The world is sold a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle as a combination of grand excess and elbow grease. But it’s rarely equal parts, and all bands can be measured by their combination of the two urges. Some bands trend toward the shinier end of the spectrum, exuding fast fashion and pop attitude. They burn bright, write irritatingly hooky songs, and are reminisced about wistfully by comedians and C-list celebrities decades later on rock channels looking for innovative yet cheap programming.
Then there’s the other end of the spectrum, where rock ‘n’ roll is a job—a hard job—one that requires perseverance, talent and drive. Few typify this approach more so than Zakk Wylde and his Black Label Society. Wylde speaks of his work in music with all the grace of a contractor or a long haul truck driver. He’s a man who understands that his sweat is what makes his rock ‘n’ roll worthwhile despite a Cinderella story; he was handpicked by Ozzy Osbourne (a man he lovingly refers to as “the boss”) as a guitarist in 1987 and he has played guitar on Ozzy’s solo work ever since.
Endless guest appearances, including recent work on fellow Black Label members’ side project Cycle Of Pain but as far reaching as cameos in cartoons like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, have kept him in the heavy metal spotlight beyond his own band and his long association with the Prince Of Darkness. Now on the last leg of an incredibly long tour cycle—his most recent album, Shot To Hell, came out in 2006, but prior to that, he had a new Black Label Society record roughly every single year for almost a decade—with both BLS and Ozzy to perform for all over the world, Wylde’s about to head back into the studio to record some more track for an upcoming Ozzy solo record. After that, it’s a new BLS, but not before tiding fans over with the greatest hits Skullage package (pronounced like “collage,” according to the man himself).
And much to the joy of the local Black Label chapters, he’s bringing BLS through the area again. Remember, he’s got to work for it.
Since you first toured Shot To Hell in the U.S., it’s feels like it’s been ages since you came through. Are the people still hungry for it?
Yeah. All the chapters have been killer man, everywhere we’ve been going. Black Label’s just one giant family, so everybody’s just been nuts.
Now J.D. [DeServio, bass] is doing double duty later in the tour for Cycle Of Pain, but not at the beginning?
He’ll be doing that coming up in a bit, I think Nick [Catanese, rhythm guitar] will be doing some stuff as well, but yeah, J.D.’ll be doing duty without a doubt. Just gives you an opportunity to catch two buzzards instead of one. (laughs)
Are you going to come out and see it?
With J.D. and the guys, no, we’ll be up there throwing down. It’ll just give me a chance to chill. It’s the same thing with Ozzy when I gotta do the two-a-days. It’s like, ‘Boss, you gonna come out and watch Black Label?’ He’s like ‘No, why don’t you go screw yourself.’ What are you kidding me? (laughs). ‘Get the heart difribulator out when you need me get me up on the goddamn stage, ‘till then don’t bother me.’ (laughs).