Keepin’ It Sexy: 30 Minutes In Bed with Zakk Wylde

     September 11, 2007

(Photos by Carey Robinson)

Every summer, I make the annual pilgrimage to the holy land of metal by attending Ozzfest. This year, however, making up for a less than stellar lineup of bands, was an opportunity to sit down (or lay down – more on that later) with legendary maestro of metal, Zakk Wylde. Having followed Zakk’s career for the past twenty years, from a teenager with Ozzy Osbourne, through his time with Pride and Glory, Black Label Society, and his other assorted musical endeavors, I was looking forward to this trip to Ozzfest more than all other years combined.

Monday, August 20, 2007, 4:30pm, Tweeter Center, Mansfield, Massachusetts — Zakk’s tour manager greets me at the tour bus, graciously welcoming my cameraman and me aboard. In the main cabin, proudly displayed are Zakk’s leather vests, hanging up along the windows. Included is his BLS vest, as well as his Birmingham, UK vest that Zakk wears when onstage with Ozzy. It’s also hard to miss Zakk’s mini shrine dedicated to Randy Rhoads, featuring a few framed pictures of Zakk’s late, great predecessor.

Shooting a glance down the cabin, I see Zakk emerging from a blocked off room in the back of the bus. He walks over to me; I’m expecting a handshake, but I get a monster bear hug. After welcoming us aboard, the first thing he does, naturally, is offer us a beer. So as not to appear rude, we graciously accept.

My cameraman is setting up. I have my detailed and well thought out questions ready to go – broken down brilliantly into “Ozzy,” “BLS” and “Other,” when Zakk insists on giving us a tour of the bus before we start the interview. Who am I to say no? Zakk’s only request before we begin the tour is that we “keep it sexy.” Whatever that means, I’ll give it a go. Leaving the video camera’s tripod, and my aforementioned interview questions behind, we follow Zakk and begin our tour.

First stop: the guitars. As one would expect to see, several of Zakk’s legendary Gibsons are housed in a customized, built-in guitar rack. Also in the collection, Zakk proudly shows us his Jackson Rhoads model, signed by Delores Rhoads, Randy’s mom. Zakk promptly kisses the guitar, always showing love and respect for Randy and his family.

Leaving the guitars behind, we come to a sliding door that separates the main cabin of the bus from Zakk’s bedroom in the back. The room includes a good size bed covered with a Black Label Society blanket (naturally) and a monster plasma TV where, Zakk tells us, he’s always tuned in to Seinfeld. Zakk speaks briefly about spending time on the bus with his wife, Barbaranne, when he’s on the road, and the constant need for an early warning detection system so his kids don’t walk in on them whilst in the throws of marital passion.

At this point, I’m thinking we’re heading back to the front of the bus, where the video camera’s tripod, and my interview questions, are waiting for us. I may never be able to explain to you, or myself, why things suddenly took the bizarre turn that they did, but at this point, Zakk suggests, or rather, insists, that we do the interview right here, right now, in his bedroom, on his bed. I’m thinking to myself, is Zakk tired? In need of a quick rest, perhaps? I’m not quite sure how to respond.

I’m straight. Zakk’s straight. My wife is actually the ‘cameraman’ for the day. There was nothing overtly, or covertly, sexual about this request; it was just plain bizarre and goofy. Zakk is a fun and wacky guy, never taking himself too seriously, which is quite refreshing, especially when you consider the success he has had. In the interest of honoring Zakk’s request that we “keep it sexy,” my wife/cameraman and I exchange a curious glance, and in the name of hard-hitting journalism, I decide to go for it, jumping onto the far side of Zakk’s bed. (At this point, I feel like I’m in a Saturday Night Live skit, expecting Christopher Walken to jump out from under Zakk’s bed at any minute.)

Zakk lies down next to me, ready to start the interview. I mention to Zakk that my questions are at the front of the bus, but that important fact didn’t seem to matter. So as a professional, I decided to press onward; no questions, no tripod, and a cramped bus bedroom with air conditioning blasting so loudly it pretty much destroyed the audio from this videotaped interview. Feel free to check out the accompanying video posted along with this story (at the bottom of the interview), and I have tried my best to transcribe the questions and answers following.

COLLIDER: You’ve been with Ozzy for 20 years, since you were 19. When you first joined the band and you looked at the catalogue, the songs that Randy (Rhoads) and Jake (E. Lee) had written, and you had to learn them, what was your approach, and what were your thoughts?

ZAKK: I’m thinking, there’s no way on God’s great earth that I am going to be able to handle this fucking shit. And I’m pathetic, and I’m gay, and I can’t handle it. And in a sense, that’s why we’re sleeping in bed together right now and we’re making love. Or we will be later on (laughs). Randy (Rhoads) is my guy; Randy, Eddie (Van Halen), you know, all the guys. (Jimi) Hendrix, Robin Trower, it’s all about respect. They’re amazing guys. Work ethic of doom; go out there like Babe Ruth, it’s the same thing. It’s having a passion for what you want to do. My wife, I love her, and I love being in bed with you (laughs). You don’t like your mom and dad, you love them. It’s beyond forever. I love them.

COLLIDER: You named one of your children Hendrix Halen Michael Rhoads (after Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Mike Piazza, and Randy Rhoads). My wife and I named our son after you (I show Zakk a picture of my son, Zakk, on my mobile. Zakk takes my phone, looks at the picture and kisses it).

ZAKK: Look at little Zakk. Hopefully he won’t get as fucked up as I am (laughs). He has a great mom and dad.

COLLIDER: Thinking about those guys that influenced you to name your son, now having someone name their kid after you, what does that say to you, as far as your place in music history, and the impact you have had?

ZAKK: I mean, it’s a beautiful thing. My hands aren’t mine. They’re His (God). He gave us beer, and we always have a good time. You always pay your respect and thank God, thank dad, for everything that you’ve got. I’m thanking dad right now that I am in bed right now with one of the sexiest men on the planet (laughs). You have Brad Pitt, you have Johnny Depp, and then you have the boss.

COLLIDER: (laughs) Thanks, Zakk. You always know just what to say.

ZAKK: I know fact, okay. (laughs)

COLLIDER: So, what’s up next for Black Label Society? You were with Spitfire for a while, then very short stays with Artemis and Roadrunner. What’s next?

ZAKK: With the record companies, I always try to tell them, this is the way it’s always gotta be, yahta, yahta, yahta. There are a lot of beautiful people at the labels; everybody’s trying to do the best job that they can. If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I don’t have time to deal with this crap. All’s I gotta do is drink beer, and thank the good Lord for everything that I got. I practice real hard, lift weights, and do what I gotta do to try and stay sexy at all times, obviously (laughs). You love music, and that’s the reason why you got into it. True musicians, that’s what you do. You always gotta have fun. It ain’t no big deal.

Continued on the next page (that’s where the video is) ——->


COLLIDER: How was it decided that BLS was not going to play this year at Ozzfest?

ZAKK: The guys are home right now. I guess mom didn’t want me doing the two gigs. I said bring it on, I don’t care. But I thought, maybe give the guys (BLS) a break for a little while. We’re all getting older now, and the guys got kids now; we’ve all got kids. The guys wanna go home and do other things. They’re all my brothers, it doesn’t matter.

COLLDER: Earlier this year, Ozzy and BLS played a show in Norway with TNT on the bill.

ZAKK: Yeah, I love Ronnie LeTekro (TNT’s guitarist).

COLLDER: I was going to ask for your thoughts on Ronnie because TNT has been one of my favorite bands for years.

ZAKK: Yeah, Ronnie LeTekro is where I got all the pings from. Ronnie LeTekro is the man.

COLLIDER: And Tony Harnell is an amazing singer (although he is no longer in the band).

ZAKK: Tony is from New York City, a New York guy. 10,000 Lovers (In One), baby! (TNT song title)

COLLDER: Is that what you are, Zakk?

ZAKK: As you can apparently see! (laughs)

At this point, I try and end the interview to let Zakk go and eat his dinner before he hits the stage with Ozzy in a few hours. Zakk tells us that he’s all set right now, that he’s “going to go back to the gay brothel, watch some Seinfeld, then go do a big, hot rockin’ show.” With that said, I press onward.

COLLDER: Black Rain is probably the best Ozzy record since No More Tears. 11 Silver is my favorite solo you’ve done on an Ozzy song since No More Tears. How did you approach that solo?

ZAKK: I just approached it the same way as when you and me go to the gay brothel. I just go out there and I say, look at the size; look at the girth; look at the length; look at the size of the balls. I just go, that’s it, that’s the solo. That’s the shlong that I want.

COLLIDER: Fair enough. Also, about Black Rain, two songs on the Japanese version are not on the U.S. version, I Can’t Save You Now and Nightmare. They’re two of the strongest songs on the album. Why wouldn’t Sony put those songs on the U.S. version, making the record longer and stronger?

ZAKK: Once we got done doing the record, I met with Ozzy. Doing a record with Ozzy, and (producer) Kevin (Churko) is so cool. It’s just the way records are supposed to be made. It’s like, bam! You go in there and you just knock it out. Have a good time and you’re just like, the record’s done.

At this point, Zakk’s tour manager sticks his head around the corner, suggesting we wrap it up. We leave Zakk’s room, heading back up to the front of the bus. I shamelessly ask Zakk to sign a poster for my son and pose for a picture with my wife and me, and we start chatting about all sorts of random stuff. Both of us having children, we spoke about Delores Rhoads and how unnatural and tragic it is for a parent to lose a child. Zakk told me how his daughter actually received guitar lessons from Mrs. Rhoads, which Zakk was positively beaming about.

The afternoon was already bizarre enough, when Zakk breaks out a Barbie keepsake box and fishing pole (seriously – seethephoto at the beginning of this interview). He talked about a recent fishing excursion he and his crew went on, with his crew using professional, hardcore equipment and Zakk using his toy Barbie gear. Apparently Zakk caught more fish, and no one in his crew on the bus disputed that fact.

In a final act of kindness, Zakk made sure my wife put the rest of her beer into a plastic cup so she wouldn’t get into trouble walking around the venue with it. We thanked Zakk and his tour manager for their time and hospitality, and we were on our way.

The next 30-60 minutes are somewhat of a blur. My wife and I had to convince ourselves that the previous 30 minutes hadn’t been a dream. So much time was spent preparing the right questions, and planning the right shots for this interview, and in an instant, it all went out the window. Sure, several of Zakk’s answers were a bit vague or elusive, and perhaps Zakk’s colorful vocabulary and self-deprecating humor isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But Zakk Wylde doesn’t need to kiss anyone’s ass, and he’s earned the right, through achievement and longevity, to do things his way.

No one can deny that Zakk Wylde is an incredible talent, and his contributions to the hard rock/metal world have solidified his place in music history. His heart is certainly in the right place (he and his wife recently committed a $1 million donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital), and there is no doubt that the man truly appreciates all he has been given in life, personally and professionally.

A big Collider thank you to Zakk and Barbaranne Wylde, and to tour manager Mark Ferguson. SDMF.

And for those who want to see the video… here it is!

Zakk Wylde Video Interview – Part 1 – the tour bus and some pretty funny stuff towards the end

Zakk Wylde Video Interview – Part 2 – Zakk answers questions

Zakk Wylde Video Interview – Part 3 – more questions

Zakk attempts to plug

The second try…

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