When he’s not wrestling for big money Chris Jericho is fronting UK-bound metal masters Fozzy. In my latest exclusive interview I caught up with the larger-than-life star of stage and ring for Rushonrock.com.
September 16th 2010
rushonrock: First of all, a huge upcoming British tour. Looking forward to it?
Chris Jericho: We love coming to the UK, it’s basically been a second home to Fozzy at this point. I think this is our eighth tour of the UK. We always have a blast coming over and we have a great fanbase over there and it seems to grow with every tour so it really is something we’ve been looking forward to in a long time.
rushonrock: When you met Rich Ward, did you ever imagine Fozzy internationally touring?
CJ: Not really, when we first started doing this it was just a fun thing for us and it expanded into a record deal because, quite frankly, Jonny Z, who signed Metallica and Anthrax around 1983, heard of Fozzy and he loved the idea of us and signed us to a record deal after that and we were kind of a little confused. But like any self-respecting musicians, we were offered a record deal and we took it and that was how our band first started. Then we slowly morphed into doing our original stuff and being ourselves. I think it was 2004-05 when we did our first tour of the UK, and that’s when we really saw what it was like. I think it was our first show in Nottingham that sold out and we were a little surprised, we didn’t expect it, and ever since we’ve been continuing to come over to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and continued to do our shows and build our fanbase. For whatever reason the people in the UK like what they like and they’re not as concerned about MTV or whatever is the trends so that benefited us and helped us continue to come to the UK and helped us to continue doing some great shows.
rushonrock: Do you think being with the WWE has overshadowed your work with Fozzy or has it only served to generate more public interest from the band?
CJ: I think back in the old days it definitely overshadowed it. A lot of people were really stuck on the side picture that I was a wrestler and kind of dwelled on that. Over the last years, especially since All That Remains came out in 2005 and Chasing The Grail came out in January, I think people at this point really don’t care as much anymore that Jericho is a wrestler. It’s either good music or it’s bad music. People are saying look, this is a great rock and roll band. Everyday I get people saying ‘man, I can’t believe I haven’t checked out your band earlier’. It’s like Bruce Dickinson as a pilot. He’s a great singer in a great rock and roll band and that’s kind of the same thing with Fozzy at this point. People have figured out with this band that it doesn’t matter if I’m a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker. It’s good music or bad music and people are getting over it, dealing with us. That’s all that matters. A lot of it has to do with the fact we’ve been doing this for 10 years now. Anybody at first who thought we were a flash in the pan or wrestling vanity buzzards; because we’re still around they think maybe we should check them out, and if they check us out they could be positively surprised.
rushonrock: You mentioned Bruce Dickinson, I suppose he can be compared to you in the respect that he is also a man of many different talents. What comes first?
CJ: To be honest, I started playing with bands when I was 14 years old and became obsessed with music even earlier than that. I had every Beatles record by the time I was eight. I’ve been a musician and a fan of music from a very young age. When I was a kid I wanted to be a rockstar and I wanted to be a wrestler, those were the two things I wanted to do. And now I get the chance to do them both they’re both equally important to me. Obviously the WWE is at a completely different, but Fozzy’s still at a very big level as well, so I’m very happy and very satisfied at what I have been able to accomplish in both. Those are both hand in hand for me. As far as the other things I do, they just pop in and out of my life according to how my schedule is and how many opportunities there are. With the band it’s just as important to me as the WWE, but we’ve got some big tours coming up, like the UK and France and then we’re over to Australia in December so there’s a lot of stuff going on. That’s one good thing about the band; we have a worldwide fanbase so we have the opportunity and the fortune to be able to travel to all these different countries.
rushonrock: Is it true that your stage name Jericho was taken from Helloween’s album Walls Of Jericho?
CJ: Yeah that’s the truth. I needed a name quick and I just happened to be listening to Walls of Jericho.
rushonrock: Was that an album that held particular importance to you?
CJ: Not really. It’s just one of a long list of great Helloween records. That was in 1990. I’m still a huge Helloween fan to this day and it’s my little homage to them, that I was able to keep them in the news so to speak!
rushonrock: Your lyrics obviously mean a lot to you don’t they?
CJ: Well I spend a lot of time on them, that’s for sure. Bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica, all of my favourites; the songs they wrote were always more than just chicks and cars and that sort of thing. There was always a lot more depth to them.
rushonrock: From new album Chasing The Grail, the song Wormwood really is something you haven’t tried before isn’t it?
CJ: Yeah, just when we started talking about this record, I really wanted to do and epic song. We always had the players in the band that are able to do that. I’ve always toyed with the concept of the revelations and The Book Of Revelations and I’m inclined to that sort of thing, and I thought; well there’s nothing more heavy metal than writing a song about that. So I started writing the lyrics and writing and writing. The next thing I knew I had about nine pages of lyrics for a whole song and I thought ‘those are epic’, and that’s how it all began. I think it takes a lot of guts for a band to try a 14 minute song and you have to have a lot of talent to make it go by and feel like it’s only five or six minutes. And that’s one cool thing about Wormwood, because it does listen very quickly and it definitely flows very well. It’s something that has put us in a different light for sure. Anybody who has a 14 minute song, people start to look at the band more seriously.
rushonrock: Is it a sign of other things to come perhaps?
CJ: Yeah, I think so. We’ve always had that progressive element to a certain degree but I doubt that we’ll ever do another 14 minute song. I think we’ll have an eight, nine or ten minute song on the next record. We definetly have the players and we enjoy the type of music. We’re Dream Theatre fans, Rush fans and Maiden and Metallica fans. That progressive element has always been a part of who we are as a band, so we’re definitely going to continue that vein further. It’ll not be for every song but there will be a couple of songs on the next record that represent that for sure.
rushonrock: Also on the record is Broken Soul which is quite a different song in itself, but for different reasons.
CJ: I think that’s why Chasing The Grail has been such a hit for us around the world because it’s a very diverse record. There’s a lot of different sounds and styles on it. From a 14 minute epic song like Wormwood to a four minute southern rock ballad almost, something that Kid Rock would do even. And there’s a lot in between, so I think there really is something for everybody on this record, and that’s one of the reasons that it has been so well received.
rushonrock: Do you think this diversification will mature the band in future?
CJ: It’s not like we sat down and said ‘hey, we need to do this, we need to do that’, it just happened. And that’s all of the different influences between myself and Rich Ward shining through and that’s something we’re going to continue to do and that’s what makes this band exciting. There’s a lot of different styles and talents on it but it’s still very much a Fozzy record. That’s what attracted me to the Beatles in the first place, because they were very diverse and Led Zeppelin were like that too. There were a lot of different styles on every record but it’s still Zeppelin. It will always be a part of Fozzy when doing records in the future.
rushonrock: Are there any acts around at the minute that impress you?
CJ: We’re all big fans of Avenged Sevenfold. It’s probably one of our favourite bands to come out in the last few years, from a musician’s standpoint, from a live standpoint, we’re all fans of that band. We still love our Maiden’s and our Metallica’s, but for me the best band I’ve seen in the last few months have been Avenged Sevenfold. It’s another band that are taking their influences from the past and bringing it into this day and age as well.
rushonrock: Lastly, what would you like to see from the UK fans?
CJ: Just a continuation of what they’ve been giving us over the last seven tours. We enjoy performing for the UK fans, the atmosphere and the energy is second to none. We’re looking for more of that; energetic, wild and rambunctious UK fans. We’re coming, and we’re coming to kick your ass.