Zakk Wylde Talks Fatherhood, His Book and Randy Blythe (INTERVIEW)
Just the name “Zakk Wylde” alone instantly conjures up images of intense shredding and guitar hero machismo. One of the era’s most iconic rock gods, Wylde and his band Black Label Society remains one of the most bone crunching forces in modern metal.
But he’s also an actor, now an author (Bringing Metal to the Children: The Complete Berserker’s Guide to World Tour Domination), and just recently became a dad for the fourth time as he and his wife Barbaranne welcomed a son, Sabbath Page Wielandt Wylde, into the world.
Wylde and BLS will be performing at the Sunset Strip Music Festival on Aug. 18, and he’s taping a DVD performance at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles in late August. Titled Unblackened, it will feature re-imagining of his songs on acoustic/piano with lap steel, string quartet and backup singers (which Noisecreep will be covering).
In conversation, Wylde talks like he plays – rapid-fire, intense, no-nonsense and with lots of New Jersey attitude. And that’s why we love him.
Zakk, first up, congratulations on your new son. Is sleep loss an issue, or are you just built for it given the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle?
You know how everyone always says, “Oh, having a baby is a life changing experience?” To me, it just means now there’s more people I’ve gotta feed [laughs]. The whole thing is awesome, I have no issues with the sleep, I love this. I’ve never had to deal with all the issues people seem to love to complain about. “Oh, my wife is going ballistic while giving birth! Oh, we never have sex after having kids!” On and on.
I think people totally blow this stuff out of proportion, Like I said, it’s all awesome and I love it. People over-complicate things. People ask me how I stopped drinking. I just stopped! I just saw Geezer Butler playing at Download. Like 120,000 people. I whispered to him before he went out – “No big deal, dude. Whether you’re at the Whisky in front of 17 people or here. Just go out and play your ass off.” Keep it all simple.
Your kid’s names pay tribute to rock and roll legends – Hendrix, Sabbath – that’s important to you, huh?
Yeah, what can I tell you? Those are my heroes. Now, the kids can always use their middle names if they’re uncomfortable with Sabbath or Hendrix, but that’s okay, too! [laughs]
All those heroes you had growing up – do you recall the first concert you ever saw?
The first real gig was Black Sabbath at the Madison Square Garden – the Mob Rules tour. I think I was about 14. It looked larger than life and was just so cool. I knew that’s what I would end up doing. So today I’m living my dream – and that’s what I try and pass down to my kids. You can’t force your kids to do anything for a living but you can show them how to chase any dream they have.
You book is funny and outrageous, but there’s a ton of truth in it for the up and coming rocker.
I get asked all the time, questions about how to do what I do. People always want advice. So I wrote the book. But look, the main point of it is, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t fucking do it. I was that kid practicing in Jersey, mowing lawns so I had money to go see Sabbath. Ozzy worked in a factory. He was nobody. The Beatles, at one point, were nobody. We all start at the same place. Everybody. You have to remember that.
Have you been following the Randy Blythe situation?
Oh man, it just sucks. The whole thing is, he’s a good dude. Nobody really knows what happened over there but Randy would never hurt a fan. A freako jumps on stage, he has every t-shirt, every record, he’s a fan – one of your guys. And you never hurt one of your guys. So it just sucks all the way around and I hope he gets out soon. But look, things are changing today and we all have to be careful.
Ever since Dimebag I start to think, fans should not get up on stage. I know with a lot of the hardcore shows and all of the ‘wall of death’ bullshit that fans want to go physical, but if you encourage that as a lead singer, you better be ready to take responsibility. We don’t even throw drumsticks out anymore since someone got hit in the eye and sued. Fuck, I remember Ozzy, at an Ozzfest show in Phoenix. Some bonehead lady has like a one-year-old there. Leave the fucking kid home! Or I’ll take care of the baby backstage!
Just get out of the heat you idiot! Oz sees her, feels bad for the kid because Oz is a good guy, and tosses a bottle of water down. It hits the kid. Bam! $80,000 lawsuit. So I don’t know what all the answers are. But at Yankee Stadium, if you run on the field, you don’t just get escorted out. you get arrested. So maybe things need to get a little more serious from security. Yeah, I know stage diving is part of the experience at certain shows – so it’s a tough call – but more people will get hurt if nothing changes.
Different from when you saw shows as a kid, huh?
Man, I was watching Randy Rhoads – I was not moshing. I was soaking up the castle, the riffs – like being at a movie. Leave me the fuck alone! Do not touch me! I am digging the show!
Zakk Wylde’s Bringing Metal to the Children: The Complete Berserker’s Guide to World Tour Domination is available now on Amazon.