To celebrate the launch of Wylde Audio, Zakk Wylde held a private master class for five unsigned artists at the Guitar Center in Hollywood.
How would you react if you won an exclusive session with one of your idols, where you could ask whatever questions you wanted? Five musicians got just that opportunity as metal-icon Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society) hand-selected five unsigned guitar players, out of more than 4,000 entries, to fly to Los Angeles and participate in a private master class at the world-famous Guitar Center in Hollywood, California.
Wylde started the class off by simply jamming before describing his ideal get together with his favorite artists; he would want to pick their brains. What followed were the participants picking Wylde’s brain as the renowned guitarist fielded questions.
Daniel Mahanger started it off describing his situation of no band and ten songs he just finished recording and was curious about his options. Wylde advised him to stay the course, as the days of albums such as Appetite for Destruction “selling a gazillion copies” are gone. These days the best things you can do are use social media, and tour. At the end of the day, if you can make a living playing music, you are winning. Keep doing what you are doing, keep building. Record company tour support is the same as a loan from a bank, you have to pay it back.
When asked about his use of pentatonic scales by Dana Bradshaw, Wylde described the playing field of notable guitarists at time when he started working for Ozzy. There was Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, and Randy Rhodes. He wanted to do something original, which ruled out a whammy bar, harmonics, sweet picking, etc. The only thing left was pentatonic scales.
Weld’s response to Warleyson Almeida query about the current state of the music industry was hopeful. Scoring a record deal by the time you are 30 is no longer the metric that dictates if you should hang it up, according to Wylde. With access to social media, an artist can control their career such as in the case of Black Veil Brides, a young band doing exactly what they want on their own terms. They built everything they have from the ground up, he explained, allow the BVB to accept no compromise.
Emily Rose Hastings asked for Wylde’s number one practice tip. Scales was the quick reply. Learning scales teaches the guitarist the way around the fretboard. You can still write simple stuff, but knowing scales gives you more crayons in your box, though knowing them doesn’t mean you have to use them. Randy Rhodes made knowing your scales cool, he added, and technique is just a matter of repetition.
Adrian Carey wanted to know what was next for Black Label Society. Wylde promised a new album around Christmas that will be back to heavy riffs.
Wylde asked the participants what riffs they wanted to hear. There was a request for Black Label Society’s “Black Sunday,” but Zakk didn’t remember it and had to look it up on his phone. Watching him relearn the solo while listening to the song on his iPhone was pure brilliance, and one of the highlights of the class.
Next up, Hastings asked for something from Ozzmosis, and Bradshaw asked for the solo from “Sleeping Dog,” which is the song the entrants had to play to enter the contest. Wylde shared that “Sleeping Dog” was one of the last songs recorded on the record. He had a month to do the record, so everyday he would write something new. “Sleeping Dog” is about getting screwed over, which is always a great source for lyric writing.
When asked about collaborating with Corey Taylor, Wylde told the crowd that he and Corey have always talked about doing something together and it was just a matter of timing, and working out schedules. He emailed the song to Corey who was on tour in Europe at the time.
When asked what songs he is most proud of, Wylde named Ozzy’s “No More Tears,” “Miracle Man,” and “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” plus the Ozzmosis album, as well as everything on his new album, Book of Shadows II.
When asked how the idea for his new guitar line, Wylde Audio, came about, he explained that it was the next logical step. Wylde is drawing designs for the guitar, frets, neck radius, etc. He compared it to a music production where he is involved in the music, the lyrics, the production, he is there for the mixes, and is involved in everything. Moving to his own company feels like moving out of your parent’s house, he added.
Zakk wylde closed the class by telling the participants that if they want to make music for a living, they’ve got to do what they love. Don’t worry about what is popular, do what comes natural. He is sure that Guns N’ Roses was told to be more like Bon Jovi, and Soundgarden was told to be more like Guns N’ Roses, and Green Day was probably told to be more like Soundgarden. You are better off being you and playing what you love, Wylde said. Excellent advice for us all.
Meet the winners: The five guitarists chosen to participate came from Around the US. Daniel Mahanger is from Washington, DC, and has played for over 20 years. He just finished recording the last song on his album, and his wife just gave birth to their second child. Mahanger has released songs as they are finished via his social media channels, and describes his sound as “Black Sabbath and Guns ‘n’ Roses on steroids.”
Mahanger says that the first time he heard “Crazy Train,” he was walking home from school with his buddies, and it “blew him away.” He credits the track with instilling his desire to learn guitar.
Emily Rose Hastings and Warleyson Almeida are a true love story. They met when she left a comment on his YouTube video seven years ago, and are now happily married. It was a beautiful coincidence that both won a place in the master class.
Emily is from Lexington, Kentucky and has played electric guitar for about 12 years. She took classical guitar lessons at University of Kentucky, transitioning between classical and electric guitar. She attends law school, and still plays in solo projects whenever she has the time.
Almeida is a well-known guitar player in his native Brazil, where he has been playing for 17 years with a variety of different bands. He moved to the States to be with Emily and says that winning the contest seems like a dream to him.
Dana Bradshaw is from Lapeer, Michigan. He is around the same age as Zakk and has a lot of the same influences, particularly Randy Rhodes. He still remembers the day that Randy passed away and how it felt like the world ended. His background is mainly rock and blues, and he has a degree in classical guitar from U of M in Michigan. Even though his main thrust is rock, he recently joined a country band out of Michigan called Alan Turner & the Steel Horse Band.
He said that being there for the master class was surreal; an awesome feeling and an awesome experience.
Adrian Carey is from Ludington, Michigan. He explained that the past five or six years has spent with his band, Orukai. Like many young people these days, Carey and his bandmates have struggled with student loan debt, limiting their ability to tour for six months at a time; they have to pick and choose gigs while working full-time.
Carey commented how winning the contest came at a good time as life had been stressful recently and the recognition of winning feels good. When asked what he will take away from this experience, he said to keep working hard as no one will hand success to you.
In addition to the trip to Hollywood and the exclusive master class, the grand prize winners also received a signed Zakk Wylde Odin electric guitar and an assortment of Dunlop/MXR pedals, EMG merchandise, and Monster Cables.
You can see their winning videos on the Master Class site.