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Interview

Chris Jericho Explains Why Fozzy Are Undisputed Champions of Rock

Cover bands rarely sign to prominent record labels, much less the one that issued Metallica’s first record. That is exactly how Fozzy got its start when Jonny Z of the infamous Megaforce Records signed them in 2000. Jon Zazula didn’t exactly discover a diamond in the rough, though. At the time, the group’s core writers—singer Chris Jericho and guitarist Rich Ward—had already made a name for their selves in their prospective industries.

In 2000, Jericho was a famous wrestler. Rich Ward was part of Century Media Record’s best selling artist Stuck Mojo,, an important piece to the history of rap rock and nu metal. Even though Fozzy’s members were veterans in their fields, the group had yet to find its own voice. Their first two recordings, “Fozzy” and “Happenstance,” were mostly covers. The third album “All That Remains” marked the first recording of entirely original material. “Enemy,” now a classic in the band’s discography, was used as the theme song on WWE’s pay-per-view “No Way Out” and the band played Download festival in England. Fozzy had arrived.

Fozzy released “Chasing the Grail” next and embarked on numerous tours, including a stint as part of Europe’s travelling Sonisphere festival. Soon, Fozzy will hit the road again for another travelling festival, Mayhem Energy Drink’s Uproar Festival. This tour coincides with the release of their fifth recording “Sin and Bones” on August 14th. Running the gauntlet between soft and supple and hard and heavy, “Sin and Bones” brings together southern metal, classic metal and hard rock with Stuck Mojo’s urban groove. Jericho promises its Fozzy’s best material. Read on to find why the ripped front man considers this recording such a masterpiece.

Darren Cowan (Rex_84): Last night you appeared on the 1,00th episode of WWE’s “Monday Night Raw.” That was a big deal.

Chris Jericho: Yeah, it was cool, man. Absolutely.

Cowan: The announcer said you just became number two for most appearances on Raw.

Jericho: It was for second most matches in Raw history.

Cowan: What factors do you contribute to you longevity? How were you able to wrestle so many matches?

Jericho: I don’t know. Pure luck, I guess. I never had any bad injuries. I didn’t even know about it until somebody told me yesterday. Your guess is as good as mine, just too stupid to stop.

Cowan: Last year you told the UK Sun that you were done wrestling for Vince, but here you are wrestling. What made you change your mind?

Jericho: Who knows? I think I say something like that sometimes just to throw people off. We’ve been doing Fozzy since 1999. We’ve worked really hard to get all the pieces together for the band, to get us going in the direction we want. I think our last record was a big success, world-wide. We toured sixteen countries and got huge momentum behind us. I was away for a short stint, in between tours and records, so I told everyone I wasn’t coming back so they would be surprised when I did come back. That’s how it is now at this point. I do the tour and album cycle and then I’m off for six months or so with Fozzy. I’ll go back to the WWE. Our new record comes out August 14th. We leave for tour August 17th. Then it’s full-time Fozzy. No more wrestling after that.

Cowan: Fozzy embarks upon Rockstar Energy Drink’s Uproar Festival with Shinedown, Staind, P.O.D., Papa Roach and many others. Will this be your first festival tour?

Jericho: We’ve played a lot of festivals over seas in Europe, in the UK. We’ve played a lot of shows that were festivals but never a tour. There really isn’t a lot of them. I think Uproar and Mayhem are the only two festivals you can play on. There is Sonisphere in Europe. It’s cool! We’re excited about it! We played about six or seven shows on last year’s Uproar tour when we played with Seven Dust. I think that was a bit of an audition process for us. This year, Uproar called us. We’re super excited about it. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.

Cowan: “Sin and Bones” comes out via Century Media. Did Fozzy sign to Century Media because Frank and Rich previously dealt with the label during their Stuck Mojo years?

Jericho: No, not really. They haven’t been with Century Media for years and years. It was just a matter of getting on everyone’s radar with the last record “Chasing the Grail.” Century Media saw what we were doing and could take us into the direction we want to go in. It’s a great company, and definitely one of the best we’ve ever been on. We’re really excited that we found a home on a great record company that is behind us 1,000 percent. We’ve had a very successful business model, but we’ve done everything ourselves. Now it’s cool that we have a big machine behind us. We’re very excited about “Sin and Bones” and all the other things that are going on.

Cowan: Touring can be tough, especially money wise. Do you set aside some of the money you made wrestling for Fozzy’s tours?

Jericho: No, because it’s not a vanity project for me. We’ve been doing this for thirteen years and we’ve never had a money-losing tour. We have a lot of ways to do it, from V.I.P. packages to other things. You just have to be smart and ahead of the curve. I don’t put in the money I made from the WWE and I don’t ask Rich Ward to put in money he made from Stuck Mojo. The two co-exist because I’m in both, but they don’t have much to do with each other.

Cowan: Revolver premiered the single “Sandpaper.” What made you chose that song as your single?

Jericho: It’s a really cool slice of what the record is. It gets in there, kicks you in the ass and then leaves. There is a catchy chorus and really punchy riffs. It’s a good tune to kick off the whole “Sin and Bones” buzz, so to speak.

Cowan: M. Shadows from Avenge Sevenfold appears on the song.

Jericho: Yeah, when I was doing the vocals on the intro part, I thought it would be perfect for Matt to do. I called him up. He’s a good friend of mine. He went above and beyond what we asked him to do. He sang and then rearranged the song a bit and kind of made it his own. We were really fortunate to have him involved. His prowess and name value alone took that song to a different level.

Cowan: “Sin and Bones” is a diverse album. Some songs are melodic, while others are quite heavy and fast.

Jericho: That’s what you want for a good record. You want some diversity to it. It all comes from the same place. We really focus on what we do best, which is making very heavy riffs and melodic choruses. I think there is a different feel to each song and tempos. Each song doesn’t have the same tone or vibe. I think it’s above and beyond the best thing we’ve ever done. We’re taking what we did on “Chasing the Grail” to the next level. We wanted to focus on making a very streamlined, diverse-yet-cohesive record.

Cowan: “Blood Happens” is a really dark and aggressive song. What went through your head when you wrote this song?

Jericho: We were writings songs while on tour. I think we were in Holland last year. Rich came up with a really heavy idea for a riff. I wanted to use it for lyrics first. I wanted lyrics that fit the idea. I asked him, “What do you think about the title ‘Blood Happens’?” He said he loved it. I told him I would start writing the lyric if he started writing the riff. Then we reconvened a half-hour later. I asked, “What do you have?” He said, “I’ve got this.” And it fit perfectly. The lyrics that I had written were a perfect match for the vocal line and for the verse that he had written. This is the perfect example of fate that brought that song together. It took about thirty minutes or so. I wrote it as a Judas Priest-type of a lyric or “Damage Inc.” about some guy who likes to kick ass, the lyrical, visual images of that sort of thing.

Cowan: “Storm the Beaches” is another song that blows me away. That song is so heavy and epic. It clocks in at over twelve minutes.

Jericho: On the last record, we did a song called “Wormwood,” which was a fourteen-minute song about the Book of Revelations and The Rapture. It was such a heavy topic to write about that nobody ever had. I’ve always loved long songs. That one really went over very well. People really enjoyed it, so we wanted another long song for this record. I had an idea to do a song about the invasion of Normandy Beach, D-Day. I found this letter online that a kid had written to his mother. He had actually survived the invasion. I’m describing all the experiences that he went through. I started writing the lyrics based on his letter. I went online and Googled a bunch of stuff. I came up with the storyline based on that. Rich came up with this amazing musical piece that fit the vibe I had in my lyrics. I was really, really excited about that one.

Cowan: It’s a great song. I also like the military terms you used.

Jericho: Like I said, it came directly from this letter. Then I went online to find out what some of those terms mean. What the fuck is a potato masher or a Higgins Boat? I liked when Iron Maiden wrote long songs that you could learn something from. “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” was a really cool tune. That’s what I wanted to do with this song. You learn a little about World War II and D-Day. It’s such a heavy subject that nobody has ever written a song about or at least anyone that I know of with that exact detail. It’s a really cool tune to write, sing and see come together. I’m really stoked for people to hear it.

Cowan: Fozzy also put together a video for “Enemy.” Was that taken from one show or from a compilation of shows?

Jericho: It is a compilation of shows that we did over the last tour. Like I said, we hit sixteen different countries. We had a lot of footage to use. We have great fans all around the world. We wanted to give them a tip of the hat along the way. It turned out good. It was done after the tour was done, in between singles coming out after the tour. We resurrected that song because people love that song and put some live footage down so people get it a sense of who we are as a live band.

Cowan: The video underlines the energy contained in a Fozzy show.

Jericho: Yeah, we believe in that. It’s part of who we are as a band. That’s the reason why we are able to do Uproar and why we had a critical performance at Download in June in the U.K. I think when people see us visually, even if they haven’t heard us before, they hear and see us and we make a good impression. For the people who have never seen us but listen to our records, I think we take it to another level. Fozzy is a very road-tested live band at this point. We are ready to take on everybody. Like I said, when we do Uproar our mission is to steal the show and be the best band on the bill. I think we have the capacity, energy and songs to do that. We’re excited to get on the road.

Cowan: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?

Jericho: Thank you to everybody who has supported us throughout the years. The only people who don’t like Fozzy are the ones that haven’t heard us, so if you have never heard the band, you’re going to be blown away by this record. All the fans will be blown away, too. I’m really excited for August 14th!

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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