This interview with the guitarist Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society, was done by Sam Chronic on the phone in late September 2003. Due to unfortunate events beyond our control it has not been published until now but it should still make some very interested reading I think.

As a writer you meet many musicians and are involved in many interviews, some are momentous and others you easily forget. Then you interview a musician that brings back memories of being 12 years old and standing in the nose bleed section of a venue just happy to catch a glimpse of your favorite band at the Blizzard of Oz tour. Obviously I am talking about legendary guitarist Zakk Wylde. Rather playing with Ozzy or Black Label Society, Zakk has defined a signature sound and established himself as one of the premier guitarist in the musical world. I recently caught up with Zakk to discuss his new Black Label album “Blessed Hellride” as well as; the Sharon Osbourne show, life on the road, sex changes and what bands and musicians piss him off.

Hey man, how is it going?
Just hanging out man, got pretty fucking blitzed last night but that is about it. It was my buddy's birthday the other night so we just got pretty hammered and I'm feeling it right now (laughs).

Paying for it the next day huh?
I am starting on my second fucking cold one right now so I am ready to roll.

That's the only way to get over it (laughs).
Pretty much, you got to keep rolling.

You tired of doing interviews yet?
No man, at least someone wants to talk to me (laughs). I just saw Sharon’s show, have you caught any of it yet?

Yeah, I saw a little bit of it the other day.
The one guy from the Batchelor show, he has Sharon talking and Leah Rehimi on there. Tim and I are thinking about how it would it would go for me to be on that show: “Dude, I am fucking book you on the show but it is going to be like your grandmother, your mom, your wife, your sister and it is going to be called Bull in the Ring.” You’re just in the mother fucking middle and they take the blindfold off and you are in a revolving chair and they all look at you and go: “Look at these clothes, would somebody get him clothes? What the fuck is with his clothes? And the beard has to go, fuck the beard, somebody get him a razor! Did you wear deodorant?” So it is just nothing but fucking women torturing your ass, it would be a classic episode.

Totally! (Laughs)
It would just be Bull in the Ring and they just stick you in there and get all the women, your ex-girlfriend, your wife, everything and they just hammer you. I just told Tim I would fucking kill myself if I had to go in there.

Yeah that would be like going on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”.
That’s pretty good too right there baby! (Laughs) You would just want to kill yourself! I am just looking at the show and one of the publicists said: “Well why don’t we get Zakk on the show? I was like, “Are you for fucking real?” They are going to get me on that show? You have to be smoking crack cocaine over there, I don’t know what they fuck you are doing over there. Get me on a chick show? No way, get me on Oprah (Laughs). The only reason I would get on Oprah is to destroy the set with Black Label.

(Laughs) How was the Ozzfest experience for you this time?
Oh we had a good fucking time brother. Jason flew down and you know the whole thing about that Jason and Robert thing, obviously we miss Robert but bottom line is that Jason and Robert have been friends since back when Suicidal Tendencies was around. Jason is a great guy, he is good people and he kicks ass on the bass.

It could not have been as brutal this year since you did not have to play 2 shows.
Yeah, but I had no problem doing 2 shows. Hell, when we did the DVD we were already about a hundred shows in within 2 months. The bar tab on my credit card bill was $34,000 on fucking booze alone.

Holy shit, that is probably more than I make in a year (laughs)
I had no problem doing 2 a day and actually this year was more insanity because I started about 2 in the after noon and I had to do press all day until about an hour before we went onstage. We had to do interviews and people would be on the bus and I would sit there and practice because that was the only time I had to go over exercises and stuff like that. But when you get off stage you have so much adrenaline running that I would not go to sleep till about 7 in the morning. Then I would go to sleep and wake up about 1 in the afternoon and get up and start over again.

Sorry to ask a redundant question but how did you do that? I see you onstage and you guys are not standing around, you put a shit load of energy into your shows and the fact that you do it once a night is mind blowing but twice a night is unimaginable.
You got to do what you got to do. I laugh sometimes too, when we did that DVD we called it the “13 days of Grief Tour”. We had 13 shows to do and we had to go from Dallas to Milwaukee then work our way to Boston to do this radio show. Then on the way they said, “By the way we are going to record a DVD for the show”. I was like “Are you for fucking real?” I mean doing a Black Label show we are only doing like 35 minutes or whatever and now we had to do an hour and half. So I had to remember all my lyrics and everything and I am looking at them going; “I did write these didn’t I?” It was like I was studying for the SAT’s because I had to remember all the lyrics and I don’t have a teleprompter or any of that shit. So everyone would be going out drinking and I was like; “Well I will have a couple cold ones and I am going to go on the bus but I have to sit and practice.” Just to memorize the lyrics because once we are done recording I don’t sit around singing my own shit, I listen to other music, stuff like Sabbath. But it was fucking hysterical and I don’t know how we got through those 13 fucking days…. I still have no clue. We all laugh about it, I could write a fucking book about it. Everyone was so beat to fuck, everyone was sick and everyone just wanted to go home, then we get to this club in Detroit. It must have been about 120 degrees in the place because the club owners turn the AC off so everyone keeps drinking. Just like in Studio 54 when they used to pump oxygen into the place to keep everyone awake so that nobody would get tired and everyone is gakked out of their mind and keeps buying alcohol. It is an old club trick, nothing new there.

Not so comfortable to play a whole show in though I would imagine.
No, I can’t get wasted when I am up there. I can have a couple cold ones but I have to be able to play.

Yeah, you have to work.
Exactly, that reminds me of a show that we went on at like 2:30 in the morning. I go; “Are you for fucking real? Who the fuck goes on at 2:00 in the morning?!” And my wife and everyone is fucking wasted and here is me and I am like Joe Stone Cold Sober. I must have had about 5 fucking beers, I got drunk and sober twice before I had to go on (Laughs). Because I have a show to do and I can’t be all wasted and get up there and play. And everyone is fucking inebriated, I could have gone up there and played Poison songs and they would have thought it was Black Label (laughs). But it pisses you off when you are the only sober one and everyone else is blitzed.

(Laughs) Totally understandable. Now you have a little break before heading off to Europe with Ozzy. Are you going to go back to the studio or take it easy?
I have this much time off, two and a half or three weeks and I told my wife I am not going to the studio and I am not doing anything. I asked my wife “When was the last time I had a day off?” The playoffs are coming up with baseball and there is football season and I just want to go home and be like a normal fucking person. Just hang out with my wife and kids, my wife calls me “Frank” now and my kids call me “uncle Zakk” (laughs). So I just want to go hang out for a little while because for the next 2 years I am going to be busting my balls anyways and there ain’t no Saturday’s or Sunday’s for us. Half the time the only way I know it is Sunday it is because there is a football game on. So if you can get the time off and cram it in just relax. I am still practicing everyday and lifting weights, fucking doing what I got to do but that is opposed to being onstage and meeting a million people a day.

Yeah everyone has to let their soul rest.
Yeah, just recharge the batteries.

When are you thinking about heading back out on tour with Black Label?
We went to Europe with Ozzy in the middle of October. We start knocking all that out and we are there till November and we come home in December from beating ass in Europe. Then we come back and start firing up this other tour. I guess Ozzy wanted to a theater type tour where it is like 25,000 people kind of like the Stones do where they do a huge show and then a small show. No opening act and obviously the set will be a little bit longer because there are no other acts. So we will do that and then it is March or April and hopefully we can go out with Black Label and then there is another Ozzfest. So with my situation it is like trying to cram fucking 80 pounds of shit into a 2 pound leaking bag! (laughs). There is just not enough hours in the day. Everyone is going “Well when are you doing a new record?” and it is like when are we supposed to fit this in? It is just trying to get everything done. While I have been at home I have been talking to Rob Zombie because we are supposed to be doing a video for “Hellride” for the single so we have been talking and trying to cram that in while we are out here. Where there is a will there is a way but sometimes you run out of time and it feels like you are always fighting the clock.

I hate that, I think the clock is the worst invention ever sometimes.
Yeah it sucks you have to hate it.

I just wanted to say that the new album is killer. Was there anything different that you wanted to do when you went into recording?
No, the same old shit, just writing music that you are in love with. I mean I ain’t going to change, there is a running joke between the guys in the band (laughs). I know how to get Black Label Society to the next level; we all get tit jobs, we all get sex changes and we will fuck our way to the top. That is what we have to do I am telling you right now, we need to get rid of our cock and balls and get some pussies down there and just fuck our way to the top. Britney Spears will have nothing on us, Madonna will be making out with us, forget about making out with us, she will be fist fucking us. I am telling you Black Label is going to the top! (laughs) But making a new record, obviously I love Sabbath and Zeppelin, all the stuff that everyone loves. Anyone that likes heavy fucking music knows those guys are the cornerstones. I would have to say that if it is in the Zeppelin or Sabbath zip code than you are good to go.

Those guys set the template for heavy music.
Yeah, without a doubt. Solo-wise if you can hang with Eddie Van Halen or Randy Rhodes it won’t suck. They already wrote the formula, a good meal with steak and potatoes, whoever came up with that, just stick with the fucking formula.

I just wanted to say that it is so great to see an artist producing real music and album after album whether live on or disc, Black Label Society is always solid and you don’t see that much anymore.
Artists of today like Audioslave and Chris are the shit, those guys are still doing it and those are real records. Justin Timberlake, you know, would you want to be him? I don’t care how much money he has…

Or how much pussy he has it is still Justin Timberlake.
Totally you are still Justin Timberlake. You know what I am saying? At the end of the day you are still Justin Timberlake….. you are a joke. People are not laughing with you, they are laughing at you. There is a big fucking difference. I would rather be Jimmy Page than Justin Timberlake I don’t care how much money he has. I mean Eddie Van Halen, nobody can take away what he has done. Randy Rhodes, I get to play his shit every day and he is a legend and not because he passed away so young, he is a legend because all he cared about was seeing how fucking good he could be on a guitar. So Justin Timberlake, I am laughing watching the MTV awards and this is when Axel came out with the guys. Lets be real that is not Guns n’ Roses, Guns n’ Roses was Axel and Slash and Duff, that was just a band out there at the awards. So when Axel came out and did that thing, and I am a friends with him so when he comes out and everyone is saying “Oh, he is out of breath and he can’t sing”. It is like; you try running around the fucking stage and mother fucking singing like that. It ain’t easy, you think he is in the studio singing like that, he is standing in one place. He is out there trying to perform and entertain. Then Justin Timberlake comes out and he is fucking dancing all over the place and the mic is not even near his mouth half the time and there is still lyrics flying out. Everyone says that it sounds just like the record and that is because it is the fucking record! He ain’t playing live, they are not playing! We ought to do that with Black Label one show. Just put the fucking CD on and I’ll hold the guitar in the air when I am doing a guitar solo. They will be like “Man, I thought Zakk was good before but that mother fucker must be practicing. He just put the guitar in the air and there is still solo’s blistering out of that thing!” (laughs)

(laughs) He is not even touching the strings!!
He’s not even touching the strings and still there is shit just ripping out of it! They will say: “Man, I have seen a lot of mother fuckers play, but that Zakk Wylde can play the fucking guitar! (laughs) But that is just how fake it is.

A lot of bands do that shit.
I don’t get it. The whole point in being a musician is playing live or practicing and playing and I don’t get it. But I don’t want to get it and I don’t give a rat’s ass because all the guys that I idolize can fucking play.

Totally, so besides touring, working in the studio and making videos what else are you doing in the 5 free minutes you must have?
Just fucking lifting weights, changing fucking diapers, cleaning Rottweiller shit and just practicing man. I do that every fucking day.

Are you going to be writing the material for Ozzy’s next album?
Well we will see what happens. Ozzy has gotten to the point where he is working with a lot of other people so it is not when we were doing No More Tears and stuff like that when we could just get in a room and jam. If it was up to me I would just get Ozzy in a room like the way we made the Black Label record. I would just write a bunch of riffs until the point he goes I like that one, let me start singing something. But I can’t force him to do something he doesn’t want to do. Bottom line is at the end of the day he is the boss and I know what my role is and it is to write the riffs. But whatever he wants to do I will be there for him. It is a different situation now, it is still cool but if it was up to me it would just be getting in the studio, role the tape and just start jamming some shit and let Ozzy sing his balls off…that would be the new record.

I was a little shocked to hear about Dave Grohl and the Offspring lead singer writing Ozzy’s material on the last album.
I know, the whole thing is that I am an Ozzy fan and at the end of the day I am not just here for the paycheck. Then I see shit like that going on and just want to protect him. I love him to death, he was godfather to my little boy and it goes on and on. Sharon wanted me to go down to the record company and I don’t want to deal with those fucking people. I go: “Offspring? Do you know what happens if anyone finds out that we are working with the Offspring? That is career suicide.” Everyone that digs Ozzy does not like the Offspring. Dave Grohl, great Dave is a real talented guy but at least if Dave wrote a Sabbath sounding or Ozzy sounding song cool. But the fucking song that he wrote was the worst fucking load of shit that you have ever heard in your fucking life. It was something so fucking gay and terrible that he would not even put it on his own record and he is going to pawn it off on us? I had to say something man and fuck it if I have to look the bad guy, fuck it, I don’t give a shit. Because the rest of the Ozzy hardcore is going to be thinking what the fuck is going on over there.

Yeah, the Foo Fighters and Ozzy…does not make sense.
Yeah, and they are cool for what they do. The White Stripes are cool but it is not Ozzy. If you found out that Dave Grohl and the Offspring were working with Metallica you would be like “What the fuck are they doing?” If you found out that Jerry Cantrell or Dimebag were working with Ozzy than it would be cool because it fits and they are into Sabbath. But Jesus Christ, the fucking Offspring….they suck! I don’t like that fucking music and it is the same thing with Black Label. What would be a good career move is to get Eminem to sing on a Black Label album. It would stir up some controversy with the Hell’s Angels of Iron if you had Eminem rapping on a Black Label album. I go first off I hate fucking rap music, so what the fuck would I want to have that mother fucker singing on my fucking album…Because he is popular? That is where it comes from, because people put this and that together because it is popular right now but where are these people going to be tommorow? Last time I looked Sabbath is still selling a shitload of albums and so is Zeppelin. I have been here for over 20 years and I am still here and I am still making a living playing music, the Stones are still around, AC/DC is still around. Bottom line is if AC/DC started doing rap music it would be like what the fuck is going on?

You would have taken a band that has produced quality music for how long now and destroyed it one shot.
Right out the window bro.

Just to ask an off the wall question, who wins if Black Label Society gets in a brawl?
We are all in the same band (laughs) we would just cancel each other out. We would just end up going to the bar.

So everyone wins!
Yeah everyone wins, win-win situation baby, everyone wins (laughs).

To wrap everything up, it seems like you have been there and done that as far as being a musician. Is there anything that you have left in terms of achievements?
I am a happy camper, you know obviously things keep getting better all the time. Eventually I would like to be the next Neil Young and do more acoustic stuff. I love Neil Young and he has that respect and he has integrity. He is still kicking shit out and he works full time and he is not a fucking joke. He may not be as famous as Justin Timberlake right now but lets see if Justin Timberlake can write the songs that Neil Young wrote and be around in 20 years. That is what it is all about to me.

Thanks to Zakk Wylde for taking the timeout of his schedule to conduct this interview which was obviously a huge honor from a big fan. Be on the lookout for Zakk Wylde coming to town with Ozzy in the Winter and then hitting the road with Black Label Society and be sure to check the Black Label Society website for updates. Also special thanks to Chris Bade at Mazur PR for setting things up.

Links of interest:

Zakk Wylde
Black Label Society
Mazur PR