Ozzy Osbourne Producer ‘Got To Be Randy Rhoads’ On ‘Ordinary Man’
“One night Post was at the Rainbow Bar and Grill and saw this picture of Ozzy, and he bought it and took it home,” Watt told Billboard in a new interview. “I had this image of him walking down Sunset with that picture, and I was like, ‘I gotta make a song for Post and Ozzy.’ I’ve said insane shit out loud before, and this was one of those times.” He noted that the single had recently been placed on rotation on a major radio station and said: “This means that, in 2019, there is a fucking metal song on pop radio with a tapping guitar solo and Ozzy Osbourne, and that is the coolest shit to me in the entire world.”
When Osbourne suggested the idea of recording a full album after having enjoyed the “Take What You Want” experience, Watt was able to rely on his rock background, having started out as guitarist with Glenn Hughes’ project California Breed before it was abandoned in 2015. At the time of the split, he announced his intention to “continue the quest to bring rock ’n’ roll back to the people that are hungry for it.”
“Ozzy texted me like, ‘I want you to make an album with me.’ I was like, ‘That would be amazing, but can I do this?’ he reported in the new interview. “I picked up the phone and called up Chad Smith. I said, ‘Dude, Ozzy just asked me to make an album for him. Are you down to do it?’ And he said, ‘Are you fucking kidding me? When?’ Then I called up Duff McKagan from Guns n’ Roses and he said, ‘Are you fucking kidding me? When?’”
The trio wrote and recorded 12 backing tracks in four days, Watt reported, with 10 songs wrapped into the completed album within four weeks. “It’s the proudest of anything I’ve ever been, because it brought the 12-year-old kid out of me again,” Watt said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love the pop music that I make, but this is what I feel like I was born to do: play rock guitar. I got to be fucking Randy Rhoads in 2019.”
He credited iconic producer Rick Rubin with having given him good advice about working with others. “Rick said, ‘You’ve gotta be really careful about that, because you’re making an artist’s music, you’re not making your music. If you want to be a producer, you have to really spend time with the artist and their music, capture their vibe, and make sure you’ve giving them their own voice.’ I remember a lot of what he said to me that day, but that’s the most important.”
Watt said he’d taken that approach to Ordinary Man. While arguing that “Take What You Want” sounded “like a Post Malone song with Ozzy singing the hook,” he added: “Ozzy's album doesn't sound like that; it sounds like a fucking Ozzy Osbourne album.… I’m trying to be very conscious of the fans, especially with legendary artists, because I am a fan, and I always come back to that.
“When I made Ozzy's album, I was a 12-year-old kid thinking about, ‘Will I want to drive in the car and air drum to this?’”