Since 1990 Chris Jericho has entertained millions as part of the roller coaster ride known as professional wrestling. The six-foot, 225-pound ball of steel came up originally with the WCW and now with the WWE. His career has taken him on many highs and lows including a championship and a near-career ending knee injury in 1999. It was during this hiatus that Jericho decided to get back to his musical roots and love for it. With Rich Ward of the now defunct band, Stuck Mojo he put together Fozzy. Fozzy is a hard rocking band, which has built up steam since their formation five years ago. Originally a cover project, things are full steam ahead as the band prepared to release it’s first album of all original material. Indeed, there’s more to Chris Jericho than pay-per-view.
You’ve been a professional wrestler for 14 years. How did you get hooked up with Fozzy?
I started with Fozzy back in ’99 when I was working at WCW and I got injured. I was friends with Rich Ward (Stuck Mojo). He had always said we should get together. He knew I was in a band before. So, he said if we get a chance we should get together and play some covers and have some fun with it – put together a little band. That’s what happened. I had some extra time, so we got together and put together the band, playing covers and just having fun with a group of friends. Then one thing led to another, and we ended up getting a record deal. That’s how we kind of started.
Have you always had a love for music?
Absolutely. I’ve been a music fan since I w as about five-years-old. I’ve been in bands since I was 14.
Was Fozzy already a band or was it something that came together back in ’99?
It came together back in ’99 when Rich and I had the chance to get together and play together.
How serious are you about the music that you guys do?
Very serious about it. Like I said, we started out pretty much like a fun thing playing covers, doing more like a tribute band-type thing. And over the years the band has evolved from doing all covers to some originals, to half originals, to all originals. The evolution of the band led us to this point. We had a lot of fans that were always into the band. They liked the band, but wanted to hear more originals. When it came down to do All that Remains, our third record, that was the only logical place for us to go, doing all original stuff, and putting a really serious stamp on it, and really establishing ourselves as a kick ass rock and roll band.
How do you like fronting a band?
I love it. It’s a lot of fun for me. When I was in bands before I was always a bass player. Singing is a lot of fun. It’s a lot of the same techniques you would use performing with the WWE. You definitely want to take charge of the outcome, take them on a rollercoaster ride, having them in the palm of your hand. You feed off of their energy, and vice-versa, your energy feeds off of them. My goal is to always make sure that people have a great time, and every time they leave a Fozzy show, they’ll say, “That was a great band, Jeric.” And the next time they come into town they’ll buy tickets to see it again. That’s an important thing, because it’s show biz first of all. It’s the David Lee Roth University of Rock and Roll.
When you guys started writing original material, did you take part in the writing process? What was your role?
Rich Ward writes all of the music and most of the melodies. I come up with the lyrics, or the majority of the lyrics. He has ideas as well. We work together, but he kind of puts together the basic skeleton of the song, I just flesh it out.
Do you enjoy that aspect of it?
Yeah, I really do. I’ve always written lyrics since I was a kid in bands. It’s a lot of fun to kind of collaborate with someone who is such an excellent songwriter as Rich Ward is, to be able to contribute my thoughts and ideas as well.
Who was one of your favorite performers or bands growing up?
I think my favorite band of all time is the Beatles, and then Metallica, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater. I was always into the heavy stuff, but also to the musical genius and the diversity of a band like the Beatles, or even the Police. My record pile is very eclectic. When you look through it you see many types of bands from every type of genre – rock to reggae, pop to soul music – anything that makes me feel the tunes, I’m into.
How important is rock and roll to wrestling?
They’re both very high-energy forms of entertainment – a lot of energy and a lot of aggression. It’s very hard-hitting. They kind of go hand-in-hand. Hip-hop has some of the elements as well. A heavy guitar really fits the feeling you get – a heavy body slam, or something along those lines.
Which causes you more anxiety? Getting on stage, playing with the band, or getting into the ring?
I would have to say it’s getting on stage and playing with the band. It’s completely resting on my shoulders. With WWE I’m just part of the machine, and with Fozzy to a lesser extent. I feel it’s my name if it [Fozzy] stinks. It’s up to me to make sure that this band gets the same type of notoriety Chris Jericho has in the wrestling world. It’s not easy being a wrestler in a rock band. People think if you’re a wrestler, you possibly can’t be in a band. There’s no way. A lot of people said Rock couldn’t be an actor, or Mick Foley couldn’t be a best-selling novelist. Of course you can. There’s a lot of different ways you can be creative. There’s a lot of creative elements you can use to fuel that passion to build something. And that’s what I take to the table when I’m performing with Fozzy.
How are you converting people who are skeptical of your ability as a musician?
I have no problem. If you listen to our record and you think it totally sucks, then no problem. I’m a big boy. If you’ve never heard out band, then I just ask for you to check it out. I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised, whether it’s at a live show or a song on one of our records or videos. We always deliver. We’re very confident on that ability. We’ll steal the show every night we play live. The only thing the people can do is check it out.
How dedicated are you to the band? Are you finding this taking up more and more of your time?
Yeah, it’s taking up more and more of my time. We’re spending more and more time to get it right. We’re very much hands-on with everything that we do as far as videos or releasing the record, going to other territories. We’re very serious. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we take the band and the project, and the music very seriously.
What are your future plans for the band?
We have a new record coming out on January 18. We just shot a video for that record in San Diego last week. I just did a interview with Guitar World Magazine this morning, and Goldmine Magazine. We’re getting a lot of chances to do some great interviews with some big publications. We’re going to continue to take the band as far as we can go with it. I think we’re on to something pretty big here. I’m really looking forward to this record coming out and hearing people’s response, seeing how it does. I’m very proud of it. We’re getting a great buzz throughout the industry, from all the musicians that I’ve talked to, from Paul Gilbert to Zakk Wilde, to Marty Friedman, and to people like Howard Stern and Mike Piazza, who’s a big metal fan, people at MTV and Fuse. Everybody’s really excited about the record, and proclaiming how much they enjoy it. I’m looking forward to all those Fozzy fanatics out thereto get a chance to hear it too.
What about some of the guys you get in the ring with?
Triple-H just heard the record. He’s a big fan of it. Bautista, Edge, a lot of guys like heavy music, and are very much into the band as well.
– Dave Weinthal
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