By John Katic
Zakk Wylde has long been known for his guitar pyrotechnics, signature look and over-the-top personality. Beneath all that, however, lies Zakk Wylde the die-hard guitar ambassador.
Through his instructional videos, tab books and Guitar World columns, Wylde has made the instrument more approachable, and he never shies away from giving credit to his influences or peers.
Wylde recently joined forces with Guitar Apprentice to take an in-depth look at how to play his material, and also how the material was built musically. The Zakk Wylde Signature Edition Guitar Apprentice became available October 1 at Guitar Center locations across the country; as of today, November 1, it's available everywhere.
The series, which was recorded at Wylde’s "Black Vatican" studio in Los Angeles, features six DVDs of guitar instruction by Wylde. He gets into rhythm patterns, solo breakdowns, tones, pedals and gear. There are 15 levels of learning per song. The DVDs also feature exclusive videos, tours of the studio, interviews and commentary (as only Wylde can deliver it).
"It's about as thorough and comprehensive a learning tool as you're gonna get. I wanted to make sure anyone learning guitar from me understood what it takes to play on a stage in front of thousands or in their own basement. I wish this was around when I first started playing,” Wylde said. “This ain’t no video game, either.”
We recently caught up with Wylde during Black Label Society's Canadian tour to discuss the new Guitar Apprentice DVDs and a lot more.
GUITAR AFICIONADO: Can you give us some background and tell us what guitarists can expect from your new Zakk Wylde Signature Edition Guitar Apprentice DVDs?
The Guitar Apprentice people approached me about doing it. I said no problem. I have done instructional videos before, but the way they have it, it shows you step by step. You learn how to play all of the song. I show you the breakdown of all the parts and scales and how it goes together. It’s like me showing you how a transmission works, learning your scales and seeing how it works. It’s just speaking the language; once you speak the language, you can just speak. You don’t stop when you ask for directions and have to think about how the words go together. You just speak. Music is the same way.
You said something that's really important; you're teaching them how the scales apply to the songs. Getting the book for the Shot To Hell guitar tab and learning the songs note for note, that doesn’t tell me why you chose the scale, or even what scale it is.
Exactly. The whole thing is, I could show you how to play “Eruption,” but then when I show you what scales Eddie is using, you’re like, “Now it makes sense." I agree with you. It’s like I know how to play it, but I really don't know how any of it works.
That’s a very big bridge to cross for a player. With Guitar Apprentice, there are six DVDs.
We do three songs off of Order of the Black. We choose “Crazy Horse," “Overlord” and “Parade of the Dead." We take you through the songs, solos and everything.
Would you consider continuing the series with other material?
Obviously, there's room for me to do a serious of them. I could go back to do everything from “Miracle Man” until now. There's 25-plus years of stuff I could do. I just have to go back and spend a few seconds remembering them.
You guys are on a run of Canadian dates. How's Canada treating you?
The Canadian chapter rocks. Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush is from here. Rush is from here. What’s not to love? We always have a great time up here.
You guys roll down to Mexico City and then down to South America. South Americans have earned a reputation for their love of metal. Is it special to hit places like San Paulo and Rio?
They definitely love their rock bands. In between the verses, they’re singing the riffs. It is pretty mind-blowing. They love it. They really love their bands.
I've noticed you guys have been encouraging fans to send in pictures of tattoos, motorcycles with bull's eye paint, etc. Does it ever blow your mind how many people will take the time to tattoo "BLS" on their person?
I’ve always said it’s bigger than a band. It's a mindset and a lifestyle. The whole Strength, Determination, Merciless, Forever. Face your fears, accept your war, destroy and conquer. Life is just one big mountain. For Black Label Special Opps, adversity is what you thrive on. General Patton is a huge fan favorite in Black Label.
Even more recently, people are sending in photos of their kids dressed like you. That had to be a treat to you as a father.
The best is that I’m so hideous that I’m a cartoon character. I actually do look that silly!
You’ve become a hot Halloween costume.
I’m just going to the food store to get some protein bars. I put my jeans on and I’m in a Halloween costume!
Photo: John Katic