Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
I first heard of Zakk Wylde back in the eighties when he recorded and toured with rock legend Ozzy Osbourne. Zakk then went on to form a short lived blues rock trio Pride & Glory. Since the demise of that band Zakk has forged his own musical path with Black Label Society. Bls as they have become to be known are returning to play a UK Tour next month. I managed to secure some time with Zakk while he was touring in the States last week to have a chat.
Zakk “Hello what’s going on man?”
“Its Mark here from Myglobalmind.”
Zakk “I am just sitting here getting ready to roll with the Kansas City Missouri Chapter of the almighty Black Label tonight. That’s about it bro.”
I’m ringing from N. Ireland and just wanted to open by asking you why you are no longer part of the Metal All Stars tour, which is coming this way to play in Dublin. You were originally billed to play with them last year?
Zakk “Well it got postponed and then I guess I’m going over with Black Label. I am already coming over to the UK now so I can’t do both.”
That’s fair enough I guess. In the modern internet age it appears that you cant say a thing without it being picked up and spreading like wildfire. You were reported as recently having said that you would like to be part of any Pantera reunion. Just a throw away comment or something that may realistically happen?
Zakk “Well I mean, I love all the guys so. I am friends with all the fellas. That would be up to them if they ever all agreed upon it and they wanted to do that. Of course I love the guys and I would be there for them and to honour Dime of course I would do that without hesitation. I would just honour Dime because I love him and I love all the fellas. That would t be just up to the guys but I would support them in any way that I can.”
Since the inception of Black Label Society you have been very prolific in terms of regular releases with nearly 1 per year. Is that strong work ethic something that has been handed down to you from your parents?
Zakk “Not really, its just because we have a massive “bar “tab that has to be paid. We are trying by doing all the touring and making all the records to make a dent into the mountain size bar tab that we have left over from the early days-the “Animal House” years of Black Label.”
Your guitar influences are well known, but as a singer who would be your inspirations?
Zakk “Well obviously I love Oz, Greg Allman, probably those guys. I love Paul Rodgers, I think he is amazing. I love Sam Cooke, Elton John, Neil Young, Bob Segar is phenomenal. Those are definitely some of the guys that I love for sure man. Probably my biggest two would be Oz and Gregg Allman.”
Your most release was last years “Catacombs from the Vatican”- how does it compare to the previous Bls albums. Was there anything different that you were striving for with this 1 in terms of songwriting or how it should sound?
Zakk “Of all the Black Label albums this is the newest one…(laughs)”
On the album which types of songs do you enjoy working with more? Mellower tunes like “Scars” and “Shades of Grey” for example. Or harder edged gritty rockers like “Damn the Flood”?
Zakk “I mean its like what I said, I will listen to everything. I could listen to Sabbath and Zeppelin and then in the next moment I will listen to “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young. I listen to everything from Sarah McLaughlin and then Meshuggah. Everything in between. I listen to it all”
Next month you are bringing Black Label Society back to the UK. You have played there many times over the years I have personally seen you there right back through Pride & Glory to your tours with Ozzy. Is that an area where you feel a particular affinity given that many of your musical heroes Sabbath, Purple Zeppelin etc originated from there. Are audiences different?
Zakk “Yeah I guess they are, some places are definitely more rowdy and crazy and jump around. I mean, in other places they just want to just enjoy the show like they are watching a movie. It doesn’t mean that they are not having fun just because they are not jumping around. That’s the way that I always look at it. For me just as long as anybody shows up then that’s all that matters to me.”
And the UK itself?
Zakk “Yeah sure and the fact that we are playing the Roundhouse, its like you said that all my heroes have played there at the beginning years of their careers. Every time that we are over in the UK, we always have a great time, always. Ever since like you said each time that I have gone over there from my first time with The Boss, with Oz when we toured there with “No Rest for the Wicked” which was amazing. Ever since then from Pride & Glory right to the last time that we were over there and we did Download we have always had a great time.”
Regarding the set composition for the UK tour, how much of the bands latest release Catacombs will feature in there?
Zakk “With every new Black Label album we do because it is fresh and the newest stuff you always want to play that. We are trying to put something from the first record to the most recent album. We try to put a little bit of everything from the beginning to where we are at now. That’s 18 years worth of stuff.”
Obviously your demons have been widely reported and in particular your personal battles with alcohol. Now that it no longer plays any part in your life, what have you substituted it with? Any hobbies, sports or interests that now play an alternative part in your life?
Zakk “They always say that you have got to substitute it with something and I have. I have substituted it with glue, steroids and female growth hormones.(We both laugh)I can fondle my genitals and my scrotum and after that I just play with my breasts for a while”
Seriously though how do you spend your spare time?
Zakk “Yeah without a doubt, lifting weights and fondling my body and my genitals. Like an amusement park!”
After playing guitar with Ozzy, one of your heroes-which for many people would be an unattainable dream, did you and do you still have dreams, goals and ambitions?
Zakk “Yeah I have the hope that this female growth hormone that I am taking will make my breasts as big as Dolly Partons. There will be more of me to fondle and then I just hope you know that my schlong gets bigger because the bigger that is-the happier my wife will be. You know you want to keep the wife happy…”
Career-wise in music do you still have any targets or goals?
Zakk “The thing is, I thank the good Lord when I wake up in the morning, the middle of the day and before I go to bed at night. For the amazing life that I have and I am truly blessed to have Ozzy in my life and to have Black Label and the whole entire Black Label family. I am beyond grateful, I am truly blessed man.”
That relationship that you have with Ozzy sounds special. Do you therefore envisage creating music and touring with him again at some point?
Zakk “Yeah I mean, for whatever. If Ozzy needs me to go and pick up some milk and eggs and take them to the house I will do it. That’s how my relationship is with Oz and Mom. My love for them is unconditional so whatever they need me to do I will do it.”
Looking back on your musical legacy how do you view that? Is it with a sense of personal pride or do you prefer to look forward?
Zakk “Yeah I think that with every record that you do, or anything that you do. Regardless if it is music, sports or a director making movies. I think that the goal is always to get better, you have got to strive for more, and to get better. Otherwise what is the point of getting out of bed in the morning.”
Just touching on another former band who are still held in great esteem in the UK. Pride & Glory. I understand that the reunion show from 1998 was recorded and filmed but as still not been released. Any plans for that to see the light of day?
Zakk “I still keep in touch with the guys. James is out with Creedence right now and Brian is actually putting some things together-some benefits and stuff. Right now I am just so busy bleeding Black Label I barely have enough time to clean the dog run and grab a bite to eat. Though I still have time to fondle myself….”
So would that particular musical chapter be permanently closed for you?
Zakk “You never say never, but right now there is barely enough time to fit a Pride & Glory record in there”
Do you feel that you have ever made a bad album?
Zakk “The thing is that you go in with the intention of always trying to do the best job that you can at that moment in time. I just look back at all that as just timelines. You can look back at what you were doing and you just try to do the best job that you can. I listen to records and I listen to some of the production on them and I go “I could have done better”… I don’t have any regrets making the records .I think that with everybody you are just going to go and look back and go “ahhh” I could have done better or this or that differently. Overall I can’t complain.”
What has been the main life lessons that a career in the music business has taught you?
Zakk “Aside of it being a music business of just life in general. You got to work hard, and you just got to keep moving forward, ploughing ahead. There is no time for “woe me” and feeling sorry for yourself. In the Black Label way, and the Black Label mindset there is no time for that. You have just got to keep rolling like a tank, destroying whatever mountains of adversity that lie in front of you. Look forward to it, piss and shit all over it and move on to the next one.”
OK Zakk, if you were on a desert island with only 2 albums,1 of yours and another what would they be?
Zakk “I guess “Catacombs of the Black Vatican” and I guess the other album would have to be Culture Club covers the Best of Black Metal. That is one of my favourite records”
Do you still keep in touch with new musical trends and bands?
Zakk “Yes when I hear new bands come out and stuff definitely I will check it out. I still have my staples obviously; Zeppelin, Sabbath, Neil Young and everything like that. Bad Company, classic rock and all the stuff that I love. The newest albums that I bought were Robert Plants and Beck “Cycle and Morning” that is phenomenal. Both of those records are great. If there is something new that comes out I will listen to it, but also from a production view, who is producing the records. I will listen to something if it has great production or whatever. If a drum sound was particularly great, a guitar tone, or fidelity. I will check that out for research purposes as well.”
As we discussed earlier you are bringing Black Label Society back to the UK next month. What’s the bands plans after that?
Zakk “Just a lot more touring, a lot more recording, a lot more fondling my genitals and hoping that my breasts grow the size of Dolly Partons. So there is that much more of me to blast myself into submission.”
Anything else going on, as a lot of musicians generate additional income these days by branching out into other areas?
Zakk “I am starting my own music company-Wylde Audio, with guitars, a mps pedals and strings. Everything that you can think of that makes noises that’s what we are working on. I just do it as work. Regardless of whether you are as rich as Richard Branson you have still got to have a reason to get up in the morning and do something. You don’t see him resting on his laurels, he has got something going on all the time.”
Thanks very much for chatting Zakk, hope to catch you next month on that UK tour.
Zakk “You got it boss, tell the UK Chapter to stay strong, bleed Black and we will see you guys soon. Take care brother.”
UK Fans, you can see Zakk perform on the following dates:
Date City Venue Ticket Link Price
11 Feb 2015 (Wed) Glasgow O2 ABC Buy tickets £20.00
12 Feb 2015 (Thurs) Birmingham The Institute Buy tickets £20.00
13 Feb 2015 (Fri) London The Roundhouse Buy tickets £20.00
14 Feb 2015 (Sat) Bristol O2 Academy Buy tickets £20.00
15 Feb 2015 (Sun) Leeds O2 Academy Buy tickets £20.00
17 Feb 2015 (Tues) Norwich UEA Buy tickets £20.00
18 Feb 2015 (Weds) Nottingham Rock City Buy tickets £20.00
19 Feb (Thurs) Manchester Manchester Academy Buy tickets £20.00