He looks like a Norse God with his perfectly done beard, his ripped muscles and the towering presence and with a guitar in his hand he is no short of a warrior. Yes he is the one and only Zakk Wylde . I was in conversation with this guitar Legend and got talking on his upcoming tours with Ozzy , his guitars , new Black Label Society album and much more. As cool as he looks so was the conversation.
Hey Zakk welcome to Anylouder. How have you been ?
Hey hi mate . I am doing great . Finished rehearsing with Ozzy and getting ready for the shows now.
How did you get into guitars in the first place ? You have stated that you had a rigorous practice session growing up. Back in the day who did you look up to ?
Well i took lessons from a guy named Leroy Wright and he was my football coach’s son. Leroy did an amazing job of teaching me scales, theories , chords and learning songs from our favourite bands. You know you keep on learning and getting it into your DNA and following and learning from all of my guitar heroes like Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix , Toni Iommi , Frank Marino etc .Its the amount of time you put into the instrument , the work.
What’s the story behind one of your most famous and iconic guitar “THE GRAIL” ? Was it because of your love for Les Pauls and that you wanted something very different ?
Ya I love Randy and he already played the Les Paul and his signature guitar was blonde /cream in colour and it being his signature style i wanted something different. I initially thought of the Hitchcock Vertigo design from the movie and i was in a photo shoot the day it came back to me and it was in the bull’s eye decals instead of what i had in mind but i ended up liking it ( laughs ) .
How did Ozzy happen ? Did you approach his music differently after the benchmark that Randy set for the music for Ozzy ?
Yeah you have to come in and do your thing , i mean obviously Randy is such a huge inspiration and a huge influence and i love Jake’s playing too with his power and how aggressive Jake is and how bluesy Jake is and incorporating that into metal. You just got to come in and play what you love playing. At the end of the day its just playing what you love, what moves you instead of worrying about what others think or have to say. Take Stevie Ray for example , with all the people coming up and playing hard rock and being famous , Stevie stuck to his bluesy stuff and look what he created . Just pure awesomeness because he did what he wanted to do and not what others had to say.
How important do you think it is to look presentable as a rock star like for example your beard , your muscles and looking like a biker and stuff. Before getting on stage do you have any workout regimes or something that you follow ?
No , i usually paint my toenails and stretch my legs ( laughs ). I don’t need all those crazy stuff . I just get out there on the stage and play my thing and that is the all and all of it all ( laughs ) . You don’t get nervous while jamming and all. You are relaxed and calm and you need to do the same thing on stage . You RELAX !!!
How was ‘Book of Shadows 2’ received ?
The reports were that many people fell violently ill after listening to the record and we had to send them some Pepto Bismol to settle their stomachs ( laughs ) . But afterwards they said the album was fantastic and they listened to it 3 to 4 times and started liking it .
Our readers would really love to know about your Chicken Pickin . How did that come about ?
I love Rhoads , was playing the Les Paul and already had Blonde Hair ( laughs ) and was playing classical stuff and was asking myself what else can i do . I ended up in a video store with a video tape of Albert Lee and was brutally blown away with all the flat pickers and bluegrass things. I just loved the sound of it and the whole technique. And that’s where the Chicken Pickin thing started.
Apart from Les Pauls , do you go for different guitars in the studios?
Yes i do go for different guitars apart from my signature guitars . Different guitars bring out different flavours. For example a single coil and a Humbucker will never be the same and will always bring out different aspects to the playing. Different guitars bring out different sounds, different inspirations and different colours like a crayon box. Jimi Hendrix was a master of that.
Can you tell our readers a bit about Generation Axe. What was it intended to do and how far do you see on continuing with it ?
Well we are doing it all the time .We hang out , they are all my buddies and brilliant guitar players.Yeah as long as everybody can do it in between tours and working on records, we’ll get out there and do it .The time that we are together is funny as shit. We love every moment of it ( laughs )
Are you planning on an Indian tour ?
Well nothing in the books , but i would love to come to India , whether it is as Black label society or Zakk Sabbath or Generation Axe.
Black Label Society has always been a strong band and has with stood time . You guys have been delivering great music and in a way still putting up a statement that rock hasn’t died . What makes you guys keep going on ?
Well obviously not caring about what’s going on around you and keep on doing what we do best , from the bottom of our hearts . Our fans appreciate that and we keep on doing what we do best.
What are the future projects coming up from you side?
We just finished a new album between all the gigs and stuff and the Black Label Armada will start rolling from the new year itself and a tour after that .
Any advice to young guitarists?
Just love the instrument and play what moves you. Learning is endless and whatever music inspires you should be playing that.
A message for our readers back in India.
Hey all the guys at Anylouder and in India keep supporting and following Black Label and we will see you guys soon . Keep Shredding and God bless you all !!!
Interviewed by : Ashiqur Rohman