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JAKE E. LEE Says He Won’t Perform OZZY OSBOURNE Songs Anymore Unless It’s With OZZY

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Thursday, 22 November 2018
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Former OZZY OSBOURNE and current RED DRAGON CARTEL guitarist Jake E. Lee recently spoke with Jimmy Kay of The Metal Voice. The full conversation can be heard below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On RED DRAGON CARTEL‘s new album, “Patina”:

Jake: “This one is, I think, a little more what people were probably expecting from me initially. The first record was a little out of my wheelhouse [in] the way it was done. It was interesting for me to do it that way, because Kevin Churko produced, and it’s the more modern way of recording, where it’s individuals. You put the click track down, and then anybody can play against that click track. I would have guitars that I would put down for songs ideas that I had, and I didn’t need a drummer; I didn’t need a bass player; and I didn’t need a singer, because I had the click track… It was much more of an individual performance for everybody that played on it, and then it was sort of pieced together at the end. This record was done the way I have always done it in the past with Ozzy and in BADLANDS, where I would come up with the riff with the band present and plugged in, and we’d jam on it and figure out the right parts for everything together. So I think this new record sounds much more cohesive, more organic, more like there was actually a band involved in the whole process. I think the process is what differentiates this album from the previous one.”

On how the new album differs musically from the band’s debut:

Jake: “The first RED DRAGON CARTEL record was a Kevin Churko production. He did FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH; he did Ozzy. He’s more in that metal kind of vein, where I don’t think I really ever was. Well, in Ozzy, I had to be, but ever since Ozzy… I love exploring different musical genres. Not like, say, Ritchie Blackmore, where if I hadn’t heard any Ritchie Blackmore in the last 30 years and said, ‘Dammit, I wonder what he’s up to?’ and I bought his record, I would be shocked as shit. I’d be like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ Not that it’s bad; you just wouldn’t expect it. I like the basic rock format, and then I love to see how kinky I can make it. Musically, if you’re expecting a chorus to come up, I like to throw something else in there. If you think you know the direction of the song, I like to take a left turn. But it’s all within this umbrella of still being rock… I love to sprinkle all the songs with different sounds and something you wouldn’t expect.”

On whether he’s chosen a set list for the group’s upcoming live performances:

Jake: “I’ve decided I am not going to do any Ozzy songs. I had to play these songs on the first RDC tour because the way the first album was done with different singers, two of them being women, and the production style, we could only do half the record, maybe, live, and I had to go into the back catalog to fill out the rest of the set. It’d been 30 years since I played any Ozzy songs, so I thought it would be fun, but personally, it just wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. It almost felt dishonest for some weird reason. I know I’m the guitar player on those two records of Ozzy‘s and I wrote the bulk of the music, but it felt like those songs belonged to Ozzy. They are Ozzy‘s songs, and it never felt honest playing them live with RDC. I decided I’m not going to do any more Ozzy songs live unless it was with Ozzy, if we can work that shit out. That would be a hoot… I still feel comfortable doing BADLANDS, and I think Darren‘s [James Smith] voice suits it. That’s another thing with OzzyDarren never really quite sounded right singing Ozzy. But I’m not putting it on Darren — it’s mostly me. It’s uncomfortable for me to play Ozzy songs, for some reason.”

On his brief stint in DIO:

Jake: “I’d say four to six weeks was how long I was in. The cool thing about it was, I hadn’t played with anybody of that caliber yet. I mean, I played with RATT and ROUGH CUTT, but DIO was the first big kahuna that I was playing with. It was just fun because it was in his garage, and Vinny [Appice] was set up with his drums, and Ronnie [James Dio] was playing bass. I had remembered reading that Ronnie was a bass player in ELF, but still, it threw me that Ronnie had a bass on and was plugged into a stack and was going to play bass while we jammed. The most interesting part about that was that there was no PA set up. We played loud — I mean, Vinny is a hard-hitting drummer — and I know I had my Marshalls on 10, and he would just sing — sing into the air. No microphone, no PA, and you could hear him — you could hear that little fucker belting these songs out, and it was so impressive… Towards the end, he just didn’t like my style of playing, I guess. In the end, I think he decided he wanted a more European style of guitar playing — a little simpler as far as the chordal work and maybe less Eddie Van Halen-ish, maybe.”

On not receiving songwriting credit on the “Bark At The Moon” album:

Jake: “I was young, and in those days, it was a much more secluded world. You didn’t have the Internet; you couldn’t just look shit up. Most if your knowledge as far as how business goes was just from somebody saying something, and I trusted people. I was told from the beginning that I would get my fair share of writing credit and publishing, and I took them at their word, which in the end was a mistake. But it was never about the money… When I first joined the band, I’m pretty sure I got paid $100 a week. It would incrementally go up, because they weren’t sure about me. Why would they be? Then it doubled, and it would keep doubling the further I got along until I proved myself. I didn’t care… I went from having no money to being in OZZY OSBOURNE. I didn’t give a shit about the pay, and I didn’t really give a shit about the paid for ‘Bark At The Moon’ either. I just wanted credit. I remember I was going to get $5000 to record ‘Bark At The Moon’ and get writing credit and publishing. I was fine [with that]. But when I finally got the contract, they threw in another 10 [grand] to make up for the writing and publishing, which in retrospect, was like a penny… I didn’t know this back then, but publishing is a lot of money. If I had to guess, I would say publishing on the song ‘Bark At The Moon’, for my portion of it — I’m low-balling here — I’d say, $250,000 just for that song , which probably means there was $250,000 that Ozzy got that instead of me. It’s a lot of money, [but] I’m not bitter about it.”

On Ozzy‘s contributions to the album:

Jake: “He wasn’t there that often, but he’s was really good at melodies. He’d pop in [when] we’d be working on songs. ‘Bark At The Moon’, for example — I had the main riff, the chorus and the verses; [Bob] Daisley came up with the bridge section, which really helped… we’d work on the songs, and Ozzy would pop in towards the end of the night, and he was amazing at how fast – the melody would just come to him. He didn’t have to work on it; he never did work on it. He’d hear the music, he’d grab a mic and he had a melody right away. He wouldn’t have any lyrics — he would just kind of hum the melody along — but he would almost always come up with a catchphrase, with a title of the song. Then Bob would know what to base his lyrics on.”

On why he was fired after “The Ultimate Sin” cycle:

Jake: “I think it was a combination of three things. Ozzy and I never clicked on a personal level. There was never any conflicts or arguments, but we never bonded on a personal level. He did not get my sense of humor. It’s very dry and sarcastic. I would make jokes, and he would just look at me like, ‘Why did you say that?’ It wasn’t bad; it just was never great. Me and Phil Soussan [bass] did not have a good relationship. When we were writing for the third record, I felt a little constrained musically because there’s parameters you have to write in for it to fit with Ozzy. Basically, it has to be metal, and I was getting a little bored with that – ‘Why can’t we just push it a little bit here?’… I know for a fact at the same time, because Randy Castillo [drums] told me that Phil wanted to be the main songwriter because ‘Shot In The Dark’ was the big hit , so he wanted to be the songwriter. He was whispering in Ozzy‘s ear, ‘We don’t need Jake. We’ll just write a bunch of hits now because I’m writing the music.’ I think it was a combination of all those things. As far as Phil is concerned, and I’ve just got to say this because I know he was at least partly instrumental in getting me fired, he lasted in the band after I was out maybe three months before he got fired. That’s because I saved his fucking ass prior twice on tour. Twice on tour, Ozzy wanted to fire him because of his stage antics. I talked him out of it twice, so the fact that he helped me get fired in the end and then he only lasted a couple of months before he got fired? Karma. Karma, motherfucker.”

Lee, who was tapped by Ozzy to replace the late Randy Rhoads in Osbourne‘s band, played on two records with Ozzy: “Bark At The Moon” and 1986’s “The Ultimate Sin”.

“Patina” was released on November 9 via Frontiers Music Srl.

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