Culture Q&A: An interview with Black Label Society's Zakk Wylde
Zakk Wylde and his band Black Label Society are the official tour guides through the “Catacombs of the Black Vatican.”
Black Label Society is taking their new album “Catacombs of the Black Vatican” on tour making a stop in Albuquerque on Aug. 4 at the Sunshine Theater.
The Daily Lobo talked with Wylde about the new album, his five years of sobriety, and what it takes to maintain a long lasting music career.
DL: What direction did you and Black Label Society go for on “Catacombs of the Black Vatican?”
Wylde: “Just like any other normal rock band…I want world peace, and we figured the album would be so monumental that it would help cure cancer and right after that we end world hunger (Laughs). You know just three slight things I do before I clean out the dog run and then go out to lunch.”
DL: Do you feel your style has changed from the recording of your first album with Ozzy Osborne “No Rest For the Wicked” in 1988 up and until the recording of this record?
Wylde: “Yeah I mean obviously musically I still love the same things you know like when your 14 years old. I still listen to Sabbath and Zeppelin and everything like that…As far as with the record I just play music that I enjoy playing. As far as rock stuff it starts with riffs, when you listen to Zeppelin and Sabbath their stuff is just riffs riffs riffs. That actually inspires the melodies, and you become the bi-product of all the stuff you listen to and I think any musician does really.”
DL: When you came to Albuquerque to record “No Rest For the Wicked” was this your first time in the Duke City?
Wylde: Yeah we finished up the record in Albuquerque and it was groovy man, I had a blast when we were out there so and obviously Randy Castillo (Drummer on “No Rest For the Wicked”) was from Albuquerque. So it was cool you know Randy showed us all around where to hang out stuff like that.
DL: Now that you’ve been sober for five years have you traded drinking beer for drinking “Valhalla Java Coffee?”
Wylde: “Each year I celebrate and the fellas give me a trophy and it just says ‘You’re a bigger asshole than you were last year.”
DL: Was “Pride and Glory” a precursor to what would become Black Label Society?
Wylde: “No it’s definitely its own thing because it was a three piece a mixture of Cream meets the Allman Brothers Skynyrd stuff like that and Jimi Hendrix too. The power trio in regards to there’s a lot of improv going on and you can stretch out, where as Black Label stuff is more structured like an Ozzy type thing where it’s the songs. We don’t just go off like 20 minutes just jamming or whatever at the end of a song. I had fun doing both because being a musician is a lot of improvising. But there’s nothing I can’t do in Black Label too, if we want to do a piano song we do a piano song, we want to do an acoustic song we’ll do that… if I want to break out an accordion we’ll do that as well.”
DL: What is the secret to maintaining longevity in the music business?
Wylde: “Obviously I enjoy work and I enjoy touring. I have Barb who I’ve been with for 28 years, I have the kids and people ask ‘How do you tour on the road?’I mean when you were growing up how often did you see your dad when he’s working all the time? My dad would wake up at four in the morning and I remember hearing his keys jangling on his pants and I’d hear him making coffee and going out the front door then meeting his buddies driving up the wind at 60 miles to go to the General Motors. My dad then would come home with the fellas, because they carpooled, hit the pub have a drink or two with the fellas just to relax come home watch the game and ask us about our day. Then he would get up and do it all over again at four thirty in the morning again. I mean how much quality time am I spending with pops anyway? He was always there for the big things whether it was my football games my baseball games all the important thing he was there for all of it. You gotta work to put a roof over your families head and put food on the table. To me I’m blessed in the regard that I’m doing what I love. I love everything about making the records and I love being on the road. I look forward to it every night getting up on that stage.”
DL: What kind of gear are you using know on this tour?
Wylde: “It’s just like a pair of Levis and a T-shirt, it works. A Les Paul and a Marshall never go out of style that gear is just like beer and pretzels. I not like one of these gear hounds, I mean I try new things like different pedals, but as far as the source of the amplifier it Marshall. My whole thing is just like you should be able to plug into an amp turn it on turn it up and it should be all that. You don’t need a 50 page booklet and NASA degree to run the thing. The amp is like a T.V. you should have one remote and be able to turn it on and off.”
DL: Do you write every day and what is your practice routine?
Wylde: Every day I practice but as far as the writing goes though I remember when we did Catacombs it took me about 25 days to write that album. Usually when we’re on the road I really don’t write that much because we’re in show mode. You just recharge the batteries and start writing another one.
The Sunshine Theater
120 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
Advance tickets are $29 plus service fees and are available at www.sunshinetheaterlive.com.