INTERVIEW: Chris Jericho of Fozzy (April 2017)

Posted: May 1, 2017 by Greg Maki in Interviews
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Fozzy

After taking 2016 off, Fozzy is back this week in a big way, with the release of a new single, “Judas,” from its forthcoming new album and the kickoff of its “Judas Rising” headlining tour. The band that started with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek has become a force in rock music, sharing stages with some of the biggest acts in the world and enduring now for 18 years and counting. Just before the big week, vocalist–and WWE legend–Chris Jericho called in to Live Metal’s Greg Maki to discuss “Judas,” the tour, the American festival scene and more.

LIVE METAL: It’s a big time for for Fozzy right now, with the new single about to drop and the tour starting up. How excited are you to fire up the Fozzy machine and get rolling on this?

CHRIS JERICHO: We’re really excited about it, because we’ve been off for a while. We took 2016 off by design. We started writing this record probably mid-’16, and here we are, almost mid-’17, getting ready to start releasing it, release some songs from it and then release the record itself. So we have been gone for a while. Anytime we fire it back up again and get together with the guys, there’s always a special magic and a special chemistry, and we always feel like something big is just around the corner. And that’s the cool thing about our band: Every record we’ve put out and every tour we’ve done, it gets bigger and bigger. So, as you said, it’s a good time to be in Fozzy, and it’s an exciting time for us and for all the Fozzy fanatics worldwide.

When you get back together after taking time apart, does it take any time to shake the rust off?

No, and that’s why you know it’s something special. Paul Di Leo’s played with us the last two records, he was gone for a while in the live setting, and as soon as we got back together a month ago or so, you could just feel the chemistry and the magic like two seconds in. It’s so good to be in the room with the guys again, just shooting the breeze and busting each other’s balls. We got together a couple weeks later to the video for “Judas,” and you could just see the look, the style of the music, the style of the band–it was like we didn’t miss a beat, and that’s what you want. …

I know the feeling when my favorite band is about to put out a new record. There’s a buzz about it. I remember when “Hardwired” came out from Metallica last year, there was a real buzz. The song debuted, and it made you excited to be a fan. That’s kind of the reaction we’re getting. We just released a little 30-second clip from “Judas,” for the video coming out next week (May 2). There’s been a lot of buzz, and it makes me excited, because you spend months and months in the studio working on a song, you know it’s good, but you wonder if it’s as good as you think it is. And then the true test is when you put it out and fans start to hear it, what kind of reviews, what kind of feedback you get. And that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re getting tremendous feedback just from this little clip of “Judas.” So it’s gonna be a good year for us, and it’s exciting for me being in the band and, also, as a fan of music.

What can you tell me about this song, “Judas?” Like you said, we’ve only heard the little clip of it so far. What inspired this song?

It’s a song about betrayal. It’s kind of a darker song, but it’s got so many hooks. That’s the thing about this record, it’s very hooky, and I’m not as much dependent on thrashier beats or intricate solos. It’s based on the hook of the song itself. As soon as I heard this one, I knew this one’s good, this one’s got something special to it. I knew this was going to be the start of the record, the first single, the first video, and that kind of all fell into place. Even though sometimes other people feel differently, I kind of got my way on this one. And that’s the right way to go, with “Judas” being the first song on the record. It’s got the groove, it’s a heavy song, but it’s also got massive hooks–everything Fozzy’s kind of known for. A lot of people who are Fozzy fans or not even Fozzy fans have told me this is the best song of our career. So when we started hearing that from some people, that’s good to know, because you’re getting the feedback that you need to get. Everybody says it the best thing they’ve ever done–you can say that until the cows come home, but when our peers say it, that’s when you know you have something special.

There hasn’t been an official announcement of an album title or release date or anything yet. So what is the status of all that with the new album?

All that’s coming. We are just finishing it up right now. Originally, the record was supposed to come out in May, and then it wasn’t quite ready, so it’ll probably come out in fall–September or October. All that information will come out. But for right now, the song is “Judas.” That’s the first song on the record, and that’s the first single.

Chris Jericho

You’ve got the “Judas Rising” tour starting up next week, with Kyng and Sons of Texas coming out with you. What can fans expect to see from Fozzy out on this run?

More of the same. I just went and saw the (Red Hot) Chili Peppers last night, and they reminded me a lot of Fozzy in that they have some production elements, but it’s all about the band and the energy of the band and the rapport between the band and the audience. That’s what Fozzy does best. I want people to have a good time. I want people to enjoy the show, drink some beers, show their boobs, bring their girls or guys–it doesn’t matter. There isn’t too much moshing at a Fozzy show. If you want to mosh, go ahead, but it doesn’t really happen too much. We do have some production that we’re bringing out for the first time–some smoke and fog and fires, some sirens and alarms–just some cool little things to add to our show. … If you’ve seen us before, you know what to expect. And if you haven’t, get ready to get your head kicked in, because it’s a whole different ball of wax when we’re on stage, and we take great pride in that.

I’ve seen Kyng a bunch of times, and they bring it every night, and they’re great guys, too. Do you know them already?

Yeah, we’ve met them before on the road at a show with them here and there. We were looking for the right band to support us–Sons of Texas, as well. We didn’t just pick whatever bands were available. We put a lot of time and effort into building the best possible package we could build. There’s a certain vibe at a Fozzy show. If we went out with Dimmu Borgir or something along those lines, it’s not gonna have the same vibe.

There’s a lot of bands on the road now. There’s a lot of great packages. We’re up against Guns n’ Roses in a stadium, and Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold, U2 Joshua Tree. Obviously, we’re not a stadium-level band, but still, if you come out to the show, it’s your night out. So I don’t care if you’re in Madison Square Garden or if you’re in Morgantown at the Mainstage, West Virginia, it’s just as important for the people spending their money to come out and have a great time and rock and not have to worry about the bullshit of everyday life. The show starts at 7 and ends at 11. We don’t want people to show up when Fozzy plays. We don’t want you to go, “Well, the first band was OK.” From the moment the show starts, you’re gonna get your ass kicked in a good way. And that’s the way it should be. That’s the sign of a great rock ‘n’ roll show.

It’s also festival season here, and you’re playing some of those. It’s my favorite time of year as a music fan. How is it on your side, being in a band? Do you enjoy all the festivals?

It’s great to be at the festivals. It’s been a European tradition for a lot of years, and now that it’s kind of transferred into the States, with festivals like Carolina Rebellion, Northern Invasion and Rocklahoma and all those types of shows, it’s really a cool time, because before, guys would have to go overseas to play festivals. Now we don’t have to worry about that anymore. You can do it here in the month of May, and then in July, if you want, you can go over and play in Europe at festivals.

Festivals are a great vibe because people come to have a good time. No matter what time of day you’re on at–especially in Europe, and it’s starting to happen over here in the States–you could walk on stage at noon and and there’s gonna be a great crowd ready to rock, or you could walk on stage at 10 o’clock at night and see the same thing.

So it’s a really cool vibe that we have now, and it’s about time that we have this in the States. There are a lot of great rock ‘n’ roll bands here, and people come to see the whole show. It’s not just coming to see one band or another. They’re a little bit more willing to give it a shot when they haven’t heard the music, and it just creates a better vibe. We like to play festivals because there’s a lot times when you’re working in front of a crowd that doesn’t know you. Preaching to the choir is great when you’re headlining, but I like playing to people who don’t know we are. Those are the ones that kind of get me off a little bit. It’s exciting to see people get more into your band, and by the end of the set, they’re got their arms uncrossed and they’re banging along like they should be. That’s just neat to me.

It’s pretty amazing to think that Fozzy has been around for getting close to 20 years now. When you first joined this band back in 1999, did you think you’d still be doing it this much later?

You know, people ask me that, and I never really put a timeline on it. I never go, “Well, I’m gonna do this for a year and a half, and it’s gonna be done.” I always kind of look at things like, did we expect to still be doing this? Did we expect to not be doing this? It wasn’t like we ever decided to not give 1,000 percent to Fozzy, and especially since Chasing the Grail. When that came out, that’s when we started to think we have something special here and it’s time for us to really get involved and really get into it. The game plan of Fozzy has changed, as far as going from being more of a fun type of a thing to more of a serious thing.

But all around the world, man, it was about having a show that was good and having the greatest band that we could, and once we decided to really give Fozzy a full-time vibe to it, it’s been nonstop, no looking back ever since. Being able to tour with Metallica and KISS and Shinedown, Avenged Sevenfold, Slash and all these great bands that we’ve toured with, it rubs off on you. You get perspective on how to be a bigger, better band, and we appreciate all of that. We don’t take anything for granted, and it’s been quite exciting for us to be involved as much as we have with all these great bands, all these great tours.

I can’t let you go without saying how much I’ve enjoyed the past year, year and a half you’ve spent with WWE. Where does that run rank for you among your career?

Well, it’s definitely one of the best runs I’ve ever had. I never want to ever to say this is the best run I’ve ever had or this is the greatest run I’ve ever had. I enjoy the fun of it, the fact that I think I surprised people, I reinvented myself, and that’s all you can ever do. It’s probably my favorite or second favorite compared to the 2008 suit-and-tie guy Shawn Michaels feud. All of them are good, and there’s some that are better than others. This one is definitely up there as one of my all-time favorites.

Can you tell when certain things are gonna take off, like the list or “it?” You’ve done more for the word “it” than anybody since Stephen King, I think.

(laughs) You never know stuff like that, man. You think that you might stumble upon something, but you never know what’s gonna work and what’s not gonna work. I think sometimes when you hit that lightning in a bottle, you’ve gotta run with it. That’s why it was a good time for Fozzy to be off in 2016, because I never expected the “List of Jericho” to get over the way it did or “it” or the “Gift of Jericho” or all this other horseshit you use basically to make yourself laugh, and then everyone’s really excited and into it. To me, that’s something special. I was smart enough to know that it doesn’t happen very often and it doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, you’ve gotta focus on it and put the most you have into it, and that’s what I did. I’d like to say that I was a pure genius to be able to predict all this stuff, but no, that’s not how it works. Sometimes you stumble into stuff, and you just make it work and continue to build on it.

Well, thank you very much for time. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

No, sounds good. Appreciate it.

No problem. I’ll be at Carolina Rebellion, so I’m excited to see you guys play there.

It’s a blast, man. We played there a couple years ago, so we’re excited to return.

LINKS:
www.fozzyrock.com
www.facebook.com/FozzyRock
www.twitter.com/fozzyrock
www.instagram.com/fozzyrock
www.chrisjericho.com
www.facebook.com/chrisjericho
www.twitter.com/IAmJericho
www.instagram.com/chrisjerichofozzy

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