Interview: Zakk Wylde

Wylde Man Of Rock

There are some axemen whose names will be carved in the face of solid rock for time immemorial, and Zakk Wylde will be one of them. Master of the fretboard, Wylde has played alongside some very impressive musicians, including the legendary Allman Brothers, Guns N' Roses, and of course our very own hero of rock, Mr. Ozzy Osbourne.

Wylde and his younger sister Amy, a classical musician, grew up in New Jersey, and from an early age Zakk's only ambition was to accomplish his dream of becoming a rock guitarist.
"I f**kin hated school. All I ever wanted to do was play guitar."
After taking guitar lessons for a couple of years to learn the rudiments, Wylde went on to explore the parameters by experimenting and creating his very own unique style of playing, a sound which is synonymous with his work for Ozzy Osbourne.
"Every album I've done, I've had a fuckin' blast. I'm pretty easy to get along with," laughs Wylde.
Mention his ill-fated meeting with Mr. Ozzy Osbourne and he will spin you a line.
"I used to be his drug dealer!" he quips. "No, I just auditioned. This guy Dave saw me playing in a club out in Jersey. He was buddies with Mark Weiss, Ozzy's photographer at that time...y'know, he did Circus magazine, Cream and all that shit."
According to Zakk, photographs were taken and sent to Mark Weiss, who then forwarded them to Sharon Osbourne who was suitably impressed and picked up the phone to call Zakk's folks' home.

Zakk explains:
"The next thing I knew they were flying me out to LA. I shit my pants and got the gig".
The rest is history so to speak. The Osbourne/Wylde liaison has produced some very fine heavy metal albums over the years including the track No More Tears which Wylde has reworked for his current Black Label Society album.

"It's part of the legacy from me playing with Qzzy... I just wanted to do a Black Label version of it".
The Black Label Society album is live and was recorded whilst on tour across America. The tour was not without its hiccups as Zakk remembers.
"The tapes cut out on one of the Atlanta shows... but I'm happy with the record. It's a live album and nobody can accuse us of doctoring the fuckin' album. We didn't add any crowd noise or go in and fix all the mistakes. If you want the perfect version listen to the studio version."
Wylde is currently recording a new album with his old friend and cohort Ozzy.
"We've been working over at AM studios in LA. I want this album to be as heavy as fuck and piss all over No More Tears!"
There is usually a particular formula that most musicians follow when writing new material, Zakk agrees.
"For the heavy stuff if you start with a cool riff everything else falls into place. I sing about stuff that I see going on around me or shit that's happened to me. It's pretty much reality based. Y'know, if you are pissed off you can't go round beating people up - you just write a fucking song about it. The first thing I do is either sit down at the piano or get my guitar and jam".
To get a balance of musical influences Wylde regularly tunes into the top 40 charts. But there is a valid reason behind this, as he explains.
"I listen to it so I'm not listening to other fucking super heavy bands. I don't want to listen to bands in the same genre in case I pick up something subliminal and steal their fucking riffs, though when I'm lifting weights I'll put on Pantera or Ministry."
No one could ever accuse Wylde of sitting on his laurels. This guy has a finger in every pie; he's even tried his hand at acting as a British beer guzzling guitar hero in the movie Metal God which also stars Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston. The film was loosely based on the life of Judas Priest's Ripper Owens. Wylde also created the soundtrack album.
"It was a great experience for me, as Mark Wahlberg is a cool guy. Jennifer Aniston is really cool too. I had a great time; it was fun!"
Zakk Wylde is a busy man but that's the way he likes it. He even has plans to market his own brand of beer.
"I'll definitely make more fucking money brewing beer than I will from the music industry - more supply and demand, y'know what I'm saying? But I haven't got time to take a shit or a shave right now so..."
Too true. After a 14-week tour with Ozzfest, Zakk plans to return to the studio with Ozzy to continue recording the long awaited new album, and then afterwards to complete a new Black Label Society album. So the immediate future is pretty much sewn up for the heavy metal axe wielder. Life is manic at times but Wylde has a philosophy, which carries him through.
"Find what you love doing and fucking do it to death!"

Suzi Elizabeth
Black Velvet
August, 2001

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