Zakk Attack: Zakk Wylde Discusses Working with Ozzy Osbourne in 1989 Guitar World Interview
"When I joined the band, Ozzy told me I'd often hear people scream out Randy's name during a show, but it hasn't happened yet. Even if they did, it wouldn't piss me off because I love Randy as much as everyone else. What's really surprising is that I've seen a lot of handmade 'Zakk' T-shirts around. The fans have been real supportive."
In any event, Zakk's style is closer to Randy's than Jake's ever was. "Jake has great vibrato and picking technique," says Zakk. "I enjoy listening to his playing. When we play the songs that Ozzy did with Jake, like 'Bark At The Moon' and 'Shout At The Devil,' I try to play the guitar parts exactly as Jake played them. If Jake were to come to one of our shows, he wouldn't laugh at me."
Like Jake, Zakk doesn't use a vibrato bar. "I can't play it properly," he says bluntly "It would take me too long to come up with something that no one else is doing. Guys like Steve Vai and Brad Gillis can play 'em really well and do some nice musical tricks. I don't bother embarrassing myself, so I don't use em."
He doesn't tap, either, though he'll sometimes bend the G string around the seventh fret and then tap the highest note on the neck. "I don't do any wild tricks, like Van Halen does. I know a few of his solos, and sometimes I'll play 'em if I'm just fooling around.
"Vito Bratta is the only guitarist I've heard who sounds cool doing taps," Zakk maintains. "I know he often gets compared to Van Halen, but he really isn't like him too much. Vito's solo on 'Wait' is excellent and doesn't sound like Eddie at all. Reb Beach does a lot of taps, too. But it sounds more like he's doing scales, and that's what blew me away when I jammed with him. I remember Reb telling me, 'I hope no one tells me that I'm like Eddie.' I'd go out and watch Reb's solo when Winger opened some shows for us. He's a good, fluid player."
What other new players does Zakk like? "Ronni Le Tekro [of TNT] is probably my favorite," he replies. "I could listen to a whole album of his and not get bored. His picking wails, and he doesn't sound like Yngwie -- just a real fierce attack. He does some serious smokin', for sure.
"Slash also kicks butt. He just laughs at all the Yngwie clones, like I do. Slash doesn't sound like anyone else. And when you listen to Guns N' Roses, you don't get tons of guitar shoved at you -- just great songs, and a fresh sound with a lot of attitude. I think guitar playing is going back to the blues now. Too many people are tired of super-fast classical licks. It's overkill."
Zakk's favorite guitar is a bull's-eye-decorated Les Paul with EMG pickups, the only ax he used for No Rest For The Wicked. "Les Pauls have balls," says Zakk. "I traded this guy, Scott Quinn, a white doubleneck and a black Les Paul Custom for the guitar. Scott was working with [amp hot-rodder] Lee Jackson at the time. I played the guitar through the system Lee built for me and really liked it. I only used the back pickup on the album. Ozzy hates the sound of the front pickup. He calls it the 'cow tone.' "
In the studio, Zakk used two Metaltronix 100-watt heads and few effects -– a Boss Super Overdrive and a CryBaby wah-wah, for the most part.
"Metaltronix have more clarity than the other amps I've tried," says Zakk. "If people don't like my tone, they should plug their guitar into one of Lee's amps." Zakk's Jackson-built rig has "a load of effects," he says, "but onstage I use primarily a Simmons mixer, one of Lee's Perfect Connection GP-1000 preamps and a Yamaha SPX90 for clean sounds."
Despite his big break, Zakk's head remains unswollen.
"Ego-tripping is for jerks," he says. "I hate poseurs and people who think they're rock stars. It's not a big deal just because you're in a rock band. When my friends came to see me play at the Meadowlands [in New Jersey], they saw me onstage. It was the same guy they've been hanging out with for years. They said it didn't really seem like it was an Ozzy concert to them. I'm not bigger than life now: I still practice guitar all day long. I'd often read about guys in guitar magazines who say how they don't have time to practice on the road, but it's not true."
Zakk has this advice for aspiring players: "Try to find a guitarist in your neighborhood who'll teach you what you really want to play. If you're forced to play what you don't want, it'll turn you off. You need someone who won't get too heavy on you at first -- just some chromatic scales and finger exercises. Once you learn some songs, you won't mind playing scales to improve. I started out by playing all the early Black Sabbath songs, and then took it from there."
With original Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler now in Ozzy's lineup, Zakk is truly living his rock 'n' roll dream.
"It's the absolute best band I could ever wish to be in," he states. "Every show we're in stitches because sooner or later someone will do something corny. Sometimes Ozzy'll do his Pete Townshend leaps while Geezer does some Arabian dance in the corner of the stage. It's hilarious, and we all get along great."
Does the veteran Geezer offer young Zakk any words of wisdom? ''Yeah, he tells me not to catch herpes," laughs the guitarist. And, more seriously, "he knows I'm capable of playing more interesting things in the studio. That's exactly what I plan to do. The Zakk Attack won't be held back."
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