Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society: On The Road Again
There are very few bona fide guitar heroes out there, and even fewer who continue to release vital, urgent new music. But Zakk Wylde isn’t your standard guitarist. He’s built up a family of devotees who worship his every pick squeal and chuggy riff. He’s also an incredibly versatile musician; when Wylde played with Ozzy Osbourne, he was equally adept at respectfully reinterpreting the iconic styles of the guitarists who came before him (Tony Iommi, Randy Rhoads, Jake E Lee) while bringing his own voice to a new generation of Ozzy classics like “Crazy Babies” and “No More Tears”. He followed that up with Pride & Glory, a southern rock-influenced heavy rock trio. He released a critically acclaimed acoustic-based album called Book Of Shadows that showed he could do pretty much everything. Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society allows Wylde to funnel all of these different approaches into a single unit. Early ZWBLS albums were basically what would happen if Satan emailed riffs to Wylde every morning, but over the years the band has evolved to a wider-reaching entity. They return to Australia this month for a series of shows before Wylde releases a sequel to Book Of Shadows.
This will be the first tour of the band featuring Dario Lorina on second guitar. How’s that guy fitting in?
It’s slammin’. I mean, the whole thing is slammin’. All the guys are unique in their own way and I love each one of them. Everyone brings their own thing to it and Dario is phenomenal, man. He can play his arse off, his shredding is insane, he plays the keys and his vocals are cool too. It’s a lethal combination.
So what can we expect to hear on this tour?
We always break it down, bring the piano out and everything, but without a doubt, especially when we’re headlining, we bring everything out. Everything from the first album to where we’re at right now. I mean, it’s like Led Zeppelin: I love all the heavy stuff but I love “Going To California” as well.
I hear you’re recording a new Book Of Shadows record.
Yep! Working on it right now. It’s all in the bag and we’re finishing it right now. We tracked maybe 40-plus songs that we had down, and we got it down to about 15 that we wanna use right now so the guys are knocking that out. We’re finishing that up before we go out on tour for this around-the-world-in-46-days insanity that we’re about to do right now.
What are you listening to at the moment? Because you’re in Book Of Shadows mode, has that led you to any particular listening habits, like “This is Zeppelin III week”?
Well, I pretty much listen to everything. We all have our staples. Zeppelin. Sabbath. But I also listen to Elton John, Neil Young, Bob Seger… I like listening to everything across the board. I listen to Crowded House, I listen to Dimebag, I listen to [jazz guitarist] Joe Pass, Ted Green, John McLaughlin – I listen to everything. I even listen to the radio. It’s all good; I love it all.
Tell me about your Black Sabbath covers project, Zakk Sabbath. I have a buddy who saw you at the Viper Room recently and he’s raved about it for a good two weeks straight.
[Laughs] That’s cool, man. We had a great time. It was just something to have some fun with.
“We’re finishing [a new Book Of Shadows record] up before we go out on tour for this around-the-world-in-46-days insanity that we’re about to do right now.”
Is that something you could see yourself touring with, or is it more of a bit of fun around town?
Oh we could get some buddies and go on the road with it. But it’d have to be a break in between [ZWBLS] tours and stuff like that. But we could take it out on the road, for sure. We don’t have to worry about writing too many new songs either – they’re already there!
When I last saw you, I checked out your new Wylde Audio line of guitars and amps. How far away are we from seeing this stuff out in the world?
I guess it’s gonna be in two months at the NAMM Show. The guitars are closed in and then the amps… Everything’s going to be rolling in 2016, up and running. It’s unbelievable. I’ve been truly blessed. I mean, all the companies I was with, I could never ask for anything more. Gibson, Marshall, Jim Dunlop, signature guitars, amps, pedals… I was able to design and create and I couldn’t ask for anything more, but this is the evolution. It’s like if you play for a franchise and then you move up to manager and then after that you’re the general manager and the next step is you and me become team owners. That’s the next step. I love those brands and I always will; that’s where I came from. The integrity and quality of the gear is outstanding.
Have you ever considered doing an instrumental guitar album? The other day I dug out the Guitar World magazine Guitars That Rule The World compilation CD from the early ‘90s, which included an instrumental song from you.
Yeah! We did “Farm Fiddlin’” for that. But y’know, they asked Eddie Van Halen if he’d ever make a solo record and he said, “Yeah, I do every time I put a Van Halen record out”. I mean, there are always solos in every song, but I know what you’re saying. As far as an all-out, ripping-all-over-the-place thing, I dunno. I just love singing, I love playing the piano, I love other things besides putting together a straight instrumental album. But I listen to instrumental albums all the time so you never know. I certainly wouldn’t rule that out.
I see you’re playing at the benefit for Tony MacAlpine, who has been undergoing treatment for colon cancer. It’s great to see people rallying around him. He was about to tour Australia when he got the news and we all hope he’ll be okay.
We all love Tony. He’s a great buddy, aside from being a world-class, complete, amazing badarse musician, on top of the guitar playing and everything else he does. We can get together for Tony and rally around him. We’ve got to get Tony back up and throwing down and out on tour again.
Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society Tour Dates
Wed Nov 25th – Metropolis, Fremantle (18+)
Fri Nov 27th – HQ, Adelaide (18+)
Sat Nov 28th – UNSW Roundhouse, Sydney (18+)
Sun Nov 29th – The Tivoli , Brisbane (18+)
Mon Nov 30th – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)
Tue Dec 1st – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)