Black Label Society: "We're interested in life, religion and war"
“Everything’s bigger, bolder than ever,” says Zakk Wylde as we catch up with him about new Black Label Society album Grimmest Hits
Zakk Wylde is happy as hell to be 50, and he’s especially thrilled at how some of his body parts are holding up. “My vagina is awesome!” he crows. “It’s more powerful than it’s ever been. You ought to see my labia lunges – that’s a sight to behold. I’ll tell you, my vagina can harness more power at 50 than it did when I was 27. This getting older thing isn’t so bad at all.”
He lets out a throaty, raucous chortle, which he does often. Taking a gulp of coffee, he sticks a pin in the notion that hitting the big 5-0 is diminishing his strengths in any way. “I’m doing great, bro. No Viagra for me. No blue pills. Everything’s workin’ like it should – bigger, bolder than ever. I’ve got no complaints.”
Indeed, these days everything about Zakk Wylde appears super-sized. For years he’s cultivated a larger-than-life image, and the advancement of time – and a serious commitment to weightlifting – has only increased his enormity. Style-wise, he’s a cross between Thor and an extra on Sons Of Anarchy, all leather vests and clanking chains, and with his lip-obscuring moustache, a nearly two-foot-long beard and a Fabio-like mane of hair, he’s not likely to blend into a crowd anytime soon.
He cut a dramatically different figure back in the day. In 1987, when he was first thrust into the spotlight as Jake E. Lee’s hotshot guitar replacement in Ozzy Osbourne’s band, he was a clean-shaven pretty boy, sporting the de rigueur poodle ’do popularised by pop-metal bands like Poison and Warrant. “Yeah, I had the poofy hair,” Wylde recalls. “After a while, I didn’t give a fuck about doing my hair. I don’t think I bought a can of Aqua Net after 1988. Once Guns N’ Roses hit, I had enough of that shit. I just rolled out of bed and it was like: ‘Here I am – let’s jam!’”
Wylde’s tenure with Ozzy has been an on-again/off-again arrangement, and as of right now, it’s on again: the guitarist, who rejoined him for a series of dates last year, will hit the road come May for the singer’s two-year “farewell” tour. During his first break with Ozzy, which lasted from 1995 to 2001, Wylde formed his own band, Black Label Society. The group has been through roughly half a dozen iterations, and out of the current line-up (Dario Lorina on rhythm guitar and Jeff Fabb on drums), bassist John DeServio is the longest-standing member, having worked with the outfit briefly in 1999 and rejoining in 2005.