Ozzy Osbourne has criticized bands for lip-syncing and playing along to pre-recorded tapes during concerts, calling the practice “phony.”
In recent years, an increasing number of pop and rock artists have relied on backing tracks — that is, prerecorded tracks, either with or without vocals, that can help an artist better re-create an album performance — during their live shows. Some have used “guide vocals” — pre-recorded vocal tracks that they can sing over to add beef up their performance — so they can move around on stage and not sound winded.
“You can’t be just a live band,” Ozzy told Consequence Of Sound. “A friend of mine said to me recently, ‘Nobody knows their craft anymore; nobody is an artist. They just do it on machines now.’ On the last BLACK SABBATH tour, one of the support bands was going on, and I remember thinking to myself, ‘They sound really good.’ And they were lip-syncing to machines. That ain’t cool, you know. That’s phony.”
He continued: “When you hear one of THE BEATLES sing, you know it’s one of THE BEATLES. Not many people sound like me, and I’m not saying they want to. I love doing things at my own pace. Some guys are going on the stage and got two left feet, but that’s life. I don’t hide behind a Pro Tools machine to make everything sound wonderful. I sometimes have to say to the audience, ‘Hey! I’m trying. I’m a bit of an oldie, but I’m trying!'”
Ozzy added: “I remember a few years ago I did a gig in New York, and on the way to the show, I don’t know what happened, but my voice just disappeared. But I got on the stage, and I croaked out this noise, and I didn’t want to carry on. They tore the roof off and were just so happy to see me. There’s something human about that, you know?
“My job is to get the audience having fun, but now you don’t have to do that.
“I saw that Michael Jackson hologram on TV today. That was scary, that was. I said to my wife, ‘Darling, I could just send my hologram on tour.’
“There is nothing like a live, good rock and roll concert. It’s the best when everything is in its right place and the mood is right. A good rock and roll show, to me, is better than sex.”
Ozzy also spoke about the progress of the songwriting sessions for his next solo album. He said: “I’ve written three songs. One is called ‘Crack Cocaine’, one is called ‘Mr. Armageddon’, and I can’t remember the other title.”
He continued: “See, as I’m doing this BLACK SABBATH thing, I’m not just sitting on my butt watching the days go by. I’m 66 in a couple of weeks, so I ain’t got that many living years, that’s for sure. [Laughs] The essence of what I’m saying is, I don’t want to finish the BLACK SABBATH tour and go, ‘Ah, what do I do now?’ So as I’m getting downtime, I am doing some writing when I can.”
Ozzy‘s last solo studio effort, “Scream”, came out in 2010.