In the 1990s, Chris Jericho worked his way through the ranks of professional wrestling to become one of the biggest household names going into the early 2000s. His persona of an eccentric, over-the-top performer hit home with millions across the world and his brand skyrocketed drawing success along the way with over thirty wrestling titles.
Leaving wrestling to the side, Chris became frontman of rock band Fozzy who released their first record 17 years ago. Earlier this month, October 2017, Fozzy released their seventh studio album titled ‘Judas’ and it’s their best yet. We were able to grab some time with Chris himself ahead of their stop in the Limelight Belfast on 29th October 2017.
Chris, are you looking forward to the Judas Rising tour going through Europe?
“Absolutely, we love Europe. We love the UK. It’s always a second home for us and this tour is going to be the biggest we’ve done in the UK ever, which is great. We sold Glasgow out like a month ago, and a lot of the other shows are getting ready to sell out as well so it’s always a good feeling when you know you’re coming over to do a tour and you see the tickets being sold, you know it’s gonna be a lot of fun every night.”
I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling to understand how you manage to fit everything in whether it’s Fozzy, your wrestling career, your podcast – how exactly do you manage it?
“Well I don’t do wrestling and Fozzy at the same time, that doesn’t happen. It’s too hard. You can’t do it. They both need 100% attention so that’s why I haven’t been full time with the WWE in years. I just go there in between Fozzy tours which is great. The other things – podcasts for example – there’s always plenty of time during the day when you’re sitting around doing nothing so the podcast is actually a perfect medium for me to do that because you can get something done. The same with writing books, and the other things I do, so it’s all based around the main course of Fozzy and WWE. I know the other things are ancillary jobs that I’m able to do because of those two things, not in spite of them.”
And you’re playing in the Limelight Belfast on 29th October 2017 and you’ve already visited a few times to Belfast. Do you have any particular memories of or stories about Belfast or Northern Ireland?
“Ireland has always been a great country for us. It’s always [scheduled] in with the UK shows. Any time we do shows in Belfast, it’s always a lot of fun. I remember playing there early on in one of our first European tours we played Belfast and it’s been great ever since. I was just there earlier this year doing a couple of spoken word shows which is a lot of fun and everyone is asking “When’s Fozzy coming back?” and I’m like, “Well I got the answer for you, finally! 29th October!” I’m really super excited for it. You Irish are great Jericho fans and great Fozzy fans and great rock and roll fans so it’s going to be a lot of fun!”
While you’re out on tour, are there any cities you really look forward to, forgetting the obvious music reasons?
“Well, Ireland’s always fun, I really enjoy it. Last time I was in Dublin and went out and had a blast and Belfast as well – I don’t think I went out as much in Belfast though as I think I had too much the first time and I thought I’d take it easy! [laughs] Glasgow, Scotland is one of the best cities for us. I don’t really know the reason why, we’ve had a great crowd and great results so we appreciate that. Sometime when you go to the more European countries like Germany or France, those type of places, where people don’t understand the English as much, you have to play a different type of show because obviously you can’t really talk as much. You change your show around a little bit and do adjustments that are necessary but every time we play overseas, it’s always fun – great rock and roll fans and always appreciative for what we do.”
How do the European cities compare to those in the States?
“It depends – some of them are rowdier, some are quieter, it’s hard to know – Glasgow and Chicago, those shows jump out as being crazy shows but the last time we played Glasgow it wasn’t good, for whatever reason. It wasn’t a good crowd and wasn’t a good show and I was like “Man, that was not what I was expecting from Glasgow!” which is always a great time. Every crowd is different depending on what night it is, what’s going on, depending if it’s a Wednesday night, a Saturday night – all that stuff you have to take into consideration. But the bottom line is that every crowd is the same. They just want to have a good time and if you connect with them and make sure they have a good time (there’s different ways to do that but the outcome is the same), you have to find a way to connect and open up the door for those who are sitting on their hands a bit and make sure they let loose and have a bit of fun.”
You recently released your seventh studio album Judas and it’s already doing very well. I’d say it’s more radio friendly than the previous records – can you tell us a little bit about the thinking behind this album?
“I don’t think we set out to make it radio-friendly, we set out to work on the songs and we wanted to do an album that if the radio wants eight singles from the new Fozzy record then we can give you eight singles. I prefer to say that all eleven songs, including “Wolves at Bay”, could be a single if they absolutely had to be. And we wanted to do that. We wanted to really focus in on the choruses of the songs themselves and not worry about if it doesn’t have a solo or doesn’t have a big scream on it – whatever fits best for the song. It’s the same for whoever wrote it, or whoever’s playing on it, let’s just make it the best song we can and put out egos aside.
“Working with an outside producer for the first time, Johnny Andrews [Halestorm, Apolcalyptica], that was very easy to do because Rich and I decided, he’s in charge, he’s the boss and whatever he says, he has the final say. Sometimes you like that and sometimes you don’t but we made the deal and we stuck to it. Johnny had a vision for Fozzy. He felt that we could do better in certain areas in songwriting and we did with him. It may be radio friendly, I think it’s just better songwriting more than anything. So that’s where it went to. We just wanted a great record with no filler songs. Not worry about “Elevator is only 2 minutes, 45 seconds long, let’s make it longer by putting a guitar solo in”, which we would have done in the past. That’s just what rock bands do. “We gotta have guitar solos as we’re a rock and roll band.” “No, you don’t. If it doesn’t fit the song, you don’t need it” and our biggest song ever “Judas” does not have a guitar solo in it.”
Do you have any particular favourites on the record? Or maybe songs that you feel the most proud of and why?
“It’s the eternal question. It’s like asking who your favourite kid. I love “Judas” obviously, I think “Drinkin’ With Jesus” is great, “Burn Me Out” was fun, “Weight of My World” was fun – you could basically go through the album and find lots of great songs, it just depends what day it is. “
Who were your main inspirations, personal or musical, to actively get involved in live music?
“I was always big fans of the great rock bands. It’s kinda what I wanted to be when I started wrestling, the ultimate frontman and then we started Fozzy and it’s the same. It’s the same qualities that I stole for music so it’s very much a full circle for me.”
Were there any revelations you had when you started touring? Did you encounter anything out of the norm?
“I think any time that you start to get into the music business, as a kid you think when a band had an album, you thought they were rich – “Oh my god, they got two albums out now? That’s even more rich!” The music business is very much a business. And it’s hard to make it. You learn pretty quickly the fantasy and the business between the reality of being in a rock and roll band and that puts a strain on it as you never get into music for the money but if there’s money to be made, you gotta make it to stay alive so you have to figure out how to do that. It’s not all limousines, crack and hookers [laughs], there’s a lot of sacrifices you have to make but I think if you’re doing it for the right reasons, that you love playing and the reaction from the fans, that money will come. You’ll continue to grow and get bigger. If you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, you’ll be out of the business very quickly.”
What music are you currently listening to that you would recommend to our listeners?
“The new Helloween song is awesome – Pumpkins United – and the Mother Love Bone record Apple, I’ve been listening to over the last few days – nothing really super new. Starstud are good – we seem to be on a lot of the same festivals this Summer. There’s a few new bands that I’m getting into but mostly it’s the stuff that I’ve always been into. I played a festival yesterday in Sacrmento and Ozzy was the headliner so I went and checked out Ozzy – Ozzy is Ozzy – so that was cool.”
What’s the best show you ever attended as a fan? We’d like to know who it was, where it was and roughly when it was.
“There’s been a few. I think way back, David Lee Roth’s Eat ‘Em and Smile tour was amazing. I saw the Stones a couple of years ago, that was great. I saw McCartney this Summer which was awesome, Metallica this Summer was amazing.
“But I think my favourite show was one of the Metallica 30th Anniversary shows. They played the Fillmore and they played all these songs they never played before, all these guests and around 80 songs in four nights and none of them were the same – 77 songs they played. They’re just amazing as a band – no-one has ever done that before. That many songs and obscure instrumentals. It was the best anniversary you could ever have and just to watch them play, knowing how hard it is to break in new songs, the fact that they were able to do it and do so many really blew my mind.”
Fozzy play at the Limelight Belfast on Sunday 29th October 2017 – tickets are available here.