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Thorium Magazine a eu la chance de rencontrer Zakk Wylde, guitariste et frontman du groupe Black Label Society. Au menu: Un party du nouvel an au Canada, Grateful Dead, l’arme secrète de son nouveau guitariste Dario Lorina et bien plus…

Thorium – You’re ten shows in this tour. So far so good?

Zakk – We’re having a blast ! Time flies by though, by the time we’re at the middle of the show, we’re like… « Is it almost over ?  laughs it feels like we just got on stage ! »

T – How was the new year’s party in Calgary?

ZW – Awesome, without a doubt ! It’s the first time in something like seventeen years that Black Label plays New Year’s Eve. Usually I’m home for christmas and New Year’s Eve, and we fire it back up in January. It was the first show to start off the year so it was definitely a good time.

T –How was it to spend the holiday away from your family ?

ZW – It was great ! I mean, it’s not like I would have spent new year’s eve with my kids anyway ! laughs Fortunately we had Christmas at home with everybody. But, you know, I love playing, and I love working. It was a real blast to be out.

T – Your latest album, Catacombs of the Black Vatican. Kind of a ‘less is more’ approach, where did that come from?

ZW – I don’t know ! It depends on what side of the bed you wake up that day when you write a record, you know what I mean ? It depends on what place you’re at, at that time. There’s no planned notion when we make a record. I had 25 days before the guys came out, and 25 days to write a record.

T –Nick Catanese, your long time bandmate, left the band a little before you recorded. Did that impact the music on the album ?

ZW – Not really, I do the the writing. Nick would come in and do the live stuff, y’know ? It doesn’t change much.

T – Since you have a new bandmate, Dario Lorina, How do you pick a guitarist ?

ZW – Obviously he has to be able to play the parts, but with Dario, he can shred on the guitar, wail on the keys, he can sing, and he can cook a mean chicken piccata. There you go : He’s a quadruple threat. If you’ve heard his records you know he can shred, play the piano, sing. But then, as if that wasn’t enough, you throw in the chicken piccata and that seals the deal, right there.

T –Your last canadian tour was the first time you brought your acoustic sets, An Evening with Zakk Wylde, up north. How important is it for you to bring that stuff to your fans ?

ZW – Every BLS record has the heavy riffs and the mellow stuff. It’s like Zeppelin did, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You and then follow up with Whole Lotta Love or Thank You, Goin’ To California, and then they’ll do Black Dog. I love the mellow stuff as much as the heavy stuff.

T- It’s got a lot of darker themes. How did that come along?

ZW – It’s just, you know,music to get married to!

T -So it’s what you would play if you would get married again ?

ZW- Either that or The End, by the doors!

T – The Black Vatican is also what you call your home and studio. Does that mean you’re the Saint Peter of Rock n’ Roll ?

Saint peter’s a good man, jesus’ guy, the first pontiff, you know what I mean? The whole thing is, Vatican is Ground Control, where everything goes down. We just painted it black, because i’m in Black Label, not Purple Label ! It’s just a joke we went all the way with. Since my studio is where everything goes on, there you have it.

T – You talk a lot about religion in your songs, book and all that. Catholicism is something you take out on tour ?

Yeah ! You can’t be a part time catholic, or a part time black sabbath fan ! As far as I’m concerned it’s just « Be good or be gone ! » I thank the Lord when I wake up on the road, and in the middle of the day, and before bed every day for all the things he’s given me.

T – Your old bandmate Robert Trujillo did an interview where he said he learned quickly not to cross band members, including you.

ZW – Laughs I love Roberto ! He’s one of the most badass and best bass players around, he’s the sweetest, coolest guys on the planet. I love Robert, I’d stick out my neck for him anytime.

T – You’ve played with him when you were in Ozzy’s band. Any possibility of seeing you back on stage with either of them ?

With Ozz, Robert, all the guys. We’re all still great friends and we still get along. For us to get together and jam, it’s just a phone call away. Nothing on the table yet.

T – There’s a real feeling of brotherhood in your shows and between your fans. How does that feeling impact you?

ZW – It’s great ! I remember when I was a kid, my buddy scotty used to be a huge deadhead (Grateful Dead fan) I just always thought the coolest thing was that the band brought people together. My friends would all get together and roadtrip from New Jersey, Boston, New York, they’d just get together and roadtrip, follow the Grateful Dead around for a while. You’d see anything with the Dead tee on, it’d be like seeing someone with a Montreal Canadiens jersey in a bar. It’s an instant bond with a guy, you can just go up and talk to him. The same thing with us, you see a guy with the colors on at a bar, you go up to him and talk to him, next thing you know six years later he’s the best man at your wedding ! What brought you together was the band, and that’s pretty cool.

T – Is it something you pushed towards ?

Yeah ! It’s just like the Grateful Dead, but on steroids ! We’re probably just as dysfunctional ! laughs We put the fun in dysfunction !

T – Where did the biker image come from for BLS?

ZW – The three piece, rocker thing came along naturally. Originally I ripped it off Twisted Sister, and at some point Dee Snider told me « Zakk, we ripped that off some ‘50’s band ! » it’s not more complicated than that ! What the colors represent, is you and me being brothers. That’s what it means to me.

T – How does it feel to see that vast amount of people wearing Black Label shirts ?

ZW – It’s the same thing than when you go at a Canadiens game, everybody’s wearing Canadiens gear ! I figure it’s the same thing.

T – Are you a hockey fan ?

ZW – JD and Phil are huge hockey fans. They’re huge Rangers guys. I asked them, « Who do the Rangers hate the most ? » and they said : « Definitely the flyers, we can’T stand Boston, the islanders, the devils… You can throw Washington in there, we hate ‘em too » and I went : « That’s funny, that’s my five favorite teams ! » laughs There you go ! I just gotta be a ball buster with the guys !

T – How do you keep up the shape on the road?

ZW – You just work out ! When there’s nothing around you do push ups, every night on stage I get an hour and a half of cardio… Look at it this way : If you want to make it happen, it will happen, like practicing guitar or whatever. If you wanna learn to play Stairway to heaven, you take the time and in the end you can play it.

T – A lot of folks are saying the food is bad on the road. How do you keep up with that ?

ZW – You can go to Arby’s, or anywhere, get a chicken sandwich and don’t eat the bread. You can go to McDonald’s now and get a chicken salad, you know what I mean ? It’s just about keeping clean. Every once in a while we’re having a dumb cheat day, but not all the time !

T – How did you like Heavy Montreal ?

ZW – It was a lot of fun ! We had Jason Newsted and his band, fuckin’ Megadeth on on the Gigantour that stopped by the festival, it was a blast. They’re great guys. I really hope we can be up there again soon.

Auteur & Entrevue : Philippe Mandeville-Gauthier

Photographe : Paul Blondé

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