Not at all. I tell anyone who’ll listen, “If
you want to hear a real guitar player, check
out Di Meola or McLaughlin.” But it’s
weird, kids will come up to me and tell me
I’m the reason they picked up the guitar.
And I’ll tell ’em, “No way. Randy Rhoads is
the man.” And they’ll say, “Who’s Randy?”
And I’m just sitting there going, “Wow!”
I guess it’s a little like me learning about
Robert Johnson from Jimmy Page. But
man, it blows my mind how some kids
don’t know their history. It’s insane. But
for that reason, it’s awesome to be able to
turn kids on to that stuff.
You did a stage turn with the Allmans.
Even with all your chops, was it tough
stepping into that part on short notice?
Well, I’m a huge fan. Their agent called me
and said Dickey Betts couldn’t do the gig.
I’m a huge, huge fan of Warren Haynes’
playing. I didn’t know what harmonies to
do, but Warren ran me
through the stuff on a
Saturday morning before the
gig, and it came together pretty
quick. It was important to keep a sense
of humor. I remember riding back to the
hotel with the band and talking about songs
in the set. Warren asked if I was cool with
“Dreams.” And I said, “Yeah, man. That
Wylde in the crypt with a Gibson ZV and a Les Paul.
Photo by Clay Patrick McBride
Molly Hatchet song you do? You guys do a
great version!” Warren just turned to me and
said, “Zakk, keep talkin’ like that and we’re
gonna send you home!”
I was watching some of your lessons on
pentatonic runs where you’re playing
through a clean amp, and I was stunned
at what a nasty rockabilly player you
could be if you wanted to.
I love the sound of that stuff. Old rockabilly
music has some of the most insane guitar
playing you’ll ever hear. Though I really
think I get it from Albert Lee. I mean, you
wouldn’t necessarily think of Albert as a
rockabilly player, but he really is—one of
the best. And he’s English! I love the way
those things get twisted around and come
out the other end. The British Invasion stuff
is amazing for that reason. Music is so powerful in that way. It grabs you and you have
to get it out, but it’s still going to be you.
Do you ever get in a rut as a player?
Oh sure, but it’s nothing watching an Allan
Holdsworth DVD won’t fix. It’s just like writing songs. You have to always be willing to
look to the great ones.
220 PREMIER GUITAR NOVEMBER 2010