What's in a Name?
By R. Scott Bolton
You'd think that a guy who has recorded and toured with OZZY OSBOURNE would have to be a little wild. Especially a guy who was next in line to take up the lead guitar position of GUNS'N'ROSES. Especially when this same guy even played (a little) with the ALLMAN BROTHERS.
Well, if that's what you think, you're correct. Zakk Wylde is appropriately named - he's a little wild all right. He's also a hell of guitar player and a song writer. And a host of other things that you'll discover if you pick up his new "Black Label Society" CD (click here to read our review) or catch him on his current tour.
Zakk is a guy who knows how to live life to the fullest. He's doing it now and he's loving every moment of it. He's got a new CD in stores, he's having a blast on the road and his previous CDs are being re-released with never-before-heard bonus tracks.
He's also a lot of fun to talk to. Full of hilarious anecdotes, primed with more energy than most small country, Zakk tells it like it is.
Take our advice:
1) Buy the new CD (click on the image below to do so);
2) Catch Zakk on tour;
3) Enjoy the following interview (Warning: Political Correctness ends here).
Rough Edge: So, Zakk, what's going on? Are you still on the road?
Zakk Wylde: It's going fucking great. We did Japan, we did Europe and we did that festival with Metallica, the Dynamo. There was like 50,000, it was fuckin' slammin' so we did a show last Saturday at the Troubadour (in Hollywood).
Rough Edge: Yeah, unfortunately, we had to miss it. Heard some good things about it, though.
Zakk Wylde: Oh, yeah. There was twenty fuckin' Marshalls on stage, man. It was fucking brutality.
Rough Edge: You were blowing people's hair back.
Zakk Wylde: You gotta love it, man.
Rough Edge: So is the tour done or are you still going?
Zakk Wylde: No, we're just getting started. I'm going out on this radio promotion thing, we're calling it the "Brewtali-tour," man.
Rough Edge: That's "brew" with an "ew," right?
Zakk Wylde: Hell, yeah. We're going out and we're doing that and we got all kinds of contests set up, you know, for people to win all kinds of shit and emcee the band and all that. We got like piss drinking contests, fucking bobbin' for beer. We're filling up like children's pools and you got this team of three guys and we see who can drink as much beer in fuckin' five minutes. And then we got like a shit relay contest - outta three guys - ya get three guys - and whoever completes shitting first, they're the fuckin' winners. It's like Olympic events. They're Black Label Society events.
Rough Edge: I'm sure Alcoholics Anonymous loves you for this.
Zakk Wylde: Hey, you know what? We're down with the AA program. We're fuckin' Anabolic Alcoholics. You know what? At least we know who we are. We're not in denial. Fuck that.
Rough Edge: What are you playing on the tour? Are you playing any of the old Ozzy stuff?
Zakk Wylde: It's like we did the other night - we played "No More Tears." But we play it, like, drop D, it's like fuckin' beautiful. It's so fuckin' ugly, it's beautiful. So we did "Tears" - you know, if we're gonna do an Ozzy number, it's gonna be something that I wrote with him, obviously. But then, what else do we do? With the P&G ("Pride and Glory") stuff, I think we did "Losin' Your Mind" and "Towin' the Line." But the majority of it is all Black Label Society. You get a copy of the new CD yet?
Rough Edge: Yeah, we did. You know what I like about it? Unlike all these others bands that are putting out new CDs and ignoring their past, you manage to make this CD sound different without abandoning your roots. It's heavy as hell and it sounds great.
Zakk Wylde: I hear you, bro. Thanks, man. I think the guitar fuckin' thing's coming back. I mean, Christ, what I heard on the radio on the way down here, that fuckin' band (sings) "I would choke on the rinds..." Oh, my god. Would you listen to some horseshit like that?
Rough Edge: I agree with you. Guitar is coming back. I don't know if you're familiar with KLOS-FM 95.5 down here in L.A., but they recently changed their format so they're playing like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and even Black Sabbath again.
Zakk Wylde: Yeah, actually, now it's pretty cool. Because they're starting to play guitar stuff. I was actually telling the promotional staff and our radio guy, Rob, "Dude, 95.5 is actually playing, like, fucking Soundgarden on the radio." I was like, "Dude, we gotta fuckin' get on that station," because they were playing my shit last time. You know, with the acoustic stuff. But, then again, back then they were playing Neil Young, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd. It's everything you've heard before. But, let me tell you, it's definitely cool they're starting to play guitar-driven music.
Rough Edge: Yeah, you'd fit right in there now.
Zakk Wylde: I think so, man. Right now.
Rough Edge: Your previous albums are being re-released on Spitfire records. "Book of Shadows" seemed a bit of a stretch for you.
Zakk Wylde: The thing is that I had all these tunes from the "Ozmosis" record, you know. Aside from writing all the fuckin' heavy shit because at the time we were doing "My Jekyll Doesn't Hide" and the "Perry Mason" stuff. And then "Thunder Underground," just like fuckin' pure riff fuckin' music. So aside from doing that I always had acoustic around because it's just great for your chops. You know, you sit down and jam on an acoustic when you pick up an fuckin' electric guitar it's like fuckin' lightning.
Rough Edge: It's like a batter in baseball...
Zakk Wylde: Yeah, you put the fuckin' doughnuts on the end there, man. Hell, yeah, man. And the action's a bit higher. So I'd be jammin' on an acoustic all the time and I'd have all these ... I'd just be dickin' around writing songs all the time. So whether I'm writing riffs all the time or I'm writing regular flat-out songs, I just had all these tunes and I was like, man, it's like fuckin' beer-drinking music at the end of the night, you know? I had all these tunes lying around and that's when Geffen - they asked me to do another album. I tried to get out of it, because I owed them like three records when I signed with them so we did the P&G thing and then Kalodner left and went to Sony and it was just like fuckin', I didn't know what the fuck was going on. Let's put it this way: They wanted me there about as much the Pope wanted to have lunch with fuckin' Anton Levay, man. Which was basically not gonna ever fuckin' happen. The whole thing was like, "We gotta get outta here, man." So we did the "Book of Shadows" thing - I tried to get off the label but it was more cost effective for them to have me go in an do another fuckin' record - so we ended up doing the record and after that Ozzy called and said, "Dude, you wanna do this 'Ozmosis' record?" so I was jammin' with ... actually, I got it backwards here, fuckin' "Book of Shadows" was after the "Ozmosis" record. In between jammin', we'd go back to trackin' the stuff and I'd go back to this bar that was right next to the hotel and I'd be in there until, like, six in the morning drinking with everybody. They'd be like, "Dude, go get your fiddle and play us a fuckin' tune." So I'd be jammin' for 'em - I'd be playing all this new shit for 'em. You know, that's pretty much how that record came about. In between all that stuff that's when Axl (Rose) called me up and he's like, "Dude, you wanna do some jammin'?" and all this shit. So I'd be writing and doin' demos over at Duff's house - basically, the stuff I was writing was pretty much Black Label. Then Ozzy was like, "Zakk, you gonna do the tour?" and I said, "Oz, I don't know the fuck's going on with the Guns guys." And I told Axl, "Dude, can't be dickin' Ozzy around. You guys gotta let me know what the fuck's goin' on?" Then, you know, once you get fuckin' lawyers and managers fuckin' involved, suddenly everybody's on the clock and everything takes fucking five trillion fucking years to get done. You know what I mean? So I finally told Ozzy, "Oz, I don't know what the fuck is going on with these guys" and he said, "Zakk, I gotta get somebody else" and I was "All right, dude, I understand" but after that, you know, the Guns thing kinda ... nothing, nothing really ... it didn't end ... nothing. I said, fuck this, I got all these fuckin' tunes lying around, you know what, fuck it! I'm just gonna do 'em. And that's pretty much how Black Label was born.
Rough Edge: Good for you. So the Guns'n'Roses thing's kind of in limbo. But do you think you'll work with Ozzy again in the future?
Zakk Wylde: I'm just like breathing, eating and shitting Black Label, 24/7, man. I saw Oz on his birthday in December but that was the last time. I wrote him a postcard - we were just in Europe - I just wrote him a postcard, you know, "Bro, just thinking about ya" whatever. Cause I know he's out kicking ass with the Sabbath thing and I'm just so busy doing this. I mean, between doing press and fuckin' jammin' and fitting in as much shit as I can, I mean, I don't even have enough time to know what the fuck anybody else is doing.
Rough Edge: What about those re-releases of "Pride and Glory" and "Book of Shadows"?
Zakk Wylde: Yeah, there's bonus tracks on them. It's like all the stuff we couldn't fit in with the P&G, "Pride & Glory" thing. With the "Pride and Glory" thing we could take a five minute song and make it a 45-minute song. It was a pure jam band. It's like a bunch of sessions that we did at the end of the night when we got done trackin' other stuff. You know, I asked them to just roll the tape and we just tracked some shit. There's like five bonus tracks on there. I think we did, like, "The Wizard" by Sabbath. We did a version of "Come Together" on piano, it's pretty fuckin' bitchin'. Dark sounding. We did a Zeppelin, that's pretty fuckin' hysterical. And we did two originals that I wrote. "A Hammer and a Nail" - it's got like banjo in it and shit and "Torn and Tattered," a really cool song. You know, fuckin' acoustic guitar. But then with "Book of Shadows," there's like three bonus tracks. Most of the time, I end up stickin' as much fuckin' time as I can on those discs so they actually had to make another disc up.
Rough Edge: Yeah, they're supposed to be bonus discs included with the re-releases. Not just bonus tracks. Tell us about Phil - he's described in your bio as your drinking partner and drummer.
Zakk Wylde: Totally, man. I just picked him from the airport, as a matter of fact. I met Phil when we were doing the "Book of Shadows" tour. It was just me and Nick who's playing guitar with us right now. You know, he's one of the Society-dwelling motherfuckers in the band. When we were doing that tour is when I ran into Phil. We just dig the same shit, the same type of music, so it just worked out perfectly. And he can fuckin' wail on the drums. And he can drink a shitload of beer.
Rough Edge: So he fits.
Zakk Wylde: He fits in with Black Label, man.
Rough Edge: Tell us a little about working with the Allman Brothers.
Zakk Wylde: Well, they called me up. I ended up doing that gig because Dickie got in trouble fuckin' with cops - I don't know what he did, some shit - but he ended up in jail. And they didn't want to pull out of the show they had booked at Great Woods in Boston and, obviously, the Allmans need two guitar players - 'cause that's what their sound is - full of harmonies and everything. So it was just like, I knew Warren. So Johnny said, "Hey, man, Zakk's a big fuckin' Allmans fan. Why don't you get him out here?" And that's what happened. And I went out and did it. Went fuckin' thoroughly, brutality, ballistic and that's about it. I did the one show and Butch was like, "Zakk, thanks, but we're gonna get someone else." Fuckin' A.
Rough Edge: When did you start playing guitar, Zakk?
Zakk Wylde: Actually, when I was in my dad's nuts. They must have heard me coming out of his cock.
Rough Edge: And you were playing bars and clubs in Jersey and then this Ozzy thing comes up. How would you describe that? It must have been life-changing.
Zakk Wylde: Totally, man, I shit my pants when I fuckin' first met him, man. It was like a dream come true. I was a huge Sabbath fan and we all loved Ozzy when he started his solo career and the rest is history.
Rough Edge: What was the auditioning process?
Zakk Wylde: Well, I had to do an ounce and a half of crack cocaine and drank four shots of my own piss and a gallon of fuckin' beer (laughs). People ask me how I wound up getting the gig with Ozzy and I go, "Well, you know, I was his crack cocaine dealer and I told him, 'you know, dude, I play guitar on the side.'" Actually, these guys saw me playin' in a club or something like that, this guy Dave Feldon, he knew Mark Weiss, the rock photographer. And Mark was working in the city at the time and Mark was like, "Dude, Ozzy's gonna be in town. You oughtta fuckin' try and hook up with Ozzy." I said, "Man, that would be amazing." So I went up to the city but Ozzy had already gone out drinking - he went out drinking with Andre the Giant. I thought, this sucks - I just wanted to get his fuckin' autograph. But then later on, Sharon called my folks' house, they flew me out to L.A. and the rest is history, man.
Rough Edge: Everybody has their favorite Ozzy story - what's yours?
Zakk Wylde: I've got so fuckin' many of them. It's fuckin' insane. Here you go: This is just a recent one, I guess. When we were doin' the Ozmosis record, I had pictures of Zeppelin up in the studio, I had Jimi Hendrix posters up. We had some pictures of the Baphomet up there, whatever. We were talking about the Baphomet having a fuckin' mechanics store callin' it "The Brother's Baphomet - Sal, Al and Frank Baphomet." So we had that up. And then there was this really cool bookshop down in the city called the "Magical Child" in Manhattan where they got all kinds of stuff - you know, they got Jesus Christ on the cross, they got the Baphomet, they got Anton Levay books, they got fuckin' Buddhism - it's a trippy little place. And I see this poster of Alistair Crowley and, oh man, we gotta have that down in the studio. That'd be fuckin' cool. So I just walk up and there's this piece of tape as a price tag and it says 6.66. So I look at the guy and I go, "Dude, how much is this poster?" And the guy goes, "That's six dollars and sixty-six cents." And I go, "As in 666?" And the guy looks at me, fuckin' deadpan, right in the face and goes, "Yeah." So I told him, "You know what, here's seven fuckin' dollars, keep the goddamn change." So I got the poster, I fuckin' hang it up in the studio. We're trackin'. I'm doing my guitars, we're doing the solos or some shit. Oz comes in the studio, he's "Hey, Zakk, how ya doin'?" and I'm "Hey, Oz, what are you doin', buddy?" We're just hanging out, me and Michael Miner are trackin' it, Ozzy is listening to it. Then when it gets done, he's looking at the Zeppelin poster and Ozzy says, "Ah, man, look at fuckin' Bonham. You would have fuckin' loved him, Zakk. That guy was the fuckin' coolest, dude. I used to go drinking with him all the time." Blah, blah, blah. Then he looks at the Hendrix poster - it's like a picture of Hendrix like wailing on the guitar and he's nostrils were like super-flared. And Ozzy goes, "Could you imagine the amount of fuckin' gak he could stick up that fuckin' thing? Oh, my god!" Then he looks over at the fuckin' poster of Alistair Crowley and he goes, "Zakk, who's the fuckin' ball-headed cunt you got up on the fuckin' wall?" I was fuckin' dying. And I go, "Oz, that's Alistair Crowley" and Oz goes, "Oh, is that what he looks like?" He's been singing about this fucker for eighteen, nineteen years now. And he's all "Oh, is that what he fuckin' looks like?" Ozzy's the fuckin' best, man.
Rough Edge: Tell us a little about the recording of Black Label Society?
Zakk Wylde: The thing is, I had a batch of those riffs lying around, you know, and lyrics and shit from being with the GNR guys and at the end of the Ozzy thing. So I called Phil up - and the record was done - performing it, fuckin' recording it, mixin' mastering, artwork - everything was done in 36 days. Then I looked at my beer tab - between me and Phil - because I was putting it on a credit card - between the two of us it was like three thousand dollars. For fuckin' brew! You gotta love it. You know, we'd go in all day, fuckin' jam, drink a shitload of beer and that was about fuckin' it, man. You know, we had all the tunes and I wrote a few other things when I was in there and that was about it.
Rough Edge: You write the lyrics, too?
Zakk Wylde: Oh, yeah, I write everything. I played everything except the drums on it, because, you know, I like the interaction between playing with other people. But I like the challenge of playing other things, too.
Rough Edge: Well, Zakk. I think we're outta questions.
Zakk Wylde: Well, I think we pretty much fuckin' covered everything. The alcohol, the fuckin' guitars...
Rough Edge: Is there anything else?
Zakk Wylde: I know. There is nothing. Actually, you know what? For the love of God, I hope there isn't! Somebody was asking me - "Is that all there is to your life? Beer, music and that's it?" And I was like, "Oh, dear God, I hope so."
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Copyright © 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights
Revised: 29 Aug 2005 11:04:31 -0500.