Fozzy

coming to the culture room | sept 29th - TICKETS

Interview by Joseph Vilane

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fOZZY ON TOUR WITH aDELITA’S WAY & THE sTIR

Chris Jericho has established himself as a legend in the world of professional wrestling. As a sports entertainer he’s considered to be the best in the world. He’s not only the self-proclaimed “Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla” of wrestling, but he also lives up to this name as the lead vocalist of the hard and heavy metal band Fozzy.  What started as a concept band, Fozzy has morphed into one of the most well-known bands today. Fozzy has received great recognition throughout the years and has released seven full length albums. During nearly two decades as a top performer for the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc, Jericho has still managed to keep his band in the forefront and has always found ways to keep himself relevant in the world of entertainment.

Fozzy formed in 1999 when Chris Jericho met former Stuck Mojo guitarist Rich Ward. The two instantly discovered that they had a musical connection and starting making music together. With Jericho’s notoriety in the wrestling business, fans couldn’t help take notice of this charismatic front man and the catchy guitar driven riffs that Rich put together.  Fast forward to the present, with the release of their 7th newest album release Judas, Fozzy have garnered much attention. The band has reached number one on various charts around the world and Jericho has led them on an exciting adventure touring the world.  Chris Jericho has also been instrumental in spearheading the creation and coordination of The Jericho's Rock 'N' Wrestling Rager at Sea. This cruise will feature three performances from Fozzy as well as a mix of wrestling and entertainment.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Chris Jericho. He discussed his love for music, wrestling and how he never gave up on making his dreams come true. Fozzy will be playing live at Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday September 29th and at The Jericho's Rock 'N' Wrestling Rager at Sea which sets sail from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas October 27-31 2018.

SFL Music: You started playing in bands since you were thirteen but you broke into the wrestling business first and made a success for yourself. Could you have ever imagined that your music career would take off like it has?

Jericho: Yeah that was always part of the goal. I wanted to be in a rock and roll band and I wanted to be a wrestler. Those were kind of two dreams when I was a kid.  I started, like you mentioned, playing music first. The wresting side of things took over but I never stopped playing music and I just knew that it was something that eventually I would get back into again. It was just a matter of finding the right time. Before I met Rich Ward in 1999, I already had been working on putting together a band a few years before that, putting together a tour and seeing what I could do. Once we started Fozzy, we started moving forward as a band and building some steam. I knew that the end game was to grow until we hit the big level. We went from being a small band in the big times to a medium band in the big times. We had momentum moving forward and moving up. That’s all I ever asked for from our band was to grow with every album and with every tour. If I didn’t feel momentum, if I didn’t feel more of a buzz and see more people in the audience then I don’t know if I would have continued. I’m not doing this to play rock star, we’re doing this to make our mark in rock and roll and that’s kind of what happened specifically since the Judas record came out. The band has gone to a completely different level with three top ten hits at this point. You can feel the buzz, the electricity and the momentum that we have that wasn’t there before. We have never been at this level for the entirety of our career.

SFL Music: First and foremost, I know that you describe yourself as an entertainer. As a performer, the feeling of being on stage is often indescribable. Tell me how does performing on stage compare to the satisfaction of writing and recording music?

There are benefits to both. To create a piece of art, a piece of music that’s going to last forever, there’s something very romantic about that. There’s something very monumental about knowing that a thousand years from now, someone is going to go on a future Spotify and listen to a song that we wrote. Also, there’s something to be said about taking those songs, playing them in front of a live crowd and hearing the reaction from the fans. It’s like making a movie in comparison to doing a live cage show. With a movie you have to wait for the feedback. With a record you have to wait six months to get the feedback if people like it or they if did not like it. When you play a live show and do a performance in any aspect, you know right away whether or not people are into it. When people are into it there’s not a better feeling in the world. It’s the chicken and the egg. They’re both important and they’re both very exciting. Right now, that we’re actually on tour playing these songs, I’d say being on stage performing for the audience is a lot more fun than being in the studio slaving over the same song for three or four days.

SFL Music: I remember Rich Ward’s band, Stuck Mojo. As a matter of fact, a close personal friend of mine Scott Spooner used to play keyboards with Stuck Mojo in the very beginning. Were you familiar with their music and how did you and Rich Ward connect?

Jericho: Yeah, I just had a chance meeting with him at a WCW (World Championship Wrestling) show. I found out that Rich and I are kindred spirits and basically started Fozzy out of that. Here we are eighteen years later and we’ve created this whole journey for each other. Now we’re really catching the benefits of it after all of the years touring with bands and just doing the best we can. Now having that machine behind us and having radio play behind us, the whole momentum takes us to a new level. The fact that Rich and I had been through this ride together, we are the only two guys that have ever played at every single Fozzy show. Some guys have left for a while and have come back, some have been fired and came back. Rich and I have played every single Fozzy show ever and that’s a pretty great thing to be able to say.

SFL Music: With you and Rich Ward bonding over music during your initial meeting, who would you say are some of your favorite bands from the eighties that have inspired you to make music?

Jericho: There’s a few but I think it’s really bands from the seventies that inspired us. I always say when people ask ‘what does Fozzy sound like?’ If Metallica and Journey had a bastard child and it was raised by AC/DC you might have an idea of what Fozzy sounds like. We love Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, The Scorpions and all those types of bands. We also love Journey, Foreigner, Styx and Kool & The Gang. We love Pink Floyd, The Beatles, U2, The Rolling Stones and everything in between like Pantera. If all of that stuff was put into a blender, when you pour it out it gives you a little bit of sense of the sound of Fozzy.

SFL Music: As a professional wrestler, you have consistently reinvented yourself as a performer. Do you feel it’s just as important to constantly reinvent yourself as a musician to maintain relevance in today’s music scene?

Jericho: If you listen to Fozzy’s records you’ll hear a progression in sound. There are no two albums are the same and there are no two songs that are ever the same. You don’t want to go too over the top because people expect a certain style. You want to add elements and different colors to it to keep it diverse. You want to make sure there is some versatility there and we are very much open to that. We’ve done so many types of songs on every record, whether it be having a rap vocal on it or doing a thirteen minute song or doing, kind of, a techno type song. All of those things are a part of who Fozzy is as a band. We never liked doing the same things twice. We always wanted to switch things up and still keep it within the realm of what people want to hear.

SFL Music: Congratulations on all of your success on the album Judas. Your music video for the song has over twenty million views on YouTube. When you guys wrote this record did you feel that it was going to be something special?

Jericho: Well the difference is that we were writing with Johnny Andrews who produced the record. In the past Rich Ward and I had pretty much written everything together and now we have a third party that we gave total control to as the producer of the record. You can hear Johnny’s influences throughout the record. We realized early on that it doesn’t matter who writes the riff, the lyrics or the melody line. All that matters is if the song is good. That’s what we have. We have eleven great songs on the Judas record. Some songs are written by Rich (Ward), some were written by Johnny (Andrews) and the combination of the three of us. We ended up with the biggest record of our career. We can’t wait to work with Johnny Andrews again in the future.

SFL Music: One of my favorite tracks off the album is “Drinkin’ with Jesus.” Was this song written from a characters standpoint or did you have a guardian angel on the road with you at one time?

Jericho: That’s a Johnny Andrews song. That’s one of the songs that he wrote a lot of lyrics to. It’s my job as a singer to introduce the song to the world and kind of get within the vibe that it is. That’s basically a song about drinking alone where you know you have no friends. You’re drinking with Jesus and you know he’s the only one that’s there even though you can’t really see him. Johnny is a dark guy. There’s some strangeness there in him and that’s one of the reasons why he’s such a talented writer and producer. Sometimes singing those lyrics is probably about as weird as Geddy Lee having to sing Neil Peart’s songs about trees and red barchettas, it’s that sort of thing. It’s my job as the singer for me to find the common ground, to make it work and we did.

SFL Music: It seems like you time your touring schedule perfectly with your wrestling career. Is it all about luck? How much control do you have over that and has it become more difficult to coordinate throughout the years?

Jericho: No it’s not luck. Fozzy is the priority and it has been for the last eight years. So basically my schedule revolves around what Fozzy is doing. We have been on tour for the Judas record since May of 2017 and we finish in December of 2018. Then I’ll have some free time and maybe I’ll decide what I’m going to do. But until then, Fozzy is the priority.

SFL Music: You’ve had such great longevity in wrestling, do you see yourself making music for as long as you can like The Rolling Stones or Paul McCartney?

Jericho: Well that’s the beauty of rock and roll. There’s no retirement and there’s no expiration date. As long as you’re still having fun, as long as you’re still good and as long as people still want to see you there’s no reason to retire. That’s kind of where we’re at. We’re just getting started and getting towards our peak. We’re just starting to ascend up to the promise land mountain. There’s no reason to even think about stopping on our end. We have a long way to go.

SFL Music: The upcoming Jericho's Rock 'N' Wrestling Rager at Sea, it will be a combination of Fozzy and wrestling. How did this idea for a Jericho cruise come about?

Jericho: We did The Kiss Kruise in 2015. As soon as it docked I called my manager and said, I could do my own cruise.  I wanted to do it with what Chris Jericho is synonymous with which is rock and roll and wresting. So I based it around that idea. That is kind of where it all started. It took two years to get it rolling. Tickets have been on sale for a year now and here we are just a little over six weeks away. We have less than seventy-five cabins left to sell out and it’s been a huge success. I expect it to be even more of a success once we set sail. The idea is to make it an annual destination for people who are excited and enjoy the same things that I do. Fozzy will be playing three times on the cruise. We are also playing in Fort Lauderdale which is the end of The Judas Rising Tour in the states. Once again, it puts Fozzy down as the headlining bill of the cruise. The Judas record just shows the momentum that we have, which enables me to do all of these other cool things that I’m doing.

SFL Music: I heard you say in an interview that ‘if you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life.’ Was that always the goal in mind with regards to your future and what you intended to accomplish?

Jericho: I think so. Here I am in a rock and roll band, I’m touring the world and I’m a legendary wrestler or whatever you want to say. All these things were just things that I dreamt about when I was a kid. There’s not a lot of people that can live their dreams. I don’t take it for granted and I don’t ever take it lightly. Every day that I get to do what I do, everyday where people are paying money to come see me and are interested in what I’m doing is a very special moment for me. It’s been a great ride and like I said it’s just getting started in a lot of ways. It’ll be fun for me to see where it goes and for everybody that follows me as well.