Zakk Wylde Shoots on 25th Anniversary of “No Rest For The Wicked”, Signature Coffee, “Unblackened”, Brett Favre and The NFL and More!!
As his fans would expect, Zakk Wylde had a pretty eventful 2013, culminating with the fall release of his latest Black Label Society offering, “Unblackened”, a double cd or DVD/BluRay capture of his unique, career spanning set earlier in the year at Club Nokia. Wylde is also set to have a pretty fulfilling new year as he heads out on the road beginning this February with a special run of “Evening With Zakk Wylde” dates in Canada followed this March with a spot on the hugely successful “Experience Hendrix” tour, sharing the stage nightly alongside such legends as original Hendrix bassist Billy Cox, Jonny Lang and Buddy Guy. As if that wasn’t cool enough Zakk will once again be helping out Dimebag Darrell’s Ride For Dime by being a part of the Metal All-Stars tour in Europe and South America beginning this coming April. Having interviewed Zakk before, I was aware that it winds up being similar to having a few beers with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while; you could have a list of bullet points and things to talk about and the conversation would still be likely to take on a life of its own, which is exactly what happened, read on….
LRI: Since people might be looking for some gift giving ideas beyond just your music and clothes and stuff, I thought I should be a shameless shill and begin by asking you about your coffee which I just heard about. This isn’t like Hills Brothers stuff that’s gonna make you wish you never drank it, this is good stuff right?
Zakk: No, this stuff is like really slammin dude. We teamed up with Deathwish coffee because Blasko (Ozzy Osbourne bassist Rob “Blasko” Nicholson) knows those guys and is friends with all those dudes over there. Blasko was like “Dude, they make some ass-kickin coffee over there” and I told him, “Tell them to hook up with me to create a Black Label blend”. Whatever we do, when we’re in the Black Vatican, whether we’re drinkin Dunkin Donuts, Pete’s, Starbucks or whatever I’m gettin at the supermarket, we’re drinkin some coffee in the morning. So we would always drink whatever we had but sometimes to be honest I would give it to you and go John have a drink and you’d go “Zakk, I can’t even taste anything, it tastes like piss water”. Until I hooked up with these Deathwish Coffee guys and they sent me some samples, I was blown away. As soon as they made me some stuff I was just like “Dude, this is SLAMMIN”. So on a normal day now it’s Valhalla Java Odinforce blend in the morning, that’s how it is (laughs), you know what I mean. Obviously, after you drink it, you clean the house five times, go hit the gym and make love to the immortal beloved 14 times and clean the dog run seven times before brunch. The blend they came up with tastes like Dark Sumatra with a shot of espresso in it or something, it’s really good tasting and I’m hookin all my buddies up with it and they’re actually sellin it which is like way cool. If you need to drive from L.A. to New Jersey this is the coffee you need to be drinkin.
LRI: So you actually got involved with picking all the different nuances of flavor and shit?
Zakk: Of course, I mean, you gotta drink what you like; it’s like the music you listen to. The reason you listen to Zeppelin and Sabbath and Stones is cause you like it, you gotta try it all out and find exactly what kicks your ass.
LRI: I don’t even know how many people have asked you about it but 25 years ago the world got it’s ass ROYALLY kicked by the “No Rest For The Wicked” album. You, Ozzy, Bob Daisley and the late, great Randy Castillo were all heavily involved in that album, can you believe it’s been 25 years?
Zakk: No, it’s just like anything, I can’t believe how fast time moves anymore. Just like it felt like I was just starting Gigantour with Father Draiman and Father Newsted and Vinnie and the boys and next thing you know we’re down to two shows and I’m looking over at them like “What the fuck?”. It’s hysterical, it’s like the blink of an eye anymore. It’s just like you’ll be thinking about writing and recording a new album and the next thing you know you’re finishing the tour for the album (laughs). It’s insane how time flies. I look at our kids who are 21, 20, 11 and one now and we’ll be looking at the 20 and 21 year old and then look at the little one, Sabbath Page and I can vividly remember them being that age and remembering how funny they were and all that shit. I mean, I haven’t had a drink in four years and I’m like “Where the fuck did that go?” (laughs). Time flies. I mean, I don’t remember High School going this fast (laughs).
LRI: In a roundabout way you have adequately explained exactly how much the man who sat down and wrote “Miracle Man” changed in all those years and it is understandable. Life moves. That album is still a seminal point for us all though, obviously god bless the Randy years and the Jake years but when I think back, “No Rest” really filled the sails of the Ozzy faithful again. It was a really aggressive return, especially after “Ultimate Sin” had some pop leanings, were you aware of that going in?
Zakk: Well, you gotta remember, when I was going in, I was going in as an Ozzy fan. I wasn’t one of the guys who was like “Oh, Ozzy, this is a great opportunity for me, I really don’t like Ozzy or Sabbath and I’m not really into Randy or Jake and don’t know anything about them but I heard the gig pays pretty well so this might be a good thing for me”. I mean, there were guys who were down there auditioning and that was the reason they were there. They didn’t really give a fuck about Ozzy’s past or his music or anything like that, they were like “Dude, I hear the gig pays pretty well and it’ll help my career” whereas when I was coming in it was the exact opposite. It was like I was gonna get to play for the New York Yankees after having been a Yankee freak my whole life, I knew all the fuckin players, I knew all the Yankee history going in and I was stoked as hell to be comin in. For me to put that uniform on was beyond an honor, let alone to be able to make it to the majors, it was like I was playing on the team that I love and that was my mindset coming into Ozzy. I was like “Wow, just like Randy and Jake, I get to help create a sound of what my hero’s music is gonna sound like, I have a hand in all that”. It was definitely slammin and actually the first riff I wrote with the boss was “Miracle Man”, I have great memories of that time brother.
LRI: I talked to you about your book “Bringing Metal To The Children” which I’m sure your family and friends are still recovering from.
Zakk: (laughs) Yes, recovering from the comedy, absolutely.
LRI: You were telling me back then about your plans for the “Unblackened” BluRay and album project so it was definitely on the radar. With live projects or videos like that there is always the concern of capturing the moment and not overthinking it all, was that a concern?
Zakk: No, not really. I mean, obviously we’ve done the DVD thing in the past, we’d done the “Doom Troopin” with the European Chapter, the “Boozed, Broozed and Broken-Boned” with the Detriot Chapter and with this one it was like, “Ok, are we gonna do another heavy one again?” just cause there’s obviously new songs and more recent material that is in the set now but everyone kept asking us “Guys there’s only a few mellow songs in the set, are you ever gonna do a full-blown set with some more of the mellow songs?” and we started thinking about it; also because there are so many of those songs that never see the light of day anyways, at least not live.
LRI: It’s spectacular seeing it in BluRay but also because it’s such a different set. It’s not just mellow stuff, you’re concentrating on some of the moodier material but there’s tons of brutality in the solos and lots of those signature moments, it’s kind of unlike any show out there. It also seems totally live and untouched both audio and video wise, be honest, how “live” is it?
Zakk: It’s totally live, the whole record, why wouldn’t it be? If there were things in there our approach was like “Oh well, fuck it” because it was just one pass. We did like a week of rehearsals and obviously we talked about what we were gonna do and everybody did their homework and read their playbook prior to coming down to bootcamp and we all know the songs obviously so then we just had to work out all the guitar changes in the setlist and all that shit, like a Broadway musical and we were good to go. We had one run through the day before at Club Nokia and then the next day it was like “Game on”. It was different in the sense that a lot of these songs we’ve never done live, the Book Of Shadows stuff “Road Back Home” is something I’ve never done live, “Sweet Jesus” and some of the Pride and Glory stuff I haven’t played since 1994 with the fellas. For me, doing half of the stuff on “Unblackened” was like taking a trip down memory lane, which was cool.
LRI: That’s pretty much a definitive version of “House Of Doom” it’s goosebumps worthy.
Zakk: The funny thing is John is we’ll try some of those songs in rehearsals and I’ll be lookin at you while we’re playing it and you’ll be looking at me with that look like “Zakk, maybe it’s best you leave this one in the parking lot” (laughs) and it’s funny cause it’s actually the same way with Oz. We’ll try to play certain songs and just look at each other like “Uggh, fuck that one”. I remember one time we tried “Devil’s Daughter” at rehearsals and shit like that and we all just looked at each other and realized that it sounded killer on the record but just sounded fuckin lame when we were playing it in rehearsals. I don’t know but it just seems like certain songs will translate better live in certain settings than others and the way this band is we just know right away for the most part whether or not it feels right.
LRI: The double CD is jam packed with music. When did you decide to add the studio tracks like “Ain’t No Sunshine”?
Zakk: “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Song For You” were originally gonna be a part of the Nokia show. These were tunes that we played back in the day back when we were hanging out in the bar getting hammered; if there was a piano there I would sit down and we’d start jamming. We’d all be hanging out, having a good time and drinking and I’d be playing stuff like that or Elton John or Neil Young or our own Black Label shit or whatever. Or it might even be something we hear on the radio and I’m like “Hey John, that would be a cool song to cover, ya know?” or it could be some song that we just always listen to and agree is fuckin awesome.
LRI: I know some people didn’t “get it’ but I loved the video for “Sunshine”, it’s like a bad acid trip crossed with an old SNL skit. Was that your idea in particular or one of the other guys in the band’s?
Zakk: Yeah, well it’s just like when we did our video for “Overlord”, how fuckin goofy that thing is. We’re always taking the piss out of ourselves and laughing our balls off all the time and it’s always been that way even when I was with Ozzy. We’re too busy laughing to get fuckin depressed. We’re constantly crying from laughin, that happens all the time around us, like with the “Chupacabra” thing (song from “Order Of The Black”) someone was listening to that and said to J.D. (DeServio, BLS bassist) “Dude, Zakk is fucking SHREDDING on that Chupacabra thing” and he was like “Yeah, I know, it’s like a good, really slow Paul Gilbert, it’s really good” (laughing hard). I heard that and was like “Yep, I wouldn’t expect anything different from him” but that’s the whole thing, that’s just how we are, we’re always baggin on ourselves and everything around here. That’s where the videos come from too. Someone asked me in all seriousness “What was the cost on that video?” and I told them “Whatever the cost was on those three goofy-ass masks, that was the cost for that video” (laughs).
LRI: The Giants didn’t start out as worldbeaters but has little Sabbath Page been fitted for a jersey nonetheless?
Zakk: Oh, without a doubt. It’s usually funny because all of our kids have been born out here in California but they root for the teams back home, because back when my dad was alive you know, he rooted for the Giants and basically out of honor for him they root for the Giants despite being out here and obviously they’re New York Yankee fans. That’s just the way it works though with me and my buddies. Whatever team your dad was a fan of, usually that’s who you’re a fan of.
LRI: Well, I trust you to get him a guitar and all that but I’m gonna go ahead and find him a Clay Matthews jersey.
Zakk: (laughs) Because remember, he’s “not a dirty player, he’s an AWESOME player” (laughs). That was fuckin GREAT! I remember when that happened there was one sports announcer guy who was all pissed off and took it all seriously and was like “So, what now, he just christens himself an awesome player, I don’t like this guy” (laughs).
LRI: That’s exactly why I DO like him (laughs).
Zakk: Exactly, I mean the fact is he got caught up in the moment there, early in the season and made a tackle, I mean he digs Kaepernick (Niners QB) anyways and was like “Yeah, he’s a great player, I messed up” whatever. It happens, it’s not like he took his knees out and tried to ruin his career or something. So, who’s your pick so far for the playoffs, AFC and NFC championships?
LRI: Seattle is pretty sick, I always thought of them as a home team but now they’re a little more than that obviously. Frisco should be a part of things but maybe I’m just saying that because of how they destroyed my team Green Bay. I got real nervous when morons were picking my Packers to go to the Super Bowl early in the season and it looks like I was right to be.
Zakk: Yeah, well, let’s be real, the whole thing with that team was always that you had nothing to worry about with Aaron Rodgers in there. It was almost kinda like with the Patriots, the offense just kind of took care of itself with Rodgers in there but now, with an injury and the defense up there that’s been in question. I mean, the reason that the Giants won that Super Bowl against Captain America was because of that defense and that defensive line, hands down, let’s be real. I mean Seattle really is a good team, without a doubt. The 49ers are undisciplined, I mean there would be none of that going on in the Joe Montana era. If they had this many personal fouls in that era they would be torn a new asshole, are you fuckin kidding me? Half the time they’re stopping em and then doing something stupid like punching some guy in the balls. It’s like “What the fuck are you doin?”. I couldn’t believe it when I saw those two, Seattle and San Fransisco, that really IS a rivalry and they really DON’T like each other dude.
LRI: Even though we both suck we really hate the Bears.
Zakk: (laughs) Yeah, well you have the Lions and Vikings too so who do you like less?
LRI: Oh, the Bears. Without a doubt, if they’re playing the Lions who are technically better so I should hate them more, I still root against the Bears. I hate them because every time their team wins a game it’s 1985 all over again and they think they’re going to win the Super Bowl. It’s the town where time stood still.
Zakk: (laughing) Yeah, I was shocked when Urlacher retired, I knew he had the health thing with the knee but still I was like “Wow, I didn’t see that one comin”. So lay it on me brother, what’s your Super Bowl prediction?
LRI: I’m by no means an expert gambler but I’d probably put down a buck on Denver Vs. Seattle, as would anyone right (laughs)?
Zakk: Yeah, I don’t see Captain America beating Payton and on top of that I just think Denver’s an all-around better team. The first few weeks of the season lots of teams are sloppy it’s the good ones that get better as the season wears on. Denver’s getting better as the season goes along. They’re the class of the AFC and Seattle is right there in the NFC and if Seattle’s gonna host the championship game, there ya go.
LRI: I think the NFC North and NFC East are pretty much going to be a bunch of mediocres, it’s definitely looking that way. Still, there is no better place or town to see an NFL game in than Green Bay. Little tiny town with a Big Lots within walking distance to the stadium (laughs). Have you ever been to a game at Lambeau?
Zakk: No, but one of my buddies has and he says it’s like the coolest thing on the planet.
LRI: The bonus is that if they’re playing the Giants it’s a guaranteed loss (laughs). We can’t seem to ever figure them out. Was that game your friend went to the one where Brett grew a vagina and played like it was too cold out throwing the ball to your team?
Zakk: (laughs) No, that was the Championship game (laughs) it was good that we had Brett on the payroll, my buddy went to a regular season game but let me ask you a question. Is all that stuff still in Wisconsin, like Brett Favre Drive and all that Brett Favre shit and all that?
LRI: Yeah, Brett Favre Pass, Holmgren Way all of those roads are still there. The Brett Favre Steakhouse is still there. I haven’t eaten there in a while so I don’t know how busy it is.
Zakk: Because, let’s be real dude. In the pantheon of footbal myth and the Catholic Church of the Green Bay Packers he’s a patron saint dude, hands down. He has to be and not for nothin but let’s give him this, he was the first one in how many years to bring them back to titletown and keep them a playoff team all those years he was there.
LRI: How long will it take people to forgive him for whipping his wang out? I mean, let’s be real there are plenty of oddities and sexual dysfunctions in that Jets office anyway.
Zakk: That was fuckin ridiculous. That whole thing, I mean, first of all, who the fuck is getting ahold of you, whippin your fuckin dick out to some chick? Unless she’s an asshole. But, at the same time, if we were rolling with Brett and we were buddies with him you would hope one of us would look at him and go “Woah dude, what the fuck are you doin? Like honestly, I mean first of all you got an old lady and second of all you just can’t do anything like that with any of these fuckin idiots because you’re who you are dude, you’re Brett Fuckin Favre” If you were rolling with him you would be obligated to tell him “What the fuck are you doin man, this is bad, bad, bad news fuckin with this chick, that ain’t gonna end well dude.” I mean, it’s all gonna work out and the Hall of Fame is a no-brainer but as far as the forgiveness factor, you have to couple all that in with the fact that he pulled like the Yankees/Red Sox thing when he went and played for the Vikings. I guess, for you the only thing worse would be if he played for the Chicago Bears, if you saw that number 4 jersey on the Bears that would be even worse for you John (laughs).
LRI: Well, Jim McMahon did go to the Packers…
Zakk: Now, did you mind him goin to Green Bay?
LRI: No, I think that’s awesome.
Zakk: (laughs) Of course because that means he’s workin for you (laughs). Oh, the brutality!!
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An Evening With Zakk Wylde Tour Dates
Feb 13, 2014 Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, Canada
Feb 14, 2014 Cowichan Theatre Duncan, Canada
Feb 15, 2014 Level Nightclub Kelowna, Canada
Feb 17, 2014 The Ranch Edmonton, Canada
Feb 18, 2014 Flames Central Calgary, Canada
Feb 19, 2014 Esplanade Arts & Heritage Center Medicine Hat, Canada
Feb 21, 2014 The Exchange Regina, Canada
Feb 22, 2014 The Broadway Theatre Saskatoon, Canada
Feb 23, 2014 The Garrick Centre Winnipeg, Canada
Feb 24, 2014 Crocks Thunder Bay, Canada
Feb 26, 2014 London Music Hall London, Canada
Feb 27, 2014 The Danforth Music Hall Toronto, Canada
Feb 28, 2014 Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre Montreal, QC
Mar 02, 2014 Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp Las Vegas, NV
Mar 13, 2014 Experience Hendrix St Louis, MO
Mar 14, 2014 Experience Hendrix Chicago, IL
Mar 15, 2014 Experience Hendrix Ames, IA
Mar 16, 2014 Experience Hendrix Milwaukee, WI
Mar 18, 2014 Experience Hendrix Louisville, KY
Mar 19, 2014 Experience Hendrix Charleston, WV
Mar 21, 2014 Experience Hendrix Glenside, PA
Tentative 2014 Metal All-Star Dates are as follows:
3 – Stockholm, Sweden
5 – Riga, Latvia
6 – Helsinki, Finland
8 – St. Petersburg, Russia
9 – Moscow, Russia
Plans are also in place for The Metal All-Stars to tour South America in May.