At 19, Zakk Wylde was plucked from a New Jersey gas station to become the lead guitarist and sometime co-songwriter for the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne.
Now, 20 years later, the Black Label Society frontman, who was just inducted into the Guitar Center Rock Walk by Ozzy and Rob Zombie, still owes much of his success to the Black Sabbath singer and reality TV star.
Living on a compound in Southern California with his three kids — 10 if you include the dogs — Wylde will headline the second stage at this year’s Ozzfest, where he will promote his forthcoming album, “Shot to Hell,” the follow-up to 2005’s Top 20-charting, platinum-selling “Mafia.”
AP: What is the Black Label Society?
Wylde: The running joke was that it was a bowling and drinking club. But we suck at the bowling and just drink more. When Black Label started, it was heavier music and I was thinking about naming it black something. My wife asked me the name of the hard alcohol — Black Label. It’s just the term for your best stock.
AP: How does it feel to more or less be launching your new album — after the success of the last one — with a second-stage headlining spot on Ozzfest?
Wylde: It’s awesome. It’s called “Shot to Hell.” It’s all about our pancreas, kidneys and livers after Ozzfest. We have a batch of extras on ice all the time. If you blow one out, we’ll stick another one in you and pour you another cocktail at the same time.
AP: So you’re a pretty big party guy?
Wylde: I never did hard drugs. The only partyin’ I ever did was drink beer and that’s pretty much what I do now. I like being in control all the time anyway. I would never show up on stage smashed.
AP: What about Ozzy?
Wylde: One thing with the boss, when I first joined the band he was still getting loaded — drinking, doing coke. But he never drank before the shows. After the shows, he’d get (messed up) and I’d wonder how we were going to do the show the next day. He’d always show up. I heard stories with Sabbath where he’d disappear for 3 days and they couldn’t find him.
AP: What’s your most outrageous backstage diva request?
Wylde: I never go backstage. These days I just stay on the bus. You’re looking at a $1 million tour bus with everything on there — guitars, ESPN, satellite TV. I sit and practice all day and I have beer and guitars. Why the hell do I need to get off? I’m married with three kids — I’m the Al Bundy of metal. It would just lead to trouble.
AP: You have three kids and seven dogs — do you ever get any sort of peace at home?
Wylde: It’s definitely an insane asylum. I wouldn’t change it for nothin’. I don’t care how much money you make, if you don’t have anyone to share it with, what’s the point of having it?