Guitarist Dweezil Zappa appears on the latest Randy Rhoads tribute album titled “Immortal Randy Rhoads- The Ultimate Tribute”. The album which pays tribute to legendary Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads reads like a who’s who of hard rock musicians. Along with Dweezil the album also features the likes of Tom Morello, Rudy Sarzo and George Lynch. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Dweezil recently about his work on the album, his first exposure to Randy’s Music and also about his first solo album release in over 10 years.
Adam Lawton: What was your first exposure to Randy Rhoads and his music?
Dweezil Zappa: I grew up listening to music my dad made and whatever he was listening to around the house. I didn’t really know about other music until I was about twelve. We never listened to the radio or anything like that. Around that same time I started to get into guitar. I liked all of my dad’s music but I thought it was a bit hard and not the easiest place to start. At that time the most popular music on the radio was hard rock music. I would hear bands like Van Halen and Ozzy Osbourne when I was hanging out at a friend’s house or what not and I was super into what Randy was doing. When I started reading about him and his playing what really stuck out was just how much he practiced. You could tell what he was did in Quiet Riot and a short time later with Ozzy was just leaps and bounds ahead. Hearing that made me very dedicated to the instrument. Seeing what he was able to accomplish in a very short amount of time made it seem possible to me. I could start from one place and get to another in big steps.
AL: How did you get involved with the album and, what do you think make’s it stand out above other tribute album?
DZ: I have been in touch with Randy’s family over the years in different ways and been involved in a few different tributes they have put on. This particular record was being produce by Bob Kulick who had contacting me to work on previous projects he was involved in. It was a simple thing to want to be involved with as everyone who worked on the project is really great and just good people. Randy’s playing was something that was very life shaping for me and ever night that I’m out doing a show I try and throw in a Rhoads lick as sort of a tip of the cap. It’s one of those things I decided to do a long time ago. So getting to just be part of this has been great.
AL: How did you go about approaching your performance?
DZ: I felt that what Randy did was so great that I didn’t really want to change it any way. Bob wanted us to make the pieces our own so I did do that to an extent but, I tried to keep things true to what Randy did. I feel like in order to play Randy’s music you have to play it as he did.
AL: Were you involved in the song selection at all?
DZ: All of the songs on the record are ones I appreciate. The one I was invited to play on buy Bob was “S.A.T.O.”. That song has always been one of my favorites. The solo is one of the ones that Randy didn’t have completely composed solo for. Most of his work is done as a complete composition but this song has always felt like it was more free form with him just going for it. With that being said the song still has great structure and flow. What’s also cool about this song is that it goes through a series of chords that are a little different than what he had been playing over. There are elements of major pentatonic along with a few other things that are different. There are also some bluesy elements to it as well. He really seems to have dug in and just went for it which I love. I added a few slight changes of my own and who knows they may have been things Randy may have done later on.
AL: What do think it is that keeps Randy’s legacy still going some 33 years after his passing?
DZ: I think you have to put things in to context by what he did and the time that he did it. That makes a difference. There wasn’t anyone doing what he was doing at the time. The intricacies of his recordings can still be listened to today and you can hear all the pieces and how they are connected. His style of arranging and songwriting hadn’t been done up to that point. He added classical styling’s making his work very sophisticated. There were a lot of rhythmic things in his riffs which I think made him stand out. He was in his early twenties when he did all of this and the fact he was here so briefly adds to his body of work which really stands the test of time. Everyone took notice of him and those two albums were burned in peoples mind. The energy and emotion just jumped out of the speakers. I think all of these things helped Randy and his body of work transcend time.
AL: Can you give us a quick update on some of the other projects you are currently working on?
DZ: I have a lot of things in the works right now. I have a new solo album in the works. I haven’t been able to make a record of my own for over a decade as I have been busy doing Zappa plays Zappa. I have a pledge campaign started at www.pledgemusic.com and the plan is to have it out sometime in April. There’s a lot of stuff on the record which sort of showcases everything that kind of got me into the guitar and taken me to where I am. There are a lot of different styles and influences on there. I even did a track by the Bulgarian Women’s Choir on guitar. It’s a very song oriented album with lots of strange moments of guitar spread throughout. I am also working picking out dates for the next run of Dweezilla boot camps. Along with that I recently shot a new DVD lesson series, I will be out doing more Zappa plays Zappa date along with a few other appearances.