Ozzy Osbourne Talks Black Sabbath's ‘Last Hurrah’ & Return to Solo Material
“We're disbanding the name and everything,” he says of the group’s upcoming last stand.
With one more Black Sabbath album and tour on the drawing board, Ozzy Osbourne is also planning a return to his solo career and sees the new Memoirs of a Madman compilation as a "bridge" between the two.
"I've been not doing my solo stuff for quite a while now — I've been touring with Sabbath, so I just wanted to let everybody know I haven't stopped doing my solo stuff," Osbourne tells Billboard. "I'm going to do one more Black Sabbath tour, one more album with Black Sabbath, and it'll take about two or three years before I release solo stuff again. So Memoirs of a Madman is just to say to the fans that I haven't stopped."
Osbourne says he's "in the process of collecting stuff that I'm writing" for his next solo project and has "about three songs" he's been working on, primarily with guitarist Billy Morrison, a friend who also plays in Billy Idol's band. "The songs that are written are not completed," says Osbourne, who will headline the OZZFiesta May 27-31 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico. "They're ideas now, but there's a good possibility that some of them will end up songs."
And, he adds, that material will be different than anything fans hear from him with Black Sabbath. "Black Sabbath is slow and demonic; Tony Iommi is untouchable for that kind of stuff," Osbourne explains. "My stuff is more melodic, more structured of a song. It's more kind of rock than doom-y music. It's happier, kind of."
Black Sabbath's timetable for a follow-up to 2013's Grammy Award-winning 13 -- its first No. 1 album ever in the U.S. -- is up in the air at the moment, according to Osbourne. "I keep asking Sharon (his wife and manager), 'When are we gonna start it?' She said it's not this year. I can't really say how long it's gonna take. Once we get going it won't take that long, I don't think, 'cause Rick Rubin -- I assume he's going to (produce) it again -- is very quick. And Tony comes up with the best riffs, one after the other. He never runs out. I sent a text to Tony, 'Please send me some riffs to get my head around,' and he said 'I'll get some and I'll send some over to you.' "
Osbourne also promises that whatever the group does will be "our last hurrah...Then it's no more Sabbath at all. We're disbanding the name and everything. They don't want to tour anymore. I get it. But I love it. I'm gonna continue my solo thing." He does, however, hope that estranged original drummer Bill Ward returns to the Sabbath fold for the next project. "I would absolutely love that. We all would," Osbourne says. "We were all sad he didn't come the last time. But I don't deal with the dough and the business side; that's my wife's job. The thing is, when you've got four guys with four different agendas and managers, it gets pretty crazy. I just go, 'You do what you've got to do, Sharon. I'll do what I've got to do.' "
The Memoirs of a Madman package features a 17-song best-of disc as well as two DVDs featuring performance footage, videos and interviews. It does take Osbourne back to a time when he was "feeling extremely pissed off with Sabbath...'How dare they fire me! I hope they die!' and all that shit." But his perspective has mellowed during the past 35 years. "By firing me, it saved me life in the long run, though at the time I was really mad they were gonna carry on without me," he recalls. "I suppose when I got the successful album (Blizzard of Ozz) they were pissed off at me. That's what happens. It's like a divorce. There was a healthy rivalry, looking back. They had a couple of good albums (with Ronnie James Dio), I hear; I've never listened to one of them, but they did well for a bit, and now we're back together so it's all worked out."