Zakk Wylde: Mocking The Black Metal Satanists
He’s Ozzy Osbourne’s best friend, and one of the world’s best guitarists. Zakk Wylde is a sympathetic rock rebel, faithful to his wife, done with the booze and down with The Man Upstairs. Still the cat hasn’t got his tongue, and when we met him at Norway Rock Festival, his main subjects were Black Metal and (of course) sex.
Author: Vigdis Meidell. Photo: Simon Wiken and Vigdis Meidell.Published 17.10.2011
At Utsikten Hotel, just a stone's throw from the muddy festival, Zakk greets me with a strong hug and a fatherly kiss on the cheek. My male photographer gets a solid handshake, and is immediately named Brother.
Zakk is in a great mood. His determined walk, his bulging muscles and his rumbling voice give him a natural authority. Combined with the extreme beard and the hard rock outfit, he stands out as a poster boy for testosterone. Lots of guys in his position would have been complete assholes, but Zakk is just a hell of a cool guy.
However, if you’re a True Norwegian Black Metal Satanist (or whatever you guys call yourselves these days), you might not agree with me on that one. But let’s save the best for last, and walk through the mandatory stuff first.
BRINGING METAL TO THE CHILDREN
In the mid-eighties a boy called Jeffrey Phillip Wiedlandt left his job at a local gas station, after being discovered by superstar Ozzy Osbourne. While being Ozzy’s lead guitarist and co-writer for nearly twenty years, Jeffrey transformed himself into Guitar God Zakk Wylde. In 1998 he stepped out of Ozzy’s shadow and proved his skills as a frontman, forming Black Label Society. Through the years guys like Mike Inez (Alice in Chains) and Rob Trujillo (Metallica) have played in the band, but today Zakk shares the stage with John DeServio, Nick Catanese and Mike Froedge. A few months ago the album, The Song Remains Not The Same, was released. This latest addition to BLS long and successful discography reveals a softer side of the rough quartet.
- We’ve always had some mellow songs on our albums, but now we wanted to do a whole mellow, acoustic record, Zakk says.
- The Song Remains Not The Same is stupendously awesome. If you listen to it for a week, your cock will grow eight inches, and if you’re a woman, you will lose five pounds, and the five pounds you lost will go straight to your breasts.
He laughs, and I’m starting to sense the direction of the interview. So, while we’re already on the subject of cocks and breasts, we’ll just as well talk about his upcoming book, Bringing metal to the Children, a handbook to all things heavy metal, greatly inspired by his life in the limelight.
- I was sitting in this bar, drinking with Eric Hendrikx and talking about all the shit we’ve been through, when the idea of the book suddenly emerged. It will be out in September, but I’m still working on it, and I’m literally pissing myself… Anyway, it will be full of funny shit, and stories so incredibly stupid, that they go beyond all imagination. You couldn’t have made those stories up it you hadn’t experienced them. And then we have a True Rocker Test. But what is a true rocker? It’s a stupid fuckin’ idiot, and you don’t want to be that guy, Zakk laughs.
Since the book is called Bringing metal to the Children, my obvious question is: - Are your own children into metal?
- My kids listen to all kinds of music. My daughter, for example, listens a lot to screamo and bands like Muse.
More than a few young guitarists dream of being Zakk Wylde, but what does Zakk Wylde dream of?
- MYSELF!!! I stand in front of the mirror, and look at myself when I jerk off. That’s why The Black Label Society don’t cheat on our wives. We’re too into ourselves.
I try to stay serious, overlooking his boyish charm and sticking to my questions:
- You’re a musician, you’ve made instructional guitar videos, I’ve seen you in movies and TV-series, and now you’re an author. What’s next?
- Well, I’d love to make a porno movie with my wife, but my kids probably wouldn’t appreciate that… Yeah, I can already hear them: “Zakk? Barbaranne? Who? My parents? I have no parents. I was born from a goat.” Nah, I understand that. Nobody wants to see their parents having sex.
Zakk breaks into a hysterical comedy act, and between my giggles, I can’t help asking: - So you’ve walked in on your parents having sex?
- Hell, yeah! No, my parents don’t have sex. My sister is 18 months younger than me, and they haven’t had sex since they made her, he states.
I’m on a roll, so I reply: - Yeah, that’s what they all say!
– No, I’m sure. My mother’s got the bed, and my dad sleeps on the couch downstairs…
The interview is going a little off tracks here, so I decide to switch topic, hoping that Zakk never finds a videotape marked “The lovemaking of mom and dad Wiedlandt” under his father’s coach.
ROCK LEGENDS AND BLACK METAL SATANISM
When people talk about Zakk Wylde, they always mention a certain Mr. Osbourne, and I wonder; has he ever met a journalist, who hasn’t asked him about Ozzy?
- No, but that’s okay, and I’m proud of it. Those things are a part of me, and it has made me who I am today. Ozzy is my friend, and I just met him and his band recently. He’s a supercool guy.
Another rock legend, Alice Cooper, is headlining Norway Rock Festival the following day. What does Zakk think of him?
- I’m friends with Alice. He’s great! When it comes to theatrics in music, he was the one who started it all. Then Kiss came along, and thought “If one man can do all this, imagine what four men can do”. So they took it a bit further. Then Manson and the other shock rockers came along, and they were all inspired by Alice.
The conversation goes from shock rock, via Vikings to Norwegian Black Metal. Zakk is surprisingly updated on the genre, and has even read M. Moynihan and D. Søderlind’s book, Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground.
- It’s kind of funny. For years Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and those guys was the toughest thing around, then these guys came along, burning churches, killing people and going: “Sabbath and Zeppelin are gay!” But seriously, you’ve got the silly Black Metal Satanists, and then you have those who play Black Metal for the sake of the music. But anyway, the Black Metal drummers are amazing. With that speed and energy, they should run marathons, he says, and tells us that Norwegian Black Metal has many followers in Florida.
- Just imagine them there, in the Sunshine State, sweating their ass off in their leather pants, wearing their Black Metal pajamas to bed, brushing their teeth with Black Metal toothpaste. Pretty scary!
Zakk laughs, and points out an historical fact that most Black Metal Satanists haven’t heard of:
- The inverted cross is actually St. Peter’s Cross, which is an emblem of Christian humility. The symbol represents the apostle Peter, who requested to be crucified upside down, because he didn’t feel worthy to die the same way as Jesus. Imagine those Black Metal guys, acting all bad and wearing inverted crosses. When they die, they’ll go straight to heaven, and St. Peter will be like: “Thanks for wearing all those inverted crosses, and supporting Jesus so much!” And the Satanists will be like: “What the fuck? I was heading for hell, why did I end up here?” Then they will have to spend eternity playing harps in heaven, which will be a way worse punishment than anything awaiting anyone in hell.
He acts the whole thing out, with big gestures and funny voices, once again proving himself as a first-class, intelligent stand-up comedian.
It’s time to say goodbye, leave the fancy hotel and go back to the muddy festival. Soon Zakk and his Black Label Society will be conquering the stage, bringing metal to the children.