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Black Label Society
by Ryan Wolf & Donny Kutzbach
Zakk Wylde on being and playing a guitar hero
Guitar god Zakk Wylde and his band Black Label Society will be stopping by the Town Ballroom on May 17, along with metalcore act All That Remains, as part of Mistress Juliya’s hard-rocking Uranium Tour. AV spoke with the metal legend and former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist about some of his recent appearances and accomplishments.
AV: Black Label Society’s latest album, The Song Remains Not the Same, features revamped, somewhat softer versions of tracks from Order of the Black. What drew you to record and release a mostly acoustic album?
ZW: Half the time when we’re in the studio, after we get done blasting out the heavy stuff, we just chill out. I do some acoustic and sit on the piano and get a whole other batch of songs. We’ve always had the mellower side. I mean, Led Zeppelin would have “Black Dog” and then go to “Stairway to Heaven” and then “Going to California.” As much as I like listening to Black Sabbath while I’m working, when we’re sitting on a tour bus for 17-18 hours, I’ll kick back and listen to the Eagles, Neil Young, Elton John, just kickass mellow stuff.
AV: So you don’t feel limited by metal as a culture and tradition?
ZW: No, a good song is a good song, it doesn’t really matter. It’s like with Guns ’N Roses, whether they’re doing “Welcome to the Jungle” or they’re doing “Patience,” it’s just a great song.
AV: You appeared on American Idol recently, a show that appeals to quite a different audience than I’m sure you’re used to. What were your feelings about that experience?
ZW: It was actually pretty fun. I was just laughing about it; after I’d done the thing, I go, “Twenty-plus years with Ozz, 13 years of Black Label…three minutes on American Idol and now everybody knows who I am.” It’s hysterical. Does anyone not watch that show?
AV: What are some of the influences and interests that trickle into your lyrics?
ZW: Lyric-wise, whether it’s about religion or war, it’s what you get from watching the news or reading. I’ll read autobiographies. “Darkest Day” I actually wrote while I was reading about Marvin Gaye.
AV: How does it feel to be a playable character in a videogame (Guitar Hero: World Tour)? How good are you at Guitar Hero?
ZW: My one son will have his buds over and they’ll be jamming on that and just kick my ass, so I’ll say, “Why don’t you pick up the real thing and see what happens?” I’ll tell you though, I think the game is awesome. It’s exposing kids to so many artists they haven’t heard of and, on top of it, it’s making kids want to play guitar. You never know, you might get the next Eddie Van Halen or Randy Rhoads or Dimebag [of Pantera] or Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page just because kids start with the game and then want to learn to play guitar for real. I think it’s cool.
AV: How does fronting Black Label Society compare with serving as a guitarist for Ozzy Osborne?
ZW: With Ozz it was like being a general manager or head coach, with Black Label I’m actually [longtime Yankees owner George] Steinbrenner: I get to pick the players, I get to coach the players, I get to figure out what kind of stadium we’re going to have, the whole nine yards. I’m involved with everything. Black Label’s not 24/7, it’s 25/8, eight days a week, 366 days a year, there are no Saturdays or Sundays around here.
Black Label Society @ Town Ballroom
May 17, 7PM. 681 Main St. (852-3900 / townballroom.com). $32 advance, $34 day of show.
Joey Cape vs. Jon Snodgrass
Take two punk rock thoroughbred singer/songwriters, let them face off head to head, guitar to guitar in one night, and on one stage and see what happens! It all goes down this Monday, May 16m at Mohawk Place. How do the two shape up against one another? Let’s check the scorecard.
Cape: 1990’s Southern California punk stalwarts Lagwagon, a Warped Tour staple and a band that insipired the likes of Blink-182 and Yellowcard. Then later Bad Astronaut, where Cape got more indie rock and started to focus more succinctly on the songwriting. Cape was also a central member of beloved punk rock stupor-group Me First & the Gimme Gimmes.
Snodgrass: The Fort Collins, Colorado-based bands Armchair Martian and Drag the River, both including former ALL singer Chad Price, perfectly taking pop punk spirit and power and fitting it with songs bearing alt. country twang and songwriting depth.
Cape: Lagwagon’s 1995 album Hoss (Fat Wreck Chords), an album named after the lovable big galoot from the Cartwright ponderosa (who also graces the album’s cover art)—14 tracks of hook-heavy, grinning punk passion.
Snodgrass: Drag the River’s 2006 album It’s Crazy (Suburban Home), a killer record that marries exuberant poppy punk and country charm—what Uncle Tupelo might’ve made had they been listening to a little less Dinosaur Jr. and a little more Descendents.
Cape: 2011’s Doesn’t Play Well With Others (self-released), which was slowly issued, track by track, throughout 2010.
Snodgrass: 2010’s Visitor’s Band (Suburban Home).
Cape: He just recently launched a new band called the Bad Loud and is slated to record with Bad Astronaut and Me First & The Gimme Gimmes.
Snodgrass: Set for another tour and a new record with Drag the River. If you see him at Mohawk Place on Monday, he would like you to buy him a beer.
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