He was sacked by Ozzy and told to sober up fast after contracting a blood disease. But that was then.

This is now. And Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde can’t wait to kick off his UK tour with a stunning new album and a hot cappucino for company.

We caught up with the axe hero to bring you yet another rushonrock exclusive!

rushonrock: The road seems to be your natural environment – are you stoked to be back out on the UK?

Zakk Wylde: There’s no doubt we’re up for this tour and ready to get out there. We’ve been looking forward to this for some time and we can’t wait to see some people who we haven’t seen for a long time. The time just seems to fly by. There are a lot of people we haven’t seen in four years! Of course we were all doing stuff in between. We weren’t just sitting on our asses and doing f**k all. But we want to do this thing now.

rushonrock: Did you feel you had to bow to the pressure and take the new record to your fans in the UK?

ZW: There is pressure to tour and pressure to make new records and there just isn’t enough time to do it all. I always try to make an album a year and I’ll do my best to keep that going.

rushonrock: Order Of The Black is as dark as it is diverse – was that the aim?

ZW: I like doing different stuff on the Black Label Society records – when you listen to Led Zeppelin it’s like what don’t they do? But I like to listen to a lot of different stuff and I like to mix my own music up. But it’s all solid work. As long as there’s a certain weight to it – lyrically and musically – the fans will appreciate it. At least that’s my view. It’s not like my slower songs are power ballads. I’m a big fan of power ballads, by the way, but I like to think my songs are a bit more than that.

rushonrock: This is your first string of UK dates post-sobriety – how’s that going?

ZW: Yes the sauce is still off the menu and will be forever. I won’t be drinking beer again. If you’re on the blood thinners, like I am, then alcohol is off the menu. I’ve had it explained to me that the booze stains your blood if you’re on the medication I’m on and eventually you’ll start bleeding out internally – you won’t even notice it until it’s too late. I’m not going to let that happen.

rushonrock: But the road can be a tempting place…there’s no danger you’ll fall off the wagon?

ZW: When I was first told about the blood clot and the medication I was going to have to take I said to the doctor ‘should I just chill out and not drink for a while’. He said don’t chill out – you’re done. I asked him if the booze had caused it and he said that if my condition was hereditary – and both my parents have passed away so I’ll never know – the amount of alcohol I had consumed probably helped to thin my blood for many years. I looked at my wife and said ‘see – booze is good for you’. She wasn’t laughing though.

rushonrock: It takes many heavy drinkers years to kick the habit completely – has it really been that easy to give up booze?

ZW: For me stopping drinking really is no big deal. It’s not like I can’t say that I didn’t have a great time while I was drinking. I lived life to the full while I was on the beer and I can still live life to the full if I stay off it. You just have to have an ounce of willpower. That’s all. It’s just like man the f**k up, Black Label Society up, General Patton up and shut the f**k up. I’m dealing with it because if I don’t I’ll die.

rushonrock: So are you holed up in your hotel room every night while the rest of the BLS boys party?

ZW: I’m still hanging with the guys and having a good time. I’m down at the bar drinking cappuccinos while they’re drinking beer and it’s fine. Really. There was one guy who told me it’s a long road to recovery. I said what? He started talking about the 12 steps and rehab and all this stuff. I said it’s one step. I’ve taken that step. It’s over already.

rushonrock: Rehab was never going to be part of your recovery then?

ZW: What is the point of rehab? It’s like Tiger Woods going to sex rehab. What the f**k is that going to do for him in the long term? Are they going to turn him into a eunuch? I’m just saying what does rehab actually do for you? It’s just sitting around listening to people telling you what not to do and spending a lot of money at the same time. Tiger could just go into the bathroom and jerk off whenever he wanted. Rehab is not what he needs. Reality is what he needs. When you go to a titty bar with your friends it’s cool to check out a hot chick. But if you’re married you can’t f**k her. It’s that simple. Somebody just needs to say stop. It’s the same at Alcohlics Anonymous – somebody just needs to get up and say ‘everybody here has to stop drinking’.

rushonrock: You’re touring the UK at the same time as label mate Rob Zombie – any chance your paths will cross?

ZW: Am I going to get the chance to check out Rob Zombie while I’m over here? Who knows? But this is not a vacation! I’m looking at the BLS schedule and where is the time? Playing with this band is not a holiday – it’s hard work. When you come backstage at a BLS gig you won’t find groupies and all that shit – you’ll find a bunch of tired old men who can barely stand up. Backstage at a BLS gig is like watching paint dry.