Interview: Chris Jericho of Fozzy
There's no denying that Fozzy has always been about a heavy groove and a good time. Formed in 1999 by WWE Superstar Chris Jericho and guitarist Rich Ward, Fozzy has always been about one thing: bringing good times back to rock and roll. Since then, the band has been rocking the socks off fans all over the world, reminding all who see them that rock and roll is about invoking dirty, sweaty, loud, spandex jubilation. Touring the world with heavy metal giants such as Metallica, Shinedown, Avenged Sevenfold and many more, Fozzy have skyrocketed into a position as one of the hottest rock acts in recent memory. Now in 2017, it’s time for fans to fasten their seatbelts, sit back and enjoy the wild ride as they're about to unleash their seventh studio album, Judas, on the world. We got to speak with the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla himself, Chris Jericho as we discussed what went into the new album, their plans to tour Australia and much more.
First of all, it's a pleasure to talk to you, huge fan of your work, how's everything going in the world of Fozzy right now?
Everything is going great man, it's a good time to be in the band right now with the lead single "Judas" receiving the amount of positive feedback that it's currently getting. So yeah, it's very exciting and I can't wait for everyone to hear this record and for myself and the band to play some more shows.
Judas, it's your seventh album for Fozzy, and I feel as though they keep getting better and better. Did you ever think that this music project would become so big, so mega and so successful?
Of course, I never really set out to do anything with the intention of not being successful, that's just kind of how I've always gone about things. We've spent a long time and a lot of hard work has gone into Fozzy, and sure there's been some bumps in the road along the way. But I feel like we're on this completely different level right now, it's really exciting and we're almost a 17 year sensation at this point which is a good thing. As I said, with all of the time and effort spent on the band and to see ourselves grow from the first album to this new record about to come out, it's just an amazing experience.
I truly feel as though this album is the pinnacle for Fozzy and one of the best and most interesting hard rock albums of 2017. With the success of your first single Judas, with 9 million views and counting, did that reassure you and make you feel confident with what you've created?
Well, it's funny because at first "Judas" wasn't even the first single being thrown up in the air. The song "Painless" which just came out was what we were originally going to have as the very first lead single from the new album. Some of the guys were really pushing for "Painless" as the first track that we should release, but I thought "Judas" was a better first choice for people to really get an idea of what the record is going to be like. One things I love about this album is that every song could be a single, you know? It's not just one lead single like "Judas" and then a bunch of other filler songs, and I think that's why with the songs that the fans have heard already, it's making everyone really excited for this record. The fact that "Judas" is still viral after almost 5 months of being on YouTube and to see that view count still getting more and more numbers is just so cool. But there are definitely other songs that people have yet to hear that I think they're going to love just as much, maybe more.
You've always been a rockstar, whether it's onstage with Fozzy or in the wrestling ring. Has making music and touring become a number one priority for you now that the band is so massive?
Yeah for sure, I mean it's basically been the priority since around 2010 when we released the album Chasing The Grail which really was a career defining record for us a band. That's when we all decided that we were going to give it our all, and I'm not full-time in the WWE nor have I been since that year. It's just something that we've been really working hard on and it's been a full-time project for 7 years now. We knew eventually it would come to this, when we became a rock band and we would play live we noticed that we were blowing other bands off the stage, and that's not me being egotistical, that's just the truth. We knew our material was getting stronger and stronger, When we released Do You Wanna Start A War, I think that's when we really found our sound and we kind of took that to the next degree, especially with this new record. Everything has unfolded in a way that it's taken us to the next level after all these years, and I think maybe the band wasn't ready for it a few years ago. But now with our current material and our live show, the "Judas" video was amazing and everything feels like it's at the top level of where we're supposed to be.
Fozzy haven't toured Australia since 2013 for Soundwave with Metallica as the headliner, are there any plans for you guys to come back soon for your own tour?
Yeah, it was Soundwave with Metallica which was awesome and then we also played some shows with Steel Panther and Buckcherry later that year. It's been almost 4 years since we were there last. We love Australia! It's always one of our favourite places to play, I think we've toured there maybe 3 or 4 times before. Coming back to Australia is definitely one of our biggest goals for this Judas album cycle, we want to get over there as soon as we can. We always have a great time when we're there and I think it's pretty much definitely going to happen for this next big tour that we're planning. As I said, it's been a long time between visits and we haven't played in Australia since before our last record came out, so it's long overdue. I remember sitting in the hotel room in Sydney while we were on the Steel Panther tour listening to the demo of Do You Wanna Start A War, so that was two albums ago now. Rest assured we will definitely be returning to your beautiful country for sure.
The track "Three Days In Jail" features rap style vocals with some electronic music but also some more aggressive, hardcore vocals near the end, who are the guest vocalists?
The rap part on that song was done by a guy called Hyro Da Hero, and it's funny because we had a Grammy Award winning rapper do a part on that song, but we couldn't get the rights for the release from his record company. So had to make a last minute move and go with Hyro who we'd met at Download Festival in the UK a few years before. He did a great job. We really felt that the sound would be enhanced by having a rap track on this record, we've done it before with our All That Remains album when we had a guy called Bonecrusher on it. So it really just felt like a good part to have in the song, it doesn't kind of take a little bit of a left turn but I like that. I like bands that change up their style and who do things that you don't expect like The Rollings Stones, U2, Guns N Roses, The Beatles and those types of bands. It was the right move for us and I'm very happy with the way that it turned out.
This new album has so many different sounds, it's got something for everybody, from traditional hard rock, to prog rock, to electro, rap, back to anthem rock and heavy metal. What gave you the idea to go for such a unique and effective concept?
Well, when you hear all of these great bands that we love like the ones that I mentioned earlier, it just keeps people on their toes and whilst they may sound different, they're all still great songs at the end of the day. It's still Fozzy, it's still rock and roll man. I think every great band should be able to do it all and not just be in the one box for their whole career, it's okay to experiment and try new things. We try different elements and we try different sounds and if it's going to be a good song with some different stuff thrown in there, then why not try it? We've always had that mentality. I think it's so important to have a bit of diversity in your sound, so that you don't always sound the same. We know that with this new record it's a much more focused approach, and it's still a killer rock album at the end of the day. But it's still got your flashy, fast, rockin' tunes that Fozzy are known for, but I think this record has something that will appeal to all fans, whether they like our old or new work. I know there are a lot of people out there that have never actually listened Fozzy before, but they've heard of us. Now they've taken a chance and seen the "Judas" video and listened to the new singles and it's been able to hook most of those people right away.
If you could create your very own supergroup, with you as the frontman, who would you have in the line up?
I've already got the lineup. I've got the best band that I could possible have. Rich Ward, Billy Grey, Frank Fontsere and Paul Di Leo. It's like creating your own football team, it's all about the chemistry and how well you work together. Not just on the stage but off the stage as well. We've been doing this for a long time now, 17 years man and when it comes to great musicians and having the guys that we have in the band now, they've been with us for 7 or 8 years. Paul left for a few years and then decided to come back and he's just a great bass player and perfect for Fozzy. I honestly don't want anyone different in my band and I hope that we keep it together and stay strong until we do finally decide to stop being a band.
Thank you so much for the interview Chris and as a huge fan of everything that you do, whether I'm watching you in the ring, listening to your music, reading your books, or listening to you talk on your podcast. You are a legend and an inspiration for many, not just myself. With that said, do you have any words for your Aussie fans Downunder before we say goodbye?
Well man, thank you first of all, like I said earlier it's been a long time since we were there last and we love Australia. FOZZY AUSSIE! That's our mantra. We were really fortunate to visit your country twice in one year back in 2013, but the fact that it's been 4 years or however long it's been, bottom line is that it's been way too long and one of your missions is to return to Australia and do a proper, full on, Fozzy headlining tour. So I highly suspect that you'll see us in your fine country in 2018.
The album Judas will be out on October 13th via Century Media Records. Pre-order on iTunes.
Written by Steve Jenkins
Check out the music video for "Judas" below: