Today’s throwback interview is with the one and only Zakk Wylde. If you don’t know who Zakk Wylde is, man I don’t even know where to start. He is the main man for Black Label Society, and of course better known as Ozzy Osborne’s guitarist. This interview was done over the phone in the days before Skype in September of 2003. I remember how awesome it was to think that Zakk Wylde was calling me. Yeah, yeah, I say it all the time, “act like you’ve been there before,” but still, it can be pretty tough to not get into the moment no matter how many people you meet in this industry. Zakk was cool as hell, and even though he was having phone troubles, kept calling me back until I was all set. This was a really fun interview, and having met Zakk at an Ozzy show on the Black Christmas Tour way back, he is just as cool in person as he was on the phone. So here it is. I hope you enjoy:
Hey is this Zakk?
Zakk Wylde – Yeah man, who’s this?
Jay from theundergroundscene.net
Zakk – Cool, where are you calling from?
Zakk – Oh cool man, you a big Sox fan?
Zakk – I’m a big Yankees guy so I don’t know what the hell is going on there, the Sox are falling apart again. I thought you were going to take it man!
Yeah I did too.
Zakk – You know they just don’t have, I mean poor Pedro, he’s got no pitching staff around him.
Well I guess we’ll see what happens in the playoffs.
Zakk – Well that’s even if the Sox make it!
Oh well they are as good as in at this point.
Zakk – How many do they have to win?
Zakk – That they have to win?
Yeah, or the Mariners can lose three.
Zakk – Oh yeah, I see, because right now the Sox are playing for the Wild Card. Yeah, well the Yanks are up six now, we could have won it last night but they fuckin put Weaver in and I knew that was going to happen. I guess it’s just to test him, but I think they are going to put him back in AAA, because he’s terrible, every time he comes in he gives up a three run bomb every fucking time. I mean as a Sox fan you love that.
Zakk – But you know, remember that game up at Fenway? We were in Detroit out on the road and Weaver gave up a bomb there, and the Yanks were winning.
We’ll have to see what happens in the post season.
Zakk – Yeah, it’ll be a great series, I mean the Sox have the best hitting in the league, especially in the American league, but Pedro can’t win seven games by himself. What are they going to do, make him pitch four games?
Well, Derek Lowe has been looking good lately.
Zakk – Oh, it’s true, I mean obviously someone else is pitching well too, but it’s just like, he’s going to win that game.
Well we lit up Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens last time.
Zakk – Twice.
Yeah, cool, so I guess we can just get started. So you’ve been playing with Ozzy for some time now, how did you guys hook up and what’s it like filling in the shoes of the legendary Randy Rhodes on guitar?
Zakk Wylde – Well obviously I got the deal with Ozzy because I was his drug dealer at the time, no I’m only fucking with you, that’s my personality. You know it’s the same thing that happened with Babe Ruth, they traded me to Ozzy Osborne. It’s the same shit, I had to submit a demo tape just like everyone else, I just went out there and did it.
Jason Newsted recently joined the band, how has it been working with him?
Zakk – Jason is awesome. Of course Rob is out kicking ass with Metallica, but of course the funny thing is that people made a big deal out of the whole switching band thing, but Rob was down at the rehearsals and him and Jason are cool. Jason would be like “dude, what the hell were you playing?” and you know, he’s been great.
You formed Black Label Society after your former band Pride and Glory broke up…
Zakk – Pride and Glory didn’t break up, we just ran out of beer money. (laughter)
How would you say you approach writing a song for Black Label Society then you would for Ozzy?
Zakk – Well Pride and Glory is obviously different, but to me Black Label isn’t that far from Ozzy. I think if you took an Ozzy tune and, if you took Ozzy’s vocals and put it on a Black Label album, you’d have the new Ozzy record, it’s not like I’m making a jazz fusion record or anything. But Pride and Glory, obviously there was stuff on that I wouldn’t bring up to Ozzy, but with Black Label I just get to wear more hats. I get to do the singing, I’m more involved with the production, I’m more involved in the art work, so that’s the only difference.
You’ve got quite a cult like following with Black Label Society, what’s that all about?
Zakk – Well it’s just, it’s the whole Hell’s Angel’s thing, well, it’s not just the Hell’s Angels, but I just figured you know what, I’ll start my own club. It’s not a motorcycle club, it’s just what rock is all about, you know they don’t like Limp Bizkit and all that crap. It’s kind of like the early 90’s. Grunge is gone, like my buddy Eric, I saw him with a Creed CD and I looked at him and he said “well what the fuck am I going to listen to?” Fuckin Alice In Chains and Soundgarden are gone, and I ain’t going to listen to P Diddy. You know what I’m saying? So I think that’s it. (editors note: the tape gets all choppy here, so unfortunately the answer is a bit choppy)
Would you say there is any particular project that you’ve worked on that you have felt the most satisfaction from?
Zakk – No, because when I make the Ozzy record, I try to make those the best I can possibly make, and as far as I am concerned when I go in and make the Ozzy record, I don’t just go in there and say “the check is in the mail right?” You know what I mean? When I make those records, I am part of the Ozzy Osborne band, I want to fuckin blow everyone away with that shit, and when I play those records to my friends I say “you gotta hear this shit.” I am proud of that because that is the band that I am in. But no, I don’t get any more satisfaction out of any band.
There was some talk about you working Dimebag from Pantera on a new project, what’s going on there?
Zakk – Yeah I just talked to Dime a couple days ago, just last Saturday, I guess him and a couple of his buddies, they went out and he calls me at 10 AM and I’m like “what the fuck are you doing?” and he says “I haven’t fuckin slept yet, everyone else is busted out, me and my buddies are going out to drink some tequila and eat some rattle snake.” But what me and Dime were talking about is where it will be our little project and we’ll record all the music and bring in some of our friends (talks to wife about broken AC) but yeah man, it will be killer.
So this year’s Ozzfest had a lot of great young guitarists on the tour, did you get to check out Jon and Matt from Shadows Fall, or any of the Chimaira and Killswitch Engage guys and what did you think?
Zakk – Those guys are the shit. You know, they actually love playing solos and practicing, and the younger guys can look up to them.
Are there any guitarists from newer bands out there that have really impressed you?
Zakk – Well those Shadows Fall guys, and on top of that they are really cool too.
I’m going to say a few names and I want you to give me some brief thoughts on them: Limp Bizkit
Zakk – Fuck, Black Label is the nail in their coffin.
Zakk – Fucking amazing.
Zakk – Oh yeah.
Hmm, ok. Creed.
Zakk – Everybody fucking hates them but they don’t bother me. They’ve got some good songs, like not the hit singles, but yeah Creed, I think they’ve got a great guitarist, yeah I think Creed is fuckin great. Even Ozzy said said (in best Ozzy impression) “at least that guy sings” and he’s actually got melody, you know what I’m saying? And you know, it’s not as dark as Alice In Chains was but it’s still fucking good, and Mark I think is a fucking great guitar player.
Zakk – The new Metallica record? Love it, plus it’s Rob. Metallica is like Budweiser beer, it’s an institution at this point.
Zakk – Incredible, and he’s a good friend of mine.
Emo and punk music
Zakk – I don’t know, I never got into that type of stuff, but you know I mean to tell you I respect it (phone goes dead, Zakk calls back) dude, I’ve been doing interviews since 9 o’clock this morning, the phone’s dead!
Zakk – No it’s ok, but the phone took a fuckin dump! So what were we talking about? Oh the punk rock shit. I missed the boat on that, like Good Charlotte is selling tons of records and stuff, but I go “what’s so pissed off about this shit?” This is like the happiest, funny, goofy fucking music I’ve ever heard in my life. I mean to me, Good Charlotte makes Poison look like Motorhead. It’s like, I just never got it, but you know, good for them, anybody can make money in this scumbag business so more power to them. But I mean, it wouldn’t be a band I’d want to be caught in, you know what I’m saying? I just missed the boat. I was more of a Sabbath kind of guy and I was just more, if it wasn’t in the same zip code as Sabbath I didn’t like it at all, but that’s my take on it.
Which is more fun and why: hunting or fishing?
Zakk – Hunting or fishing? Let me see, hunting or fishing. Well I don’t really do either. If I am fishing I feel like I am going to lose my fucking mind, hunting, the only thing I do with a gun is fucking smash shit, so I mean to me it’s either, I think the choices should be what’s more fun: drinking beer or sticking your tongue up your wife’s ass? And I’d have to say it’s a tie!
Is it ok for a grown man to cry at a movie?
Zakk – Well yeah, why not man? I was just crying the other day, I’m a big Yankee guy and they had a special on Thurman Munson when he died and shit and that was tough. If a man can’t cry it means you’re fuckin, those are the ones you don’t want to trust.
Who would win in a fight between Brad Pitt’s character in Fight Club and his character in Snatch?
Zakk – That’d be pretty good. I like the guy in Snatch, he was pretty good.
You are widely thought to be one of the greatest guitarists of this generation of guitarist, at what age did you start and who would you say some of your influences are?
Zakk – I started when I was about 14, you know right when I started high school. That’s when I started really getting serious and practicing 12 hours a day and stuff like that, and obviously Randy Rhoades, and the first time I heard Eddie Van Halen I couldn’t believe it. The first time I heard “Eruption” and “Spanish Fly” I was just like there’s no way anybody can be this good, and not only could he play the electric stuff, you can put a fuckin acoustic in his hand and he’s fuckin sick. But then Randy came along and Vai, and obviously the guy I took lessons from, this guy Leroy Wright back in Jersey, he was about 10 years older then me, so he was a big influence on me, like physically, right in front of me. There’s a big difference between hearing somebody play something and seeing it right in front of you. So he was a big influence, and obviously Eddie and Randy.
What happened to the solo and why don’t many of today’s bands know how to pull one off?
Zakk – Well it’s just I think, well if they are into the punk rock and stuff like that then it’s cool, you know what I mean? There’s nothing wrong with it, but with that music there are no solos and that’s what it is. I mean I don’t get it either but even when Alice In Chains was out, Jerry was still doing solos, but a lot of kids got into the whole Nirvana thing, and I have a total respect for Kurt and everything you know, it’s just he had a great voice and great songs and everything but when Kurt did a solo, you better run for the, you better fuckin look out! You don’t know what the fuck is going to happen here, but that wasn’t his department, he really didn’t give a fuck whether he could play “Mr. Crowley” or anything like that, that wasn’t what he was into. So different strokes for different folks, that’s what makes the world go round. I think the younger kids that were big on Nirvana where there are no solos in those songs, you’ve got that generation coming up and now you’ve got a new generation with those Shadows Fall kids fuckin metal again, and metal is rearing it’s ugly head again, so hopefully with bands like Shadows Fall taking over maybe more bands will start doing solos again. But everything is like what’s old is new again, and people are wearing bell bottoms again because shit’s back in, you know like all the girls with the hip huggers and those really tight jeans, I got no problem with that, but the thing is a couple years ago, none of the chicks were wearing that, that’s like 70’s clothing, but between the guys in Shadows Fall and you know, there are going to be some kids coming up that are going to be sick playing the guitar and you never know when the next Eddie Van Halen type will come out, like a young kid, a young Randy Rhoades type kid coming, you know what I’m saying? Where they’re going to carry the torch into the next generation for that generation, they’re going to be like inspiring kids, they’ll be like “oh man did you hear so and so?” and then kids will want to pick up a guitar and play 10 hours a day.
Coming from someone that knows nothing about guitars, what is the difference between the guitar you play versus something like a PRS or a Jackson and what is it about the Gibson Les Paul that you have that made you decide that was the guitar for you?
Zakk – Well it’s just you have to pick a plan, whatever feels confortable for you. For me the Les Paul is the perfect guitar, and you know Paul Reed Smith is a take off on a Les Paul, it’s just a combination of a Paul and a Strat, and really you’ve only got two types of guitars, you’ve got a Les Paul and you’ve got a Stratocaster, and everything else is a variation of a theme. But Dimebag gave me a couple of his guitars and I’ve been playing them live, and it depends on what you’re comfortable with, and for me a Les Paul Custom is perfect, so it just depends on what type of guitar you are looking for. On a Paul Reed Smith you’re not going to get as much of a chunky sound as a Les Paul, but a lot of guys use it, but it depends. You’ve got to sit down and play them, but there’s Tony Iommi who plays SG’s, there’s Angus that plays the SG, but that makes the sound sick, but for me, a Les Paul is what gets my dick hard.
What keeps you motivated on the days you’re sick and you just don’t feel like playing?
Zakk – You just gotta kick more ass tomorrow then you did yesterday and that’s what inspires me. See how much better you can play then the day before.
Black Label Society just released a DVD, what can fans expect on that?
Zakk – Nothing really, but actually, it went to the charts at #3, not that I give a shit about any of that stuff, because it’s just like, we don’t play that kind of music, but the Zeppelin DVD and the Eagles and Black Label, so we’re not in bad company at all with those two guys above us, but we don’t get much MTV and we don’t get much airplay, you know what I’m saying? We’re not one of those bands. I’m planning on us getting a lot more airplay though because on this down time before we start this Ozzy tour, I had my wife hook me up and I am going to go in and get a tit job and a tummy tuck and you know, I’m just bringing a picture of Brittney Spears into the place and I’m hoping to bring Black Label to the next level.
You’ll have to shave the beard too.
Zakk – Yeah, but if I get rid of the beard I’m going to have a sex change as well, and I’ll just shave the beard off and use it as my muff so I will still retain the beard, but I will just have it sewn in to my fuckin pussy. I am telling you man, this band is going to the top! There is no stopping Black Label now!
How would you sell your new album “The Blessed Hellride” to someone who has never heard of Black Label Society before?
Zakk – It’s basically the Hell’s Angels of fucking iron, so the whole thing is basically the Hell’s Angels house band.
Any last comments?
Zakk – Well yeah, where you at again?
Zakk – Oh yeah, you’re out in Boston, so tell the fuckin Boston Chapter and all the Ozzy hardcores to stay strong and keep bleeding Black Label.
Thank you very much.
Zakk – No problem buddy, and we’ll see what happens in the post season brother!
We’ll see what happens when the Sox play the Yankees for the AL title!
Zakk – Your beloved Sox and my beloved Yankees, and listen, everyone tells me “oh that sucks, you’re a Yankees guy?” and I say dude, I love Boston. I go you know the bars and everything like that and the big Fenway, and how can I not love Boston? You gave us Babe Ruth!
Oh man, that’s below the belt.
Zakk (makes rimshot sound) – Had to throw that one in there!
Alright have a good one man!
Zakk – You take it easy bro.
And so concludes a conversation with the one and only Mr. Zakk Wylde. I have to say, I went into this interview pretty damn intimidated because I have met Zakk before (see the pretty picture?) and he was like, BIG, and scary, but the truth is, this dude is totally awesome! Big thanks to Zakk for doing the interview and Chris and Debbie at Mazur for hooking it up. Zakk’s new CD “The Blessed Hellride” and his new DVD “Boozed, Broozed & Broken–Boned” are both in stores now.