Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde talks about new album and “Evening with Zakk Wylde” tour

Zakk Wylde is a name that needs no introduction. From his legendary work with heavy metals “Prince of Darkness” Ozzy Osbourne to his signature pinch harmonic filled works with Black Label Society, Zakk’s mark on music is certainly present. Starting in February of 2014 Zakk will be hitting the snow covered roads of Canada as part of his “Evening with Zakk Wylde” tour. The shows will feature a mixture of music and readings from Zakk’s 2012 book titled ”Bringing Metal to the Children: The Complete Berzerker’s Guide to World Tour Domination”. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Zakk recently about the tour, Black Label Society’s upcoming album and about the recent departure of long time Black Label guitarist Nick Catanese.

Adam Lawton: What can we be expecting from the upcoming run of “An Evening with Zakk Wylde” shows?
Zakk Wylde: Aside from a lot of pyro, concussion bombs and the launch of the Black Label Society winter collection of men’s lingerie it’s going to be us up there jamming.(Laughs) I am going to be doing some solo stuff with the guitar and singing and then with the piano as well. Along with the music I will be doing some readings from “Bringing Metal to the Children” and doing Q and A sessions with the fans. We will be talking about everything from what gear I use to Ozzy stories to how many times a day I get prostate exams. (Laughs)

AL: Will a lot of the music resemble what we saw/heard on the recent “Unblackened” release and can you tell us about the special VIP packages that are available for the shows?
ZW: Yes, totally. I think some of the stuff we will we doing is even more stripped down than the “Unblackened” stuff. For the VIP packages again I want to make sure everyone is healthy and regular so they get the free prostate exam as well. (Laughs) There’s only 25 available for each show and along with a meet and greet fans who purchase these will also get some other cool Black Label Society goodies.

AL: The shows announced thus far are all in Canada. Will there be more happening later on in the States?
ZW: We did two short runs on the East and West coasts with this type of layout. I thought it would be cool to take it to Canada as we always have a blast when we are up there. It worked out that there was some time before the new album coming out that we could put these shows together. Everything has worked out great scheduling wise before we roll out the new album in April.

AL: You also will be out as part of the Experience Hendrix tour and as part of the Metal All Stars tour. How did you get involved with being a part of those tours?
ZW: The Hendrix thing is going to be really great. I am a fan of everyone who is playing on those shows and it’s going to be cool to see what they all bring. A lot of these guys I have never met before so it will be a cool experience that I am really looking forward to. The Metal All Star stuff is another batch of shows that are going to be really cool as well. Whenever I get invited to do these things it always ends up being a good time.

AL: With the Hendrix material being a bit different from what you’re known for have you been doing anything special to get ready for these shows?
ZW: I have done covers of people’s material as bonus tracks and such on previous albums so Black Label-izing songs is something I am familiar with. Whenever you get to cover an artist or a song you really like it’s always a good time. With the Hendrix material things will be no different. I am going to probably pick a couple more obscure songs to do as I’m sure songs like “Purple Haze” and “Voodoo Chile” will already be in the set. I’m just going to pull out some of my favorites and jam them out. I think it’s cool when you hear someone else’s take on a song. The Hendrix song that Stevie Ray Vaughn did as well as Sting’s version of “Little Wing” are both slamming.

AL: Can you give us an update on the new Black Label Society album?
ZW: We are just finishing mixing and plan to release it in April. This new album is one that it going to be back to the heavy riffs that the band is known for. I can’t believe that it’s been 4 years since our last studio album “Order of the Black”. We have been really busy since that release so time has passed quickly. For a while we were putting out an album a year which was fun as I love being in the studio just as much as I like being on stage. Some guys like one over the other but I love them both equally. They are different as when you are in the studio it’s a controlled environment and live is live. You have one shot and that’s it. With the studio you can sit back and look at things and add stuff here and there.

AL: With Nick Catanese recently leaving Black Label Society how do you feel the band dynamics will change seeing that Nick had been with the band for 15 plus years?
ZW: Nick played with me on the “Book of Shadows” tour before there was Black Label Society. We were driving 20,000 miles crammed in an Astro van playing to 10 people every night. I will always love Nick as he is a family member. When he came to me and said that his new project was something he felt he had to do I totally supported his decision. I want the guys who I play with to go on and do well. I wish him all the best. We have a couple contenders in the running for that spot right now and I am either going to have them come out with us on the Canadian run or have them with us at this year’s NAMM show which we have to have a second guitar player for. The short list we have are all great players. Nick is a rock so not having him around after 17 years of being together will be different. The thing about Black Label is that everyone who has been involved with the band has been unique and brought their own thing to the group. Once this new guy is in they are in till they decide to leave. If Nick wanted to come back and do a run with us some time our doors are always open. That’s just how things are with this band. We are all buddies.

AL: Being an artist who is always releasing new signature music gear do you have anything planned for release at this year’s NAMM show?
ZW: As far as the signature stuff goes I have the new Gibson Moderne of Doom that was released recently. With that I took an old classic and updated it. This guitar now has more of a Les Paul type neck which comes with an ebony fret board. This is one of those guitars that is so ugly it’s awesome! That’s why I love it.


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