Led by the inimitable duo of guitarist Rich Ward, co-founder of the influential underground band Stuck Mojo, and vocalist Chris Jericho, famed WWE superstar and media personality, the band Fozzy has really always been about one thing: becoming the greatest band in the world. Over the course of the next seven years, the band has done just that; three albums worth to be exact. The records were fit in between Jericho’s wrestling, TV and writing career. It wasn’t until their last release Sin and Bones though that the band really started to hit their stride. Jericho was winding down his involvement with sports, the band was touring more than ever before and their live show was as strong as ever sharing the stage with such music luminaries as Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Steel Panther, Shinedown, and many others. The entertainment, the fun factor, the showmanship were all there and in full force. More so than any point in the bands’ career.
Fozzy have announced they will release their highly anticipated, new full-length studio album ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’ (Century Media Records) on July 22nd. Produced by Ward, ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’ is the bands follow-up to their acclaimed 2012 release ‘Sin and Bones,’ and sixth studio effort since 2000. Featuring 12-tracks, the new album includes the debut single “Lights Go Out,” alongside the title track and the return of the Theremin in “Bad Tattoo.” As described by Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour, “Do You Wanna Start A War is dark, dense and sharp. Sonically and lyrically, this feels like it’s going somewhere big. I love it!”
By the time ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’ is released, a horde of seasoned and newfound fans will have seen Fozzy live and heard new tracks off the album. They will have witnessed one of the greatest performances they’ve ever seen, they will have witnessed one of the best frontman in any genre of music sing some of the catchiest songs they’ve heard in ages and most importantly, they will have had the best time in their lives doing it. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Chris Jericho to discuss the creation of Fozzy’s most ambitious album to date, the band’s collaboration with Steel Panther’s Michael Starr and what the future may hold for this band on the rise.
Fozzy is back with a brand new album titled ‘Do You Wanna Start A War.’ What goals or expectations did you have when starting in on the record?
Our only rule was that there are no rules. We wanted to make a record that was diverse, concentrate on writing good songs and not necessarily worry about the genres they fit into or what is going on with other bands. We just wanted to do our own thing, be ourselves and write a record that was very indicative of who we are as a band and who we were influenced by. That was basically the process. Ya know, we had so much momentum built up after ‘Sin and Bones’ and we wanted to keep it moving. We knew that we were now under the microscope more than ever, so we wanted to make the album our careers. It is really the perfect indication of who Fozzy is as a band and Fozzy is many things. I think ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’ is the crux of that.
For those who haven’t heard the album yet, how does it compare and contrast to your previous releases?
It is still Fozzy. Anytime you have Rich Ward playing guitar, Frank Fontsere on drums and Chris Jericho singing, it is going to sound like Fozzy. It compares the say way all the rest of our records do. There is some evolution on this record and some songs that go in different directions than what we have done in the past. On ‘Sin and Bones’ there was a 14 minute song and there is nothing like that on this record. We always try to change and evolve with each record but it still sounds like Fozzy no matter what it is we are doing. I think ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’ is just a natural evolution of our band. After putting out three records in five years you really get on a roll and get into the groove of who you are as a band, what your band sounds like and what your band does best. That is where we are at right now.
Where there any challenges you faced in bringing this particular record to life?
I don’t know if there were any challenges this time around. We were really prepared when we went into the studio and made sure we were ready. I think the biggest challenge was making sure we had bullets in the chamber to make do this record as quickly as we did because we wanted to keep that momentum rolling. Anytime you can get your foot in the door in this business you have to put your leg in and kick the damn thing open and that is what we aimed to do! It really fell together fairly easily as far as songwriting process and those sorts of things. I think the biggest thing, like I said, was to keep the ball rolling and continue to grow the band.
What can you tell us about the songwriting process for this album? What speaks to you in terms of songwriting these days?
These days or any days, Rich writes the majority of the songs with the riffs and the melodies and I insert the lyrics. For me, I get inspiration from different places. I keep a book of notes, song titles, ideas, phrases and that sort of thing. I can be anything from a witches coven to a bad breakup I had years ago. It all depends on what kind of mood I am in and what I am feeling or what kind of a vibe I want to write about. I think it is really cool to write ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ fantasy lyrics and I have delved into that from time to time but I think the situations that register the most are the ones based around real-life situations that everybody can relate to. Ya know, I have never fought a dragon before, so I don’t know what it is like but I do know what it is like to break up with somebody and that is something you can write about and people will believe in as well. It all just depends on what kind of mood I am in at the time.
These songs are pretty fresh to you at this point, I would imagine. Which ones are resonating with you the most and have you excited to get out there and play live?
The funny thing is this record is just about to come out now but we have been sitting on this album for a couple of months now. We worked on it from January to April and it has been pretty much done since then. You get a chance to really reflect on the songs. “Lights Go Out” is a big hit right now and it is our first legitimate Top 40 hit on rock radio. It is going over live huge. ‘Do You Wanna Start A War” is great. I think “Bad Tattoo” is going to be good as well. We also have “Died With You, “One Crazed Anarchist” and “Tonite.” There are so many songs you can choose from and that is a good problem to have when you have too many songs that you want to play live and will work live. It is just a matter of getting them all ready, trotting them out and seeing which ones go over really well and which songs will be replaced. I think there are a lot of choices on this record that are probably going to go over really well!
What are your thoughts when it comes to music videos in support of this album?
On the week the record comes out, we are headed to Los Angeles and we are going to shoot a video for the second single, “Do You Wanna Start A War.” It is really cool because nowadays there are a lot of different ways to get your songs out there. For the first couple singles, “Lights Go Out” and “One Crazed Anarchist,” we have lyric videos. That is kind of the norm these days. To go and do a full-on video shoot is always fun to do, so we are really looking forward to that. We think “Do You Wanna Start A War” is the perfect song to do a video for!
Fozzy albums always feature some great collaborations and this new album is no exception. This time you have Michael Starr from Steel Panther along for the ride on “Tonite.” How did the collaboration come about and what was it like working with him on the track?
We toured with Steel Panther last December in Australia. Michael simply said “I want to sing on the new Fozzy record!” I said, “Ok!” Every time we have collaborations, it’s not stunt casting. We don’t do it because it would be cool to have a certain person on it but because we want it to add to the song. Steel Panther getting so popular and being so comedic and so much fun is something that just proves how damn good they are! Michael Starr is, without question, one of the best rock singers in the business today. To have him involved on “Tonite” was amazing. The song is a sort of Cheap Trick, power pop song. We knew he would kill it on a song like that, which he did! It got to the point where we actually gave him more to do! He sang background vocals and it sounded so great that we asked him to do the bridge as well. He really adds a lot to that song and made it even better than it was! It was great to work with him because, like I said, he is one of my favorite rock singers in the business today for sure.
Fozzy has been active for 15 years now. Looking back on the band history, what do you consider the biggest evolution?
Before we started doing ‘Chasing The Grail’ back in 2009, we sat down and decided to make Fozzy our priority and go all the way with it. Ever since we made that vow, the band has grown by leaps and bounds. It has gotten completely out of control as far as how we are doing with everything from record sales, live attendance, tours we are getting, etcetera. That was the change for us which got us back on track. When we made Fozzy the priority for us, we could really see the results. That was the turning point for all of us.
As a fan of the band, I have always felt you were one of the best kept secrets in rock as far as frontmen go. I guess I would say I felt you were one of the most underrated frontmen for a long time. Do you feel you are finally getting the recognition you deserve as a frontman?
I guess. I really never saw it any other way. Because I have spent my career in front of crowds, I know how to put on a show. Maybe it is underrated or the best kept secret but that is good because that is one of the things people are realizing about us now; we are a great live band. We have a great reputation for being very entertaining and energetic. When you come to the Fozzy show you are going to have a good time. We put together our band to reflect that. Everybody on stage is a great performer and, like I said, we really concentrate on having a good time and the frontman is a big part of that. Yeah, I enjoy doing what I do. I know the tricks of how to get crowds involved and how to get them into the show. That is the most important thing, making sure people have a good time when we are on the stage. If I am a little bit underrated, that is OK. I have made a career off of low expectations! [laughs] It is always good when you do a show and people say “Wow! You guys were really good!” Of course we are really good! We wouldn’t have it any other way! [laughs] We aren’t doing this just to be doing it; we are doing it to be the best band in the world!
You always have many irons in the fire. What do you foresee when it comes to the future of Fozzy? Is there any plan in place at the moment?
I think the plan is happening right now. I mean, you do the best record you can do and have the best team behind you and the rest will follow. Like I said, there are so many good things that have been happening already from this record and it is not even out yet. “Lights Go Out” is our first Top 40 single, we have the tour with Theory of a Deadman coming up in September, which will be the biggest tour we have ever done domestically. The plan is to keep doing exactly what we are doing! We have done our part in the studio and now it’s time to get on the road and continue to do that. Our plan is to be the best band in the world. That is what we want to do! That’s what you should want when you get into this. You should want to be the best and biggest band you can be. If not, don’t get into it. So far, so good and we will keep the ball rolling!
Is capturing the live show with a Blu-ray or DVD release something that is still in the cards for Fozzy?
I would love to do one. I know we filmed a couple shows when we were touring on the last record. We would love to do a live release and it is something I am sure is in the works. For right now, the big priority is the record itself. Once we get that rolling and all the elements into play, I think a live DVD is the natural progression and the next project for sure.
You have also been hard at work on your podcast, ‘Talk Is Jericho.’ What has that experience been like for you?
I am really enjoying it, man! It is a great opportunity to have long form conversations with people, some of whom are our friends and some who are not. It is cool to do a ten minute interview somebody but to really dig deep with the podcast and get some different layers when you are going 30, 40 or 50 minutes with an interview is great because that is when you can really pry the truth out of people and get some really good stories. I have really been digging it and I think I am a natural for it. It is a whole new world for me that has been quite rewarding so far!
You have another autobiography headed our way in the next few months. What can we expect from this release?
You can expect more of the same. If you liked my first two books, you will definitely like this one. Writing a book is a long and hard process but it is something I enjoy every couple of years. Like I said, You couldn’t do it more frequently than I do! [laughs] If you like those two books this is a continuation. I am really excited about it!
Awesome! Thank for your time today, Chris! The record rocks and we are excited to spread the word as always!
Thanks, Jason! I appreciate it! Talk to you soon!
Fozzy is Chris Jericho on vocals, Rich Ward on guitars and vocals, Frank Fontsere on drums, Billy Grey on guitars, and Paul Di Leo on bass.
Fozzy confirmed tour dates with Theory of a Deadman:
* Fozzy only
July 24 – Los Angeles, CA – The Whisky* (record release show!)
August 2 – Syracuse, NY – New York State Fairgrounds*
September 13 – Janesville, WI – Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport*
September 17 – Tempe, AZ – The Marquee
September 19 – San Antonio, TX – Backstage Live
September 23 – Atlanta, GA – Center Stage
September 24 – Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore
September 26 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
September 27 – Winston-Salem, NC – Ziggy’s
October 2 – Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live
October 3 – Knoxville, TN – The International
October 6 – Lancaster, PA – Chameleon Club
October 7 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
October 8 – Sayreville, NJ – Starland Ballroom
October 11 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
Chris Jericho confirmed WWE dates:
July 20 – Tampa, FL – Tampa Bay Times Front (WWE Battleground PPV)
July 26 – Edmonton, AB – Rexall Place (WWE Live)
July 27 – Calgary, AB – Scotiabank Saddledome
July 28 – Houston, TX – Toyota Center (WWE RAW)
July 29 – Corpus Christi, TX – American Bank Center (WWE Smackdown)
August 3 – San Antonio, TX – Freeman Coliseum (WWE Live)
August 4 – Austin, TX Frank – Erwin Center (WWE RAW)
August 5 – Laredo, TX Laredo – Energy Center (WWE Smackdown)
August 7 – Melbourne, Australia – Rod Laver Arena (WWE Live)
August 8 – Sydney, Australia – Allphones Arena (WWE Live)
August 9 – Perth, Australia – Perth Arena (WWE Live)
August 11 – Portland, OR – Moda Center (WWE RAW)
August 12 – Seattle, WA – Key Arena (WWE Smackdown)
August 16 – San Jose, CA – Sap Center (WWE Live)
August 17 – Los Angeles, CA – Staples Center (WWE Summer Slam PPC)
August 18 – Las Vegas, NV – Thomas and Mack Center (WWE RAW)
August 19 – Phoenix, AZ – US Airways Center (WWE Smackdown)
August 25 – Anaheim, CA – Honda Center (WWE RAW)
August 26 – Ontario, CA – Citizens Business Bank Arena (WWE Smackdown)
September 1 – Des Moines, IA – Wells Fargo Arena (WWE RAW)
September 2 – Lincoln, NE – TBA (WWE Live)
September 8 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Arena (WWE RAW)
September 9 – Wilkes Barre, PA – TBA (WWE Live)
September 15 – Lafayette, LA – Cajundome (WWE RAW)
September 21 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena (WWE Night of Champions PPV)
September 22 – Memphis, TN – FedEx Forum (WWE RAW)