Greg Maki of Live-Metal.net recently conducted an interview with Zakk Wylde of BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Live-Metal.net: In BLACK LABEL, you’ve got Chad (Szeliga), formerly from BREAKING BENJAMIN, playing drums. He used to also be in HOURCAST. Was he with them when they toured with you earlier this year?
Zakk: Yeah, and the guys met him on that thing. With BLACK LABEL, it’s not like we do a cattle call and have a line around the building and audition guys like “American Idol”. We’re past that. It’s just like, who’s a good drummer out there, who’s a good bass player, who’s a good guitar player? That’s the way we go about it. Plus, any of my friends, they’ll call me up and go, “Zakk, do you know any good guitar players?” A bunch of my buddies are killer players, so if you need a guitar player, hopefully he’ll fit the situation. Chad‘s doing a great job. He’s kicking ass.
Live-Metal.net: You’ve had a bunch of drummers, especially in the past year or so. I’m getting a little worried. You’re not letting them do any gardening are you?
Zakk: (laughs) Exactly. We were just cracking up about that the other day, ’cause we were saying with the symbols from when we did the “Order Of The Black” record. I said, “Let’s do the symbols like the ZEPPELIN thing.” And actually, somebody goes, “Do it like a ZEPPELIN thing with Zoso and the three circles with Bonzo and Plant and John Paul Jones.” I go, “No, we got it from Prince, and Prince got it from ZEPPELIN, and ZEPPELIN got it from the druids.” (laughs) It’s just a trickle-down effect, and apparently, as you can see, we’re the weakest, watered-down one of the batch. We were saying that for now on, after Will [Hunt] left — ’cause Will‘s symbol’s gone — I said, “For now on, the drummer’s symbol is just a question mark.” (laughs) And that’s all it is. It’s just a question mark, and it doesn’t matter who’s back there ’cause no one knows. (laughs) It’ll either be a question mark or the Crackerjack box logo. Even we don’t know what you’re gonna get ’til you get to the end of the box. (laughs)
Live-Metal.net: This happened a while ago and I’m sure you’ve talked about it a lot, but back in the mid-’90s, you kind of jammed with Axl [Rose] and the [GUNS N’ ROSES] guys a little bit. What actually happened back then?
Zakk: We were jamming stuff at the rehearsal place and at the complex. Nothing was really going on. I was playing with the boss [Ozzy] at the same time, ’cause we recorded “Ozzmosis”. Ozz was like, “Zakk, are you jamming with them? Eventually, I’m gonna have to know. We’re gonna start doing this tour.” I go, “Of course, I wouldn’t leave or do anything like that.” Ozz was like, “Zakk, I can’t blame you. If you wanna go jam with them, knock yourself out.” I’m like, “Of course, Ozz, I’m not gonna leave you hanging. Without you, I wouldn’t even be talking to the guys.” And without Ozzy, there’d be no BLACK LABEL. That’s just a fact. So the whole thing is, nothing was going on, and then Ozzy just got to the point where he was like, “Zakk, I gotta get another guitar player.” I’m like, “Ozz, I don’t blame you.” I’m like, I’m sitting around here, I don’t know whether we’re coming or going, or whether we’re gonna do this thing or not do this thing. So nothing was happening with the boss. That’s when Joe Holmes came in, and Joe‘s a killer player. Joe came in, and then after that, nothing was happening. We were just sitting around. I had riffs laying around, and I was like, “Fuck it, I’ll just go do it myself.” I gotta work, dude. It really doesn’t matter how much dough you have. You could be the richest dude on the planet. I still gotta wake up every day knowing I got something going on. What is my purpose for getting up? George Foreman said it. After he retired from fighting, he was sitting around, he said, “Now I can finally go fishing. And then, after a while, it’s like, ‘I really am tired of fishing.'” (laughs) I’ve never gone on a vacation in my life ’cause they’re boring. I’d go, “What am I doing here?” I’m not really a beach guy ’cause with my white, pasty, Mick/Kraut skin, I’m a couple shades away from clear. Sitting out in the sun and getting sand up my ass is really not my idea of a good time. Whenever we go out on these things, it would just be me and you sitting at the bar. Barb [Zakk‘s wife Barbaranne] and the kids would be out. That’s not my thing. It’s a 103 degrees out, and you want me to sit around and act like I’m having a good time? I’ll be at the bar with the air conditioning, chilling out, and I’ll be watching football. You can knock yourself out. I’ll go to the weight room, go back to the bar, then I’m gonna go jam on the guitar for a bit, and then I’m gonna go back to the bar, then I’m gonna go back, jam for a bit, then back to the bar, and then start all over again tomorrow. Knock yourself out. I could be doing this at the house. How much is this costing me? $8,000? I’m like, “Just remind me not to send me on any of these trips again. I could think of plenty of other things to do with $8,000 to $10,000.”
Live-Metal.net: Another thing you’ve been talking about, that’s been in the works, is this acoustic or, as you’ve been calling it, the “unblackened” live DVD. Where are you on putting that together?
Zakk: Probably, after we get done, I think it’s in January, we’re gonna start working on this thing. Just two weeks of solid rehearsals, just going over songs, dialing everything in. We’ll have probably a week of rehearsals with the string section, pedal steel, dial in the background singers. So we’re gonna blow it up. But it’ll still have electric solos and stuff like that. It’s not just gonna be all acoustic guitars, just the band and acoustic guitars and mellow drums or anything like that. It’s gonna be full-blown.
Live-Metal.net: Is this something you would take on tour next year or that would just be a special show?
Zakk: Maybe. Obviously, between bringing a four-piece string section out, a pedal steel guy, it’s gonna cost a lot of dough. So I don’t know if it’s feasible money-wise to be bringing that many people out.
Live-Metal.net: You always have so much going on. The book, “Bringing Metal To The Children”, is due out next year. It’s been kind of delayed a bit. But what can you tell me about that?
Zakk: A new literary masterpiece up there with “Gone With The Wind”. It’s basically a literary bible of stupidity. (laughs) Me and (co-author) Eric (Hendrikx) were writing the thing, we were just laughing our balls off when we were writing some of this stuff. A lot of the situations are really real. It’s me talking about a lot of real situations that have actually happened and talking about how ridiculous the music business is. The whole thing is, you’ve got your posters of Jimmy Page up on the wall and Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix, Frank Marino, Robin Trower — all my favorite guys — and you practice your balls off ’til your fingers and your hands are bleeding to hone your craft, and anything after that just basically goes down the shitter. It’s one rude wakeup call after another. But that’s what makes the music business what it is. The cast of characters that you get — there really is no job qualifications to be in the music business. If I have a license to scuba dive and weld, I have to get a license to do that. To be a doctor, I have to have a degree. To be a brain surgeon, I have to go to school and get a degree. And I have proof that I can do this. What proof do I have that I can run the music business? (laughs) Nothing! The reason why you’re my manager? Because we went to high school together. That’s pretty much it. And we used to have a lemonade stand when we were 6 years old. (laughs) And now you’re gonna be my manager. Does he know anything about contracts? We’ll figure it out as we’re going along. Who’s your manager? Oh, that’s my buddy, Andy. That massive, big dude? Yeah, yeah, he used to bounce at a tit bar that I used to work at. (laughs)
Live-Metal.net: Sounds qualified.
Zakk: Yeah, I think he’ll do fine. It really doesn’t matter. That’s the funniest thing, dude. But that’s what makes it so great. That’s why you get all these characters. Everybody I know is like a walking cartoon character. You can’t even make them up.
Read the entire interview from Live-Metal.net.