Zakk Wylde has never been a man slow at coming up with a succinct phrase to describe a situation. He’s one of the great characters of Hammer world, and has been a vital part of the metal scene since he first joined Ozzy’s band in 1987. And 11 years later he formed the band that, in recent years, has been the primary musical concern – Black Label Society.
By any standard Zakk’s a verbal wild man, capable of coming up with hilarious and accurate ways of making his point. Who else would claim to “play Barry Manilow records backwards and listen to Satanic messages”?! But that’s Zakk Wylde – a man for whom low key means, ‘berserker’ by any other standard.
On Dio era Sabbath… “You listen to Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio in it, and it’s not Black Sabbath. They should have just called it Heaven And Hell right from the beginning. Because you listen to that Heaven And Hell album, and it doesn’t sound anything close to Black Sabbath.”
About that Pantera reunion… “It’d be up to Vinnie, Phil and Rex — they’re the guys that make everything happen. So if they were all gonna do it and honour Dimebag and [if they said to me], ‘Zakk, would you wanna honour Dime and do Dime’s parts?’. Of course, I was a pallbearer for him – I laid him to rest – so, of course, I’d say, it would be a beautiful way to honour him and stuff like that.”
On the touring life… “You got guys that are cut out for it and guys that aren’t – just like marriage!”
On longevity in the music business… “It’s just like what Bruce Lee said when [someone asked] ‘Yeah, but how is that gonna help you when a guy’s got a knife in a back alley?’ He goes: ‘I’ll just pick up a brick and knock it over his fuckin’ head!’. That’s just reality, man, you know what I mean? There are no rules – same in the music business. There are no qualifications for rock ‘n’ roll.”
On the meaning of life… “I dunno. I’ve been asked many times, not just by fans but also my wife and children: ‘Why exactly are you here, and when are you leaving?’.”
On Guns N’ Roses… “I’m buds with Axl and the guys in the band. I’m buds with Slash and his band. I’m like Sweden – I’m buddies with everybody.”
About religion… “I go to church every Sunday when I’m home, especially now I’ve replaced the booze with glue.”
On childhood…_ _“I came home late one night, my fuckin’ dad jacked me up by the back of the head and heaved me down a flight of fuckin stairs, so needless to day I didn’t come home late again!”
About Dimebag… “There was always a party going on in the background with Dime. He was a ray of fuckin’ sunshine. It didn’t matter how bad you felt, he would always cheer you up.”
On keeping it real…_ _“I’m not into Mercedes and BMWs and all that rock star shit – keep it meat and potatoes, y’know. I don’t give a fuck about material things. As far as I’m concerned I could sleep in this garage.”
On keeping it heavy… “If I wanna do a fuckin’ ballad, then I’ll do it with this band. Black Label Society is whatever me and the band decide to make it.”
On illegal downloading… “I don’t understand that shit. It’s stealing.”
Black Label Society’s Catacombs Of The Black Vatican is released this week. And you can win a signed guitar over here.