Heavy metal guitarist Zakk Wylde takes a tough-love approach to running his band: The only "attitude" allowed for Black Label Society's personnel is to have a strong work ethic.

"The complaint department is ... closed around here," says Wylde, who performs this weekend at House of Blues inside Showboat Hotel-Casino in Atlantic City.

"You Patton up and Black Label up, and you get your shit done. I didn't go to rehab. You don't go to rehab - you just stop drinking. That's Black Label rehab. It's a one-step program. It's one step: You just shut (up) and stop drinking."

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The Bayonne native, who was catapulted to hard rock fame at 19 when he was picked to be Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist, just wants to make sure his players can deliver the goods musically.

"I don't have time for 'I have a ... heroin problem' - I don't ... care," he says. "I don't care what you did ... yesterday or six ... months ago. I got ... to get done.

"We don't have ... time to dwell on the ... past. Let's go on with what has to be done. It's a ... mindset all the guys in the band have."

Having come of age as a musician during his two-decade-long association with Osbourne, Wylde picked up invaluable tips about how to treat other musicians right and run a tight group.

"Lions hang out with lions, dude, and know what's expected of them," he says. "They don't need to be told to act like a ... lion. Did your dad drill it into you to work hard? You either have a work ethic, or you're a lazy piece of ...

"When I pick up a guitar, I don't consider that practice. When I started, I was playing for 10 hours a day. I still play every day, but I don't look at it like it's a pain in the ... I enjoy doing it."

Given Wylde's level of intensity, it may come as a surprise that Black Label Society's new record is an unplugged version of its previous album, "Order of the Black," along with some unreleased material.

But Wylde says even metal guys need to chill sometimes; therefore, his decision to make "The Song Remains Not the Same" (Entertainment One Music), whose title is a nod to one of his favorite bands, Led Zeppelin.

"On all our records, we have mellow songs," he says. "When we're out on the road, when you want to chill out, you like the mellow stuff.

"With Ozzy, we would sit in the front of the bus, and would chill out to The Eagles and Elton John and all the ass-kicking mellow stuff.

"I always listened to the mellow stuff. As much as I love blasting my brains out, the last thing I want do at the end of the day is blast Ministry."

This weekend's HOB show will be business as usual - think extremely plugged-in - and include Wylde's regular meet-and-greet with long-time fans, called the Berserkers.

"It's like the Deadheads. It's like one gigantic family," he says.

Although Wylde has been mostly on his own for more than a decade, he hasn't forgotten his first "family" of metal.

"For me, being 19 years old, being Ozzy's guitar player is the ultimate, as far as the sideman and your guitar," he says. "It's like being a New York Yankee, as far as being a guitar player. It's like the championships every time you play.

"(Ex-Osbourne guitarist) Randy (Rhoads) set that standard - it's just the most coveted gig. It's just awesome. Ozzy's the greatest, the coolest person on the planet.

"Not only did I play a dream gig with my hero, and played in the same spot as my guitar hero, Ozzy's the godfather of my kid.

"Without Ozzy, there would be no Black Label."


'Idol' goes Wylde

Black Label Society frontman Zakk Wylde's guest shot this season on "American Idol" may seem like an odd gig for a heavy metal guitar icon.

But Wylde has been a longtime fan of the reality competition's creator and former head judge, Simon Cowell.

"I remember when the show came out with Simon Cowell - the ... brutality of it alone," he says.

"Black Label Society is all about power, and I could never ... do that. That Simon Cowell shit was some drop-dead ... comedy. It was part of why you were watching the show."

So when Wylde got word from his friend, Fozzy lead singer Chris Jericho, that "Idol" contestant James Durbin, left, wanted to team up with him, he was happy to give it a shot.

Their version of Sammy Hagar's "Heavy Metal" proved a hit with the current judges, although Durbin later got knocked out, just missing the final three.

"Everybody was super cool," Wylde says of the experience.

Black Label Society

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, June 3

WHERE: House of Blues, Showboat Casino-Hotel, Atlantic City

HOW MUCH: Tickets, priced at $29, are available at the HOB box office or www.pressofatlanticcity.com/tickets


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