Zakk Wylde Discusses Pride & Glory, His New Band (and Album), in 1994 Guitar World Interview
Were you just thinking, "Fuck it. I'm playing with the Allman Brothers, I'm gonna do my thing?"
Yeah, that's basically what they told me to do. Butch and Gregg said, "Zakk, just have a good time. Just go out there and play. You know how the band works. Just listen. We all listen to each other in this band." But I was kind of out of control -- I was playing with my teeth, and behind my head, and doing all the crap I do with Ozzy -- and taking off my shirt, spitting beer and running around the monitors.
What was Gregg doing while you were doing this stuff?
[laughs uncontrollably, then pantomimes someone receiving CPR] You know, we even did an acoustic set; we did "Melissa" and "Midnight Rider." Warren [Haynes] was really helpful. I spent a lot of time standing next to him, staring at his hands and saying, "Dude! What the fuck?" [laughs] Warren's a killer guitar player which made it a lot easier on me. But I had the time of my life. It was just awesome.
You also played with Skynyrd recently.
Yeah, I jammed with them on "Mr. Breeze" and it was a blast. And one time with Ozzy, on the No Rest For The Wicked tour Bill Ward joined us onstage for Paranoid. Geezer Butler was in the band then, so I was playing with the original Sabbath. So I've played with my three favorite bands -- Skynyrd, Sabbath and the Allmans. If I died tomorrow, I couldn't ask for much more.
I guess you also had a pretty good seat when the original Sabbath reunited for the encore at one of your Ozzy shows.
Yeah, that was killer. They did "Black Sabbath," "Fairies Wear Boots," "Iron Man" and "Paranoid." Ozzy said he couldn't hear for a week afterwards, because he wasn't used to the stage volume being so high. I only go out of two 4x 12's even if it's a stadium gig, but Tony was going out of six stacks. That's why Tony always stood in the middle with Sabbath -- he didn't want to stand in front of his rig. Ozzy did. Later he said, "No wonder I was singing out of tune half the time."
Now that your album's coming out, are you going to start the endless tour?
Yeah, I'm dying to get out and start jammin'. It's been over six months since we made the record and I'm itching to go. You know, I just want to do what the Allmans do. They come off the road, make a record, then go back out on the road. I mean, it ain't work. I hate when people go, "Gosh. I can't wait to get off the road. It's so tough." It's like, "Get a real fuckin ' job, pal, and talk to me about tough." Being able to make a good living from doing something you love -- making music -- is a blessing.
It don't take much to please me. I don't own big fancy cars and I don't want them. I got my wife, my two kids, my four dogs, and my guitars and that's all I need. Beer, John Madden Football and my friends are my "indulgences."
How does it feel having kids looking up to you and trying to learn your solos?
It's wild. It's the coolest thing to see something you wrote transcribed in a guitar magazine, or to walk into a bar and see someone playing your solo -- probably better than you can.
Do you consider yourself a great player?
No. No way. Not compared to all the guys I dig, like Clapton and Hendrix and Dickey Betts and Duane Allman and the guys in Skynyrd. They'll always be above me; I'll always look up to them. You always strive to be as good as your heroes, but they're the standard, and I'll never beat that. I don't even consider myself anywhere close to being in their class. I do my own little thing, and that's fine with me.
Before you got into Southern rock, who were your favorite guitarists, other than Tony Iommi?
I was into anything technical -- Frank Marino, Al DiMeola or anyone who could rip. I hated Angus Young -- I thought, "He can't play fast Fuck him!" Now I think he's one of the best guitar players that ever lived. 'Cause he hits one note and you're there.
That's a normal progression. When you're learning to play guitar, anything fast...
Well, you don't know. You don't understand feel when you're a kid -- you think if it's slow it's got feel. If you learn a David Gilmour solo, does that mean that you have feel? When you're 15, you think, ''I'll learn blues and have feel, because they all play slow." No, you don't get it; it's what they're playing. I'd learn blues licks, and they were the whitest blues licks you've ever heard, man. I was like, "I showed them I have feel. Now I can shred."
It seems like shredding is played out.
Everyone kept wanting to take things to another level. But it hit the ceiling. In fact, it went right through the fucking ceiling, and had no place to go except back to where it came from. Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen started the whole thing and everybody else jumped in the boat. But Eddie and Randy had a lot of feel; people forget that because of everything that came after, but Van Halen is godly.
At the time, a lot of people thought, "Oh, this is just really fast."
I know. But listen to it now -- it's just blues on steroids. Eddie had everything: sounds, chops up the ass, feel. Jazz and fusion guys are always like, "Rock players suck. They got no chops." I remember being in a music store and hearing people say of "Spanish Fly," "That's sloppy. McLaughlin's much cleaner."
Those guys are still around. They turn their nose up at Guitar World because we cover the likes of Dimebag Darrell
Hey, Darrell is smokin'. I think he's one of the best young dudes out there. He's got a lot of feel. Of all the heavy metal guys that are out there, he's the best, 'cause he plays with the most balls. His rhythms are good and dumb. They're not played with that attitude of, "My rhythms must be equally as technical as my lead playing." It's just really good heavy guitar -- very good meat and potatoes playing.
So is that how you classify yourself: as "a meat and potatoes player"?
Pretty much. Nothing more than that.