Posted on by Oran

There are not many musicians that also have a significant athletic global career, but in Chris Jericho’s case, it’s just business as usual. The frontman checks in with Overdrive ahead of their EU/UK tour which kicks off next month. 

Sitting in his home office, Fozzy’s frontman is up early with a full day of press ahead of him in preparation for the forthcoming return of his band back to the UK and EU – the first series of shows outside of the US, since the pandemic.

With a wall of wrestling awards and music memorabilia behind him, Jericho is focused (and equally excited) about the tour, and despite damaging his larynx during the AEW “Quake By The Lake” wrestling event in Minnesota, he can not wait to get back on stage once again…

OD – Over the last 23 years, [formed in 1999], Fozzy has grown in so many ways, but in particular, with the songwriting. I know that every new album captures a moment in time for any band, but with this new album, do you feel that you’ve reached the sound that you envisioned from way back when you and Rich started working together, or are there bigger ideas that you have yet to aspire to?

JERICHO – I think that there’s been a lot of different iterations of Fozzy since we started. There has been a constant evolution in our sound also. It wasn’t too long ago on, ‘Chasing the Grail‘, and, ‘Sin and Bones‘, where we had the 14-minute ‘Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner‘-type songs, like ‘Wormwodd‘ [2010] and ‘Storm the Beaches‘ [2012]. But I think when we began that album cycle of ‘Do You Want To Start A War‘, into ‘Judas‘, and now, into ‘Boombox‘ we kind of became a radio band which has been very successful for us, as we’ve had 5 top ten singles on American Rock Radio, which is kind of a big deal. I didn’t really know how important that was until it happened.

© Exposing Shadows Photography, exclusively for www.overdrive.ie 2022

Ever since then, we’ve honed the sound of the band, writing music with a bigger presence, more hooks, more melody, etc. We have a finger on the pulse of what we are in a modern sense. We’re more aware of what kind of song Shinedown would write, as apposed to what kind of a song Iron Maiden would write, if you know what I mean. That process has become part of our DNA and combining that with the ’80s and ’79s groove, has really worked well for us.

OD – With the success of ‘Judas’, did that feel like a huge game-changer for the band, and did that influence you when writing the new album?

JERICHO – I don’t think so. We started working with a guy called Johnny Andrews, who is known for being somewhat of a hit-maker. The whole process was very organic for us. Rich and I wrote all the songs for years and when we signed with SONY they asked us; “Why don’t you try writing with some other guys” and Johnny lived just a half hour away, so it was very easy to meet up and start working on things.

All the big, crowd participation live songs that we have in our setlist… all of those songs have really focus on what Fozzy does best, which is heavy, melodic, groove-based songs. It’s like if Journey and Metallica had a bastard child that was raised by AC/DC…that’s Fozzy. We all love Rush, Iron Maiden and Metallica, but there’s also a real Pop style to Fozzy and that’s what people like to hear, and that’s what we like to give them.

When American Rock radio started picking up on what we were doing it was a huge boost for us. Every town or state have their own Rock station, I know it’s not like that in the UK or Ireland, but it’s huge over here and it was the perfect way to break into the American market. It’s still very much about magazine’s and online in the UK and EU.

OD – With ‘Boombox’ primarily written back in 2019 and recorded in 2020, would it be fair to assume that way more material has been written or demo’d since then, and if so, is it consistent with the sound of ‘Boombox’ are there any significant nuances that you can comment on, so we know what to expect?

JERICHO – It wasn’t like the record was recorded and written before the pandemic. We call it “The Chinese Fozzocracy” [sic] because it took about three years to write it and put it out, so it felt like it was forever. Also, when it was done, we decided to sit on it for a while because we couldn’t do anything to promote it. Yeah, some bands put out albums during the lockdown era, but from what we saw, it was not very positive, because there was just so many limitations to what you could do to promote it.

In the meantime, we have new songs and material written. We have that “Radio element” but also there’s some old-school sounding Fozzy stuff there too. To be honest, I’m not sure if we’re gonna do a full-length album again.

OD – Why so?

JERICHO – Basically, the way that people consume music has changed dramatically over the last decade. It takes about three years to make an album, then say, three songs will be picked to go to radio, then a few more will be chosen to be included on the live shows, but then there are six other amazing tunes that are not singles, and not picked for live shows, and I’m not really a fan of that process. I think every song that we write is a great song.

There are no ‘filler‘ songs on a Fozzy album, so why treat is that way? Is it better to write and release a series of singles every three months and keep the momentum going, or is it best to stay away for two/three years and release a few singles, then an album of twelve tracks, to which half of that album just floats away, just because they we not chosen as singles? Can you see what I’m talking about? It’s not a good process, and it just makes more sense to release a continuous burst of singles. Every song deserves its chance to be on the radio, to be focused on, to be released on the streaming platforms, etc. So, that might be a way to look at things in the future.

OD – The third Jerico Cruise will be underway in February ’23, and you’ve spoken about the journey from the first one taking a loss, to the second one being a success. When you take on projects like this, would it be correct in saying that it’s a huge learning curve for you, and does it change the way you look at certain aspects of the business side of your wrestling and music career?

JERICHO – I have a team of people that I work with. My partner on the cruise if also Fozzy’s manager. The biggest problem that we had with the cruise was the lockdown issues in the past. That’s been hard because we have a lot of people that we employ, and having to push things back all the time is just a stress that nobody wanted.

I’m really looking forward to the next one which kicks off in February [click here for details]. I’m just hoping that it’s not like we have to deal with all the stuff we did in the past, and we can just focus on pulling way from the dock safely, and having one hell of a party on the open seas.

Putting together the talent for the cruise is a lot of fun because I’m picking new and old classic wrestlers, as well as up-and-coming Rock bands, and classic Rock bands. But to be honest, none of that is easy. If things were easy, the challenge would not be there, and I like a challenge. We’re getting ready for the fourth cruise and I don’t take that for granted. Who has a cruise that’s their own name? I’m serious! KISS has one…that’s a band. MegadethLynard Skynard…they are all band names.

This cruise is MY name and I’ve got nothing to hide behind. It has to be of the highest standards, as it’s MY name that’s behind it. Put it this way, if something goes wrong, I hear about it. I understand the responsibilities and I hope that people know what to expect when Chris Jericho is involved.

OD – Just looking at the books that you have written or been involved with in the past, all of which are wrestling associated. Have you ever considered writing a book about your experience in the music business, tying in the formation and rise of Fozzy, etc?

JERICHO – I’ve delved into a little bit of the music but it’s kind of a mixed bag of moments that have tied in with the other stuff I do. Would I ever consider writing a book that just deals with the music side of things? Sure! There’s a lot of great stories that have never really been told.

I just put out a book a few years ago and I usually like to keep about three years between books, so I guess I’ve got another year to think about doing one that’s just about my career in music [Laughing].

OD – Having lived through the ‘analogue’ era in the late 20th century where Rock/Guitar music reigned to the first quarter of the twenty-first century, where urban/electronic music has dominated, do you feel that kids are missing out on an important cultural experience?

JERICHO – I don’t think you can ever tell kids that music to listen to. I’m taking my daughter to see Stevie Nicks next week, but every time Harry Styles comes to town she’s there. Of course, kids will always go with the fad of what their friends are listening to, but really, music will find its way of shining through. I believe there’s hope for the future. [Laughing]

Down The Barrel Photography for www.overdrive.ie © 2022. All Rights Reserved.

OD – Following your damaged larynx earlier this year, I believe you’re feeling so much better. This got me wondering, if you sustained another injury while wrestling, and unlike other competitors, you have a touring band that is, in its own right, physically demanding…

JERICHO – I’m still recovering and we’re back on track. I thought I could just jump right back in, but I never expected it to be that far gone. I bruised it over two and a half months ago, and it’s an injury that is getting better everyday.

I had a great rehearsal day with Fozzy yesterday. Yeah, there’s a few notes I can’t hit but there’s five of us in the band, and we can trade off here and there, so those notes are being hit, and we’re not compromising anything. And if there are any songs that are a really big problem, we decided to just drop them off the setlist until I’m back to 100%.

I’m really excited about the setlist because there’s some new songs in there that we were planning to play anyway, and then we have the classics. It’s going to be a great tour and the rehearsal yesterday was incredible. I can’t wait to get back out there again with the guys and do what we love doing.

OD – Does this increase your own worries, as the smallest of mistakes could not only take you out of the ring, but also off the stage?

JERICHO – Not really, because it’s never happened before. I’ve been wrestling for 32-years and I’ve never had a throat injury before. The odds on that are pretty good don’t you think? I’ve always done this, it’s a part of what I do, and it’s a part of being in show business.

Down The Barrel Photography for www.overdrive.ie © 2022. All Rights Reserved.

OD – You have publicly shared your love of Metal and Rock in great detail over the last few decades, and although there has been a lot of changes and new genres, what is your personal favourite era of Metal and why?

JERICHO – Well….it’s hard to pick one because I like so much from all the eras. Yeah, it’s easy to say the ’80s because it was such a magical time and I grew up in that era, but I’m not just an ’80s Metal guy. I love what’s going on with so much music that’s happening now, also.

I love a lot of albums from the ’80s and the ’90s, but I love new bands like The Struts and Avenged Sevenfold… but then again my favourite band is Iron Maiden and Metallica fan, (depending on what day of the week it is). I’d say that I’m more a “favourite band” type of guy rather than a “favourite era” guy, if you know what I mean. I love the new Iron Maiden album ‘Senjutsu‘. Those guys just can’t do any wrong in my opinion.

OD – With Pantera’s plans to tour with Zakk and Charlie, and the Metal community up in arms about it all, do you feel the reaction is a little over the top, or do you feel it’s the right time for Phil and Rex to bring this music back to stages around the world?

JERICHO – I think it’s great! I’m amazing. I was very good friends with Vinnie and I think that, in retrospect, both Vinny and Dime would be very happy about this. I think that a world with Pantera music in it, is better than a world with no Pantera music in it. I think they got the right guys to help out, with Charlie and Zakk, and when it comes to a whole generation of kids that never got to see those songs being preformed live, this is their chance, and it’s gonna be amazing.

At the end of the day, it’s about music and sharing the experience of great music amongst people. I don’t believe that those songs should be locked away and not performed in a grand setting. It’s time for everybody to experience some kind of connection with that music again, be it for the very first time, or perhaps just one more time. Either way, it’s gonna be amazing.

Fozzy will embark on their EU/UK tour next month with a live date in Ireland’s National Stadium on Tuesday, November 8th, and Belfast on Wednesday 9th in Ulster Hall. Tickets are on sale now via this link.