Zakk Wylde Unplugs for New BLS Album, Calls 'Idol' Gig 'Hysterical'

Zakk Wylde Unplugs for New BLS Album, Calls 'Idol' Gig 'Hysterical'

Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society are still making a lot of noise these days. But some of it is quieter than others.

Wylde calls the group's new album, "The Song Remains Not the Same," the "unblackened" side of Black Label Society -- an acoustic-oriented, unplugged style set that features new renditions of songs from 2010's "Order of the Black" as well as covers of personal favorites by Black Sabbath ("Juniors Eyes") and, surprisingly, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young ("Helpless"), Simon & Garfunkel ("Bridge Over Troubled Water") and Blind Faith ("Can't Find My Way Home").

"It's another side of us that people haven't seen a lot of before," Wylde tells Billboard.com, noting that the set came about when he was "sitting behind a piano, just jamming on something, and I started singing 'Parade of the Dead' over it. We said, 'Dude, this would be a killer version of it. Why don't we just re-work all the heavy songs?' Obviously we didn't have time to do all of them, but they are completely different songs, not just mellower versions but different melodies and everything. The only thing intact is the lyric. That's the reason the title is 'The Song Remains Not the Same' -- besides the fact we love [Led] Zeppelin."

The set also features two versions of BLS's "Darkest Days," one with country singer John Rich, who Wylde first met at a Les Paul tribute concert in Nashville. "John was like, 'Zakk, man, we ought to do something some time together," Wylde recalls. "So when we ended up doing this mellow stuff, it was like, 'Why don't we call up John and see if he wants to sing on this track. We're both giving some money on it to charity, but it was a great chance to have John sing on something."

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Wylde says the "unblackened" experience left the band feeling that "we should do this with every record now." Right now, however, he's planning to film a live performance DVD, for which BLS will "get a pedal steel player, some background singers, a string quartet...Just go the whole nine yards on this instead of just the full-blown, blow-it-out band. We have two (DVDs) out there with the full-blown band, heavy insanity. This'll just be something different." Wylde hopes to stage that performance by the end of the year and also expects to do "a small tour" in that fashion about the same time.

The next BLS album is still a ways off, Wylde says, but he's still buzzing a bit from his recent performance on "American Idol," when he performed Sammy Hagar's "Heavy Metal" with Hagar and recently ousted contestant James Durbin. "That was freaking hysterical," Wylde recalls. "They're really super-cool people there. Obviously I know Steven Tyler. It was the first time I got to meet Randy Jackson, and J.Lo, I got a chance to kiss her on the cheek. We had a good time, man."