Why Zakk Wylde Considers His Fanbase "One Gigantic Black Label Family"

11 November 2015 | 3:53 pm | Brendan Crabb

"Black Label's gonna be doing what Black Label's doing anyway."

Answering the phone with a cheesy "hello there", Black Label Society's jovial vocalist/guitarist Zakk Wylde jokingly fills The Music in regarding preparations for the metallers' upcoming Australian jaunt. "What I usually do is listen to the records, and whatever song it is that I find myself masturbating furiously to, I just go, 'We should just include this in the set.'"

Considering his itinerary, finding sufficient time for self-pleasure may be problematic for Ozzy Osbourne's former shredder. Aside from Black Label Society duties, the grizzled American guitar hero's schedule contains shows with his Zakk Sabbath covers act, and crafting Book Of Shadows II, due next year. The original 1996 solo album possesses special significance for many Wylde fans, capturing a decidedly introspective folk/Southern rock angle.

"There's 28 songs, so it's just a matter of putting in melodies, lyrics and everything else. So that's where we're at right now. On these breaks we've been taking I've just been doing my Black Label homework, listening to tunes and writing lyrics. Obviously it's 20 years later, but it's the same thing. Book Of Shadows is mostly acoustic-based and more on the mellow side, so it's more in that vein."

"Whatever song it is that I find myself masturbating furiously to, I just go, 'We should just include this in the set.'"

Although flirting with less abrasive territory via the likes of Black Label Society's The Song Remains Not The Same and Hangover Music Vol. VI, that band's fire and brimstone metal has been somewhat of a constant amid ever-changing heavy music trends. "Right now, you've got Disturbed, their album did really well on the charts. You also just had Five Finger Death Punch doing great, Iron Maiden. For everybody saying that metal's dead, whatever. I don't listen to any of that shit (commentary) anyway. Black Label's gonna be doing what Black Label's doing anyway. Whenever any of the bands in the genre do really well on the charts, it's great for the whole community."

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Of his faithful, Wylde remarks that it's "one gigantic Black Label family, and we're just basically the house band". The loyalty elicited from their audience (divided into fraternity "chapters" worldwide) has been readily apparent, even during times such as the nu-metal era when instrumental prowess and especially the guitar solo were often eschewed.

"It's like that with basically anything and everything. Things are popular, then they go out of fashion and another 20 years later all of a sudden something's popular again. I think it's not just guitar, I think that's how it is in fashion and anything in general. Every generation is like, we'd always had the best stuff. When we were growing up we had the best stuff, and this and that. Then you ask the generation before that and they say the same thing... The Sinatra generation had Sinatra, then when Elvis came out they were like, 'Oh my God, this stuff sucks.' And the Elvis generation, when The Stones and the Beatles came out were like, 'What is this shit? We had good music.'

"I think it's the same thing with every generation... That's always the way it is. Every generation is always like, 'we had the best shit. What the kids like nowadays is terrible.' It's funny, but that's just the way it is."