Chris Jericho is a man who’s dedication and heart have led him to tremendous heights. Best known for his work inside the ring as one of professional wrestling’s most prolific superstars, the story of Chris Jericho proves beyond a shadow of a doubt; dreams can come become reality.
Aside from a career inside the squared circle, another of Chris Jericho’s early dreams was to play alongside his hard rock heroes in a metal band of his own. That dream became reality when Jericho teamed with Rich Ward to form one of the most rockin’ bands in all the land — Fozzy. Together, these two larger-than-life, trailblazing personalities that have spent the past decade shaping their own brand of sonic splendor, Ward’s incendiary guitars forging a path for Jericho’s inimitable vocals atop a rhythmic foundation of earth-rattling proportions. Not that anybody should be surprised. Ward is one of metal’s pioneers – the mastermind of Stuck Mojo, he soldered metal with rhythmic rap vocals long before it became fashionable, touring the world with some of metal’s biggest bands and being hailed as one of Pantera legend Dimebag Darrell and Black Label Society/Ozzy Osbourne axe man Zakk Wylde’s favorite guitarists. And frontmen don’t come more dynamic than Chris Jericho, one of professional wrestling’s biggest superstars, the embodiment of charisma, and the byproduct of a lifetime spent immersed in heavy metal.
In the past several years, Fozzy have emerged as a worldwide force on the touring circuit, conquering stages from Los Angeles to Lichtenvoorde, and everywhere in between – including a successful spot on the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival. Without question, this powerful band has become the driving force for the six-time WWE wrestling champion and is ready to leave a mark on the metal scene for years to come! Although Chris Jericho has conquered prime time in his epic career in professional wrestling and his stint on “Dancing With The Stars” – now it’s time for Fozzy to conquer the world of heavy metal.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Chris Jericho to discuss the success of the band’s latest album, “Sin and Bones,” the creation of new music, his role in the hilarious new web series “Jon Davis Gets A Sex Robot” and much more! Let the madness begin…
Prior to making Fozzy’s last record, “Sin and Bones,” you made the decision to make the band a top priority in your life. Was there a particular catalyst leading to that decision?
It was actually a few years before “Sin and Bones” and we were doing the “Chasing the Grail” record. The reason for the decision was we knew we had something special with Fozzy and we knew we could take it to the next level. Rich [Ward] and I decided, now was the time! We were either going to do it properly or we weren’t going to do it anymore. We knew we could do it properly by simply focusing and putting all of our efforts into it. Once we started doing that, the band started growing at amazing speed! We’ve really had so much traction and momentum over the last three years, it was nice to have our gut instincts pay off and have our predictions come true.
You have referred to “Sin and Bones” as your most important record to date. What are your thoughts on the album now that you have had over a year to live with it and tour on it?
It was big for us. Like I said, we had a lot of momentum from “Chasing the Grail” and we had made a lot of strides to be taken seriously as a band and having a legitimate reputation as a live band and as songwriters. That is what led us to Century Media Records. With that move, we knew we would be under the microscope now more than ever. We knew that it was a great opportunity and if we were going to take that next step, this was the way to do it; on the back of Century Media. In order to do that, we had to put out the best record we have ever done. We really focused in on making “Sin and Bones” the best thing we had ever done. We really wanted to focus in on what we do best as a band, which is very heavy riffs with very melodic choruses, a lot of vocal harmonies and the best lineup we have ever had with Paul Di Leo. There were a lot of factors of us going over the cliff and getting some real speed behind us. All those factors built up to show us that. We wanted to release a very cohesive collection of songs and take the listeners on a journey from song one to song ten. We wanted every song, although diverse, have a certain tone to play into the complete package and storyline. The diversity on “Sin and Bones” is very similar to Metallica’s “Black” album; there is a lot of diversity on the record but all of the songs have a certain feel and vibe to it. That is really what we wanted with “Sin and Bones” and we got it!
When we finished the record, we knew it was the best thing we had done but you never know how other people are going to feel about it. A year later, “Sin and Bones” is our highest charting record ever, our best selling, most critically acclaimed and most beloved to the point we play seven out of the ten songs live! All of them go over amazingly; to the point I am not sure which ones we are going to drop when we do another record! Every single one of them, people are singing along to or moving along to in different ways depending on the vibe of the song. They are all great songs to play live. They are also difficult songs to play live. We open with “Spider In My Mouth” which is a great opening track. Everybody loves “Sandpaper,” which has been a big hit for us on the radio. “Blood Happens” closes out the set because it is so fast and aggressive. Then there is the ballad, “Inside My Head,” which people love. “Shine Forever” is a super heavy tune and they get into that, as well. The list goes on and on. The title track, for instance. It is so much fun for us to play and for me to sing, so every song seems to get better than the next when you start delving into “Sin and Bones.” At some point, my overall goal is to do special shows where we can play this record in its entirety, all the way through.
Where are you in the process of creating new music for Fozzy? Is there musical ground you are anxious to cover?
We have already started writing songs for the next record. We will be focusing in even more on what we do best — the groove, the space, the heaviness and the melodies. As much as we love Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio and a lot of new bands like Stone Sour, Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet for My Valentine, we also have a big appreciation for Journey, Foreigner, Styx, Queen and the Beatles; bands who used a lot of harmony. We like the days where every guy in the band sang! We really want to continue those days. I think one of the reasons we have been doing so well because Fozzy is a little bit different than the norm and that has helped us get to the next level.
Speaking of new music, where do you find yourself looking for inspiration as a songwriter?
I just go by songs titles. If I see an interesting phrase, something that peaks my interest, I will write it down and work my way backwards from there. Obviously, there are a lot of different places you can derive lyrics from. Personally, I like imagery lyrics. If you look at “Sandpaper” or “Spider In My Mouth,” they are more imagery driven, rather than literal, visceral meanings. I also like relationship type songs like “In My Head” or “Shine Forever” or “Feed My Addiction”. Then you have the more fantastic ones like “What Happens,” “Past Life” or “Dark Passenger,” which was loosely based on ‘Dexter,” or storm “Storm The Beaches” is about being in World War II. It is just whatever catches my eye but it typically starts off with the song title.
You will soon be hitting the road with Saxon. What are you looking forward to most with this tour?
Touring with such a legendary and influential band like Saxon is huge for us. I am really looking forward to the shows. I think it is going to be a great mix for their fans who don’t know us and our fans who don’t know them and for the fans who know both. I think it is a really cool package. There is going to be a lot of energy, great songs and also gives us the chance to learn. To go on the road with a band that has been around for thirty odd years, I am sure they have a couple tricks I can learn from. That is really the most exciting thing for me! Any time you tour with a band you grew up listening to, it is always a very cool experience and a bit surreal.
What have you learned from all of the time you have spent touring?
We have been pretty much touring non-stop since “Sin and Bones” came out. I think we are approaching the 100 show mark. Any time you get 100 gigs on an album, you know it was a success. I believe it has been 16 countries we have toured at this point. As far as learning, we are always learning. For example, how to be a better band or how to open up crowds who might not know you. A lot of the shows in Europe, we had never played a lot of those markets and countries before. In situations like that, the people just watch you for a minute if they are not familiar with you. You have to relate to them, open up and get them to start having fun. I think, with every show, we know how to do that at this point; how to drag the fans along and get them involved with what you are doing and get them to have a good time. That is what it is all about! That takes a lot of skill to be able to do that. A lot of bands crumble under the pressure of having a non-responsive audience but I am the other way around. I would rather get them into, whether it means stage-diving, throwing water on them or looking them right in the eyes! 99% of the time, at the end of the show, they are chanting Fozzy, where they had no idea who we were at the beginning. That is kind of a testament to our band.
Last time we spoke, you had been giving some thought on doing a live DVD release to capture the live show. Any movement on that front?
Yeah, we just filmed a set at Bloodstock, which is a big festival we played in England a few weeks ago. Once we have that all organized and ready, I am sure it will be released before the new record or if nothing else, with the new record as a bonus disc.
Are there any plans to do any more videos in support of “Sin and Bones” at this point?
Probably not. We are almost done this album cycle. I know “Spider In My Mouth” is the new single hitting the radio but as far as making a video for it, I think we might do something from the live standpoint, when we get the live DVD ready. As far as a conceptual video, we are pretty much starting on the new record as it is, so we will save it for when the next record comes out.
Where are you in process of creating this new material for a new Fozzy album?
We are going to go back into the studio starting in January. We are writing now and we want to have this thing released for the summertime. It is would be perfect timing for putting out a record, where we can go tour with at all the summer festivals and tours. We are getting everything sorted out and organized right now. Like I keep saying, there is just so much momentum from “Sin and Bones,” we want to keep that rolling and the elevation continuing along!
It always amazes me how busy you keep yourself outside of music and wrestling. One cool new project you have been a part of is a new web series, “Jon Davis Gets A Sex Robot.” What can you tell us about the project and how you got involved?
A friend of mine is a scriptwriter in Hollywood; his name is Jon Davis, the real Jon Davis. He actually has a deal with his wife that is sex robots ever get invented, he can get one. It was such a ridiculous script and concept; he wrote a script about it! It is a show about Jon Davis getting the sex robot and the moral dilemmas that come up like “Is he betraying his wife to have sex with it?” or ‘Is it cheating on her if he has sex with it?” He was looking for someone to play the part of the lascivious best friend who has no problem having sex with the robot because when he was thinking lascivious, I was the first thing that popped into mind. [laughs] It worked out really well. My schedule has kept me so busy that I almost forgot about doing it. Once I saw it, I was happy to see that it was very funny, vulgar, rated R at times but it has a big heart behind it. It was fun for me to get involved with it and play a character like Rob. It is very, very funny and people are really digging it! It is becoming an internet sensation, which is great to see.
I have to say, you are terrific in it and deliver tons of laughs. How much of what we see on scene from improv?
It was a fairly scripted show but anytime you get someone like me involved, I throw my own little variances and nuances into it. It was so well written and funny, I didn’t need to do a lot of improv but I definitely add in an element of my own feel or vibe into it as well. It is just like being in a rock band and playing a song live, sometimes you want to change it up a bit and try different things. If it works, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you try something else. It is the same with “Jon Davis Gets A Sex Robot,” for sure.
You have some sweet catch phrases for this character as well.
Jizz it up, bro! [laughs] That is the way of the world. Web series now are kind of the new way of doing television. Any time you can say something as ridiculous as “Jizz it up, bro!” and people are asking where the “Jizz it up, bro!” merch is, you know you have done something right! [laughs] Hopefully, we will start creating some t-shirts with the famous slogan on it! [laughs]
Are these types of projects something you are interested in doing more of in the future?
Absolutely! I love acting and I love playing a part! I have been doing it for over twenty years in wrestling. Even when you are singing live, you have to put on a little bit of a show and play a bit of a character. I definitely love that and I would love to continue it. The difference is, obviously, when you are playing live musically or wrestling, you get the instant gratification from a live audience. When you are doing a TV show, you don’t really get that gratification, until it is all said and done, after post-production, months and months after you filmed it. They both have their pros and cons but nothing beats the electricity of a live audience.
I have always been curious why you never made the jump to the big screen, perhaps pursuing a career as an action star. Is that something that interests you?
It’s not for lack of trying. Sometimes things just don’t come your way and sometimes when they do, you are busy. Obviously, I have had a very busy schedule for the last ten years of my life. It is definitely something I would be interested in moving forward. I have had opportunities before but they either didn’t work for me, didn’t work scheduling-wise or just weren’t good enough. That is why I pick and choose my projects very carefully. That is why when something like “Jon Davis Gets A Sex Robot” comes up with such an interesting idea and a great written script; I wanted to go out of my way to make it work. I think that is the way I will continue to do acting projects. I don’t do everything that comes my way because it has to have a certain standard and quality to it. I was never really into making a movie just for the sake of making a movie.
Last time we spoke, you had signed a book deal for a third autobiography. You had mentioned wanting to start chipping away at it while on tour. Where do you stand in that process?
I did actually start it. A couple of weeks ago we were in Austria and I finally bit the bullet and started working on it. I am about 85 pages in. Once you kind of crack the seal and get to work on it, it becomes addictive. That is what you need to write a book because it is a huge project that takes a lot of effort. I have a couple of great book to live up to, so I have a certain level of quality to meet as well. All of those factors lead you to waiting for the right time. Once you get started, it is hard to stop. That is where I am at right now, so hopefully it will be out next year. I am not sure exactly if it is supposed to be out in the fall or winter. I know what my deadline is and I am late! Fire it up!
In the process of writing these books, you get a unique opportunity to look back on your life chapter by chapter. Are you the type of person who gives thought to your legacy and is that something you feel is constantly changing?
I feel it is constantly changing because I do so many things. I do those things I believe in. Like I said, I never take a project I don’t believe in. I never take a project just to make money, be on TV or whatever. It has to be something I think I can kill at, do a tremendous job of and be a success at. That is what I really focus myself on. As far as what my legacy is, if anything, it is that I am someone who has always given 110% and always made people smile with my projects. I would like to be remembered as someone who always gave their best and was the most entertaining he could be because that is my job. I am an entertainer and that is what my job will always be.
So many people look to you as an inspiration, be it as a professional wrestler or as a musician. What is the best lesson that can be learned from the life and times of Chris Jericho?
Belief in yourself. If you believe in yourself, no one can stop you. Over the years, with the things I have done, if there have been things I have done and people didn’t like it, hated it or that I couldn’t do it, I just never listened to that. I listened to myself. If I knew that I could do it, I would do it no matter that anybody said. I think if you can live your life that way, you will always be successful. Get rid of the negative and focus on the positive.
Thank you very much for your time, Chris. I wish you continued success!
Thank you very much.
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.