STEVE VAI: "I recorded whole album with OZZY OSBOURNE"
Steve Vai has revealed to Eonmusic that he’s “sitting on a whole Ozzy Osbourne record”, in a brand new interview with the Irish web site. Going into detail about the sound and content, the guitarist also disclosed a brace of tracks that were recorded with the BLACK SABBATH frontman. Vai made his comments while promoting the recently released VAI / GASH album.
Though the pair worked together in the mid-1990s, with former WHITESNAKE player Vai co-writing one track — “My Little Man” — on Ozzy‘s 1995 release “Ozzmosis”, the full story behind the relationship has remained clouded in mystery.
With Osbourne announcing his retirement from touring earlier this year, Eonmusic‘s Eamon O’Neill took the opportunity to ask Steve what it was like to work with him. “Well, I’m sitting on a whole Ozzy record, and it’s like the GASH record — not ‘like’ the Gash record, but it’s a project that I recorded that’s sitting on the shelf,” he revealed. “I don’t have any control over it or rights to it, obviously, but we did record some pretty good stuff”.
Going on to talk about the sound of the album, Vai said that it was very unique sounding.
“The interesting thing about that stuff we recorded from a guitar perspective is all of my rhythm guitar parts, I use an octave divider (guitar effect), and that the record doesn’t sound like anything else,” he divulged.
When asked how close he came to joining Ozzy‘s band, the former David Lee Roth collaborator said: “So Ozzy and I, basically what happened as far as I recognized, Ozzy had recorded about half of his record (‘Ozzmosis’) for the record company, and Sharon (Ozzy‘s wife and manager) and the label wanted to get him together with some different songwriters to just get some more songs”, he said.
Stopping short of saying that he was a member of Ozzy‘s band, he continued: “I was one of the ones that they wanted to get together with. It was really just to write some songs for Ozzy‘s record that he would then take and go use for his record, and whoever he was working with on the record would record it. So I thought, ‘Yeah, that’d be great. I’d love to do that.'”
A productive relationship, the sessions developed into more than the one or tow songs that the pair were supposed to work on.
“Ozzy and I got carried away because we were having a lot of fun, and we ended up recording a lot of stuff,” laughed Vai, “and then we started scheming, ‘Hey, let’s make a new record.’ And all that was fine and good, and we got excited about it until the hammer came down, and they basically said, ‘What are you doing? No, you’ve just got to take a song from Vai and finish your record. We’re already into it for this much money, and Vai is expense,’ so it worked out perfect, really.”
Vai went on to disclose a brace of tracks that would have made the album, as well as — presumably — “My Little Man”, a VAI / GASH track, and a solo instrumental reimagined with lyrics were set to feature.
“One of the songs was (VAI / GASH‘s) ‘Danger Zone’. I had already written it, and it was already done — it was a GASH track — and I thought, ‘Well, maybe he’d like this’, and I reworked it a bit, but it’s on the shelf,” Steve said.
One of the highlights of his solo 1996 release “Fire Garden” was also set to become an Ozzy Osbourne song.
“There’s also a song called ‘Dyin’ Day’ that’s on my ‘Fire Garden’ album”, said Steve. “That song originally had lyrics, and that was one”.
Going on to double down on the unique sound of the record, Vai added; “There was some real, real heavy stuff because, as I mentioned, I used an octave divider on everything, and that’s was a conscious effort.”
Following in a long line of lauded players from Randy Rhoads to Jake E. Lee, even the world-renowned Vai found the task daunting. “I thought, ‘Okay, you’re going to work with Ozzy, and all these incredible guitar players have played with Ozzy. What are you going to do?’ I was not going to be conventional,” he confessed. “Yeah, that’s not me as you know, but I had to be accessible, so I thought, ‘I’m going to use an octave divider on everything.”
Read the interview at Eonmusic.
Ozzy Osbourne photo credit: Ross Halfin