Interview Cassie Walker.
Photos Justin Reich.
Zakk Wylde is one of the most respected and well-known guitarists in the world for his work with Ozzy Osbourne’s band for 20 years, which he joined at just 19, and with his own band Black Label Society. Cassie Walker caught up with Wylde on the eve on BLS’s Australian tour and spoke about Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, filling Randy Rhoads shoes and the possibility of being involved in a Pantera reunion!
Cassie: It’s an honour to talk to you and I don’t even know where to start. The Zakk Wylde story is one of my favourite rock‘n’roll success stories of how you came to join Ozzy’s band. What did you do the day that you made that audition tape to send to him?
Zakk: Being such a huge Sabbath fan and a huge fan of Ozzy’s and Randy (Ozzy’s guitarist who died in a plane crash in 1982) and Jake (E. Lee, formerly of Ratt and Rough Cutt, who originally replaced Rhoads), it wasn’t like I had to learn anything because I already knew all the stuff, because that’s what I love. My sister took a picture of me to send to him but you never think anything like that is gonna happen, but it’s like that Rockstar movie, you know with Mark Wahlburg and me, posters of these guys on your walls and then you’re in the band, it’s pretty, pretty insane.
Cassie: And that’s it, you did a cameo in that film, it was quite similar to your success story, I guess, in having that opportunity to play with your idols. For me, my idol is Sharon Osbourne. Can you just give me some insight of what you learnt most from her?
Zakk: Obviously the way things are done at that level. With our band, we were playing clubs and stuff like that, trying to figure out everything that you try to take in, that you learn about making the records, how records are made. At that point I had been in a studio before, but not to that extent. You just watch and you learn. You can’t get any better hands on experience than that. Where other people could read about it in a book, I was actually living it. It was definitely an amazing great time and at the same time an amazing learning experience as well.
Cassie: Absolutely! You filled the shoes of your guitar idol, Randy Rhoads. It was such a sad loss of his, but just such a great door opened for you. Did you feel like it was a gift from him or something more spiritual than that?
Zakk: Obviously it’s pretty special the fact you’re such a huge fan, and I never even auditioned. I know there were other guys that to them it was just a pay cheque, just a gig, to me it was a sacred dream. With Ozzy and the stuff he did with Randy and Jake, for me it’s like being in a team and idolising your favourite players on a sports team and then when you put the uniform on, and you’re playing for the team it’s more than just a uniform.
Cassie: And then almost 30 years later you’re seen as equally as legendary as Randy, does that register with you?
Zakk: I don’t even look at that stuff. The whole thing is I wake up and I practice and I enjoy continuing wanting to get better. If you have a 500 and that next goal is to be 505 and 510, 515, I continue to keep grading and keep moving. All the time.
Cassie: Totally. And also I just have to touch on it and I know it’s probably in every interview, but the whole Pantera reunion, it’s not only your fan-base, it’s the Pantera fan-base that is begging for you to get involved. I don’t know if that’s even a possibility but just the fact that you’ve got that respect throughout the whole rock, hard rock scene. What’s your thought on that?
Zakk: There are a lot more guys between Dimebag (Darrell – Pantera guitarist, shot and killed while playing onstage in Damageplan in 2004), between Vinnie (Paul – Pantera drummer and Dimebag’s older brother), Rex (Brown – Pantera bassist) and Phil (Anselmo – Pantera vocalist), if they ever wanted to do that and get back together and they asked me to honour Dime and play, of course I would do it and celebrate in his legacy and his life and his greatness. To me you celebrate all the milestones and you celebrate Dime’s greatness. So to me it’s a Pantera celebration, it’s not a reunion. A reunion is when the band gets back together, so I think it’s just a celebration of his legacy and how awesome Pantera is.
Cassie: Excellent. It was great to talk to you and we look forward to seeing you live here in Australia very soon.
Zakk: I’m looking forward to it as well.
Cassie: Awesome, we’ll see you then. Thanks Zakk.
Zakk: No worries, take care now.
ZAKK WYLDE’S BLACK LABEL SOCIETY
Australian Tour 2015
Wednesday, 25th November – Metropolis – Fremantle 18+
with Silent Knight
Tickets from http://bit.ly/BLSFreo
Friday, 27th November – HQ – Adelaide 18+
with Ice On Mercury
Tickets from http://bit.ly/BLSade
Saturday, 28th November – Roundhouse – Sydney 18+
with Bare Bones
Tickets from http://bit.ly/BLSsyd
Sunday, 29th November – The Tivoli – Brisbane 18+
with The Black Swamp
Tickets from http://bit.ly/BLSbris
Monday, 30th November – 170 Russell – Melbourne 18+
with MAMMOTH MAMMOTH
Tickets from http://bit.ly/BLSMEL
Tuesday, 1st December – 170 Russell – Melbourne 18+
with HEAVEN THE AXE