Interview with Chris Jericho of Fozzy and WWE
When it comes to Superstardom, few have achieved what Chris Jericho has. As a professional wrestler he has captivated audiences world wide, headlined Wrestlemania, and won every major title there is to win. As the front man for the band “Fozzy“, he has played to fans around the globe, hit #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, and shared the stage with legendary bands like Metallica. Jericho even appeared as a contestant on season 10 of the hit show “Dancing with The Stars” where he made a strong showing, finishing in the top 6.
Fozzy is about to embark on a U.S. tour with Heavy Metal legends “Saxon” and we spoke with Chris Jericho before the band hits the road to talk about the upcoming tour, the life of a rock-star/wrestler, his fans, fatherhood, and a slew of other topics.
Independent Philly: Who came up with the name Fozzy?
Chris Jericho: That was about 13 years ago when we started the band. We started off as a cover band doing some of our favorite songs from bands from the 80’s and stuff like that, and we called ourselves “Fozzy Ozzborne”, and that’s kind of how it all started. After we played a couple shows we got record company interest because of who was in the band, myself and Rick Ward from “Stuck Mojo”. So then we had to choose a name right off the bat, so we just chopped it up and decided to keep “Fozzy”. We didn’t think it was going to be a lasting thing and then here we are now, thirteen years later and six records in, and Fozzy just stuck.
IP: You guys just wrapped up an international tour. How do your fans overseas compare to your fans stateside?
CJ: We’ve always had a great fan base overseas in Europe and the UK and it was the first place that ever truly embraced the band. When we first went over there in 2004 our first show in the UK was at a place called Nottingham and we walked on stage and I couldn’t believe how many people were there; the show was sold out. It was the first sell out show we’d ever had, people knew all the words to the songs, and were just going crazy for it. As a result we’ve toured there quite a few times over the years. I think probably 15 or 20 times we’ve toured in the UK and Europe, and the fan base we’ve built is huge over there, which is great. Consequently, record sales wise we’ve always had a bigger fan base in the states which is why we really wanted to start focusing more on the states. We did that on our last tour when we went coast-to-coast with “Shinedown” and “Godsmack”, and of course now we’re getting ready to do it all over again with “Saxon” in a couple weeks. It’s really cool, we’ve been touring almost non-stop since “Sin & Bones” came out. We’ve been to 14 countries, and countless gigs and anytime you can get to triple digits on a tour it’s because the album was a success. A big part of that is all the work we’ve done in Europe over the years, and continue to do.
IP: As a fan of Heavy Metal music, how excited are you to tour with legends like Saxon?
CJ: It’s huge man. I mean the thing is I’ve always been a fan of Saxon for years and years. The thing that really attracted me when the thought of this tour came up was that their new album “Sacrifice” is one of their best in my opinion. I think the record is off the charts and Saxon has a huge fan base world-wide. The fact is they could probably just go and do greatest hits every night and that’d be it. But they’re still recording and writing amazing material and that’s what really drew me to the band. And of course the fact that they’re one of the most legendary and influential Heavy Metal bands that there is; it was just a win-win situation for us. It’s a great package too because there’s a lot of their fans who won’t know who Fozzy is and a lot of our fans that might not know a lot about Saxon; they get a new fan base. At the end of the night there’s going to be new fans made by both bands, and that’s why you do something like this. It just worked out well across the board and, like you said, from a personal stand point, I listened to Saxon when I was 12 years old, so it’s great to go on the road with bands you listened to and were influenced by when you were just starting to become a musician.
IP: The “Sacrifice & Sin” tour is going to be rolling through our area on September 17th for a show at Reverb in Reading, PA. What can fans expect from a live Fozzy show if they’ve never seen you perform in person before?
CJ: The one thing that we’ve built up a reputation for over the last few years is being a very entertaining live band…a very entertaining, and energetic band. It’s very rare that people don’t have a great time at our shows. You know a lot of times we go on stage if we’re touring with other bands that maybe don’t know us, or playing festivals, and at first fans kind of stare at you like a weird animal in a zoo, wondering what the heck’s going on. Usually three or four songs in, they get it. By the end of the set they’re always chanting “Fozzy”. We demand a lot of crowd participation from our audiences and that’s part of what makes people enjoy coming to our shows. The thing I hear the most whenever we tour, whenever we play, is that people have fun. It’s almost a taboo word in Rock N’ Roll, but we make sure people have fun. It’s almost like, you know, 1979 “Van Halen” on steroids, as far as the performance that we have. We don’t have dragons flying from the ceiling or pyro going off; we are the show, and we take great pride in that. People that like to have fun and like to enjoy a great rock show always have a good time at Fozzy.
IP: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen at one of your live shows?
CJ: I think we played a show, it was in Berlin or something like that…I think it was in Austria, Vienna. It was so stupid but like that club had a rafter over the top of the ceiling, you know, there were rafters in the ceiling, and the place was just packed with people, going nuts. And a guy climbed up on the rafter and just watched the whole show from there. And every once in a while, like a bat, he would put his legs on the rafter and just swing down and watch upside down. We called him the Batman, he was the Batman. There you go. It’s always cool when people are going the extra mile to have a great time, but the Batman always stands out to me for sure.
IP: There’s always been a bit of a cross over between your music career and your wrestling career. We know that Fozzy songs were used as theme songs for several wrestling pay-per-view events, but is it true that you chose the last name “Jericho” for your wrestling persona based on the title of a Heavy Metal album?
CJ: Yeah. I was trying to find a last name for show business purposes and there was a record by a band “Helloween” called “Walls of Jericho”, and it just happened to be in my car, the cassette of it. I just remember thinking “Chris Jericho, that sounds cool”. My original idea for a name was going to be “Jack Action” and then I thought “that’s not really cool”. Chris Jericho, THAT has a ring to it! And it’s been my name ever since.
IP: How does the feeling that you get from the crowd at one of Fozzy’s show differ from the feeling you get from the crowd when you’re in the ring?
CJ: When you’re a live performer, the most important thing is making a connection with the audience. And whether it’s wrestling, Rock N’ Roll, or you’re a Shakesperian actor, you have to make that connection with the fans. When you can do that, and get the crowd involved, it’s always a great show. So to me it’s kind of similar. They are very similar forms of entertainment dependent on the audience reaction. It’s very reciprocal. If the crowd is crazy then you’ll go crazy, if you go crazy, then usually the audience gets crazier. You can have an amazing show but if it’s a dead crowd, it kind of defeats the purpose. You can have a terrible show but if the crowd is going crazy and chanting your name the whole time, well that’s what it’s all about. That’s what you want, in wrestling or putting on a Fozzy show. You want the people to be chanting and reacting and having a great time. The quality of the actual performance doesn’t matter as much when the fans are that engaged.
IP: Your latest album “Sin & Bones” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart last summer. From a personal stand point, was that more or less satisfying than winning a WWE or heavy weight championship?
CJ: The cool thing for me is that when I was a kid I wanted to be in a rock band and I wanted to be a wrestler, and I’ve gotten the chance to do them both. Obviously wrestling took off first, but now that the band is kind of catching up, they are both great feelings. Winning the championship is the biggest honor you can have in wrestling but then last year with Fozzy, to be doing this as long as we’ve been doing it, 10 years, 12 years, and have our fifth album debut at #1, was a huge honor and a very gratifying pat on the back, so to speak, to show how much work we’ve done and how far we’ve come to reach that point of success. So they are both great feelings because you’re succeeding at the highest level you can. Obviously now we want to get #1 on the Billboard charts but anytime you can see your goals and your dreams be realized, it’s a great feeling.
IP: You recently filled in on SiriusXM on “Ozzy’s Boneyard” show. What was that experience like?
CJ: I’ve been doing radio for years. I had my own show on XM that just wrapped up a two year stint. I had another two year stint a few years ago. So, I love doing radio. The funny thing about that was, it was all last minute. We had like 10 minutes to tape all the bumpers because we were at SiriusXM and Al Sharpton was actually waiting for us to finish up so he could get in the studio. We literally had like 10 minutes to do it so I had to make it up on the spot, but that’s part of what I do. You just gotta roll with it and go with the flow sometimes. Anytime you can play your favorite songs on the radio and explain the reasons why, it’s a blast.
IP: If you had the opportunity to put together a three band tour, what other two bands would you choose to tour alongside Fozzy?
CJ: Saxon, for one. That’s the best on for now. But yeah man, if you kind of had like a “dream tour”, we went out with “Metallica” in Australia in February and it was amazing. You could do a Metallica and “Iron Maiden” tour, that’d be cool. Or maybe “Avenged Sevenfold” and “Bullet For My Valentine” tour. The cool thing about our band is that a great catalog of songs that we can pretty much play with anybody. I’d say we could play with anyone from “Shinedown” to “Slayer”, and satisfy their audience. Put together a tour with any two bands and we’ll do the best to blow them out of the water.
IP: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise or even shock our readers…
CJ: I don’t know man, I’ve pretty much been living in the public eye for the last 23 years, so most of the stuff I do, people know about. I think maybe that the most surprising thing is that when I’m home I don’t do anything, I just hang out with my kids, I just work on being a dad and there’s no Chris Jericho involved in that at all, it’s just Daddy. That’s the way it should be; that’s the balance of my life. I’m on the road quite a bit, performing and entertaining the multitude of fans worldwide, but when I’m home, none of that really matters, all that matters is being the best dad that I can be.
FOZZY and SAXON “Sacrifice And Sin” 2013 Fall Tour:
12: Patchogue, NY – The Emporium
13: New York, NY – BB King
14: Montreal, QUE – Corona Theater
15: Toronto, ONT – The Phoenix
17: Reading, PA – Reverb
18: Cleveland, OH – Peabody’s
19: Dayton, OH – McGuffy’s
20: Flint, MI – Machine Shop
21: Joliet, IL – Mojoes
22: Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
24: Waterloo, IA – Reverb Rock Garden
26: Dallas, TX – House Of Blues
27: San Antonio, TX – Backstage Live
28: Houston, TX – House Of Blues
29: Oklahoma City, OK – Chameleon Club
01: Tempe, AZ – Club Red
02: Las Vegas, NV – Count’s Vamp’d
03: Ramona, CA – Ramona Mainstage
04: Los Angeles, CA – House Of Blues
05: Corona, CA – M15
06: San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge
08: Seattle, WA – Studio Seven
09: Portland, OR – Alhambra Theatre
10: Vancouver, BC – Venue