By RUBEN MOSQUEDA // "I had a blast making this record and I’m having a blast performing these songs in front of people." -- Zakk Wylde
Guitarist Zakk Wylde took a detour from his routine shredding in his electric act Black Label Society when he issued his acoustic follow up to the 1996 ‘Book of Shadows.’ The follow up record was launched with the release of the track and video “Sleeping Dogs.” The new effort titled ‘Book of Shadows II’ picks up where Wylde left off 20 years ago with ‘Book of Shadows.’ Wylde fresh off the ‘Generation Axe’ your will embark on a tour to support ‘Book of Shadows II.’ The tour makes a stop in Portland’s Roseland Theater on August 28th and will be another memorable performance. Wylde took some time from his schedule to catch up with Oregon Music News on his upcoming appearance on the ‘Book of Shadows Tour.’ “It’s always great when people make it out to the show,” says Wylde of his appreciation of the ‘Portland Chapter.’ If you’re not familiar with ‘Book of Shadows’ or ‘Book of Shadows II’ do yourself a favor and pick up a copy you won’t be disappointed. It’s departure from the Zakk Wylde you think you know and his work with Black Label Society.
One of your signature albums has been ‘Book of Shadows.’ I can’t believe it’s been 20 years already. It’s landmark record in my opinion; there are people I know that aren’t fans of your work with Ozzy [Osbourne} or Black Label [Society] that absolutely adore the album. So 20 years later you give us ‘Book of Shadows II.’
Man, it's definitely cool. Over the years People would always ask “Hey Zakk will you ever get to do another ‘Book of Shadows’ thing?” I’ve been doing Black Label for years, so it doesn’t matter if it’s the Polish Chapter or the Portland Chapter; the Black Label family kept asking about a ‘Book of Shadows’ album or as some put it one of those ‘mellow things.’
The truth is if it wasn’t on the 20th anniversary of ‘Book of Shadows’ I probably wouldn’t have even thought about it. We always put ‘mellow’ stuff on Black Label records so I didn’t really think about it too much. So after touring for two years behind the ‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican’ record I think it was time. We’ve done the ‘Unblackened’ stuff where we’ve played some ‘Book of Shadows’ stuff and some of the ‘Pride & Glory’ stuff, along with some Black Label stuff. We did a short of that from New York to L.A. So thought it was a good time on the 20th anniversary of ‘Book of Shadows’ to do a tour.
I figured I’d do one better and record an album. So I had the guys in the band coming out to the Black Vatican in about a month so I figured I had a month and a week to write a record. This record and that record showcase my love for The Eagles, Elton John, Neil Young Van Morrison, The Band, Bad Company, Allman Brothers and [Lynyrd] Skynyrd. That kind of stuff. The other thing is that these songs weren’t lying around for 20 years; these are fresh, brand new songs. So this album comes out about two years after the last Black Label Society record which is how things usually roll.
‘Book of Shadows II’ was the logical progression as prior to ‘Catacombs of the Black Vatican’ you released the ‘Unblackened’ live CD and DVD and also the Black Label EP ‘The Song Remains Not the Same.”
Yeah, that’s right. I mean when people see that it’s a ‘Book of Shadows’ album they know what they are getting. I enjoy having different outlets. We’re only doing stuff from the first ‘Book of Shadows’ record one and the second one on this tour. So people have asked “Oh, will you be playing ant Black Label?” No, we’re not doing that.
So then I do the Zakk Sabbath thing that all Black Sabbath or then I’ll do the ‘Experience Hendrix’ and I’ll pay tribute to Jimi Hendrix. And recently I did this ‘Generation Axe’ thing; so I have all these different outlets to be creative and get things out.
I caught the Zakk Sabbath performance this past January at NAMM and that thing ripped your head off. Is there any plans to do something like a live album, DVD or even a studio record with you tearing through Sabbath songs that you play in the set?
We’re going out for about 8 weeks on the ‘Book of Shadows II’ tour that will take us through September. Then we [Zakk Sabbath] go out with Clutch then about December we’ll start to work on a new Black Label Society album. That’s what I know right now.
You mentioned ‘Experience Hendrix’ how did you become a part of that?
I’ve always wanted to be a part of it. I’ve been asked but I’ve had other commitments in Europe and I just couldn’t make it. It was just like the ‘Generation Axe’ thing. I just did this one and it was a blast. I just spoke to Steve [Vai] and he wants us to go throughout Asia, South America and Europe. It’s a matter of getting everybody together for that; getting Steve [Vai], Yngwie [Malmsteen], Nuno [Bettencourt], Tosin [Abasi] and I together for that. So it’s about schedules. It’s a matter of blocking out the time and coordinating a month’s worth of dates.
Speaking of Hendrix and ‘Generation Axe’ you performed “Little Wing” with Yngwie on the first initial dates of that tour, didn’t you?
Yeah we did. We switched it out after the first or second night but it was definitely fun. I also did something really unique with Nuno Bettencourt; he picked a “Sideways” which was a song covered by Sheryl Crow. I dig Sheryl Crow but I would have never thought of do that. It was cool. I have to tell you man I had a blast on that tour.
So there’s a possibility that there will be a ‘Book of Shadows III?’ Will it take another 20 years for that to surface? We’ll be old men by that point. Will you be going by ‘Zakkary Wylde’ as you’ll be a more distinguished gentleman?
[laughs] Exactly! [laughs] We have to break that 20 year barrier! [laughs] Without a doubt. Why shouldn’t we do ‘Book of Shadows III?’ I had a blast making this record and I’m having a blast performing these songs in front of people. When we did the first tour behind the first record it was just Nick [Catanese] and I with our acoustic guitars and it was so much fun.
Zakk I work in social services and work specifically with people struggling with addiction. I know you’ve been sober for sometime. What were some changes that you made in your lifestyle to facilitate your sobriety? Did you replace alcohol with something else?
[long pause] Nothing. I know people say that you have to replace it with something...I have friends that go to A.A. I also have friends that just stopped. I never went to A.A. I didn’t do anything. I just stopped.
I have a friend that was mid way through a pint and he said to himself “Man, I’m done with this.” I asked him “Darren, you drinking anymore?” He says “No, I stopped. I was getting silly but not to the point that I’m losing my wife, my family, I just think it’s time to stop.” He wasn’t getting ridiculous but he felt it was time to stop.That was it. It was that way for me. I just stopped.
Then you have the other half that are on and off the wagon. It’s like you run into them and they say they haven’t had a drink in months...but I saw them or someone saw then the other day and they were smashed!
Just because I’m not drinking doesn’t mean that other people shouldn’t. That’s for them to determine. More for them I guess? I had these blood clots when I was 42 I’m 49 now. My doctor comes in and says to me “Listen Zakk, I don’t want to be a ‘party pooper’ but by you drinking it’s like adding blood thinner on blood thinner. Your use of alcohol is thinning your blood that much more.” He went over my blood count and my liver count and said that if I continued the way that I was going I would have needed a liver transplant by the age of 45 and he said my pancreas wasn’t that far behind. What more did I need to be told? I stopped. I didn’t replace it with anything.
Zakk last thing; we’ve got a lot of ‘hipsters’ in Portland and in the Northwest in general. Any tips for ‘hipsters’ on beard care?
[laughs] Let it go! [laughs] Like a Viking! Let it go! [laughs]
Zakk we’ll see you in Portland.
Hey Ruben, tell the Portland Chapter to stay strong, God bless.
Once again Zakk Wylde will be performing in Portland at The Roseland Theater on August 28th, 2016. Show at 8:00 PM with Otherwise and Jared James Nichols supporting.