Zakk Wylde: Psycho Circus
GUITAR WORLD What inspired you to do the Berzerkus tour?
ZAKK WYLDE After playing for so many years, I’ve gotten to know a lot of guys in other bands. You just give them a buzz to see what they’re doing and if they want to go out on tour. Alexi was my first choice, because he’s part of the new breed of kick-ass guitar players, along with Gus G.
GW How does it feel to be headlining the second stage of Ozzfest with Black Label again instead of playing on the mainstage with Ozzy?
WYLDE I played one Ozzfest with Black Label when Joe Holmes was playing guitar with Ozzy. It was great to see Joe up there. Me and Dimebag were standing on the side of the stage, and I was telling Dime that it was actually pretty cool to watch somebody else up there playing my shit. Joe was nailing it note for note. To me, it would be like having Randy Rhoads or Jake E. Lee on the side of the stage watching me play their stuff.
Gus is a major guitar player, so I know he’s going to be awesome. I’d be more than happy to fill in for a couple of weeks if Gus’ wife was pregnant and he had to go home, or he had some bizarre masturbatory accident in the back lounge of the tour bus and sprained his wrist. But it’s Gus’ gig. Ozzy is like my alma mater: it’s like I played for Penn State, but now Gus is wearing the uniform. If they’re playing for a national title, I’ll go down there and flip the coin. Playing for Ozzy is like playing for the Yankees. You’re expected to win and you’re supposed to perform at a higher level than everyone else. It’s the most coveted guitar spot, because Randy set the standard.
Playing with Ozzy is part of who I am, and I’m proud of that, but I’m having a great time doing Black Label 25 hours a day, eight days a week. All the guys in Black Label have their own projects as well. Like, JD [bassist John DeServio] has Cycle of Pain, Nick [Catanese, guitarist] has Speed X, and Will [Hunt, drummer] still plays with Evanescence and Static-X. All those other bands are like branches, but Black Label is the tree. I always tell the guys that they can do other things but Black Label is the mothership. I want JD to still do his jazz clinics. There’s no reason for him not to. We can always make Black Label records.
GW Order of the Black is the first album you’ve recorded at the Bunker. Why did you build your own studio?
WYLDE Whenever we would be in the studio at the end of the night, getting sloshed and listening back to tracks, I’d never want to take a chance driving home. I’d just crash on the couch instead, since I had to go back to the studio in the morning anyway. It cost me an extra $1,000 a night to stay in the studio. Now I’m saving myself $1,000 a night, but I’m not drinking either. If I had this studio back when I was drinking, I could have crawled back to the house. I sure picked a fine time to stop sniffing glue!
GW How have you adapted to sobriety?
WYLDE I still enjoy going out to bars, hanging out and shooting shit with people just to get away from music for a while. After doing a show I like to go out to a nice Irish pub—not a rock club—where nobody knows who I am, and just sit at the bar and chill out with the guys before we have to drive another 17 hours to the next town. I still go out to bars, but now I drink the fake stuff, and I act fake drunk and get into fake fights.
GW Just don’t get thrown into fake jail.
WYLDE Fake jail would not be good. You get in there and go, “They’re beating the hell out of me. Is that a fake cock in my ass? It feels real!” [laughs] I started drinking on weekends with the guys when I was 14 years old, saving up all my money to buy beer. My buddy Scott’s older brother would buy us beer for the weekend. From 14 to 43 wasn’t a bad run. It’s not easy to just stop. People ask me if I miss it, and of course I miss it, just like I miss getting blowjobs from my wife. I never reached a point like some guys who were sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I never felt like that. I just needed a couple more beers and I felt human again.
Artists:, Zakk Wylde
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