On the surface, it’s hard to imagine former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde singing a contemplative rock song with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica.
Stranger things have happened.
Wylde says his Geffen debut album “Book of Shadows” is all part of his personal evolution – from being Ozzy’s right-hand man, then fronting the band Pride & Glory to now doing it on his own.
“With Pride & Glory, I wanted it to be a band thing, more of an entity than just me,” he said recently from his Southern California home. “I had a great time doing it. The whole evolution of where I am now is kind of like if Ozzy were like the school I went to, my Ozzy Osboure University, Pride & Glory was like my bachelor pad. But now I have a real life, a real job.
“Pride & Glory was like ‘Animal House’ during the whole recording, the tour. We had an awesome time. But it’s like the old saying, ‘If you want to get something done, you gotta do it yourself.’ It’s not being selfish or anything like that. Otherwise, you have to sit around and babysit other people. I’ve got two kids, I don’t need to be babysitting anybody. They’re 4 and 2 and believe me they act a lot more mature than a lot of people I know in this business.”
Wylde’s first single, “Between Heaven and Hell,” was the most added track at rock radio last week, according to Radio & Records magazine. The song’s quiet, reflective simplicity captures Wylde’s heartfelt songwriting abilities.
“It’s about this girl I knew in high school, her name was Jennifer,” he said. “She ended up writing in my yearbook, ‘Mine’s a tale that can’t be told.’ She died in a car accident shortly after that, and that’s a line from a Zeppelin tune she quoted. I take it a step further, ‘Dying to live, living to die, ain’t no hellos here. Nothing but goodbye. It’s like singing that cannot be sung. It’s like having to end child, what’s yet to have begun.’
“What happened to her has always stuck with me. She truly died before her time.”
Wylde hasn’t forgotten his metal roots and says “If it wasn’t for Ozzy, there would be no Zakk.”
“People are saying that what I’m doing now is so different from Pride & Glory, but to me it’s just the next step,” he said. “Let’s put it this way, I was blessed with being in a band with Ozzy where he was the singer. He didn’t bitch or moan about anything. He’s like, ‘Yeah, let’s do the show, let’s have a good time while we’re here.’
“I feel sorry for the guys in Stone Temple Pilots because that band could be kicking the world’s ass right now. If the guitarist was in drug rehab, if those guys were friends of mine, they could call me up and go, ‘Hey, Zakk, would you mind filling in for like eight weeks?’ And I would be like, ‘Oh, yeah, just let me learn the tunes and we’ll do it.’ Same with the bass player or the drummer, but if the singer does down, we all go home.
“Now that responsibility’s in my hands, and I’m living up to it.”