Zakk Wylde Breaks Down the Music Industry, "Bringing Metal to the Children", BandFuse, and More
Thu, 28 Mar 2013 10:53:53
If anybody can tell you how the road really works, it's Zakk Wylde.
The Black Label Society main man's brand new book, Bringing Metal to the Children, is a must-have for any musician. It's an undeniable, unfettered, unfiltered, and unique. It's also downright hilarious, as you'd expect from anything Wylde-related. Like his beyond badass music, he's also bring this out on a national book tour with a combination reading and acoustic performance. Get ready for a whole new Wylde experience…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Zakk Wylde tells you everything you ever wanted (or didn't want) to know about the music industry.
Bringing Metal to the Children definitely captures your personality.
Thanks a lot brother! When Eric Hendrikx and I were doing it, I went, "We have to include in one chapter Definitely Things Not To Attempt!" [Laughs] Uncle Zakk tried them, and they don't work. It doesn't exist. It's hysterical. One of my buddies right now is trying to get a band signed. The perception and what reality is aren't even close. They're miles apart. I look back at when I was 17- or 18-years-old and we were actually sending out stuff to record companies and getting all excited because it's a magical time. You look back on it though and go, "What in the fuck were we thinking man?" [Laughs] Your perception of what things really are is ridiculous. It's as ridiculous as the shit you got upset about in high school like when Julie Anderson broke up with you. You're like, "Dude, come on!" Nowadays, you'll go, "Alright, see you later! I'm going to Hooters you dumb fucking moron!" [Laughs] You look at what was important to you back then, and it's mind-blowing.
Did writing this stir up a lot of memories or was it more about giving something back so to speak?
I'd always be sitting around with Eric or any of my friends talking. It's like you and I talking about how ridiculous the music business is and how goofy it is, your perception of it, and reality. What was I thinking? Some guy says he's going to sign us. Then, he's going to blackball us, and we'll never work again. You go, "Fuck off, man!" Trust me, if the band means money, nobody's blackballing anybody [Laughs]. It's like, "Dude, this guy's going to put a new wing on my Malibu mansion. Hire this band!" Nobody cares. We'd be sitting around talking like, "We've got to write a book someday". It's not an autobiography so much as it is about the pathetic goofy bullshit the music industry is.
You're selling something intangible.
Totally! It's not like we have a restaurant or anything like that. I completely agree. Sitting around with Ozzy Osbourne, I heard the horror stories. It was the same back then. As long as they had booze, weed, blow, and hot chicks, they were like, "Dude, we made it!" In the meantime, you and I are managing them. If he wants a Rolls Royce, we sign it and put it in our name [Laughs]. You want a house? No problem! Of course they had enough money! They were doing Madison Square Garden. You and I get a realtor find houses, Tony, Ozzy, Geezer, and Bill want, and we get them houses, but they're under our names. These dumb fucking morons don't know anything [Laughs]. Ozzy says, "There was no ass left to be raped!" It was gone. It was vaporized. Everybody conceiving Motown deal that could be possibly done was done to Black Sabbath!
Well, it's even worse now because there's no money left!
No, there isn't! When you look at the business, you and I are going to invest in a band. We find the next Stone Temple Pilots or Guns N' Roses. You and I see this group of young kids, and we're like, "They're amazing!" We're going to sink a quarter of a million dollars into them. Unless we're getting a piece of the merchandise and the door, we're not making any money off of records. It's none! Zero! Why are we going to sink that much money into them? Let them keep the publishing. They write the songs. They're the Salvador Dahlis. Even to take care of them, we could manage them. We're not going to fuck them and rape them. We're going to take care of them.
The book is like a survival guide in that aspect.
Without a doubt! Like you said, there is no more music business. There is no A&R guy who walks in making six-to-seven figures a year. It's just like Christopher Columbus. Oh, he discovered America! No, he ran into it! He didn't discover it. You and I could be out on a boat with the rest of the fellas just getting wasted every night and the boat runs into America. Yeah, we discovered it! No, you didn't discover Led Zeppelin. You and I just so happened to be at the Holiday Inn they were playing at [Laughs]. We didn't discover them! If we didn't sign them, somebody was going to sign them. Yeah, we discovered them! No, you were the first asshole to see them playing at The Holiday Inn in front of three people [Laughs]. Come on. Give me a break. Nobody "discovers" these artists. You get lucky and run into them that night. You have unimportant people making important decisions. We're A&R guys. People are like, "Wow, you guys signed Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin". We say, "Yeah!" What’s your talent? Well, they're good aren't they? We like them [Laughs]. That Al Dimeola, he's good, really good. I guess you're right. Axl is an amazing frontman, isn't he? I know! That's our gift to the world as A&R guys [Laughs]. Barbara Streisand can sing can't she? You ain't fucking whistling Dixie pal?
How do you navigate through that?
You keep laughing and you write a fucking stupid book. Trust me, there will be more volumes of this fucking parchment of stupidity [Laughs]. All I have to do is go out on a tour for two weeks, and I'll have another fucking book! How are you going to come up with new material? I live, and I breathe my friend. I'm not about to go to searching for this material. I don't create. Like Christopher Columbus, I fucking run into it [Laughs].
Like the A&R guy who discovered Led Zeppelin…
Exactly! These guys are pretty good, we should sign them!
It's got to feel good to do whatever you want personally.
Without a doubt! On other fronts, it's not like I have to eat somebody's ass and lick their balls to work with them. You don't want to go into business, fine! I'll do it with somebody else. Hopefully, I'll keep playing at the Holiday Inn, someone will see me, and they'll think I'm okay [Laughs].
The title is quite appropriate.
The best is that it goes to show you the stupidity of everything in general. Whenever somebody goes, "Oh Zakk, you wrote a children's book?" I just go, "Now, I fucking realize I should still be drinking" [Laughs]. Yeah, I wrote a children's book. Madonna and I are going on the book tour to read to some children. Oh shit, you've got to love it.
You're going to do the mall circuit with One Direction.
[Laughs] Shit, I'll just ask them if I can hang out with them. Hopefully, I'll pick up some of the spare change they leave on the table or some shit.
They get paid in pounds!
God bless them! Hopefully, they didn't sign the Black Sabbath management contract deal.
How was the Unblackened night in L.A.?
It was great! We don't have fans. We have fams, so it's one big giant Black Label family from Canada to the East Coast. They're all over the place. There's a North Carolina chapter, New Jersey, Boston, New Orleans, and Texas. We had a bunch of people from all over the place.
When did the idea for Unblackened come about?
We were going to do another DVD, and I said, "Well obviously, instead of just doing another rock one where it's a different set list with newer music, why don't we do a DVD with the straight-up mellow stuff?" When we're headlining, we'll wheel the piano out, but we don't do a half-hour set of the mellow stuff. It was an opportunity to do nothing but the mellow stuff from beginning to end. I love Neil Young. He can do the heavy version, "Hey Hey My My". Then, he could do one where he's all by himself with an acoustic guitar and harmonica, and it's equally awesome. I love listening to "Black Dog" and "Going to California". To me, it's all music so it doesn't get boring.
Have you been writing new music?
Right now, it's a matter of stockpiling riffs. You and I could be driving up to Jersey Mike's to get the guys something to eat and "Whole Lotta Love" comes on the radio and we're like, "Dude, we ought to do something like that in the time signature or with that kind of riff!" Then, we get back to the house, turn up the Marshalls, put on the headphones, and start coming up with riffs. You bend it, crumple it, and it turns into its own thing.
Are you excited for the BandFuse game? Have you showed it to your kids yet?
It's all good! You're promoting guitar and playing guitar. There's nothing wrong with that. I haven't had a chance to try it with my kids yet, but I will [Laughs].
What's your favorite Black Label Society song?