Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society Means Business��

Charleston City Paper | October 13, 2005
WARNING: This story contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the band before taking their children to see them. An “R” rating has been assigned to this feature due to, among other things, the use of adult language, theme, sex, or its portrayal of booze enthusiasm.

With two decades of heavy-metal guitar shredding and head-bangin’ under his belt — much of which took place alongside the legendary Ozzy Osbourne — Black Label Society ringleader Zakk Wylde, 38, is a well-seasoned rock ’n’ roll veteran dedicated to his trade and talent. The guitarist, singer, and songwriter helped write a number of Osbourne’s best-selling multi-platinum albums — including No Rest For The Wicked, No More Tears, and Ozzmosis — before embarking a something of a solo career in 1995.

In the late-’90s, Wylde detoured his efforts into what eventually became the Black Label Society. The band’s sixth studio album, Mafia (Artemis), entered the Billboard charts in March, just as they finalized plans to co-headline the 2005 Ozzfest tour. Hearing the boisterous hell raiser carry on over the telephone about his fun-loving rock ’n’ roll lifestyle and band activities, it’s for sure he’s on top of his game.

“Black Label, it means ‘supreme,’ like Johnny Walker or a top-shelf whiskey, he says of the band name, speaking from the band’s tour rehearsal space in Nashville. “It could mean a black label Mercedes, black label booze, black label beer … Put it this way: if you’re an Oakland Raider fan, it’s bigger than a football team. It represents the bunch of misfits who were always all on those teams — a bunch of fucking misfits who were hard as nails. A bunch of fucking outcasts, like us.”

The touring version of the Black Label band features three L.A. metal experts: Craig “Louisiana Lightning’” on drums (he hit the skins on all the Mafia tracks), Nick “Evil Twin” Catanese on rhythm guitar, and John “JD” DeServio on bass.

“Oh, it’s gonna be supple yet sassy, bold yet provocative sexy show … that always ends with a love story,” jokes Wylde about the upcoming concert at the Plex. “Nah … whenever it’s a Black Label gathering, it’s just everybody drinking booze, rasing hell, and having a good time. We’re in the middle of production rehearsals getting ready, but it’s the same crap: getting loaded, getting tanked, and getting ready to whoop some ass. It never ends, brother. Tell ’em to have their livers and kidneys on ice!”

Despite some slick production and modern guitar audio effects, many of the half-step riffs, guitar licks, and bonehead drum beats on Mafia resemble those from the glory days of the “acid rock” scene circa 1972.

“I look at it this way when we go into the studio: if it’s in that zip code of Sabbath and Zeppelin, it’s alright,” confirms Wylde. “It’s like, what you eat is what’s gonna be flying out of your ass, you know what I’m saying? You’re gonna sound like what you listen to. We just try and keep it balls to the walls.”

Ball to the walls. That sums up the sound of the band’s latest disc quite nicely. It’s aggressive, dense, dark, amusing, sometimes dim-witted … just like most of the best heavy metal of the previous three decades. The classic metal riffs and noise digs deeper into the heart of pure metal than a lot of makes it to commercial radio today.

“Yeah, you do see these bands who are like 20 years-old with the new gear, and you look at them and think, who are these guys? Have these guys ever even played live show?” jokes Wylde of the some of the new breed of young metal clowns. “And they didn’t write anything on their record. It’s like they’re actors. The guys I love, Sabbath and Zep, you look at the sleeve credits, and it says ‘written by …’ and it’s the guys in the band. I’d never work with an [outside] songwriter ever in my fucking life. Otherwise, you’re not the genuine article. You gotta be fucking kidding me. I’d destroy them. You might as well go out there and tell Joe Montana how to throw a fucking football … or have some armchair douche-bag run the offense. It’s like, if I found out Eddie Van Halen or Randy Rhodes never played on those records, or Jimi Hendrix never wrote anything, I’d just fucking quit, flat-out.”

The album’s first singles, “Suicide Messiah” and “In This River,” were recently added to MTV2’s Headbanger’s Ball and Fuse’s Uranium, and received hefty airplay on various rock stations over the summer.

“For us, you gotta have the fucking work ethic of doom,” says Wylde of the band’s incessant touring. “And there ain’t no bitching or moaning, and the complaint department is forever fucking closed! The job’s gotta get done. Victory is not an option, you know what I’m, saying? Like, me and you could be going out and getting tanked ’til four o’clock in the morning, but if we gotta get up at five to answer the bell, we gotta get up. Me and you could be feeling like prison cunt the whole next day, but people paid their money to see damn show, so you get your ass up there and get the job done. There are no options.”��

Charleston City Paper

Founded in 1997, the locally owned and operated City Paper is Charleston's only weekly alternative newspaper and the second-largest publication in the metro Charleston area. Reaching a strong mix of active, affluent locals and tourists, the City Paper has thrived...
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