Zakk Wylde Discusses Pride & Glory, His New Band (and Album), in 1994 Guitar World Interview
The solo on "Horse" is pretty scary. Do you try to match the solo to a song's lyrical content?
Not really. I just let it rip. That solo track was all live -- there is no backing rhythm guitar track. It's just the three of us playing, and once I drop out and start soloing, it's just James and Brian.
James gets pretty out there during your solo.
Yeah, he plays a walking jazz bassline throughout the solo. It's the way we always end up playing. It's like Cream gone wrong. [laughs] It makes it more fun; why play the same old stock shit and have the producer going, "Oh, the bass player's playing too much"? Fuck it, man, that is the way he naturally plays. Why try and be something that you're not?
Did you ever consider adding another guitarist?
Never; that's an extra mouth to feed beer to. Seriously though, I couldn't; it would get frustrating for both of us. 'Cause any guitar player worth a damn is going to say, "Can I get a moment to shine here?" It ain't fair to never let a guitarist solo; it's only right to give someone else their 15 minutes of fame.... And I don't want to. [laughs]
And the only reason I ended up singing is; what's a singer supposed to do when we get into one of those mammoth jams? "Excuse me, do I sing anywhere in the next 30 minutes? If not, I'll go down to the bar. Tell me when you're done." It's hard to be a lead singer in a jam-oriented band. It was even difficult for [Lynyrd Skynyrd 's] Ronnie Van Zant, who was the coolest looking of them all. When they went into the ''Free Bird" jam, there were only so many things for him to do. I mean, how long can he play air guitar? So I just figured I'd sing.
Did you feel any pressure to make a guitar statement on this album?
No. If I felt that kind of pressure I would have never done an Ozzy record. If I felt I had to live up to Randy Rhoads or Jake E. Lee, I never would have been able to play a note with the guy.
Did you approach your guitar playing on this album any differently than you did with Ozzy?
Not drastically, but, yes, in a couple of ways. With Ozzy, I doubled virtually everything -- on No More Tours there were two solos I didn't double -- and on Pride & Glory I barely doubled anything. Also, I did a lot of the solos on Pride & Glory in one take, whereas with Ozzy I really constructed them; I sat down with a tape machine and put them together. Ozzy would say, "Zakk, anyone can jam anything. Try to write something." There's a lot to be said for that, but I like jamming too. Improvising is one of the really fun things about being a musician.
With Ozzy you had to play the parts of Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee and Tony Iommi. Is it kind of liberating for you not to have to play other guitarist's solo now?
Not really, because it was never like, "I gotta play this fucking song again." or, "I've gotta play Randy's solo again." I love all those tunes and I never had to play any solos note-for-note, anyhow; Ozzy encouraged me to do my own thing. And even when we play out live now, I like playing Cream, Skynyrd and Allmans' songs. You can express yourself in the setting of someone else's song.
I think "Lovin' Woman" is the song that's going to --
Put the album straight down the can! [laughs] When my Ozzy fans hear that, they're going to come kill me!
No, no! It's going to make you a star. It's a great song, and your old fans will understand. But I was thinking more the other way: if it's a hit and a lot of people think, "Oh, this is nice... " and buy the album because they really like this nice, pretty song...
And then they hear "Horse Called War'' and run screaming and terrified. I can see the headline: "50-year-old mother of six dies listening to Pride & Glory's 'Horse Called War."' The masses will scream, "What is this shit? I didn't buy this tape for this!" [laughs]
Do you worry about that?
No, not really. I love so many types of music and I don't see why other people shouldn't too. I love the Allmans and I love Sabbath. I love the Eagles, I love Creedence, and I love Zeppelin. I go through stages where I just listen to one thing. For two months, I'll listen to nothing but Sabbath, and then I'll like just listen to the Eagles for two months. Or the Marshall Tucker Band or Queen. I'll just zone out on it. Maybe Pride & Glory will tum a lot of metal fans onto other stuff. Who knows.
"Cry Me A River" is another pretty song. It's very Creedence and the solo starts out with a really straight country sound…
It sounds Creedence because it uses a strum that's one of their trademarks. The country solo you're talking about is a pedal steel lick that I ripped off directly from Jerry Donahue of The Hellecasters. All the strings are still ringing, but you just bend them down. It's so easy to do, but it sounds really hard.
But then from that intro, it develops into a real metal sound.
Country metal. [laughs] The tone really changes there because the clean, country guitar part is just my silver Les Paul plugged straight into the board. That's clean as bass water. The distortion was just my Marshall -- same thing I used on the whole record and the same thing I used with Ozzy. I wanted the guitar to sound very natural and that's why we chose Rick Parashar to produce. I heard the Temple Of The Dog album, and thought it sounded great. It sounded old, and that's what I like. You'd think that as technology has gotten better, sounds would have gotten better, too, but I think the sounds in the Sixties and Seventies were bigger and fatter -- you could hear the band. During the Eighties a lot of production became so that you couldn't even find the band through the soup. You had all these huge reverb-drenched snare drums that sounded like Zeus throwing a thunderbolt. I just wanted the snare to sound like a snare.
But back to "Cry Me A River": I wrote that three or four years ago, just sitting in a driveway, drinking a beer. It's the only song from our original demo that made it to the record. I wrote everything else two or three weeks before we went in to the studio.