BLACK SABBATH singer Ozzy Osbourne spoke to BBC Radio 1‘s Zane Lowe yesterday (Thursday, April 18) about the making of the band’s new album, “13” — the first in 35 years to feature bassist Geeezer Butler, guitarist Tony Iommi and Ozzy. You can now listen to the chat for the next six days at BBC.co.uk (skip to 44-minute mark). A couple of excerpts follow below (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the making of “13”:
Ozzy: “It’s pretty nerve racking, after so long, to go into a studio… I haven’t been in the studio with [the other members of BLACK SABBATH] in 35 years.
“When we first started writing the stuff, it came together relatively easy. Without trying, it just flowed out of us. In actual fact, we wrote and recorded 16 songs, so there’s another eight songs left over [to be used as] bonuses and things. We could have done a double album. And they’re all good songs; they all stand up, you know.
“Rick Rubin did a great job producing it… He wanted to go right back to the basics, when we did our first album. He was asking us questions about, ‘When you did this track, did you have this and that?’
“With today’s technology, you can sound like anybody. But what Rick Rubin did was he didn’t overdub everything, he didn’t make everything over the top, he just kept it like it was a live album. We were in the studio and we all recorded live. We would do a track a day and he knew when he had [a good take]. He wouldn’t tell us. He would say, ‘Try again. Try again’ Just in case we’d get one better than the one he thought he had. And I was singing along with it.
“You’ll notice on the album that I’m not singing in a range that I can’t sing live. Like in the old days, I used [studio] trickery — I’d do a verse and then I’d take a break, then do a chorus — and when it was all mixed together, I couldn’t do it live. And I could do every one of these tracks live on stage. [But Rubin] had me sing it in a range that was comfortable to sing.
“When I was doing my vocals, I was, some days, singing for four or five hours without a break, and it was great fun. People say, ‘So what? You’re a singer. But you go to your football or soccer game and you scream for five hours, anybody would be hoarse by the end of it. But I was fine with it, you know.”
On why now was the right time for BLACK SABBATH to record a new album:
Ozzy: “People, over the years, have been saying to me, ‘Will SABBATH do another album?’ I mean, we tried before, without any joy. Eventually, we got it together, you know. It’s really exciting.
“We tried it, like, ten years ago, but for some reason, it didn’t quite work. We tried going to the same places where we used to go and write in the old days. But it wasn’t the place; it was just that our heads weren’t in the same place, in the right place to write stuff. But this time, it was as if we all thought, ‘Well, it’s either now or ever. We’re have a real good go at doing it.’ We knew we haven’t got another ten years to wait, ’cause we’re all in our 60s now, and if we wait another ten years, we [may not] be around. Not only that; Tony Iommi was battling cancer — he had lymphoma — and I thought when that came around, ‘Here we go. Typical BLACK SABBATH.’ He was a hero. He just came every day. Not only was he in treatment for lymphoma, he was writing great stuff as well. It was unbelievable. We were all shocked that he could do it. We all thought, ‘That’s it. He’s gone.’ But he marched through it.
“It was a lot of fun. I’m really excited to see what people think about it. The people that have heard the album are really raving about it. Which is really interesting, because… It’s just that… we finally did it, you know.
On the album’s first single, “God Is Dead?”:
Ozzy: “How I got that title, I was at somebody’s office and there was a magazine on the table and it just said the words ‘God Is Dead.’ And I suddenly thought, with 9/11 and all these terrorist things in the name of religion and how many people have died [because of] religion, when you think about the tragedy that’s happened throughout time, it just came in me head. You would think by now their God would stop people [from] dying in the name of. So I just thought, people must think there ain’t no God, God is dead. And it just hit me. And I just started singing ‘God is dead’ [when I was laying down] rough vocals [in the studio] and Geezer gave me the lyrics about it. Geezer is the lyricist in BLACK SABBATH; I wrote a few sets of lyrics, but he’s the main lyricist. I come up with the ideas and he fills the blanks in. At the end of the [song], there’s still a bit of hope, because at the end, I sing, ‘I don’t believe that God is dead.’ It’s just a question of when you see something dreadful like people killing each other with bombs and blowing tube trains or the World Trade Center, you think people must go, ‘There is no God.’ [But] it’s a load of B.S., you know.”
On BLACK SABBATH‘s U.K. fans:
Ozzy: “I hope the British fans like it as much as everyone else. I’m sure they will. The tickets went on sale for our English tour, and they sold out in no time, so I’m really excited to come back. You know, England is my home and it’s great to have people in England still interested in us. They’re our No. 1 fans, really.”
“God Is Dead?” audio stream: