JUST thought I’d put in some interesting* news for your pre-weekend consumption. (* Andwhen I say “interesting”, I mean it’s interesting to me)
Georgina Chang, whom I used to think was the hottest DJ on radio, has come back to radio again, after a stint with ESPN Star. Her new job description is: Senior Creative Director, which means she has to jagah Lush 99.5FM and 987FM (which, curiously enough was where she started out from, if I remember correctly).
Georgie does desert – just kidding! (picture taken from Facebook – she wouldn’t let me near her own collection)
For musos: Gibson Guitars, the guys who brought Zakk Wylde to Singapore earlier this week, will launch Episode 3 of their Robot Guitar saga next week. Called Dusk Tiger, this one incorporates everything that Dark Fire has, plus a few new surprises to aid the playing experience. Only 1000 guitars will be made, with 500 released to international markets – the rest will be sold in the United States of How Come They Get 500 For Themselves While The Rest Of Us Don’t.
Lily Allen, one of the members of the “bad girl gone good but now many actually still be bad” posse, is apparently putting her singing career on hold for a career as a … wait for it… record label owner. According to NME.com, she said she will take “one or two years off from recording and performing music” and was “just going to concentrate on doing some behind the scenes sort of stuff”. If that’s not enough, Lily will also launch a fashion rental store, called Lucy In Disguise, in London with her sister, Sarah. If one of the collections includes diamonds, it can be called Lucy In Disguise With Diamonds! (Geddit? Geddit? I crack me up sometimes!)
And finally, you can now get the glam Heartbeats by Lady Gaga earphones in Singapore! It’s supposed to give you great sound (thanks to Monster, those guys who do audio cables) and style (thanks to Lady Gaga, who designed them).
As you may or may not know, these earphones were launched here earlier today. And our island is only the fourth place in Asia – after Japan, China and Hong Kong – where you can get them. If you find them anywhere else, they’re either second-hand or fakes. VERY LIMITED QUANTITY, so do your Christmas shopping like now. We’re predicting they’ll be sold out within a couple of weeks.
Well, that’s about it for now. Tune in tomorrow (which technically will be in 51, no, 50 minutes’ time) for more from the Abang.
Till then, sleep tight, fellow Poparazziacs. It’s time for Friday.
IN THIS extremely revealing and totally non-serious interview, Zakk Wylde reveals all about his split Ozzy, why he doesn’t booze any more and his sex change operation. (Note: This was done just before his prison performance at Changi.)
Hi Zakk, I’m Chris. Could you just say something into the recorder? I need to check the levels. Hi, I’m Zakk, I wear women’s underwear.
Great. How’s your day so far? I’m great! Havin’ a great day so far. Is that a brace on your wrist? What happened? Too much whackin’ it, huh?
Well, no, but… Well, let’s do this interview then I can catch a few zzzs before we get to the prison. How far is it? About an hour?
No, actually about 30 minutes. Oh.
Anyway, let’s get on with the interview. Is there any question that you don’t want us to ask? Don’t ask about my women’s underwear and my sex change operation. We’ll keep that on the down low for now.
Right. Well, you’re in town to promote your signature range. Yeah, the guys at Epiphone did a great job with the Graveyard Disciple, and with the new chambered-out Les Paul BFGs – they’re both slammin’ guitars.
You’ve had an eventful 2009. Aside from the botched-up sex change operation? I mean, I got butchered man, And I paid top dollar for this s**t too. You think your hand’s bad? You should see what happened down here!
I heard you were in and out of hospital a lot. But it’s always funny. I always laugh about it. It’s always something. It could be with jazz musicians or something. It’s shit you can’t make up. Whenever this stuff happens, you have to laugh. It’s par for the course. I’ve broken my back, ribs, messed my neck up, my shoulder’s tweaked, then there were the blood clots, I’ve had two hernias, a throat operation… They just glue me together and ship me out on the road. And when I come home, the kids call me “Uncle Frank”. They don’t know who I am, I’m just some guy that comes around the house once in a while and gives them money. They’ll go like “Uncle Frank!” and I’m like, “No, it’s Daddy!” Then they’ll go like, “Whatever man, just give me the money. I’m getting ready for college.”
And you had to give up booze. What’s your poison now? I’m drinking like 6,000 cups for coffee. I’m probably going to have a stroke from drinking that much coffee! I like to chill and have a beer and watch the game with the guys, but the doctor said that if I continued drinking, I would bleed internally. So it’s like, “Let’s weigh the options here: Do we really need to go to AA for this? Internal bleeding or chill out?” So I was like, what the hell! I just boost the heroin intake and the pain pills.
The other big thing that happened to you was that Ozzy Osbourne replaced you in his band with Gus G. He’s jamming with Gus G, who’s a great guitar player. Oz was like, “Zakk, you’re doing the Black Label thing”. Our relationship is bigger than music anyway, he’s the godfather of one of my kids. And whenever he needed me, like if Gus had to go home because his wife was pregnant or something, I’d come out on the road and fill in for Gus until he can get back out.
Well, you have three kids… I do? First I’ve heard!
But you’re on the road a lot. How does make you feel as a dad? The way I look at it: Even if I had a normal day job, I’d still have to go out to work. My two oldest are teenagers and my little one, Hendrix, is seven – and they’d probably rather be spending time with their friends than with me. But whenever I get any breaks, like if I’m home for a month or something, then I actually spend some quality time with them. When I’m on the road, the kids sometimes come out, but they have school so they’ll come out for a bit and then go home. You make it work, whatever it takes.
And you’ve been married for the longest time. In celeb years, that’s 100 years. How do you guys do it? To me, everything that happens, it’s all part of the job. You know going in, this is what you’re going to get. If you’re a porn star, you can’t really go “The sex is killing me” – it’s part of the job. It is what it is.
Being on the road is his job, but he loves it
You’ve been doing this for a long time. You were 19 when you started with Ozzy… I’m 42, but that’s in dog years. I’m really 526 years old – in my liver, pancreas and kidneys.
What’s the biggest life lesson you’ve learned? Why did I do this? Why? Please make the pain stop!
What’s the best thing or worst thing about being Zakk Wylde? It’s awesome. I’m a musician, I travel the whole world, I meet new people… well, the drawback would obviously be not being able to spend time with your family but that’s how it is with every household right? The dad’s not home because he’s at work trying to put food on the table so that your kids can have nice things. I love what I do – I don’t treat it like a job, but as I said, everything has a drawback to it. But even if I didn’t do this, I’d be bitching or moaning about something else.
What advice do you have for fans who want to do what you do? Don’t. Run! Far away! No, the whole secret to life is do what you love and do it to death. Find out what you like? If you like whackin’ it, do that for a living, we’ll figure out a way to make money from it. If that’s what you like, knock yourself out.
Any new Black Label music coming out soon? Yeah, we’re going to start on Friday at the Black Label bunker. I’m having a state-of-the-art studio built in my place in California. And once that’s done, we’re figuring January and February we record the album, mix it in March, and in April we’ll be out promoting it, and in May, that’s the next step in Black Label global domination. We’re going to be back over here with the band. And when I get back I’m going to be working on a book, a rock and roll survival guide. So get ready for some comedy on that one!
Okay, quickly before it starts: Your thoughts on doing this prison gig. Well, we got the offer to do the prison show because they said the gang there like the sweet, soothing romantic sounds of Black Label. I hope they like the performance otherwise this could been the last recorded interview for me! So, enjoy it, kids. But, seriously, you have to take care of everybody, don’t you? That’s the reason why you’re here, right?
As promised, here’s more from Zakk Wylde’s time in Singapore and his trip to Changi Prison.
1.30pm. After doing the Prime Time Morning interview and a lunch. We meet Zakk and climb into the van to head to Changi Prison. I’m wondering if the prison gig will be like Johnny Cash’s gig at Folsom Prison. Along the way, I quiz him about his rather eventful 2009. (See the full interview in the other post).
1.55pm. We get to Changi Prison. We’re told to stay in the van as they have to get the equipment – two guitars, one amp, one pedalboard, one transformer – cleared by the prison guards first.
2.05pm. “Sorry Zakk, we have to take all the beer and water out of the van. They don’t allow anyone to bring liquids inside the prison.” At this point Zakk quickly takes two beers and downs them. I don’t actually see the point, seeing as they’re non-alcoholic beer. But it’s a hot day, he’s thirsty, who can blame him?
2.10pm. “Sorry Chris, you have to go to the Prison Link Centre.” I meet up with the rest of the journos already gathered there. We’re told we have to check in EVERYTHING – mobile phones, wallets, keys, squishy toys, everything. But what about my camera? Oh, that’s okay. What about my recorder? Oh, that’s okay. Okay, then. We have to wait while all the equipment is cleared before we’re allowed to go in.
2.30pm. Still waiting. How long does it take to check two guitars, one amp, one pedalboard and one transformer?
From left to right: Zakk, Epiphone Graveyard Disciple, some pedals and pedalboard, mic, Les Paul BFG
2.35pm. At least, I think so. Funny. Nobody in our group seems to be wearing any watches.
Somewhere between 2.45pm and 3pm. We’re finally given the okay to board the bus to take us in. We head to Cluster A, the nice name for a group of five “institutions”, A1 to A5, all chock-a-block with inmates (the nice name for prisoners).
It seems to take forever getting through all the scanners, body checks, double locked doors, et al. But we’re finally at the performance theatre, where some 40 inmates already seated there waiting for their guitar hero. And then… “Please welcome, Zakk Wylde!” Applause from the 40 or so inmates there.
He does a long improv that included snippets of Eddie Van Halen’s Eruption, whom Zakk said was one of his heroes. (But heck, he could have played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and it still would have sounded awesome, I guess.)
Then it’s time for questions from the inmates.
Can you please share with us what made you the man you are today – one of the greatest guitar masters?
As far as music goes, playing with Ozzy. I started with him when I was 19, I’m 42 now. And obviously the music – it’s like sex, nobody doesn’t like music. I started when I was about 8, I just wanted to do normal things that kids do, and I be practising on the guitar. But I lasted about one summer, then I quit playing music. But when I was 14, I started to pick it up again. And I saw this guy, he had long hair, was drinking beer and playing guitar. And I thought, I want to be like him. I was playing in crappy bars in New Jersey and this guy saw me and said, “Hey did you ever think about playing for Ozzy?” He knew this guy called Mark Weiss, and he gave a tape of me to Ozzy’s wife Sharon. They flew me out to Los Angeles for an audition, I ended up crapping in my pants. But got the gig.
Ozzy said, “Zakk, do me favour, play with your heart, but change your underwear – and don’t crap in your pants.” That’s how I got into it. It’s still the same thing now. So, drinking beer and playing guitar, that’s how I became the man I am today.
Just now you played Eruption. What other artiste do you have as influences?
Obviously Eddie Van Halen, you got to give it up for Eddie. Randy Rhoads was huge on me, still is. Obviously Jimi Hendrix. Frank Marino, Robin Trower, all the guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tony Iommi, Jimmy Page… as I got more technical on guitar, I listened to Al di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia, a flamenco guitar who’s just insane. I learned something from somebody, except from Mark.
You have taken me to dreamland, and I wish to play guitar like you. Can you tell me how to do it?
Lots of beer! Just kidding! It’s the same thing: A lot of practice. Always get started. Somebody better than you – you can learn from them, the basics anyway. Then it’s just a matter of practising over and over again. Just like bangin’ the old lady – over and over again. That’s what it’s all about: It’s just practice. The main thing is: Find somebody you know who can really play.
Zakk, thank you for coming to our little world here. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you and appreciate it. It’s pleasure having you here. On the outside, I don’t think I would get the chance to meet you in person, but in here, I get to see you live.
Is he going to ask a question? asks another inmate. Apparently not.
Everyday, I put in two hours of practice and I still suck. How many hours do you play a day?
I still jam everyday. It’s not the same as when I first started playing. That was 10, 12 hours a day. As soon I got home from school, I’d start practising, come down for a crap and a piss, then go back up to jam again. I’d fall asleep in school the next day. I’d take my guitar magazine and stick them into my books. Obviously being on the road, when I’m on the tour bus, I’ll take a guitar and practice while watching sports or something. If you really want to do it, you’ll find some way to do it, just like anything else.
Why did you choose to use Gibsons?
I think Fender makes great guitars and Jackson too, but I’ve always wanted a Les Paul ever since seeing pictures of Jimmy Page and Randy Rhoads. That was the goal when I was a kid. They sound great, they look cool. You can’t beat that. But this guitar right here that they made for me, the Epiphone Graveyard Disciple plays like a killer too.
Then the inmates get Zakk to play another tune. It’s a haunting song that leaves all the inmates with a look of pure admiration and joy on their faces. When he finishes, the cheers and applause say it all. He agrees to take pictures with the group, and they file out. But not before we get one of them, 39-year-old Malmsteen (not his real name) to talk to us:
Zakk hugging the inmates before taking a photo with them
Of course I enjoyed his performance. When they told me he was coming about two weeks ago, my jaw dropped. Because I wouldn’t be able to see him outside, but here in prison, I not only get to see him, but also get to shake his hand and take a photograph with him.
Most of them are guitar fans. We enjoyed it very much. We really appreciate him coming here and inspiring us with the music. Music is an international language that all people can excel in.
Here, I’m learning classical guitar here from Alex Abishgenaden. I used to play guitar when I was outside. If I have the opportunity to do something with music when I get out, why not? I’ve been playing the guitar since I was 12. I’m now in the Peforming Arts Training Centre, PATC, maybe if I’m good enough, I can transfer to the Peforming Arts Centre (PAC), they are permanently based here.
More shows like this? Yes, of course, why not? Any artiste can come, jazz or classical. But I’d like to see another rock guitarist – Mr Yngwie Malmsteen.
Then it’s time to go shoot some scenes of Zakk and the prison surroundings. But first, we’re once again subjected to checks, etc, before we can leave the building.
Once outside, we start shooting Zakk at the prison wall. Only about two hundred metres of the original Changi Prison wall still exist, the rest have already been torn down. We don’t take too long because it’s hot. “Did somebody turn the furnace up?” asks Mark Ferguson, Zakk’s tour manager. No, Mark, haha! It’s always oven hot in Singapore! What a kidder! Still, we beat a hasty retreat to the aircon cooled van.
Tour manager Mark Ferguson (left) and Zakk outside the old Changi Prison entrance
Then it’s time to change our passes and leave. But not before the prison official reminds us, “Hey, can you not publish the pictures with the inmates’ face and the guards’ faces in them? It’s for security reasons,” he says. To confirm, he scans through the pictures and marks those for deletion. And we’re off back to the hotel. On the way back, FHM quizzes him for their story. I zone out until I hear, “I’d like to be featured with a whole bunch of Barbie dolls on the cover. And I’d be like making out. And I could be like Ken, except that I want to have genitalia.”
Right. Thanks, Zakk. As Vinny Jones said in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, it’s been emotional.
Just got out of prison three hours ago. To be precise, I was at the performance theatre of Changi Prison Complex, Cluster A, where I spent an hour or so with the members of Institution A5, watching their guitar hero, the one and only Zakk Wylde, perform on some fret-burning solos on his Epiphone Graveyard Disciple guitar. He also had a question-and-answer session after that.
Zakk attack: Burning up the frets for the guys at Changi Prison
Jointly organised by Singapore Prisons and Gibson Guitars, the visit was a welcome break for the 40 or so blokes of A5, who were members of the prison’s Performing Arts Training Centre (PATC).
And yes, they were wild about Wylde. Not that anything wild happened. Any fears of mob scenes like in Escape From Alcatraz or Prison Break were vanquished. Warm applause and a couple of whoops was all. But it was really something to see the pure joy and admiration in all of the guys’ eyes.
And as one of them told me, this was a dream come true. “If I was outside, I probably would not be able to see him,” he said. “So I’m very thankful to have this opportunity!”
Zakk himself was happy to be there. But hey, don’t take our word for it. Check out what the man has to say for himself.
More Zakk updates coming soon, and read the full story this Friday in the TODAY newspaper.
I know I haven’t been posting as much as I usually do, but I have a good reason: I’m sorting out my affairs before going to prison.
Yup, in about two hours, I’ll be heading out Changi prison… WITH ZAKK WYLDE YO!
Also known as “the leader of the Black Label Society” and “that guitarist who plays with Ozzy”. the great ZW is in town and all those who were at the Swee Lee clinic yesterday will no down tesitfy to the awesomeness of the dude.
But yeah, going behind bars with the man, who’ll apparently be giving a talk to the inmates. It’s not confirmed if he’ll be performing, but from all reports, the man’s a swell guy, so…