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Still Ozzy after all these years

The Prince of Darkness unleashes new installment of Ozzfest

By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / August 21, 2010

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On the eve of this year’s model of the touring metal extravaganza known as Ozzfest, which comes to assault eardrums at the Comcast Center on Tuesday, we checked in with tour namesake Ozzy Osbourne by phone from his home in Los Angeles. (That home sounds as overrun with yappy little mutts as fans of Osbourne’s MTV reality show may remember. At one point during the conversation Ozzy says to hold on and then yells to someone in another room “get rid of that [expletive] dog!’’)

Chatting with the Prince of [expletive] Darkness isn’t always a linear experience. Whether discussing his rock-solid new album, “Scream,’’ or his admiration for Paul McCartney, the once and future Black Sabbath frontman goes off on mid-sentence tangents, answers questions not asked, and generally careens along in a fashion that combines good humor and conviction with a sort of cheerful obliviousness. But the aging metal god remains as endearingly sweet away from the stage as he does maniacally frenzied on it.

Q. How’s the tour going?

A. It’s like putting on your slippers in the morning and there’s only one pair of slippers that you really like wearing.

Q. Your latest album, “Scream,’’ has gotten good reviews from critics and feedback from fans. At this point, does that sort of thing matter to you?

A. I don’t think I’ve met anybody in the recording industry that goes “well I’m Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger or whatever, I’ve had a great career and I made some great records but now I’m going to go and make a pile of [expletive].’’ It’s just impossible. Everybody that makes a record wants it to be bigger than the last, but sometimes it works and some times it don’t. I consider myself very lucky to be a survivor.

Q. The new album has some standout tracks, in particular “Life Won’t Wait’’ . . .

A. My youngest boy, Jack, is like, “[Expletive] that song’s amazing!’’ And I’m asking, “Do you think so?’’ Because anything away from the grinding, heavy metal thing, I’m somewhat shy on, which has sparked a thing in my head. My ambition, one day, not in the near future, is I’d like to form . . . have you heard that Paul McCartney album “The Fireman’’?

Q. Yes.

A. It’s so un-Paul McCartney that it’s brilliant. The freedom of that album, the vibe of that album, it’s kind of U2-ish at parts but I admire him for him doing that and that’s what I’d love to do some day. I have the name but I’m not going to tell you. That album is so well [expletive] done. When you think of “Silly Love Songs,’’ which is a great pop song, and then you hear that bluesy track [on ‘The Fireman’] it’s [expletive] brilliant.

Q. Well, you’re Ozzy Osbourne you should be able to do whatever you want, right? Why not do that album next?

A. That’s what I want to do before I die. And the question keeps coming up now, “Do you think there will ever be a reformation of Black Sabbath?’’ I never say never. I spoke to [guitarist] Tony Iommi yesterday. I spoke to [bassist] Geezer Butler last week. I speak to [drummer] Bill Ward very frequently, he lives up the road from me. We’re all talking and that’s a good sign. I’d also like to do a great Ozzy album. Time is not on my side anymore. (Laughs). I’m in my 60s and I’ve got all these great plans. I think for the first time in my life I know what I want to do.

Q. Do you ever wish it hadn’t taken you this long to figure it out?

A. No, it’s like the song says, “Life won’t wait for you my friend.’’ When you’re young you think “I’ve got the rest of my life.’’ Suddenly you’re in your 60s and the road gets narrower. Poor old Ronnie Dio passed away recently, that was very sad I thought.

Q. So you feel like you’re running out of time?

A. You know what? It happens when it happens. I don’t want it to happen for a long time but I’m not afraid of it because it happens to us all eventually. People have been asking me this question about [mortality since] I’ve had this blood work done to find out what I’m going to die from or whatever.

Q. You mean the recent news that you’re getting your genome mapped, right?

A. Yeah. My wife talked me into it because she’s obsessed with the fact that her father died of Alzheimer’s, she doesn’t want to get that. And I said, “You won’t remember if you [expletive] got it anyway.’’ I also asked her, “will they also tell you where you’re going to die?’’ And she said, “What do you want to know that for?’’ And I said, “So I don’t go there.’’ (Laughs)

Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com

OZZFEST

With Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe, Halford, Devildriver, Nonpoint, and more

At: Comcast Center, Mansfield. Tuesday, noon. Tickets: $10-$152. 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com