Zakk Wylde speaks on Grimmest Hits, Ozzy Osbourne and amateur gynecological repair
It’s a year of big anniversaries for Zakk Wylde. 2018 marks 30 years since he made his debut as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist on No Rest for the Wicked and 20 years since he started his own band, Black Label Society.
The first time I tried to get a hold of Wylde, I was told he was asleep and there was nobody who was willing to wake him up. We rescheduled, and I later learned that he was sleeping because he’d fallen ill.
“I didn’t even have the flu,” Wylde says. “I tore one of my fallopian tubes during a uterine Black Label deadlift meet. That was brutal. But the whole thing is, you know, in pure Black Label fashion—you play hard. It’s the playoffs and there is no sitting on the bench. We just put some duct tape and Gorilla Glue on it and my vagina’s been holding up quite well. We’re back at it.”
Wylde, joined by bassist John DeServio, guitarist Dario Lorina, drummer Jeff Fabb, and his trademark New Jersey sense of humour, are iconic. Even if you’re not familiar with Black Label Society, you’ve probably at some point seen an image of the front man, bearded, leather vested, and playing his Les Paul with that signature black and white bullseye paint job.
The band’s latest record, Grimmest Hits, is not in fact a collection of greatest hits. It’s a little bit doom, a bit blues, and a bit rock and roll. The album hit strong on Billboard, securing the fourth spot on the Top 200 album chart.
Wylde says the fans, lovingly referred to as “Berserkers,” have received the new material well.
“Well we see them all start getting depressed,” Wylde says. “Then they start crying. I see them leave. They go to the bathroom, they throw up a couple times, and then they come back. I’m like, ‘Wow. They must really be enjoying this.’”
Black Label was and remains a riff band, and Grimmest Hits is a solid riff album. Songs like “Room of Nightmares” and “Seasons of Falter” are where the band audibly wears their influences on their sleeves. One to two strings of a simple but heavy pattern like the greats of the 1970s did it.
Offhand, Wylde cites Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, Deep Purple’s Richie Blackmore, and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi as integral.
Wylde grew up playing Sabbath covers at keg parties. His demo tape ended up in Ozzy’s hands and in his early 20s, Wylde joined the Prince of Darkness and followed him around the world, cowriting some of the most memorable songs of that era like “No More Tears,” “Miracle Man” and “Mama I’m Coming Home.” With Ozzy announcing his final world tour last November, heavy metal fans are feeling a little rough. Wylde senses their frustration.
“As a fan,” Wylde says, “I think what we should hope is [that] they all get massive gambling problems and just make some horrendously bad business investments. Then they gotta come out and keep going.”
In many ways, Wylde is still that same young Sabbath fan. Now at 51, far from retired, rested and ready, Wylde still has much the same spirit of a young guitarist. Sickness or health, rain or shine, the biker king of heavy metal is riding into town.
“As long as there’s duct tape and Gorilla Glue,” says Wylde, “I’ll be rollin’.”
Mon., Feb. 12 (6:30 pm)
Black Label Society w/ Corrosion of Conformity & Eyehategod
The Ranch Roadhouse