“Fozzy” – INTERVIEW by Dillon Collins
In conversation with Fozzy! Dueling interviews with frontman Chris Jericho and guitarist Rich Ward.
If you’re a fan of hard rock and heavy metal music and haven’t heard Fozzy’s monstrous single “Judas”, you’ve clearly been sleeping under a rock. The band have catapulted into the rock stratosphere thanks to the leadoff single of their seventh album of the same name.
Metalheads Forever Magazine had the opportunity to catch up with pro-wrestler turned podcaster and rock god Chris Jericho and guitarist Rich Ward (also of Stuck Mojo) and we are serving up the tastiest bits of our dueling interviews with one of the darkhorse bands of 2017.
On the success of Judas and wealth of possible singles:
Chris Jericho: Any of the 11 songs on the record had potential to be singles. I think what we wanted to do was hearken back to the days of Hysteria, Appetite For Destruction where there were single after single and it was like holy shit! How good is this record? We wanted to do the same thing, to put out an album that had 10-11 singles … Flashback six months ago and there was a debate that maybe “Judas” shouldn’t be the first single. Maybe it should be “Painless,” maybe “Elevator” and everyone had their opinions. Finally “Judas” won, which was my opinion all along, and I think we made the right decision, but now we have two or three more songs locked up in the chamber already that potentially might be better or bigger than Judas. That’s a good place to be, and it’s not like it’s a one hit wonder on this record where we say ‘now what do we do?’
On career high successes coming after nearly two decades:
Rich Ward: Rarely do you see a band have bigger success seven albums into their career. We formed as a band in 1999. We’re a long ways into the career of Fozzy and for it really just now to start having some real mainstream success is pretty awesome.
On savouring the moments and not taking the business for granted:
Rich Ward: Sometimes when you’re younger in the music business, you get focused on all the wrong things and you forget to smile and have a good time and just soak it in and think ‘Wow I’m in Montreal or Paris or the Czech Republic’. You don’t think of those things, or at least I didn’t … At some point if you’re lucky you learn to look around and enjoy that you’ve gotten this amazing opportunity to do what you’ve dreamt of when you were a little kid, to hold a guitar around your neck and play in the same arena as your heroes did. It’s a privilege to be in this business.
On band gimmicks and proving themselves to the rock community:
Chris Jeircho: Every band has a ‘gimmick’ so to speak and you have to prove yourself. Look at Slipknot or super-groups like Audioslave when they came out and something like that only lasts for so long. It’s like ‘oh well Jericho is a wrestler, isn’t that cute.’ Ok, but there’s either good music or bad music and I think we’ve had to work twice as hard to get some people’s respect, and once you have it you’ve got it for life.
On wrestling stardom not necessarily equating to music business success:
Chris Jericho: Just because you have a lot of fans in one vocation doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to flock to every project that you do. You have to build up that respect and build up that vibe with them. That’s what I try to do with Chris Jericho as a brand. When I do something people know that I’m into it a thousand per cent and that it’s real and it’s going to be great. Once you can convince people of that you’ll always have people on your side.
On pro-wrestling having a backlash effect on Fozzy’s momentum:
Rich Ward: I think for us what kind of stalled that momentum for Fozzy was that Chris spent a lot of time as a heel. We played on Raw a couple of times while Chris was a heel and I think it kind of backfired on us a bit, because Vince (McMahon) was utilizing us as an angle for the show and it was great for exposure, but wrestling fans are loyal to the sport. John Cena was always a babyface those days when he released his rap record, Chris was one of the most hated guys in the business.
I remember the first time we played on Raw the entire arena was chanting ‘Fozzy Sucks!’ before we even played. It was amazing, but the problem was that even though as a wrestling fan I couldn’t have been more excited because I realized that that’s the ultimate appreciation from the fans, to have them hate you before you’ve even done anything, but I think it hurt us. We became Vince’s kind of angle and honestly, it wasn’t a good performance. When I watched it back I thought the mix was bad, Chris didn’t have great monitors so his vocal performance was not great, the guitars were super loud. For the average wrestling fan sitting at home watching on TV it wasn’t a good representation of Fozzy. Even though we had this built-in audience I think it hurt us more than it helped us. Awareness is not always a good thing. If your picture is on the front page of the paper and you’re arrested for drunk driving, it’s not a good thing. I think that stalled us a bit with the wrestling fans, if I’m being completely objective. That being said, having an angle on Raw with Ric Flair and being booed and having my gear smashed up by Ric was one of the greatest moments of my life. I would never trade that in for a few extra record sales.
On finding their stride and international successes:
Chris Jericho: I like to say we’re like a 17 year overnight success at this point. Everyone is talking about Fozzy and everyone is coming to the shows and that’s cool because we’re ready now. Maybe a couple of years ago we wouldn’t have been ready for this, but now we are and I think we are poised to go to the next level.
On the ying and yang between Ward and Jericho:
Rich Ward: You really have to learn to work in this big group dynamic, and I think we’re getting better at it. I think it comes down to us really liking each other as people. We’re very different – Jericho and I couldn’t be more different. I’m a much more nuts and bolts artist type whereas Chris is a big personality and a big performer. We definitely are a really nice teeter-totter and even though we have a nice cross-section, we do kind of compliment each other on opposite sides and it makes for a really nice partnership in that he really makes me aware of where my weaknesses are in how I think about the business. As a guy where this record is my 19th album, I can really use that wisdom and experience in the music business, how to produce records and the science of music and how to marry that with the emotion of music, to work with him in those types of things. We really do make a nice one two punch and I think that’s why we’ve had some success.
On passionate live performances and not taking themselves too seriously:
Chris Jericho: What’s there not to be happy about, right? It’s one of those things where we love playing on stage and we have a great reputation for being a fun live band. In this day and age fun sometimes is a bad word, but not with us. We don’t’ mind doing things that no other bands would do. We are disciples of 1970s Van Halen where it was a party, it was fun. You go to a Van Halen show and there were a lot of smiles and a lot of jokes being cracked. You don’t really get that a lot nowadays.
There’s nobody that really has that vibe that we have. We take the music very seriously but we don’t take ourselves very seriously, and that rubs off on people. When you make that connection with the fans that what you want. There’s not a lot of frowns and anger on stage because we’re getting to play rock ‘n’ roll for a living, man. It’s that thing that every kid wishes they can do and we get to do it at the highest of levels and getting into the higher levels now. We want people to have a good time, and I think what comes off the stage is what kind of influences your crowd. Some people want to mosh and scream and yell and that’s fine. We want people to smile, drink some beers and show their boobs, whether they’re girls or guys. That to us is more important overall success.
Judas is available now digitally and in physical formats. Visit fozzyrock.com for tour dates and more!
Dillon Collins/MHF Magazine