Well in a year where Black Sabbath mania has hit the world (live tours, new album ’13′ etc), we at Fame of course knew the odds of getting a one-on-one interview with legendary front man Ozzy Osbourne were slim…
But we didn’t let that stop us, we were able to net ourselves an interview with the next best thing Ireland’s own Ozzy Brian Newell.
Brian of course fronts the country’s premier Sabbath tribute band ‘Supernaut’ and knows as much about the legends early performances, mannerisms and singing style than the great man does (or perhaps more due to Ozzy’s lifestyle).Tribute bands are great ways to enjoy the music of bands you appreciate, but rarely get the chance to see live.
They are also the perfect way savour their music and prime era in a way you fondly remember. One other bonus is you get to see them more often than the originals and they also cost a fraction of the price to see.
In late 2012 Supernaut (Ireland’s Black Sabbath Tribute) formed and have fast become on of the most sough after bands on the Irish live circuit. With that in mind Fame’s Phil Allely sought out club/pub band circuit veteran Brian to chat about his chosen career path as the hell-raising rock legend Ozzy Osbourne, his band hopes, dreams and why 2013 is only the beginning for Supernaut.
So Brian I guess we may as well kick off with you telling our readers a bit about the bands history and what your dreams/hopes were back then?
Thanks Phil. I have been a Black Sabbath fanatic from the moment I first saw them in Birmingham at one of their early gigs in 1969. I was given the opportunity to set up my first tribute band in 2011, when I met up with Stew Marshall and his two sons Tom and Alastair. At that time we were all involved with other musical projects and in early 2012 we decided to call it a day.
After doing a few gigs with my band Bad Penny I had serious throat problems and on medical advice I stopped singing for a few months. When I was given the all clear I decided to get back to my real love and put together Supernaut in December 2012.
The simple dream was to introduce people to the music of Black Sabbath and entertain them. I asked Stephen Marsden to join us as out Tony Iommi and everything fell in to place very quickly. Our first gig was at Boggers Lounge, Ardee and we have not looked back since.
You certainly could not have picked a better time to form could you. Had you any idea that the band were set to tour/record again?
I honestly don’t think our timing could have been better. When we started rehearsing back in December we had no idea that a few months later Black Sabbath would be back on the road and releasing a new album. When we started out I was on the phone regularly to music venues begging for gigs, now they are starting to call me.
What can you tell us about your live set Brian?
Good question Phil. Black Sabbath are cited as pioneers of heavy metal, but in reality their msuic has so much more to it. Many songs are influenced by jazz and blues, and the material can be difficult to play, which is one of the reasons there are not many BS tribute bands around.
Our set is primarily based around their first three albums (Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Masters Of Reality), but we also play some of their other classics, such as Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Dirty Women. Over the next few days we are going to get stuck in to learning a couple of songs from their new album ’13′ too.
You do perform in character and costume as well Brian. Does that help the fans get the msuic more?
Of course it does. Apart from entertaining our fans we also have fun. I defy any vocalist to copy Ozzy Osbourne’s dark, hard sound. But I do do my best and we perform with passion. We always endeavour to leave our audience wanting more.
Rock/metal fans can be a tricky crowd to please. How do they take your versions of such iconic original songs?
You know the feedback from fans has been very positive and we have had some excellent reviews. The old classics like ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ always go down well and we normally get the crowd singing along.
Brian what do you think of Ozzy and Co. touring and recording again. Does it still have the same appeal now after so many years have passed?
In all honesty I think the appeal is greater than ever. Apart from watching Ozzy on his family reality show very few people here have seen Black Sabbath live. I am also surprised at how few people actually know their music. It’s great being able to help bring the music of Black Sabbath to the masses.
What other forms of music do you personally enjoy listening to Brian?
I have a wide taste in music Phil and like most genres, other than perhaps Country and Western. Other than Black Sabbath I suppose the most played bands in my CD collection are Free, Van Der Graaf, Generator, Hawkwind, Led Zeppelin, Amon Dull 11 and Motorhead.
I listen to a lot of music from the local scene too, as there are a lot of great bands out there. Including Rosco’s Riot, Donum Dei and Altus.
So Brian what does the rest of 2013 hold for Supernaut?
The last few weeks have been a bit unsettling for us. Our original bass player Joe Morgan left the band and our drummer Stevie is moving to England in a couple of weeks. We have been very fortunate enough to find excellent replacements, with Bob Hutchinson joining us on Bass and Nick Robbins on drums.
I am confident the new guys will help inject a new enthusiasm in to the band and I am really looking forward to gigging with the new line-up. The first gigs with Bob and Nick will probably be at the NSX Festival in Dundalk and The Pint, Dublin. Both shows are on August 3rd.
Next up is Stevie’s farewell gig. This will be at The Elms in Belfast on Friday June 21st. On that special night we will have three top local bands performing alongside ourselves. Stevie will be playing with at least three of them on the night (inc. Supernaut). So he will be exhausted (laughs).
You can find out more about this ‘free’ gig (on June 21st), news and our upcoming live appearances via our facebook page.
What about the UK/European circuits. Have you any plans to tour them?
I have started to look at the possibility of playing some gigs in the UK, but our diary is really filling up for this year. I think it will be early next year before we do this.
However we have been asked to play a couple of high profile gigs in Kiev, Ukraine this September. I’ve pencilled in some dates and it is now down to finalising the details. Watch this space!
Exciting times are ahead for us I believe.
By Phil Allely