Dave Harrison of X-Press Online recently conducted an interview with guitarist Zakk Wylde (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, OZZY OSBOURNE). A few excerpts from the chat follow:
X-Press Online: How do feel about that whole Hollywood scene? No hanging out with media hounds like Tommy Lee or Kid Rock?
Zakk: Nah, I never go down there. I live like 40 minutes north of Hollywood, we got 10 acres up here and stuff like that in the mountains. I never go down there. The bottom line — I've got beer all here up in the compound never have to touch that stuff. Going down there it's like just get me the hell out of here, you know? I come off the road, all I want to do is go home. My wife one day goes, 'Why don't we take the kids when you get off the road and go on a vacation?' I go 'when I get off the road that is my vacation. Going to my own house, sleeping in my own bed.' Every night I'm sleeping in a bed that's not my own.
X-Press Online: BLACK LABEL SOCIETY consistently seems to be growing in terms of popularity. If you trace the steady chart progress from "Hangover Music" to "Mafia" cracking top 20 in the U.S. and charting in a lot of countries.
Zakk: All that comes down to is just, you know how it is with rock bands, if you're not getting the exposure on radio or MTV you just got to keep touring and touring and touring. You just got to get out there.
X-Press Online: Obviously being trendy or fashionable holds little interest for you. It's a more durable fanbase…
Zakk: Yeah, totally. I think with guy bands, chick bands, the whole thing is girls are fickle; they like it for like two months and then they never buy the record again. Once the guys start growing up they like don't even buy records any more.
X-Press Online: Is Ozzy more fun to hang around sober or when he's tanked?
Zakk: It's not one of those things where he can just drink a beer, you know, have a couple of beers with the guys and then call it a day. With him it's a beer then he starts doing the weed and then right after that it's the cocaine, then he's gone for three days and we can't find him.
X-Press Online: Your lineage is with the all-time guitar greats such as Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee and Tony Iommi, all the players connected with Ozzy. When you go in the studio with Ozzy do you enjoy playing songs co-written by guys like David Grohl of the FOO FIGHTERS and NIRVANA?
Zakk: When all that stuff went down I was just like… no! I mean, first off it was cheesy, horrendous stuff. You know, 'Why are we using this? Just because we're paying this guy, this is like they wouldn't even put this stuff on their records… what are we doing'? You know what I mean? I go, 'I could piss shit out of my dick better than this stuff in a New York second.'
X-Press Online: So you felt a bit compromised playing that kind of stuff as a musician?
Zakk: Yeah, last time I checked we did "No More Tears" we sold like nine million records and I wrote it, me and Ozzy wrote the damn thing with Lemmy. Like, what are we doin'? That's record company stuff, that's what my whole argument was because I'm still a huge Ozzy fan. I love the music. I bleed it! Not the guys in OFFSPRING, you know, come on, good for them, god bless 'em, but it's not Ozzy music.
X-Press Online: To get as musically proficient as someone like Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Uli Roth, Dimebag or even yourself takes the hard yards of commitment. In doing double-duty gigs, do you still put in the practice hours to keep the chops up? What's your practice regimen like?
Zakk: I still got to practice every day, but I enjoy doing that. I love it. You can always keep getting better. It's like being the heavyweight champion of the world, like Dorian Yates, the reason why he won six Mr. Olympias was every year he came in bigger and more shredded. You can't just go just because you're there now you just show up and get the trophy. If you are the heavyweight champion of the world, dude, if you don't keep doing what got you there, you're going to get your ass handed to you.
X-Press Online: So what were your feelings in the '90s during the whole grunge/nu metal scene when playing solos was being somewhat uncool for the cool school?
Zakk: I just figured everything's full circle. Everything just got to the point when it couldn't go any higher with the shredding thing, then NIRVANA came in with great songs, then SOUNDGARDEN, ALICE IN CHAINS. You know, those guys were still doing some solos, not to the extent, but I mean, Jerry Cantrell was still putting solos in "Man In The Box". He still always had solos.
Read the entire interview at www.xpressmag.com.au.