Zakk Wylde: No More Beers
GW Whoa, back up. You have liver disease and pancreatitis? When did you find out about that?
WYLDE I went in for an exam less than a year ago for my health insurance. The doctor said, “Have you had any abdominal pain?” And I said, “No, I feel strong as an ox.” And he goes, “Well, your liver enzymes are elevated, your pancreas enzymes are elevated... Do you drink alcohol?” I go, “I suck ’em down like Coca-Cola, man.” [laughs] Everybody on my mother’s side of the family died of liver cancer or liver failure, so the cards I got dealt were not exactly a royal flush. He was like, “You’ve got pancreatitis and a swollen liver. Maybe we need to back off the beer for a little bit.”
GW So you’ve stopped drinking. How else have you changed your lifestyle?
WYLDE It’s funny. I still do the same things: I lift weights all the time. I eat like a fuckin’ mule. I eat like 240 grams of protein a day between the protein shakes, eating chicken all day, rice and salad. I got a fuckin’ 33-inch waist, so, it’s not like I’m huge. When I started with Ozzy, I weighed 140 and I had a 27-inch waist.
GW Did your health problems have anything to do with Ozzy’s decision to work with another guitarist?
WYLDE No, Ozzy thought about doing that before any of this happened. I was gonna go down and do the [video game convention] BlizzCon show on August 22 at the Anaheim Convention Center. [Ozzy performed at the closing ceremonies.] I had talked with Ozz, and he sent me the set list. We were on the Pedal to the Metal tour, and I was gonna fly down on a travel day, see Ozzy and the boys, jam with them and go over the set. And then I was gonna fly back to do another Black Label gig, and then fly back and take care of the boss.
GW How did the plans change?
WYLDE I was doing some interviews promoting the Pedal to the Metal gigs, and someone goes, “Oh, dude, we heard Ozzy’s getting another guitar player, some dude from Greece.” And I’m like, “Dude, I’m always the last to know everything.” Put it this way: I didn’t find out Barbaranne was pregnant until the seventh or eighth month. But that’s always the way it is with Ozz. It’s like, We booked a tour down in Australia; what are you going to be doing Wednesday?
GW Did you talk to Ozzy about his decision?
WYLDE Well, Ozz called me and said, “Yeah, Zakk, I think for this one I’m gonna use some other guy.” So I said, “All right, great, Ozz. I’m always here if you need me. Just let me know, buddy.” And he said, “No, Zakk, I know your schedule is crazy right now.” And I said, “No, it’s no big deal, buddy. Just let me know what you want me to do. I’m always here for you. Have a fuckin’ ass-kicking show.” And he goes, “Well, we’re not at war or anything, right?” And I’m like, “Ozz, I love you, bro. What the hell are you talking about? You can play with whoever the fuck you want. Just give me the heads up.” ’Cause Black Label is bigger than me. A lot of guys in the Doom Crew need to know if they’re gonna be working or not. That’s the only thing.
GW Did Ozzy say why he wanted to work with another guitarist?
WYLDE In one of these articles, he was saying, “Man, everything with Zakk was starting to sound like Black Label.” I just thought it was funny. I went, “So Ozz, I guess that means ‘Mama, I’m Coming Home,’ ‘Miracle Man,’ ‘No More Tears’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Stop’ all sound like Black Label?” I wrote ’em all, so I guess it’s all Black Label. Last time I checked, that was a good thing.
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