On April 20th, Zakk Wylde and his band, Black Label Society, release their fifth studio album, "Hangover Music Vol. VI", through Spitfire Records. The New Jersey born singer/song writer/guitarist formed BLS in 1998 while maintaining his role as Ozzy Osbourne's lead guitarist.
One of the last remaining rock stars, Zakk Wylde has earned the right to do as he pleases. A rare alternative to the image-conscious music scene, he's more content in his backyard cleaning up after his Rottweiler's than attending parties and award ceremonies. Always unpretentious, Zakk has many accolades, acquiring many multi platinum CD's with Osbourne, a Grammy and winning Guitar World's acclaimed MVP two years in a row. Black Label Society is an extension of the persona and force created by Osbourne's side, allowing Wylde to get his hands dirty with some of the most dark, fearsome and thunderous hard rock of the Modern Age.
Asked whether Black Label Society are rock 'n' roll, heavy metal or southern rock - or a bastardization of the three- Zakk is insistent, "We're a fucking hard-core IRON company," he states, "Believe me, this ain't fucking Britney Spears!" As Hangover Music Vol. VI confirms, Zakk Wylde has always had more than one string to his bow. Indeed, he has always shown his range from his first solo effort, pride & glory, the follow-up, acoustic based "Book of Shadows" to each and every Black Label CD, by including dark, melodic ballads which highlight his duality.
Now comes an album that will turn all preconceptions about Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society firmly on their head. As the title implies, "Hangover Music" is a thought-provoking, warming and consistently fascinating collection of songs that show off the mellower side of Zakk's personality. As much a fan of Elton John and Neil Young as Black Sabbath, Pantera and Judas Priest, Wylde shows his true diversity here.
From the hypnotic opening strains of "Crazy or High" to an emotional vocal-piano interpretation of Procol Harum's 1967 hit, "A Whiter Shade of Pale", the album vacillates between moments of claustrophobic density ("Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow") to the tragic ("She Deserves A Free Ride"). It also contains a lucid song called "Layne", which is a moving tribute to the late Alice In Chains front man, Layne Staley.
"What would be the point of putting out the same damn album each time?" retorts Zakk. "This one's darker and heavier than some of our previous CD's, maybe in the vein of when Alice In Chains did "Jar of Flies" but its still a Black Label record. I loved it when GN'R did mellow shit like "Lies".....those are the CD's we listen to during 20 hour bus rides or after a night of "brewtality".
Joining Wylde, who wrote all songs, sings, in addition to playing guitar, bass and piano is longtime, ex-Crowbar, drummer, Craig Nunenmacher. There are also many guest players on Hangover Music. "We call it Mount Bassmore", laughs Zakk. Guesting on the bass are James LoMenzo (David Lee Roth, pride & glory), John "JD" DeServio (Black Label Society) and Mike Inez (Alice In Chains). Also contributing on drums is John Tempesta (White Zombie & Rob Zombie). It was recorded at Ameraycan Studios in North Hollywood, California.
Black Label Society's last album, "The Blessed Hellride" smashed its way to debut at 50 on the Billboard's Hot 100, selling more than 20,000 units its first week of release. A video for the radio it single "Stillborn" was directed by none other than Wylde's good friend, Rob Zombie. He is fiercely proud of the band's independently achieved success and rightly so, as it has been acquired the hard way.
Zakk was handpicked by Ozzy in 1987 at the tender age of just 19 to be his new axe slinger. As a sidekick to the former Black Sabbath singer and future MTV superstar, Wylde had the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of such renowned fretster's as Tony Iommi, Randy Rhoads and Jake E Lee. He passed each test with flying colors, co-writing many of Ozzy's biggest hits - including the CD's "No Rest For the Wicked", the multi-platinum and Ozzy's greatest selling CD "No More Tears" and "Ozzmosis".
After a brief collaboration with Axl Rose and company to join Guns N Roses didn't materialize, Wylde went on to perform with the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd before recording his first solo effort, pride & glory.
Wylde also found time to appear alongside Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston in the move Rock Star and says he will consider other acting roles. He explains, "The producers just wanted me to be myself. I had to go down there, drink beer, fire shotguns, lift weights - and they wanted to pay ME?!"
Although the makers of Rock Star have denied reports that the screenplay was based upon Judas Priest and their vocalist "Ripper" Owens, who joined them from a Priest tribute band, the movie could have easily documented the life of Wylde, himself.
"I grew up worshipping Tony Iommi and Randy Rhoads, and look at me - I ended up in Ozzy's band," acknowledges Zakk, whose continued role as Ozzy Osbourne guitarist and leader of Black Label Society ensures that he is still one of the busiest men in rock. In previous years, Wylde has even been known to "double duty", opening for Ozzfest with Black Label Society and closing the show hours later with his friend and mentor, Ozzy.
Besides making a guest appearance on the long-awaited new album from Damageplan, the new band formed by his ex-Pantera buddy, Dimebag Darrell and his brother Vinnie, Zakk also found time to play piano on Ozzy and Kelly's UK chart-topping version of Black Sabbath's "Changes" and has co-written material on Theory of a Deadman's new album.
Zakk Wylde has established himself something of a veteran in this world of five-minute boy bands and Pop Idol wannabes. With so much on his plate and to look forward to, Zakk laments, "I love being in Black Label but I'll always be around for Ozzy," he says, "Just because you move out of the house, doesn't mean you don't love your dad anymore."