Zakk Wylde Was Hoping Ozzy Osbourne New and Year’s Eve Shows Would Become an Annual Event
Zakk Wylde guested on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving and spoke about how Black Label Society have continued to evolve on their latest record, Doom Crew Inc., and even spoke a bit about hopefully getting back on the road with Ozzy Osbourne.
Since joining the band in 2014, guitarist Dario Lorina has provided a necessary boost in the BLS sound as he and Wylde work together to explore more dynamic guitar passages, harmonies and even trade off on solos. For someone as elite as Wylde, it's an act of humility to share the pyrotechnic element of the band's style and, while listing a wealth of influences, he kept coming back to one motif — the song always comes first and the solos are the "icing on the cake."
Read the full interview below.
Let's talk about "Set You Free" and the video for it. It was the first track released from the new album, which is quirky and amusing. What made that type of visual perfect to convey that song?
We've been doing tons of videos for years now. For this one, I wanted to re-enact my high school prom, so, basically that's what we did. We tried to capture the essence of that prom at Jackson Memorial High School in 1985.
Black Label Society, "Set You Free" Music Video
Speaking of Jackson, I'm not sure if I told you this before, but the first time that I ever saw you live was at a bar in Jackson when I lived in New Jersey.
Wow. Was it Close Encounters? Stone Pony?
I don't remember. It wasn't the Pony. It was a small bar, but I feel like, I think it was The Price. I believe it was from the Pride and Glory era.
Wow, very cool.
You've always been a self-sufficient guitarist on Black Label Society albums, but now Dario Lorina is showcased fairly well on Doom Crew, Inc. How does his guitar presence enhance these songs?
Dario has been doing it over the years. I just have him just getting involved in the fun and the shenanigans — "Hey Dario, double the solo with me on this one and we'll do this together," etc. Now it's pretty much become a two guitar player band in regards to something like The Allman Brothers or Judas Priest.
Going back to like Catacombs of the Black Vatican, I started writing guitar harmonies for solos and things like that. It's just basically an extension of that. The more we play live… there's an extended guitar solos. On "Fire It Up" I would go out in the crowd and then Dario came out there with me and then we'll do these trade off solos together and everything like that.
So I'm just getting him more involved and having a good time with it. When I was writing the record, we'd extend guitar parts or certain intros I was doing with his harmonies. I would just ship the tracks over to Dario's studio and he'd just say just blaze something on this section here. I'd just tell him what the notes were and he'd just knock it out and it was done.
It's just an evolution of what's been going on since 2014.
Now I extend guitar solos and stuff like that and it's obviously going to lengthen the songs, so we have to do radio edits if it's a single.
Whenever I'm playing the piano, he's the one that's always doing the solos. In the beginning, that was always the need for another guitar player so we could do other things, but now it's just about having fun with it.
Black Label Society resides in the metal community, but you've been influenced by people far outside that neighborhood, like Andy Summers and Elton John. What's metal about musicians who don't actually play metal.
It's just being a musician — you love all types of different things. I would have never been exposed to legendary jazz guys such as Joe Pass or Pat Martino, John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola, but my guitar teachers said I ought to check these guys out.
You love all different types of music. I could listen to Crowded House, Meshuggah, John McLaughlin Mahavishnu Orchestra, Dixie Dregs and then I'll listen to new wave essentials and Flock of Seagulls. I'll listen to yacht rock. I couldn't care less — if it's good, it's good.
Playing guitar itself is altogether different from songwriting. Who are your mentors who have taught you the dynamics of structuring a song?
For the heavy stuff it would have to be Tony Iommi, for sure. Even just doing the Zakk Sabbath cover band, they're just like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones — they've got great songs. It's not because Keith Richards is blazing up and down the fret board. That's when everyone went — he's king Edward. But there's songs there and the solo was the icing on the cake.
You love Ozzy and you're going to see Ozzy cause of the songs and then Randy Rhoads put this amazing guitar solo in the song and it's the icing on the cake. When you went to see Led Zeppelin, not everybody in that crowd was a guitar player and everybody's just loved the music. It always comes down to the songs — always.
When I was a kid, it was just Elton John and Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers, The Eagles, Bad Company, Lynyrd Skynyrd — it's just great music.
Black Label Society, "End of Days" Music Video
Ozzy has been working on new music and plans to tour next year. What do you look forward to most about being able to interpret new Ozzy songs that you didn't write or record?
It's been that way since I first joined the band. I was doing Sabbath stuff and then playing everything by Randy and Jake.
I've always said playing with Ozzy is like being in the greatest cover band, but then you get to do your own thing as well. I just looked forward to getting back out there with the boss. We were having such a great time up until when he got hurt. The last show that we did was at The Forum on New Year's Eve show [in 2018] and I told him we should probably do this every year. It turned into such a great time.
Mom — Mrs. Osbourne — was just saying we should probably do this every year where there's an Ozzfest type of thing at either The Forum or Ozzy can do it in different arenas every year. It was in the parking lot and you had all these other bands play — it was an all day thing. That was the plan before he got hurt.
Right now, he's working out doing his thing so we can get his dead lift, bench press and squat numbers back up to his world-class records and get him back on the platform so we can shatter all his previous records.
Thanks to Zakk Wylde for the interview. Get your copy of Black Label Society's 'Doom Crew, Inc.' here and follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.