Zakk Wylde: 'What's Pre-Production? Either You Know How to Play or You Don't'

Axeman not too fond of lengthy studio sessions.

Ultimate Guitar

Zakk Wylde recently described himself as the type of musician not too fond of lengthy studio sessions, stressing that spending too much time practicing the same material will kill the magic.

Chatting with Full Metal Jackie, Zakk kicked off by remembering the early Ozzy days and "No Rest for the Wicked" sessions.

"We were jamming and just going through these songs - 'No More Tears,' 'Mama, I'm Coming Home,' I mean everything that's on that record and it's just like playing it over and over and going - are we going to record these any time soon?" he said.

"I don't understand, what is pre-production?" the guitarist asked, adding, "Either you know how to play or you don't know how to play. I mean, put it this way, when you're working with a string section when those cats come down and they're going to play, because obviously they know what their doing. They play. They have never heard the song, and then they have sheet music in front of them and they start playing. They play it like maybe twice and then they are like, 'OK, we're done.' And then they leave; their check's in the mail, right, OK, good.

"I mean they don't sit around practicing for 10 hours, or 10 days, or two months," Wylde continued (via Loudwire). "It's just like if you know how to play you just get in there and you do it. So I mean, and not only that - you're sucking the life out of everything that - you never want to hear these songs again anyway. Then, being done playing them like 6,000 times, it's just that we haven't even recorded these songs yet.

"I'll go out in the truck with a CD and I'll just sit in the truck, crank it and then I'll come up with some melodies and I'll write some lyrics right there. And we'll go in and do it. That's it, done. And then I can get back to sniffing glue. That's how it works. I don't have time beating around the bush," the guitarist concluded.

The latest Black Label Society album, "Catacombs of the Black Vatican," saw its release on April 8 via E1 Music. Check out "My Dying Time" single below.

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32 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Well, if my songs were as simple as a couple of power chords, played by one or two guitars, I would agree. And I'm not saying that to undervalue Zakk's songs or his (mad) skills. But if you play e.g. progressive, melodeath or symphonic metal (which can be quite complex), then his theory is invalid. It's true when you play jam-y music, but some genres need to have every last detail mapped out, to sound good.
    Some use pre-production very differently and treat it like a writing session. To connect parts of songs or to just be able to construct songs with the whole band. I know Alter Bridge did it for Fortress. If you have all the songs and know how to play them, like Zakk, then yes. Pre-production might be overkill. But not everyone is like Zakk.
    i think you kindof lose touch with reality when you have been playing music non stop for years in a successful band. i dont think zakk recognizes that he is playing the same thing over and over again, even the new songs he has written are re-arranged notes of other songs he has already done. its not like hes playing any new scales here that he hasnt formed else where. no i am not saying he ripped the whole solo from another song, but each section or bar can be found else where. anyways, im drunk goodnight.
    What a load of bullshit. Pre-production is so important to create the final layout and review the song before you go ahead and record a final mix. This terrible attitude is exactly the opposite of the attitude musicians need... good record take time. And it could also be the reason why Zakk's solos and songs are all sounding the same nowadays.
    That's like expecting a filmmaker to just show up with a camera and make Citizen Kane on the spot. Doesn't work like that bro.
    I've always thought of pre-production as the version of a song that the band has demo'd before (pre) taking it to a producer (production) who will give their input and suggest some changes/edits. Not sure where he's getting the "playing the same song 6000 times" idea..
    "You never want to hear these songs again anyway." Well, if you feel that way then maybe they shouldn't even be recorded in the first place.
    HOW well you play stuff is not the reason for pre-production, it's purely there to try things out on a demo stage that you're not sure is going to end up the way you hope it will when it's actually recorded! For those of us who don't have two or three months to record a new album it's incredibly valuable to be able to see if those passages fit together with these harmonies, etc. The rehearsal is one thing, recording is another.
    More like "What is tone?" and "What do you mean you can write a song without pentatonic boxes and pinch harmonics?"
    Yeah Thank You Zack, I didn't know Amorphis, Van den Plas, Dream Theater, Origin, Dir En Grey and other talented artist just go to the studio without no f***ing idea and make awesome music from the first attempt.
    But Zack . . . . how do you get all those useless pinch harmonics to sound right?!
    I kind of get what he's saying... You have to drill a song in with your band before you know how to play it, then you have to record it, then you have to go on tour with it, and if it's a hit, then you'll have to play it every goddamn day on tour, and if you are REALLY unlucky you'll have to go in and rerecord it years later
    Preeeetty sure that's not what he's saying at all...
    That's not pre-production. Thats just playing a song as a band. Maybe sit the next couple out champ.
    Aren't those songs in "no more tears"? But to the point, and as said above, some band do pre pro, to build the song, add things, take out things and not wear the song out, everbody's got a different writing process.
    Hey Zack, you're a ****ing moron who doesn't know how to play. If you did, you'd work your ass off in the studio and listen to every single bit of what you just played to make sure it ALL sounds right before moving on to the next part.
    i dont really understand what he says... how is it possible to record a song if you dont play it several times?
    Imagine that string section getting together without sheet music, just blank, and being told: "Yeah, play something that will complement this piece of music." Suddenly it's not so easy, is it? First they have to get along, make compromises with ideas, reject weak lines etc... So pre-production is hell of a important thing, but if you do it in studio, you're doing it wrong and you're just wasting money. Get to the damn basement/garage/some shithole and make your music there, not in the studio.
    Chances are, if you're playing a traditional "String section" Instrument, you'll either already have sheet music or have ideas for it. You don't just bring in a string section for pre-production. You write the parts yourself and then bring someone in during the recording process. You don't have to get along with shit, just do your damn job.