Black Label Society

Interview date

25 Février 2011


Blaster of Muppets


Interview J.D. DeServio (face to face)

It's great to see you back in France. This is the second time you come to Paris... Is it difficult to come to France? Last time you came, the show was sold out (and this time, it's sold out again), so why not come more often?

I'll tell you why... Because we're too sexy !! Women are going crazy when we're around, we don't want to cause too many problems (laughs).
No, seriously I don't make the tour schedules, I don't know... I could come here every year. I love being here, the city is beautiful, there's so much to see and to do... but I don't make decisions. I basically go where they tell me, you know.

Many journalists, reviewers or fans have said that "Order Of The Black" is a much stronger release than some of your previous albums. Do you understand why they say that and do you agree with them?

Sonically, I think it's the best album we've done to date. But all the records have great songs on them. I can't discredit any of them. Even "Shot To Hell" which is an album that some people didn't seem to like that much... but we think it's amazing record, we love it! There's a lot of great songs on it. The good thing with the new record is that a studio was built in Zakk's house, so we could work there and have access to it all the time. And I co-produced it and mixed it. So, it's a bit different from the others because there was a new pair of ears involved.

Talking about "Shot To Hell", it's true that it's not as liked as some others, but what's strange is that a lot of people blamed it for having too many ballads... but "Order Of The Black" has the exact same number of ballads on it...

I know!! It's really strange... exactly. There are ballads, yes. But there are very heavy tracks too ("Concrete Jungle", "Black Mass Reverends", "Faith is Blind", "Hell is High"...), I thought it was a great record, and it's not that different from the ones before it. If you take an album like "Music For Hangover", it was a mellow album all the way, the first one I got to play on actually, I really like it... and it was not criticized like "Shot To Hell" was.

You've planned a very extensive tour for your new album, will you record some shows for a live album?

I'm not sure, but I'd love to. The songs are different live, they take a life on their own now... For example, "In This River" is completely different live, it's not at all like the song on the album... And Zakk plays the piano on this one, it's great. At the beginning of "Stillborn", there's a cool jam that's not on the record, so I'd love to document it at some point. Besides, during this tour, I shoot videos all the time, but we haven't discussed about a live album yet, so I don't know if it's going to happen or not.

How's the atmosphere on this tour with Zakk's previous health problems?

It's better! You know... he's not drinking anymore, it's better for him, for his health, he's taking care of himself now... it's better for us, better for everybody! The band sounds better than ever, it's all positive! At the beginning, when Zakk had these blood clots, we didn't know what the problem was but now we know what it its, we know how to deal with it so we're not freaking out. We can handle it. So, the atmosphere has been great... good spirits.

Your last video for the song "Overlord" is a crazy reference to kung-fu flicks from the 70's. Where did this idea come from?

Me and Zakk have had this idea forever, man. We always wanted to do spoofs, a kung-fu spoof movie... we just love that kind of thing. And I can tell you the shooting was great fun ! A lot of it was done in one day, and we really had a blast doing it.

Will there be more videos from "Order Of The Black"?

I don't know, actually. I'd love to (laughs). I can't even tell you how much fun it was to do "Overlord"... it was hysterical! So yeah, that would be great.

There was an important lapse of time between "Shot To Hell" and "Order Of The Black" (four years). Will your fans will have to wait that long for a new album?

No, they won't have to wait that long. I mean, we haven't started writing anything yet, we're in the middle of this tour, we're living the moment, but I'd say the fans can expect a new record for 2012. We'd like to get in the studio at the end of the year. And as I told you before, we now have the Bunker, the recording studio at Zakk's house, so things are much easier... and I even have more responsibility now... it's killer!

How did you get the job in Black Label Society?

Zakk and I have been friends for a long time. We grew up together, we were friends when we were seventeen you know... before Ozzy... so when he asked me, at the end of the nineties, if I wanted to go on tour with him, I said "Yeah, let's do it!". I was in the band in 1998/1999, we did the first tour, we toured in America, Japan ... it was awesome.

You seem to have been in and out of Black Label Society over the years. Do you plan to stay in the band?

Naaaah... I might leave just after this week (laughs). I can't take it, you know... No, seriously, I've been in the band for six years, now. Time flies... Everything's getting better and better, I just love it. You know, when I left, I wanted to do my own thing, I wanted to write my own music, play the drums, the guitar, the piano... I needed to spend time and focus on it, there were never any problems with Black Label Society.

Talking about your music, what other bands or projects are you involved in? I heard about Cycle Of Pain...

Yeah, Cycle Of Pain is actually my band. You know, my singer Gregg Locascio, and my guitar player Joe Taylor have been friends for a very long time. We've know each other since we were fifteen years old, and we've always played together... You know, we did the Battle of the Bands, we played some old Iron Maiden, old Scorpions, Judas Priest together. I started writing music for Cycle Of Pain in 2000 or so... but when I finally got a record deal, I had a lot of stuff, I had jazz music, rock music... The rock stuff had Joe playing on it. I could choose what I wanted to do, and I chose to do the rock stuff with my brothers, and it's great. It's cool being back together. My singer is great, he sounds like Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Ozzy, or even Bon Scott... And my guitar player has got a lot of technique and feeling too, he can play anything, rock, blues, jazz... We've got lots of different influences. And we got a Doobie Award, you know, for "Pot song of the year" in High Times Magazine, I don't know if you guys are familiar with that... The song is "Do my Work". Sen Dog of Cypress Hill raps on it, and Zakk plays the lead on it too. Yeah, it's a good record, people should check it out. We've got lots of guests, Zakk of course, but also Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory), Symphony X's singer Russell Allen... A lot fo friends showed up on the record. It's very diverse.

Back to "Order Of The Black" now, you said you got to produce the record, were you involved in terms of sound only, or ideas as well?

Sound definitely, number one. Then, helping with the arrangements, number two. And then, well, I didn't write the songs, I take what Zakk does and try to make it sound as good as I can... But I could give my opinion during the recording. When he recorded the vocals, I was there and could say "You gotta do that one again"...

About your career now, the other day I saw a strange video on YouTube...

(Laughs) Which one was it? Tell me...

Well, it was a video with Bon Jovi's cousin I think...

Yeaaaahhh... Jodi Bongiovi (Laughs)! Yes, she was Jon Bon Jovi's cousin. Yeah, I thought this was going to be a big thing you know, Bon Jovi was huge! I got to record stuff at the Power Station in New York with great musicians, I was just out of Berkeley... And I was on MTV, man!!! There was this video "Somebody To Love" in 1989. Yes, the music was... whatever, you know what I mean, but hey, I was on MTV (laughs)!

Would you like to do another softer record in the style of "Music For Hangover"?

I would love to do a record like that, and I think that's gonna happen. Yes, we've got a couple of ideas, and we'll do it eventually. You know, "Book Of Shadows" (Zakk Wylde's acoustic record) is an amazing record and Zakk's singing on it is great. I told him many times since we were kids: "You know, you're that sort of huge guitar legend and all that... but I think your best shit is when you play the piano!". He's very good at that. He has been playing the piano longer than he's been playing the guitar, you know that, right?

No, actually... I didn't.

Well, he has... yeah, I love when he does that. His mellow songs are great. "Lead Me To Your Door", for example, on "Shot To Hell", is an amazing song. I love it.

I'll leave you the last word, anything you want to say.

I love you guys! Thank you so much for supporting us and giving me this fucking career!! I hope we can play here with Black Label Society as many times as possible. We'll return in June for the Hellfest. And you know, I do clinics too, and maybe when I come back, there'll be one here. It's pretty cool, and I can play a lot of different styles and stuff people don't even know I'm playing. See you all in June!

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