"I've been using thigh thinning cream" - Zakk Wylde prepares himself to take Soundwave by storm...

A new DVD, more live shows and a trek down under for Soundwave - it's set to be another busy year for the head berserker...

Zakk Wylde is in good form when I pick up the phone on your behalf to have a chat about all things Black Label. He’s been a busy bugger of late, what with the band having recently completed tours in support of first Judas Priest and, more latterly, Guns n’Roses. How’s Axl going, Zakk? “He’s great, Axl’s great. The band were great. We always have a great time together.”

 

Not content with this, you’ll also doubtless be aware that Zakk has also recorded and released an EP of acoustically performed Christmas favourites. How and why did this act of piety come about – “itunes asked us if we would be interested. I said of course. So we googled some Christmas songs; Sarah McLachlan has done some great versions of these songs, so I went into my home studio and had a go, you know? I love Christmas!”

But the usual internet naysayers have been out and about saying you shouldn’t be getting involved in such ‘unmetal’ activities. Does that annoy you? “What the fuck are they on about? You know, people always do this. It’s fucking Christmas! It’s not metal! But if it’s because I’m playing acoustic guitar, well… is Going to California by Led Zeppelin not metal enough for you? Just leave me alone, you know?”

Do you think these are the same people that attacked you for appearing on American Idol with James Durbin? “Who knows?"

The guy’s a metalhead isn’t he? Surely he deserved all the support he got on a show like that? “It’s like, if Randy Rhoades had gone on that show, all those years ago would anybody have whined? I doubt it. Or when Eddie Van Halen played on (Michael Jackson’s) Beat It? I mean, was my guitar playing not good enough? I don’t know what these people want.”

You mentioned earlier your home studio, which you’ve recently established – has that changed the way you approach writing and recording? Does it make things easier if you wake up at four in the morning with a killer riff? “No, it doesn’t really work like that. We’re always stockpiling ideas… I guess the difference being that the studio is here, the banks of Marshall speakers – the Wall of Doom – is here, it sounds great coming out of the speakers in the studio, the drums are sounding like cannons… it inspires you. It inspires you to write.”

To change the subject, apart from coming down here for the Soundwave shows, what else is on the cards for next year? “Well we’re just finalizing the arrangements for the Unblackened DVD, It takes a lot to get everything for that co-ordinated, the strings, pianos and all, but we won’t stop playing live either”

It strikes me you are very happy on the road. Is that home for you? “No... I wouldn't say it so simply. I love playing live, but no more than being in the studio writing. I’m a musician, I love to create, to be in positions where I create. I’ve never understood where those guys come from who say they hate recording, hate being in the studio but love playing live, or hate performing and would rather be locked away in a studio creating. I love to do both.”

And so back to Soundwave. Any ideas yet what sort of set we’ll be hearing in a couple of months time? “Not really. It depends mainly on time. If we get forty five minutes, well, it’ll be a heavy metal blitzkrieg. There isn’t time to wheel out the piano! But if we get an hour, we have a little time to spread out. Also we’ll be unveiling our new line of Black Label Society lingerie.”

You’re aware that if I print that those internet miseries will start taking to the keyboards again? “Yes, but I’ll be wearing high heels. I’ve been using thigh thinning cream, the whole Kim Kardashian thing.”

Glad to see you’re taking this seriously. It’s the best way to deflect criticism I find. But seriously - any sideshows planned whilst you are here? “Not as far as I’m aware – I haven’t been told anything about that yet.”

 A shame. But there’s still a bit of time yet, eh? We’ll keep our fingers crossed. It’s time to go now – happy Christmas and all that! “thanks man, and happy Christmas to you. Please tell all your readers to have a great Christmas, keep bleeding black and we’ll see them all next year”