what he is. He's always treated me with the utmost respect."


Jack: "As he should, because you're the king."


Tenacious D's European tour starts on Jun 2 at Rock In Park, Germany. They play the London O2 Arena on June 16



 
 

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