The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world





ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM ' Catacombs of the Black Vatican'


APRIL 2014


Photos by Justin Reich

The man needs no introduction. As the axeman for Ozzy Osbourne for a number of years and his own band Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society shredding out for 15 years, Zakk Wylde is as direct as they come. No bullshit or compromise, just straight to the point and consistently delivering quality guitar driven music to the masses. He is also one very busy guy but we managed to briefly catch him while on tour with the Metal All Stars which also includes the likes of Joey Belladonna, Max Cavalera and Vince Neil. We discuss the new album "Catacombs of the Black Vatican" which will definitely not disappoint any fans when it comes out.

Andrew: Thanks for the interview, I know you are a busy guy. First off I want to say that the new album sounds fantastic! Just tell us a bit about how you went into writing and recording this album.


Zakk: We got off the road with Gigantour with the Megadeth fellas and Hellyeah and the rest of the boys and we had a blast out on that thing. So we got off the road, I asked how much time do we have before the fellas get out here so we can start working on a new record. 'We got about 25 days they'll be out here'. Well alright I got 25 days to write a record. The only things I had laying around was "Angel Of Mercy" I wrote on a piano and "Shades Of Gray" I had that on accoustic guitar that I wrote that on. But that was about it. The rest of the stuff is all me just sitting out at the garage with the engines firing off riffs, going through the marshall with the octave pedal on and reverbs so it sounds like I'm at Madison Square Garden and just writing riffs man. It always starts with the riff and obviously that will inspire you to sing something over it and then the lyrics come last. But when the guys got out here, the guys flew out for 2 weeks and I had about 12 song ideas and I would just show Chad (Szeliga, drums), he would sit right next to me and I would just play it for him and he would go 'alright here's the verse, here's the pre-chorus, here's the chorus then we'll go back to the riff again' and then yadayadayada. So you know we just show him the song structure, he would practice it on his lap and then he'd sit behind the drums, we would go through it one time and then he'd go 'alright cool we got it, let's record this thing'. And that was it. I mean it was like literally, I mean that's how we make these records. We don't go through production and rehearsals and all this other bullshit and make demo tapes. I mean what's a demo tape? The whole thing is, when you get married that's not a tryout, you get married, you get married that's it. It's not an audition type thing, you just fucking do it so the whole thing is I never understood that. Otherwise because it's the first time you record it, so you put all your enthusiasm into it and then you're constantly chasing a demo tape because it just sounds like shit, fidelity wise but the performances are there. But we just do it, knock it out and then we would move on to the next song. So we did that and then inbetween while the guys were there, I'd keep them out for like 2 weeks so this way incase I pull something outta my ass while they're there, which I did. Between "Empty Promises" and "I've Gone Away", those came at the end of the sessions right before the guys left. So yeah this album was made no different than the first Black Label album. I mean just go in and you jam and play riffs that you like playing. So if I write a mellow song, cool let's track this one so that's how we write the records. It's not like we're writing a concept record, I mean if I write pretty mellow tunes as well, alright cool we got some mellow songs and then let's get back to writing riffs so it's kinda like that man.


Andrew: So obviously when you go in to write a new album, the mindset is always the same. I guess it's one of those things especially with your band in particular, kinda related to AC/DC in a lot of ways where no matter what you put out, everyone knows what they are getting. A Black Label Society, Zakk Wylde album every single time. Is that the mindset you go into when you write a new album?


Zakk: Yeah it's kind of like well what's the difference between "Led Zeppelin IV" and "Houses Of The Holy"? To me it's just like "Houses Of The Holy" and "Led Zeppelin IV" is amazing. When "Houses Of The Holy" came out I was like wow this is great now that we have some new Zeppelin to listen to. I mean I like all of them from the first Zeppelin record to the last one, they are all great. It just depends on what mood you are in, what you are not worn out on yet. It's like with the Stones, you have "Exile On Main St." and you have "Some Girls", both awesome. All it is it's just new Stones stuff we can listen to. That's the way I look at it, like AC/DC you got "Highway To Hell" and then you got "Back In Black" and they're both amazing. It's just like it's new, cool AC/DC to listen to.

Andrew: So on this new album, do you have any particular favorites that you are really liking at the moment?


Zakk: I love the whole thing. To me it's kinda like whether we're in the mood for pizza or whether we're in the mood for Japanese steak house or in the mood for Thai food. It depends on what we're in the mood for, that's the way I look at it. But na I love all of them, the production on it we did on it and the mixes that J.D. and Adam did and then when I come in at the end of the day, I'd listen to it and go 'Can we bring the harmony up over here, can you bring the guitar up a little bit over here', like a taste test at the end of the day. But I mean we got it down to a system now so I leave the guys alone to do their thing and then I come in and taste the soup at the end of the night.


Andrew: And how was it working with Dario (Lorina, rhythm guitars) who obviously this is his first album that he appears on?


Zakk: Dario is great man. We did the book tour, everything's slammin', we did the one show at the Namm show. So Dario is phenomenal man, he's a monster guitar player, he's a cool kid so it works out perfect man.


Andrew: Just listening to the album, it sounds great and some of my favorites have got to be the first track "Fields Of Unforgivness" and the other one I really like is "Heart Of Darkness". Can you tell me a bit about that song and lyrically what that song is about?


Zakk: Pretty much all of my lyrics, obviously you know I'm not going to be writing like hooking up with my chick on a saturday night driving my car and everything's rocking and alright. With all my lyrics it could be about something that happened to me, something that I've seen happen to my friends or whatever. I read autobiographies as well so if I see something cool on somebody, I can use that as some lyric material.

Andrew: Like inspiration.


Zakk: Yeah and just watching the news and seeing anything going on, watching the war channel and stuff like that. If I watch anything on World War 2 or while I'm watching the history channel or something like that, just get some inspiration for lyrics from that or like religion and stuff like that. There's so many areas that are interesting. I mean like when I wrote lyrics for "Crazy Horse", the funny thing is, 3 of my native American Indian buddies, I was talking about Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, the big 3 or whatever, talking about what their strengths are and other guitar players like Jeff Beck, some will say Jimmy Page, others will say Eric Clapton. Just doing a Black Label roundtable talking about your favorite guitar players. So we were talking about Geronimo, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and who was the baddest ass and yadayadayada...So I remember I was reading this wikipedia thing on Crazy Horse so that's where I got the inspiration for lyrics for "Crazy Horse" 'So this guy goes whats the song Crazy Horse about?' and I go ' It's about a horse that's fucking crazy!' haha!


Andrew: Haha!


Zakk: So I go no it's about Crazy Horse the warrior chief. It's so crazy, doing some research on him, I didn't realize he's Irish Catholic. I never knew that. And he goes 'Really?' and I go 'No you fucking idiot, what Irish Catholic, what the fuck are you talking about?' Haha but yeah it's fucking hysterical man but I mean as far as lyrics go, there's tonnes of sources where you can grab inspiration from.


Andrew: At the moment you are on the Metal Allstars tour, how is that going at the moment?


Zakk: We are having a blast out here. It's very similar to what I just got off the Experience Hendrix thing. So it's you roll with a bunch of friends and you're playing music that you love from other artists, obviously celebrating Jimi's stuff, his life and his music. Out here we are just celebrating all these other artists that you love and then you play a bit of your own stuff so it's all good man.


Andrew: So you are playing some of your own stuff as well as other songs as well?


Zakk: Yeah I'm playing a bunch of Sabbath and we stretch out the jams to like we play "Warpigs", it's like a fucking 30 minute version of "Warpigs" and the solo turns into an Allman Brothers jam at the end.


Andrew: Obviously the last time we saw you in Australia was at the Soundwave Festival in 2012, so the question is when will you be back?


Zakk: We're definitely coming down there for sure. I mean I know we're gonna do this 6 week run in the States with our good friends in Down and The Devil You Know and Butcher Babies and we're gonna do a 6 week crusade of doom on that one. It's gonna be a good time man.


Andrew: OK cool. Well it's been a pleasure speaking to you, I know you're busy so I'd better let you go so thanks for the interview, it's much appeciated!


Zakk: Your'e welcome man!



Zakk spoke to Andrew Schizodeluxe April 2014





Interested in an interview for your band? e-mail digg[at] prefers to interview live or via skype or phone but will consider e-mail interviews