Zakk Wylde: 'Colors Of BLS Are Black And White - There Are No Grey Issues'

artist: black label society date: 10/21/2006 category: interviews
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Zakk Wylde: 'Colors Of BLS Are Black And White - There Are No Grey Issues'
Zakk Wylde needs no introduction. The man is a living guitar legend. Now in his second decade working with that other legend himself Ozzy Osbourne, and with a successful career with his Black Label Society, Wylde continues to blaze the trail for guitar playing everywhere. The day I called Zakk, he was sitting in his living room of his house, watching the football, drinking beers and with a Marshall stack and a Les Paul in hand. Friendly, accommodating and a true gentleman, Zakk and I conversed on numerous topics from Black Label Society's new Shot To Hell album to his views on downloading to the subject of the next Ozzy Osbourne album. Our interview was at times punctuated by Zakk ripping off some cool guitar riffs on his guitar all the way down the line to me. Joe Matera: How did you approach the initial songwriting process for Shot To Hell? Zakk Wylde: Put it this way, you can't have 18 chiefs around, there's only got to be one chief. There can only be one person who has got to be in charge of the God damn fucking thing. So Me and Craig [Nunenmacher, drums] get in there, with no songs, no nothing. We just go in there and I pick up the guitar and start playing. I will come up with a riff and bang, there's already a song done. I've done it the other way where we are sitting in rehearsals in the same room, just jamming and jamming and it turns into this hazardous thing where it just sucks all the life out of the songs. Everything that is fresh is just completely gone. Is it a similar way to how you also work with Ozzy? When I play with Ozzy? let me put it this way, when we did the No More Tears (1991) album, we recorded that album like two times. The producers Duane [Baron] and John [Purdell] would be sitting in a room telling us this and that. I was going 'we already know it, let's just get into the studio and just do it. What are we waiting for?' You know what I'm saying? Let me put it another way, if you know where you're fucking going, you don't need to ask for fucking directions. Game over. Let me put it this way too, if you know how to design the inside of your house, you don't need an interior designer to tell you what's right or what's wrong. You're going to say 'bitch, get the fuck out of my house! You know what? I'm painting the whole house fucking black!' And she goes, 'but that doesn't work'. 'I don't give a shit, I'll paint it black. It's my fucking house. I paid the money for it so fuck off'.
"Everything that is fresh is just completely gone."
Absolutely, if we know what we want, then nobody can tell us otherwise. Right, like I don't need somebody to tell me I'm singing flat or sharp or that my guitar is out of tune. Do you think I don't fucking know that? If something sounds like shit, do you think I don't know that? I mean, am I going to pay somebody $80,000 to tell me that it fucking sounds like shit? I rather give the $80,000 to a bunch of my buddies that know nothing about fucking music and we'll have a massive coke party in the studio. You know what I mean? The money would be better well spent on that. What did producer Michael Beinhorn (Ozzy, Korn, Soundgarden), bring to the recording process for Shot To Hell? The record company was like 'Zakk we want you to have a producer', but I usually produce all the records like Jimmy Page did. I mean you not going to ask a producer to work on a fucking Led Zeppelin record? Jimmy Page is the producer of those fucking records, you know what I mean? All my shit I got from Jimmy Page, I idolize him not just for his guitar playing but also because of his production and what he creates. But the label wanted somebody to come in and work with me. I was like I'm not going sit here with somebody fucking telling me how a fucking song should be and how we should change them and tell me to jump and I'm going to ask how high? You have got the wrong fucking guy. Once again if you know where you're going, you don't need to ask for fucking directions. Anyway I had worked with Michael on Ozzmosis (1995) and since Michael was a good buddy of mine, and he's a Black Label brother of mine, I said 'Mike you want to make some easy cash? Come on down here and knock this fucking thing out. All you have to do is show up, we'll have a good time and we'll work on tones and everything like that'. I said 'Mike, show up whenever the fuck you want to show up, don't worry about it'. I don't want a baby sitter. You know what I'm saying? It's not like you're working with the Backstreet Boys or anything. Those dicks and mother fuckers who don't know what the fuck is going.
"If you know where you're fucking going, you don't need to ask for fucking directions."
Let's talk about the gear you used for Shot To Hell? In the studio Michael brought down his mellotron and mini-moog and stuff. He did the same thing when we did Ozzmosis where we just had fun dicking around with sounds. The great thing about the artists in the Seventies that I love like Led Zeppelin was if there was a new piece of gear around, they'd actually try to do their best to incorporate it into their songs. My gear for the record was the '70s Marshall 100 watt JCM 800 2203. I have a philosophy that if it works, it's not like I'm going to sit around and try hundreds of other amplifiers. If some one says, 'Hey Zakk you need to try this amp as it smokes the Marshall'. You know what? I'm sure it does but I'm happy with my Marshall. The Marshall has 6550 Groove Tubes in it so I'm getting one great guitar sound out of that one cab. Because of that I'm always good to go. I have one cab with 200 watt speakers and another cab loaded with 300 watt speakers which are even cleaner sounding. When it came to guitars, I used this Gibson Les Paul '57 Junior that that I got for my 25th birthday. It's the same guitar that Leslie West played, with the P-90 pickups and all and that was used on Mississippi Queen. I used that guitar for the clean stuff through a '80s Roland Jazz Chorus JC120 that sounded phenomenal. I also had a Gibson '58 Junior and a '65 Gibson SG that have all got P-90s in them. You can't really go wrong with any of that stuff when it come to the clean stuff. For the dirty stuff, I used my "Rebel" Gibson Les Paul Custom that's got EMG pickups. The 'Rebel' keeps everything clean and tight, but is still dirty yet clean. You suffered the loss - later found - of your famed "Grail" [Zakk's original Bullseye Gibson Les Paul] guitar some years back? It once fell out of the back of the bus's trailer. I kid you not, we're driving down the road between Houston and Dallas and it was about 5.00am in the morning as the sun was just coming up. We had pulled over and I saw somebody go to back of the bus and I was like 'have we got a flat tyre or something?' And nobody was saying anything. They didn't lock the bottom of the trailer. So the whole thing, as we're going down the road at 80 miles per hour, the back of it had opened up and God forbid whoever was in the back of it?everything had fallen out of the back! Thank God we didn't kill anybody as everything from it was thrown around. I thought I'd never see the guitar again. Then some guy called me up a couple years later and said he had bought the guitar at a pawn shop for $250. Now this is the same guitar that I wrote my first song with Ozzy, Miracle Man on and had recorded all the Ozzy records with and yet he bought it in a pawn shop for $250! And he was going to change the pickups on it too until he read in a guitar magazine that I had lost one of my guitars and he then realized he had my guitar. So he got in touch with me. He was a super cool guy man. I ended up hooking him up with a brand new Zakk guitar from the factory. If I ever found a wallet with $10,000 in it, and it had your ID in it, I'll call you up and go 'bro, I've got your wallet'. I wouldn't take any money out of it or steal anything out of it. You just don't do that. You don't be an asshole. The reason why the colors of Black Label are black and white, are because there are no grey issues.
"If you're going to download anything, then you should pay for it."
How do you find working with guitarist Nick Catanese in Black Label Society? Nick is the Ronnie Wood of the band. He's my evil twin. Like I've always said, I'm Keith Richards and he's Ronnie Wood. Nick is a cool cat and he's always there for me. Nick's just the best, man. How are the sessions going for the next Ozzy Osbourne album? They are all going well. Ozzy is at the studio in his house at the moment putting down his vocal tracks. We've got the songs done so we'll be going down soon and seeing how he's going with laying the vocals. We've got all the music recorded, so it's just a matter of Ozzy singing his nuts off. So what can we expect from the next Ozzy album? It is all coming down to the songs. You know there are some kick ass fucking riffs on there as well as some mellow stuff too. There's a bit of both. It's not going to be a departure from anything really it's just going to be the best mother fucking sounding Ozzy record. It's definitely not going to sound like Ozzy trying to be fucking *NSYNC or whatever the fuck everybody is trying to do right now. Fuck that shit. It's just going to sound like a God damn Ozzy record.
"The reason why the colors of Black Label are black and white, are because there are no grey issues."
I want to talk about the whole downloading issue that is affecting the entire industry, what are your views on that matter? My thing is this, if you're going to download anything, then you should have to pay for it. Even if it's not a famous band, if they have a new record out and it's a struggling band, then you should still pay for it. Put it this way, if you and me were plumbers, and we went to do a job and it was worth $50 for the job but we were only paid $8 because that was only what the guy could come up with. How would you feel? I would say to the guy 'it's going to cost more than that $8 for the hospital once I put you in there. I did the fucking work, give me the mother fucking money!' Like the guy with Napster. It's a good thing I never ran into him because I swear to Christ, I would have broken his legs and beat the fuck out of him. You think I'm fucking joking? I ain't fucking joking. It would be no accident. I swear to Christ the crucifixtion that they did to Christ, would have been a laughing joke compared to what I would have done to that cocksucker. Let me get this straight, basically you're stealing. That's the way I look at it. It's not cool. Bootlegs are live bootlegs and you may never stop it, but if you're going to download, just do it the right way and just pay for it. It's our livelihood. That is the right way of doing it. Just buy it, what the fuck is the big deal? If I want a record, I go buy. Finally what sort of things have you got in the pipeline product wise? I'm working on some pedals right now with Jim Dunlop and we have some ideas for some shit that will kick ass. I'm also working on some guitars with Gibson. I'm always working on new stuff. 2006 Joe Matera
Listen to Zakk playing for UG over the phone here (poor quality).
More black label society interviews:
+ Zakk Wylde: 'I Remember Seeing Somebody Who Could Really Play, It Was a Whole World Unto Itself' Interviews 02/13/2014
+ Zakk Wylde: 'Three Minutes On American Idol And I'm Somebody Now' Interviews 06/24/2011
+ Zakk Wylde: 'You Need Ass Kickin' Soundin' And You're Good To Go' Interviews 09/03/2010
+ Black Label Society: 'The Love That We Have For Each Other Is Huge' Interviews 09/16/2006
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