Road To Bloodstock 2015: Black Label Society

The iconic Zakk Wylde is bringing Black Label Society to the Sunday night of Bloodstock for an evening of shreddy goodness. But what can we expect from BLS when they storm into Derbyshire.

Hey Zakk! You’re heading to the UK in August for Bloodstock. Are you excited for that one? “As far as the European festivals go, we always have a blast when we’re playing them because it’s like a rock ‘n’ roll summer school where you get to run into all your old friends again. Everybody’s usually always working, touring, making records, or doing shit round the house, so this is our only chance to hook up with old friends.”

What does Britain’s premier metal festival Bloodstock represent to you? “It’s the festival for all the people who aren’t allowed into the main party, or the other festivals. Ha ha ha!”

What three items are essential at every festival in the eyes of Zakk Wylde? “I would say beer, beer, and beer! But now I’m not drinking anymore and I sniff glue instead, it’d be beer, non-alcoholic beer, and glue.”

Is that working out any better for you? “Put it this way, now I’ve shifted over to the glue the results are still the same: I wake up in the morning with my pants around my ankles and the fellas tell me I had a great time. I don’t remember any of it, but they assure me it was a hoot. They’re a bunch of assholes! But then again, they’re my assholes.”

Black Label Society are playing on the third and final day of Bloodstock this year. Do you notice people lagging by the third day at festivals, especially now you don’t drink yourself? “Oh yeah. You look at everybody and you can see their eyes are turning yellow and their livers are sticking out of their bodies. So you can definitely see the punishment and the beat down that they’ve been putting on themselves for the several days that they’ve been there. You can see the jaundice setting in! Ha ha! It’s kind of similar to being out on the road in the early days of Black Label.”

What sort of a set have you got planned for Bloodstock this year? “It all depends whether they give us an hour, or 45 minutes, or what. Usually with Black Label they go, ‘If you play half a song and then just walk off stage that would be fine – we would actually prefer that.’ With us they always say, ‘Less is more!’ Ha ha! I’m like, ‘Wow! Okay’ But if the set is long enough then we’ll have the dancing grizzly bears with us, and I’ll battle the 22ft great white shark on stage. A lot of people think I have the advantage there because the shark isn’t in water, but as I always tell them, ‘It’s still a fucking 22ft great white shark!’ You tell me, do you think that’s easy?”

Certainly not. If you do beat the shark and live to see another day, will you be checking out any of the other bands playing at Bloodstock? “Yeah man, if we get the chance. Like I said a lot of the time the bands that are up there are friends of ours, so we usually go up there and throw things at them. Most of the time it’s heads of lettuce and tomatoes, so if they don’t get anything in catering they still get to eat – and that way you can also heckle them whilst at the same time helping them nutritionally as well.”

Finally, in one sentence, why should people come and watch Black Label Society at Bloodstock? “It’s a great aphrodisiac where actually you’ll sleep for about an hour during the Black Label set, which recharges you ready for the exciting bands that are on after us.”

Weekend and day tickets for Bloodstock are available here.

Matt Stocks

DJ, presenter, writer, photographer and podcaster Matt Stocks was a presenter on Kerrang! Radio before a year’s stint on the breakfast show at Team Rock Radio, where he also hosted a punk show and a talk show called Soundtrack Apocalypse. He then moved over to television, presenting on the Sony-owned UK channel Scuzz TV for three years, whilst writing regular features and reviews for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine. He also wrote, produced and directed a feature-length documentary on Australian hard rock band Airbourne called It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and in 2017 launched his own podcast: Life in the Stocks. His first book, also called Life In The Stocks, was published in 2020. A second volume was published in April 2022.