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Zakk Wylde Discusses Pride & Glory, His New Band (and Album), in 1994 Guitar World Interview

Zakk Wylde Discusses Pride & Glory, His New Band (and Album), in 1994 Guitar World Interview

Why?

I was just writing a lot. And as soon as you get anything new you get excited. Anything that you've written a while ago sounds old, and you want to move on. I wrote some stuff in the studio, including "Lovin' Woman." I woke up in the morning with the words and the harmonica part in my head. Brian had never even played it before the first time we cut it. That's also how we did "Sweet Jesus."

Did you write so much because you were inspired by the process of recording?

You can get inspired when somebody brings another case of beer into the studio. You never, ever have enough songs. Anyone can write songs, but you can't just turn it on and off. You might come up with a good idea while watching TV and just absently plucking a guitar.

Three songs -- ''Fading Away," "Sweet Jesus" and "Chosen One" -- feature a full string section. Were you there when those were cut?

Yes. Paul Buckmaster, who did Madman Across The Water with Elton John, did the arrangements. They had 18 string players in the studio and it was funny as shit watching them try to play along to "Chosen One," because it has a real Sabbathy riff, and there's feedback on the bass. They'd never heard the songs -- they just had the charts in front of them -- and when they heard the bass, they all cracked up, "You want us to play on this shit?" We all had a laugh. But the sound of them playing was just killin' -- and it was incredibly loud.

Who is "Hate Your Guts" about?

It could be anybody. I think we can all relate to that song.

It's funny when you hear the first verse, and then each verse just gets more extreme. And the barbershop quartet background vocals are as funny as the lyrics. It's refreshing to hear a strictly humorous song these days.

Yeah, well, nobody's always down and out. You get happy and act goofy too, and you can write songs then just as easily as when you're bummed out or want to kick someone's ass. Actin' goofy is just another part of somebody's personality and it's a big part of mine. If you can't laugh at yourself, you're in trouble. You can't take this rock and roll shit too seriously.

There's a perception, at least, that the grunge guys are too serious.

Yeah, but the guys in Alice [In Chains] are the goofiest dudes you'll ever meet. When we were on tour together, it was like a goofball fest. Jerry [Cantrell] is a real good friend of mine and a great guitarist.

What other contemporary guitarists do you like?

Jerry and Slash are my two favorites, but I don't really listen to people my age too closely, because I don't want to copy them or get too influenced by them. There's a difference between digging your peers, which is cool, and actually being influenced by them, which is fuckin' cheesy. I love listening to those guys, or jamming with them, but I'm not gonna sit down and learn Jerry or Slash's stuff. At my age, I think that's kind of embarrassing.

I heard that you jammed in Seattle with Steve Vai. How was that?

It was hysterical. We were playing one of Steve's songs, a "Voodoo Chile" -type thing. I just started playing something in E major -- it could have been from "Ramblin' Man" -- and Steve went right into playing harmonies with me. I had Steve Vai playing harmonies on Allman Brothers' licks. And nobody can harmonize better than him.

What's his deal with Ozzy?

They're jamming together, but I talked to Ozzy a couple of days ago, and he said it was too early to tell what would come of it, and that he understands that Steve's got his own thing. Actually, Steve told me that he would be happy playing clubs and little shitholes for the rest of his life, 'cause he's doing what he wants to. So Oz is looking for a new band at the same time he's playing with Steve.

Last summer you played a gig with the Allman Brothers. How did that come about?

I was in the studio recording with Ozzy when I got a call from their manager, who knew that I'm a big fan. He called at six o'clock and said that Dickey couldn’t make the next night's show, and that they'd like me to sit in but I'd have to fly out that night -- at 11:00 on the red eye. I grabbed my guitar and headed for the airport.

I got there at seven in the morning, listened to the tape they had for me and jammed a couple tunes. Early in the afternoon we had a quick soundcheck/rehearsal, which was hilarious. [Allmans drummer] Butch Trucks asked, "Hey Zakk, you know how to play 'Dreams'?" And I said, "What, that Molly Hatchet song?" And they all cracked up. Gregg said, "Brother Zakk, keep talking like that and we're gonna have to send you home."

So they were all cool to you?

They were way fuckin' cool, man. But it was hysterical, 'cause when we played "Dreams" I must have soloed for 20 minutes. I'd died and gone to heaven and I just wasn't going to stop. I was just jamming. But I almost gave Butch a coronary, 'cause every time we got to where the band was repeating the same lick, preparing to come out of the jam, I'd just keep soloing. I came over to Butch in between songs and he goes, "Zakk, fuck, man! Calm down a little bit brother." And I go, "But this is my favorite band." And he goes, "Yeah, it's mine too, but just fuckin' relax!"

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