Zakk Wylde: Psycho Circus
GW Now that you have your own studio, will you be working on projects with other bands or doing some solo work?
WYLDE Eventually I’m going to start my own label, and I’ll produce, record and mix the bands that I sign in the studio. I want to get more involved in producing. I’m always shocked that Jimmy Page never went that route in the Eighties after Led Zeppelin called it quits. Even if Bonzo hadn’t died and Zeppelin still ruled the world, I could see Jimmy becoming another Mutt Lange. Who wouldn’t want Jimmy Page to produce their album? There’d be a line around the building of artists who’d want to work with him and have him put the Jimmy Page magic on their music. I can see myself doing more work as a producer when I get tired of touring, or doing more mellow stuff, because you don’t want to kill yourself doing heavy lifting all the time.
GW Are you going to branch out more and make some instrumental guitar records that showcase your other influences, like Al Di Meola and Albert Lee?
WYLDE I love listening to Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia. I never would have heard of those amazing artists if my guitar teacher didn’t tell me about them. I loved Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page, but my teacher told me I should check out Di Meola and McLaughlin, and Steve Morse and the Dixie Dregs. I knew nothing about them until he told me about them, but I knew who AC/DC and Van Halen were.
A while ago, Joe Satriani asked if I wanted to do the G3 tour. I told him that I don’t make guitar records. I might put an acoustic “Spanish Fly”–style guitar piece on a record, but I wouldn’t do a whole record of that stuff. My idea for a G3 show would be like a Black Label show, and I don’t know if having a whole bunch of Berzerkers come to a G3 show is such a good idea. But Joe and I have talked about doing something together sometime, so who knows?
GW Your output has been pretty prolific. You’ve put out eight Black Label studio albums in 12 years.
WYLDE I like to work. This is the longest break we’ve had between putting out albums, but it’s been good for us. Sometimes you just need to go away for a while. We were pumping out albums the same way bands used to in the Seventies: we’d make an album, go on tour, and then make another album without taking a break. Look at the catalogs for Sabbath, Zeppelin, Skynyrd, Ted Nugent, Bad Company or any other band from the Seventies. The most time they took between albums was two years, and that whole time they were touring behind a record. I don’t know what takes bands so long to make an album these days. I go into the studio without any songs. I might have a riff, but I don’t have any lyrics. When I get into the studio, I’ll come up with something. I’m not like Elton John, where he gets his lyrics from Bernie Taupin and writes music to them. With Sabbath, Geezer would write the lyrics around Ozzy’s melody. That’s the way I do it: I come up with a melody, and then I put the lyrics around it so the syllables fit.
I have a piano and an acoustic guitar in the studio, and whenever I sit behind one of those, I usually come up with something melancholy. If I pick up an acoustic guitar, I come up with songs that are like “Yesterday” or a Creedence tune or something by the Eagles. When I get behind a piano, the songs are more like Elton John or Neil Young. When I crank up the electric guitar and run it through an octave pedal, I just want to keep writing riffs. Once I get tired of writing the heavy stuff, I take a break and start writing some mellow shit, and when I get bored with that, I go back to the heavy stuff.
GW What was the inspiration for Order of the Black?
WYLDE To me it’s always about the tunes. All the old bands I love, like Sabbath, Zeppelin, Bad Company, Elton John, Neil Young and Skynyrd, never went, “This album is heavier than our last one”—it was just another great record with a lot of great songs on it. That’s one thing that used to bother me about Father Dime: every time Pantera put out a new album he’d go, “It’s even heavier than the last one.” How much heavier can you get? Anything can be heavy for the sake of being heavy. How are the riffs? Are the songs good? Black Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe” is heavy, but it’s also a great song. Tony and Geezer are playing great and Ozzy is singing his ass off. Alice in Chains are heavy, but their albums also have great songs.
Artists:, Zakk Wylde
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