Thinking I’d missed out on talking with the one and only Chris Jericho because I’d been away and missed a message, I was a bit devastated to say the least. However, I was lucky enough to get a late call up and got to go one-on-one with the front man from Fozzy, who is really looking forward to heading back to Fozztralia. I catch Chris on a rare day off at a beach down in Italy before Fozzy’s next show at the Rock Planet in Pinarella.
The new album Judas has been out for just on 9 months now and you’ve been out on the road supporting for a good period now. The overall reception of fans to Judas has obviously been huge, as the single has over twenty one million views on You Tube? Did you see this coming? “Well I don’t think anyone can say they actually saw this. We knew eventually that it would happen, eventually we would get to this point. But I think the fact that it has gotten as big as it has, for whatever reason, it is a song that people can really relate to. Right song, right place and the right time. You could try and analyse it and try and figure out why it happened, but we’ll just sit back and enjoy it, and build on the success that we’ve started. It’s exciting to have a song with so much steam, so much power and it has become a signature song for us. Much like Enter Sandman or Stairway to Heaven in the fact that it is a song that everybody knows that Fozzy has recorded it. So, it’s a signature song and a song that we’ll get to play for the rest of our lives and that’s a cool thing.”
I asked Rich (Ward, guitarist) a similar question from his side when the album was to be released. Let’s face it, you aren’t exactly someone who seems to have a lot of time on your hands. So how easy was it for you in the creative process for the album? “Being creative there is no time limit, when inspiration strikes you work. For me I’ve always been a lyricist of sorts, not an actual riff writer and on this record that didn’t change. Rich worked a lot with our producer, John Andrews, and they came up with the majority of the songs. I had some lyrics on a few of the songs, but all that matters is the final product, the record and I think it is a major record here which continues to grow and get bigger on a weekly, monthly basis. It’s a really, really cool partnership that we have with everybody working as hard as they do.”
You’ve been able to deliver several singles from the album with the latest Burn Me Out just out now. The videos all look to be you guys just running amok and having a great time. How much effort is in your performance. “Well on stage, everyone is going the extra mile. We have a reputation that we are a great rock n’roll band that leaves everything on the table, you know we leave it all on the stage. I think that’s one of the reasons why the band’s grown the way we have. Once we have the material and the records we have made we are able to back it up with a very exciting and entertaining live show. It’s something that people in Australia have known for years, that we bring a fun rock n’roll show. We’re not one of those serious bands and we could never figure out why having a great time on stage and making sure the crowd has a great time is a bad thing. We do rock n’roll with a smile, when you come see a Fozzy show you’ll leave feeling good”.
You’re bringing Fozzy to Australia on a headlining tour in November. What you referred to before is definitely something I’ve experienced and I’m looking forward to experiencing it again having seen you twice in 2013, both at Soundwave and then when you supported Steel Panther. But what can fans that have never seen a Fozzy gig expect? “We were very fortunate to come twice in 2013, it’s now been five years and it’s been a long time coming but it’s here at last. We are very, very excited about that. I think you’ve got to keep in mind that the band is very tight, we’ve been on the road for the last year and a bit, since the Judas single came out last May (2017). So the band is on fire and it’s a really great experience. Australia is going to be really lucky to see the band when they do, because it’s firing on all cylinders at all times. We’re really looking forward to it, we’ve had a long history with Australia. We’ve been coming there since 2005, and this will be our fifth tour of the country so each time people ask where’s your favourite place to tour, I always say Australia. Here we are getting to return and it’s going to be a complete honour and a rock n’roll party for sure.”
I was lucky enough to experience the VIP tour back in 2013 and it looks to have changed a little bit since I went. I thought it was great, you guys seemed genuinely pleased to meet with us and have a chat (a little different to others I have experienced which sometimes feels like a chore). For those that are still umming and ahhing – why should they buy in to the VIP experience? “We never want it to be a chore. People spend a lot of money for VIP and it should be done with a smile. We’ve spent years trying to figure out how to give people a little something extra. What we’ve found that really worked well was a private concert for the VIPs, so we do a five song mini-set for everybody who shows up. We do some of the big hits and then songs that we’re not going to do that night and it’s a really cool experience. We didn’t want to make it just a grip and grin and say Hi, people shuffle along. We want to spend that time with people, we want it to be a great experience, the once in lifetime moment. It’s very popular, already sold out in Melbourne and Sydney. We had to cap it because there were so many people who wanted to come. Like I said if you’re thinking about it and you want that once in a lifetime experience, you’re not going to get anything better, from any band other than Fozzy”.
What has been your favourite song to play live on the Judas tour? What has been the song the fans are responding to best on tour? “Judas is one of them, it’s a great tune. We’ve just added Elevator from the Judas record into the setlist. I love doing Sin and Bones, there’s a lot of great songs in the set. And we’ve got it really fine tuned, how we’re doing everything. What we’re playing, when we’re playing and it’s a lot of fun. It’s so important we put on a great show and the Judas set has a great flow, a great vibe to it.”
Prior to coming here, you are doing a Rock n’Rager Jericho Cruise. Another very cool concept. Does your head ever want to explode with the amount of ideas you have? You remind me a bit of Bruce Dickinson with the amount of creative outlets you need. “I think it’s a matter of never putting yourself into a certain box. To me if it’s something interesting and exciting, you can do a very good job of it and have some fun with it, then I’ll do it. I went on one a few years ago and as soon as I got off the ship, I said you know I want to do this on my own and that is where that idea came from and it started. That’s where all of those ideas come from – I wonder if I can do that and most of the time the answer is yes, I can do it and once I make it happen then you’ve got something special and unique, it’s very Jericho. That’s how it goes, if it’s something I am not interested in, I won’t do it. I have to be one thousand per cent committed to it, because if I’m not it’s not going to work.”
The current tour looks to be one of the biggest by Fozzy ever, so how do you and the rest of the guys keep it fresh? “It’s important to get along. As friends, as peers and as musicians there is a lot of mutual respect in Fozzy. Like I said, when you’re touring with your best friends it makes things a lot better and a lot easier.”
What sort of things do you do while on the road so much to keep up with the rigours of touring? I know previously you were doing a lot of DDP yoga, is it still an integral part of your routine? “No, it’s really just the shows itself. There’s around six shows a week and it’s really physically taxing to be on stage with Fozzy. I sweat way more with this band than anything else I’ve done. So it’s like an intense form of cardio and that keeps us in really good shape”.
We’re getting to the end of the fifteen minutes we had so last question. I must admit that it’s been awhile since I listened to a Talk is Jericho podcast, you’ve interviewed some amazing people in the world. Is there a number one person that you are still trying to get to? “Well I would say Paul McCartney, that’s kind of the peak for me. I enjoy doing the show, it’s a lot of fun. I get to talk to people who I’m friends with, who I want to be friends with, who you want to spend more time with as a person. I think it’s because I never approach it as an interview, it’s just a chat amongst friends and that’s why it’s a lot of fun.”
Thanks very much for taking the time to chat with me.
So get out and grab your tickets to see a kick ass rock n’roll show. I can vouch that it’s always been a great experience for me and can’t wait to get to see the guys perform in November.