Since about the early 90s, heavy-metal legend Ozzy Osbourne has threatened to stop touring almost as many times as the Who. Fortunately for fans, the Oz has hardly stopped rockin'. The dude even returned to his roots by touring with his original rock explosion, Black Sabbath. With that tour of duty having ended many months ago, Ozzy has done little more than leave his flock wanting more. But he's only one man, for goodness sake! Even Santa Claus has his many little helpers who dress up like the man and do his good deeds throughout the holiday season.
In that respect, maybe Migraines' lead singer Eddie Migraine is like one of Ozzy's little helpers. As the vocalist for Into the Void, Fort Wayne's one and only Black Sabbath tribute, Migraine not only plays the role of Ozzy -- he fills it up with everything he's got. As far as the 32-year-old singer is concerned, being Ozzy is as much about singing as it is acting.
"That's a big part of it," Migraine says. "You can't just get on stage and sing the songs. You have to be in character. You have to act and become that person. My first love is acting. If I could be a horror actor in cheap B movies, I would probably give up music. That's how much I would like to do that.
"When you know you're going to see a tribute band, you sort of suspend your disbelief. It's kind of like going to a play. You know it's not real, but while you're watching it, you suspend reality -- to try to make it seem more real. For me it's a lot like acting because I have to become that character. I think the audience understands that too, maybe not consciously. But they have to put themselves into a mind-frame of 'Okay, I'm watching Black Sabbath.' Then it works."
To prepare for the role of a lifetime, Migraine reviewed hours and hours of Osbourne's videotaped performances.
"Sort of like what Val Kilmer did with doing Jim Morrison," Migraine says. "Just getting the mannerisms down, vocal inflections, key phrases. The F-word's in there a lot. 'Let's go f--- crazy, make some f--- noise.' Then he also says some cool cool things like 'We love you all,' 'God bless you.' He repeats like four or five different phrases constantly, over and over and over."
The spark that ignited the reverent metal inferno known as Into the Void (actually the name of a song from the Black Sabbath album Masters of Reality) was struck some three years ago, when Migraine found himself digging the the strangely evocative sound of a popular local band.
"The guitar player (Dave Matthews) and the bass player (Dan "The Bass Man" Wilhelm) were in a band called Icky Drover," Migraine says. "And they sounded exactly like Black Sabbath. I mean it was an original band, but they sounded a lot like Black Sabbath. I thought these should be the guys to do a tribute band. So just approached them about it and we talked about it off and on and off and on -- talked about it for a like a year and a half. Then all of a sudden, one day I get a call from Dave and he said, 'Hey. What do you think about really getting serious about this idea.' I said let's do it."
With the addition of Tim Cantrell on drums, the act became complete. According to Migraine, Into the Void rehearsed for a year solid before performing live dates in mid-1999. Besides serving Into the Void duties, Migraine also sings for the Migraines -- the punk outfit behind three albums and the song "I Love to Watch Her Walk Away" on the latest Extreme Essentials disc -- and plays guitar for garage rockers Friday the 13th. Migraine's karaoke business pretty much takes up the rest of his time; his many activities are lovingly tolerated by his wife of three years.
"She just kind of goes with it. She understands it," Migraine says. "The easiest way to put it is that she knew what she was getting into before she married me."
Migraine's love of music knows no boundaries, which he proves regularly as a record reviewer for Lansing, Michigan's Etch Magazine and Noises From the Garage out of Indianapolis. The singer also claims a CD collection of some 5,000 units, ranging from classical to Johnny Cash to his wife's new Santana disc. The diverse collection parallels Migraine's refusal to be categorized as an artist.
"To me, as a musician or performer, you should be able to do a lot of different things. Paul Stanley just got done doing The Phantom of the Opera up in Canada. That's awesome -- that he just jumped into something else. I think Garth Brooks doing Chris Gaines is great. In punk, there's like this set of rules and guidelines. For a genre of music that supposed to be anti-rules, there sure are a lot of them."
The rules governing Into the Void, however, seem to be simple: turn on the power and crank up the Sabbath full blast. You'd better bet these cats have got the rock n' roll nostalgia cranked up to 11.
"I never even thought of it in terms of it being a very nostalgic thing for some people," Migraine says. "I just thought 'Yeah, this is gonna rock.' For some people, it's kind of an important time in their lives and this sort of takes them back.
"It kind of cracks me up, too. I can't laugh at things while I'm in character, but inside, sometimes it's hysterical. Like a husband and wife slow-dancing to "Snowblind." Then afterwards, they're just like 'I remember back in the 70s, I used to listen to that album ... It's really pretty cool, really."