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Zakk Wylde: Bleeding Black Label AND Ozzy

By Krishta Abruzzini, Pacific Northwest Writer
Sunday, May 5, 2002 @ 4:39 PM

Zakk Does Double Duty This Sum

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Zakk’s been a busy boy this past year. He had a summer-long stint on the main stage of OZZfest 2001 with Black Label Society. Next was his appearance in the movie Rock Star, along with Jennifer Aniston and Mark Wahlberg. He composed the ring-entrance music for WWF’s ‘Stone Cold Steve Austin’ and performed on Ozzy’s gold-certified Down To Earth album. He just released an album with BLS, titled 1919 Eternal. He’s now on tour with Ozzy, preparing to perform at OZZfest 2002 in not just one band, but two --both Black Label Society and headlining with Ozzy.

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All this, and yet to talk with Zakk, you’d swear he could be a worker at the local mill or factory -- putting in his time at the job, drinking a few beers and chasing the old lady. I’ve often wondered after talking to him if he even realizes the magnitude of what it is he does. Zakk is quoted as saying, “My ideal bio would say, I started when I was 19 years old with Ozzy, and I’ve made a few stupid albums of my own. I play guitar and clean-up Rottweiler dog shit. Then I go home. Anybody who knows me will tell you, that’s me.” And that is Zakk’s spirit. He hasn’t a clue that he’s a Rock Star.

I caught up with Zakk recently and chatted with him about his life, music, determination and upcoming Ozzy tour. As typical, Zakk was no bullshit, straight shooting and right between the horns with his demeanor. You either bleed with him, or get the fuck out of his way.

ZAKK: Krishta! How are you doing?

KNAC.COM: Very well. How’s it going on your end?
ZAKK: Good. I’m getting ready to go out and start kicking some ass again.

KNAC.COM: Preparing for Ozzfest?
ZAKK: Oh yeah.

KNAC.COM: I just listened to your latest release 1919 -- it’s some really heavy stuff.
ZAKK: Thanks.

KNAC.COM: The album seems almost laden with a wartime nightmarish theme. I’m wondering where you get that inspiration?
ZAKK: The original title for the album was Deathcore Warmachine Eternal, because that’s pretty much the mindset of the band and the crew. I had that out on the Ozzfest. I had a lot of titles for the songs that sounded cool like “Graveyard Disciples” and “Mass Murder Machine,” “Lords of Destruction,” “Genocide Junkies.” Then after the September 11th thing, the record company was like, ‘Dude, we can’t use those fucking titles.’ So in a crunch, my wife said, ‘Well what year was dad born?’ And I said, ‘1919.’ My dad was raised in an orphanage, went to WW2, laid my Mother to rest, and he still works. He’s 82 years old and he still comes down to the shows, works five nights a week, and never fuckin’ complains about anything. The mindset of fuckin’ Black Label is pretty much just that.

KNAC.COM: Unbelievable. Different generation now, huh?
ZAKK: Yeah.

KNAC.COM: I saw the dedication to your dad on the CD sleeve of 1919. It said that he was the architect of Black Label and that he’s everything of the colors that black and white represent. What did you mean by the colors of black and white?
ZAKK: That’s what the colors of the band are. It’s black and white. There’s no gray. No bullshit.

KNAC.COM: You guys are very determined. You also obviously possess quite a work ethic.
ZAKK: Exactly.

KNAC.COM: On the end of the album, you end it with a really beautiful rendition of “America the Beautiful” -- if not a classical rendition of it.
ZAKK: I got asked to do it for the World Trade Center, for a relief fund. There was a Hendrix track, a Santana track, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai. So I was like, ‘Yeah, of course man. I’d love to help out.’ I did it for that album, and I was really happy with the way it turned out. I figured we had this album [1919] with all the war themes on it and it seemed like a cool way to end it.

KNAC.COM: I thought maybe it was just because you ‘can.’
ZAKK: [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: I mean, here’s all this heavy stuff and then this melodic beautiful tune comes out and it’s like, ‘Wow, where’d that one come from?’
ZAKK: Yeah, it’s still heavy but it’s not sonically blasting through a wall of fuckin’ Marshall’s.

KNAC.COM: It’s pretty typical for you though -- the diverse musical styles. I’ve talked with you many times through the years. I’ve seen you progress through many changes and carnations, from your early stuff with Ozzy to Pride and Glory, Book of Shadows onto Black Label. I’ve seen you belt out the blues backstage and play beautiful, melodic acoustic songs and then go on stage and totally tear it up. Do you have a preference?
ZAKK: I think it’s all one in the same. As long as it’s quality stuff at the end of the day. I think any good rock or metal guitar player has to have a background in the blues. Otherwise it sounds stiff. Put it this way, when I’m lifting weights, I listen to Ministry, Meshuggah, Pantera and my Sabbath records, but at the end of the night on the tour bus, after blowing our brains out on stage with the Wall of Doom and the Marshalls and the Les Pauls, I’d rather listen to Neil Young, Sam Cooke or Ray Charles.

KNAC.COM: That’s quite a diverse genre, Zakk.
ZAKK: Just as long as it don’t suck! [Laughs] There’s a difference between quality fucking music and shit that’s just God awful fucking bad.

KNAC.COM: Are you talking about some of the music that’s coming out lately?
"I just make the records that I want to fuckin’ make, go out and tour and keep a roof over my family’s head. That’s about it. I’m fortunate that I get to do this and make the music I want to make."
ZAKK: Well, I pay attention to what’s going on, but to be honest with you, I could give a fucking rat’s ass about what’s happening in music now. I’m just going to keep on doing what it is I like doing. I just make the records that I want to fuckin’ make, go out and tour and keep a roof over my family’s head. That’s about it. I’m fortunate that I get to do this and make the music I want to make. My record company (Spitfire) doesn’t come down on me. They don’t even hear the fucking albums until I’m done with them and I give it to them. They’re not coming down there telling me that they want to hear Aerosmith’s newest single on my album. I’d rather fucking shoot myself. You know what I mean?

KNAC.COM: Yeah, I do. Do you think metal is making a comeback?
ZAKK: I think metal has always been underground. Even in the eighties, when Van Halen, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest were all huge, they were all doing fucking arenas. It was huge. It peaked there, and then all of a sudden you had bands like Bon Jovi and all the fuckin little ‘hair bands’ were coming out and everyone was calling that shit metal. It was just pop music and they sold posters. It all got glooped in with heavy metal because it seemed like anyone who had shoulder length fuckin’ hair was in a fuckin’ metal band. And then it just goes away and something else comes in. But you look at Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, and I don’t care what anybody says, that was fuckin’ metal. They just put the name grunge on it and said it was different.

KNAC.COM: Speaking of the changes in music, I’ve heard you denounce some of the newer rock/rap bands, but Ozzfest seems to promote quite a few of them. Do you ever have to deal with these guys while touring with Ozzfest?
ZAKK: No. I mean, last years Ozzfest, fuckin’ Crazy Town went on after Black Label.

KNAC.COM: They were awful.
ZAKK: It wasn’t fucking great. People were throwing shit at them everyday. I couldn’t give a flying-fuck though, you know? I mean, new music’s got to come around otherwise it would be boring if we had the same shit around all the time. It’s got to evolve. But it doesn’t mean you’ve got to like it.

KNAC.COM: Are you satisfied with your spot on stage for this year’s Ozzfest?
ZAKK: Yeah. It’s going to be fucking cool. It’s going to be Black Label out there destroying as much as possible and then whatever is left of the stage, I’ll come out there with Ozzy and shut the whole thing down.

KNAC.COM: So who is it that sets up the line-up for Ozzfest? I mean, especially given last years line-up with Crazy Town going on after you guys -- do you just want to slap the guy that sets this up and tell him he needs to bleed fucking Black Label?
ZAKK: [Laughs] Yeah, you know how it goes though. The bands that are up after us are selling more fucking more records than Black Label. The way I look at it is that we get to open the fucking thing up and set the pace on the main stage.

KNAC.COM: And this year you’ll close the show as well. Is that going to be hard playing with two bands?
ZAKK: No. Between Black Label and Ozzy, the apples are falling from the same tree. It’s not like I’m playing jazz-fusion with one band then going up and playing metal with Ozzy.

KNAC.COM: What Ozzfest band do you think this year is worth giving a listen to?
ZAKK: There are a lot of cool bands this year. Meshuggah, System of a Down and Zombie -- he always puts on fucking insane show. This year is definitely more of a metal fucking show.

KNAC.COM: Honestly, last year I was a little disappointed. So are you honest with the bands? I mean, if you think they suck, when you see them backstage, do you ever just let them know what you really think?
ZAKK: Honestly, I don’t like to hang around backstage. I hang out on the fucking bus until we’ve got to go onstage, and then I go on and do what the fuck I’ve got to do. It’s like letting a fucking caged Rottweiler out and letting him chew someone’s fucking leg off and then putting him back in the fucking cage. There’s not anything going on backstage anyway.

KNAC.COM: It’s actually kind of boring and overrated isn’t it?
ZAKK: That’s why usually with Black Label, after we played, we’d get the fuck outta there. We’d pull out and go over to a baseball field and play home run derby and shit like that -- the crew and all of us. We’d go out in the middle of nowhere, get some shitty beer and breakout our thousand-foot-per-second pellet guns and shoot fucking bottles, drink beer and listen to tunes. The whole backstage thing, fuck that shit.

KNAC.COM: Do you like to tour?
ZAKK: It’s just like anything else. After a while, it’s full throttle and you just want to come home and recharge the batteries for a couple weeks.

KNAC.COM: And it’s got to be hard on your family at times as well.
ZAKK: Yeah, my wife is six-months pregnant right now. I have my daughter who’s going to be ten, and my son’s going to be nine, and we’re having another boy.

KNAC.COM: Congratulations.
ZAKK: Thanks. It’s cool to be home. My wife and my kids go out on the road with me sometimes. The crew and the band, between working and traveling, people always think it must be so great to be on the road. People always say to me that it must be so great seeing the world. And it’s kind of like, what the fuck do you think we’re doing out here? You think we’re on fucking vacation?

KNAC.COM: You’re working.
ZAKK: Yeah. There’s no fucking sightseeing and shit like that. As soon as we’re done with one show, we’re on the bus driving sixteen or twenty-eight hours. I don’t see fucking anything. Are you joking!

KNAC.COM: And this goes on for months, not just a day or two of doing this stuff.
ZAKK: Exactly. But as I said, we still do find some recreation while we’re out there. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. I just go to a gym, lift weights, have some beers and then we’re on stage and that’s about it.

KNAC.COM: So I’ve got to ask you, what do you think about MTV’s hit, The Osbournes?
ZAKK: It’s fucking hysterical.

KNAC.COM: It is hilarious. Is it true to life? Are they really like this?
ZAKK: Oh yeah. There are no scripts going on. They followed us around while we were on the road and while we’re in rehearsals those fucking cameras were around all the time. I asked Ozzy, ‘Dude, doesn’t that just fucking piss you the fuck off having those cameras follow you around all the fucking time?’ I mean if you want to sit down and have a cup of coffee and read the papers you can’t, because you’ve got the cameras on you all the time.

KNAC.COM: There was one episode, where he was in a production office and he fell over backwards in his chair. And it was hysterical.
ZAKK: [Laughing] That was the day before the first show, we were doing rehearsals and then fucking Ozzy falls off his chair.

KNAC.COM: Is that a typical day with Ozzy?
ZAKK: It’s never fucking boring, put it that way.

KNAC.COM: Are you embarrassed for the family at all? I mean don’t get me wrong, I love Ozzy and I think the show is brilliant. But do you think it exploits him in kind of a retarded, cartoonish way?
ZAKK: No. Believe it or not, he’s the one that has the most common sense on that show anyway. I think if he didn’t like the way he was being depicted, he’d take the fucking thing off the air. For all the years I’ve known him, Sharon can get him to do most things, but at the end of the day, if there’s something he doesn’t want to do, he’ll tell you to go home and go fuck yourself.

KNAC.COM: I’ve seen you lose it and start laughing around him with some of his antics -- is this pretty typical?
ZAKK: Oh yeah. When he starts talking [Zakk impersonates Ozzy] ‘Oh look, I look like a fucking fucker.’ When he starts going on about himself, I can’t help but start crying laughing.

KNAC.COM: Is it hard to take him seriously as a boss sometimes?
ZAKK: No, no, he’s easy to hangout with.

KNAC.COM: Does he give you a lot of musical freedom?
ZAKK: Totally. My department is the music department. Obviously with Black Label, the whole thing is mine -- lyrics and music. With Ozzy, he’ll ask me what riff’s I’ve got for him and he is totally open.

KNAC.COM: Having heard a bit about your father -- it seems as though you were raised in a pretty traditional American home. It seems as though you’re very respectful of that lifestyle. Can you relate to the Osbourne’s lifestyle? Is your family at all similar?
ZAKK: I think anytime you have kids, crazy shit happens.

KNAC.COM: Can your kids get away with saying something like, ‘fuck that’ in the house though?
ZAKK: Not with my wife! But then again, my kids are only nine and eight -- the teenage years are a whole other ball of wax. Somehow, I don’t think that my son at eight will be firing back a six-pack, telling me I’m the meanest mother and to go fuck myself.

KNAC.COM: Are your kids into playing music?
ZAKK: My daughter messes around on the piano. My son’s just into motocross right now. The bottom line with kids is that you introduce them to things and they’ll gravitate toward it on their own if they like it. I would never force anything on them, though.

KNAC.COM: So, what’s up your sleeve after Ozzfest is over?
ZAKK: After we get back from the European dates, we’re going to a video for “Demise of Sanity” with Rob Zombie. And then it’s on to Ozzfest summer dates, which I think ends around September in South America. After that, if Ozzy wants to shut the machine down for a little while, I might just keep going and do some solo shows with Black Label. It’s up to Ozzy at that point as to if he wants to get back together and start writing for another record. We recorded a bunch of live shows over at the Buddakon in Japan, which will be used for a live DVD, and stuff like that. We wrote three tunes with bonus tracks for that. I’m sure Ozzy’s going to want to take a break for a couple of months just to fuckin’ unwind and get back to some sort of reality.

KNAC.COM: I know he gets a little upset with Sharon when he feels he’s working too many days.
ZAKK: Well, yeah, we’ve just got to pace him. Kind of like going out and drinking hard alcohol and trying to function the next day. It’s all about pacing.

KNAC.COM: Speaking of drinking, Ozzy’s pretty clean now -- in that he doesn’t drink or use drugs like he used to. Is it easier to work with him -- or was it ever an issue?
ZAKK: Even when he was fuckin’ drinking all the time and we were making records, and for all the years we’ve been touring, the only days he’d ever get tanked or smashed was when he had days off. But when it came to doing the shows, he’d never get fucked up. For all the insanity, of him being loaded and us having to carry him out of a bar and all the crazy shit that he has done, since I’ve been with him, he’s never come out on stage fucking smashed. Not even buzzed. That’s why he’s such a nervous fucking wreck when he comes out. He wants every show to kick ass. Even if he got smashed the day before a show, he’d be stone cold sober by the time the show started the next day. People pay good fucking money to come see a show and what’s he going to do show up like a stupid drunken mess?

KNAC.COM: So tell me a little about the video you’re doing with Rob Zombie. It should be scary stuff.
ZAKK: We were just talking about it the other day. I figured we’ll just film the whole thing in a fucking slaughterhouse. Rob’s fuckin’ great. We’ll have some fun with it, too.

KNAC.COM: I saw the Cribs thing on MTV that showcased his home. It was literally a house of horrors. I think he’s got almost every horror flick ever made.
ZAKK: He’s hysterical, too.

KNAC.COM: Will you ever go out and do another acoustic set like Book of Shadows?
ZAKK: Yeah, I’m sure at some point I will again. Like I said, as much as I like listening to Ministry and heavy shit while I’m lifting weights, I still want to listen to Neil Young acoustic shit.

KNAC.COM: So you’re in great shape?
ZAKK: Oh yeah. Totally. It’s so I can drink a beer.

KNAC.COM: Ah, but you drink the beer after lifting weights, right? ZAKK: I get just as much of a buzz off of lifting weights as I do from the beer.

KNAC.COM: So tell me, on your CD sleeve, there are a few people -- including yourself -- listed with parenthesis after their names and written in is a city name followed by chapter. I’m assuming this is somewhat of a fan club?
ZAKK: Yeah. The Boston Chapter will hook-up with the New York Chapter at a show and so on. It’s just an excuse to get together with a bunch of the other members and drink some fuckin’ alcohol and listen to Black Label. So where are you?

KNAC.COM: Vancouver.
ZAKK: So you’ll have to start the Vancouver Chapter for Black Label.

KNAC.COM: Yeah. I was actually thinking about that. I really want to have the parenthesis and title after my name!
ZAKK: [Laughing]

KNAC.COM: Hey, Thank you for your time Zakk, as always it’s been great talking to ya.
ZAKK: You have a great one dear, and I’ll see you at the Gorge.

The following is the confirmed tour dates and lineup for OZZfest 2002:
To for updates, go to www.ozzfest.com


07/06/02 Bristow, VA Nissan Pavilion
07/07/02 Pittsburgh, PA Post-Gazette Pavilion
07/10/02 Scranton, Pa. Montage Mtn.
07/12/02 Camden, NJ Tweeter Center
07/13/02 Hartford, CT Cdnow.com Amph.
07/16/02 Boston, MA Tweeter Center
07/19/02 Holmdel, NJ PNC Center
07/24/02 Raleigh, NC Alltel Pavilion
07/26/02 West Palm Beach, FL Mars Music Amph.
07/28/02 Atlanta, GA Hi-Fi Buys Amph.
08/03/02 Columbus, OH Polaris Amph.
08/04/02 Cleveland, OH Blossom Music Center
08/07/02 Clarkston, MI DTE Energy Center
08/10/02Chicago, IL Tweeter Center
08/11/02 East Troy, WI Alpine Valley
08/13/02 Indianapolis, IN Verizon Amph.
08/15/02 Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Amph.
08/17/02 Somerset, WI Float-Rite Park
08/19/02 St. Louis, MO Riverport Amph.
08/20/02 Kansas City, MO Sandstone Amph.
08/22/02 Denver, CO Pepsi/City Lights
08/25/02 Sacramento, CA Sacramento Valley Amph.
08/27/02 George, WA The Gorge
08/29/02 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amph.
08/31/02 San Bernardino, CA Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion
09/05/02 Phoenix, AZ Cricket Pavilion
09/07/02 San Antonio, TX Verizon Wireless Amph.
08/08/02 Dallas, TX Smirnoff Amph.

Main Stage
System of a Down
Rob Zombie
Drowning Pool
Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society

Second Stage
Down (headliner)
Hatebreed (second headliner)
Meshuggah (third headliner)
*Apex Theory
*Pulse Ultra
*Ill Nino

Plus, from July 6 through Aug. 7:
*Andrew W.K.
*3rd Strike

From Aug. 10 through Sept. 8:
*The Used

* Acts will rotate on a daily basis
Set times for each show will be posted on Ozzfest.com as soon as they are finalized.

(Photos By Krishta Abruzzini)

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