Chris Jericho - Undisputedly Fozzy

WWE superstar Chris Jericho is one of the busiest men on the planet - but as he comes out to Australia this December, we just had enough time to speak to him about one of his greatest passions: making heavy metal with his band Fozzy.

Talking to Fozzy front man Chris Jericho at 5 in the morning doesn’t faze really him. His physical and mental drive has taken him to the peak of the WWE superstardom, having held the title of undisputed champion across all their brands, winning their prestigious Intercontinental Championship a record nine times. So getting up a little early isn’t that much of a big deal. Why? “Because there’s nothing more metal as fuck than talking to Metal as Fuck.

Jericho is an intensely busy man. Not only does he write, record and tour with Fozzy, the Southern-based metal band he fronts in partnership with the talented (and also very very nice) Stuck Mojo guitarist Rich “The Duke” Ward, Chris also keeps up an intense and physically demanding WWE touring schedule as well as hosting the television game show Downfall. Even so, he still finds the time to come down to his Australian “second home,” considering Fozzy are signed to Australian label Riot! Entertainment and their Remains Alive live CD was recorded exclusively in Australia.

“Oh, absolutely, it’s been a long time coming,” he says. “I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. We just came back from a really cool tour of the UK, France, Ireland. It was really cool to get the band back on the road and get us fired up again. I mean, we’ve never been to France before and the crowd was just amazing. They knew all the words and they were singing along; it was a really good feeling.
 
“We had such a good tour in 2005 we’re kind of really looking forward to returning ever since. I think we’re excited to come back now that we’re really tight and have those shows under our belt. I think we’re ready to come back and destroy Australia again.”

But will Rich mind, being the cuddly and friendly sort of bloke that he is? Not likely, as he also has a “dark” side as Chris explains.

“Well, he’s had a second wind; just like the caterpillar becomes the butterfly – he’s really nice off-stage but over the last couple of tours he’s gone absolutely crazy; he’s always been pretty crazy on stage but now he’s gone even crazier – he’s taken it to a whole different level. He’s completely nuts on stage! He’s really fun to watch; you never know exactly what he’s going to do. He’s got that Jekyll and Hyde complex that’s for sure.”

As a front man for a heavy metal band, Chris also has the task of writing most of the lyrics, sent to Rich while he is away on WWE tours. How does he find the time to exercise his creative muscle, considering he has so much on his schedule?

“Well,” he answers, “You’re not writing lyrics when you’re cooking dinner or doing any other job. The way I usually do it is I come up with song titles first. I think of something that’s interesting and I write it down. When it comes down to actually writing the lyrics you have to isolate yourself and be in the right mood; you have to be in the right mindframe and then work backwards. I’ll take those song titles and construct a song around that.

"Songs like Prey For Blood, which is a song about 15th Century Vikings. When they killed their enemies they would eat their hearts figuring that would help to ingest their life force or whatever it is. You have to go online and research all the different things about it: same with Paraskavedekatriaphobia. I saw that title in a magazine or something and I thought it would be kind of cool to write about superstitions. I’ve always wanted to write a song about the apocalypse, the book of Revelations – I read some of the bible and it just followed from there.

"Once you have a cool song title the rest of it just falls into place and you have to be in the right zone to do it.”

Fozzy was originally seen by some as a bizarre musical marriage of “the Stuck Mojo guitarist and a WWE Wrestler”. But once they branched out from their covers and wrote original material, the band has come into its own as a separate entity that doesn’t rely on the history of either man to gain a following. Chris says that most fans are Fozzy fans simply because they are Fozzy fans.

“After the set, people just want to talk about Fozzy, they never want to talk about wrestling because the music just blows them all away – even the ones that came ‘just’ as wrestling fans.

"I am ‘Chris Jericho,’ I have a name value or whatever you want to call it – I have a notoriety that is associated with that name from wrestling and that’s just the way it is. I don’t really have a problem with that because it’s all encapsulated underneath the ‘Chris Jericho’ umbrella.

“I mean, every band has something that gets people to come check them out; when we first started it was just wrestling fans and Stuck Mojo fans but at this point in the game, eleven years, five albums and multiple world tours later, the fans that are there just because of either entity are few and far between. It doesn’t matter to me, it’s all part of who I am. It would be pompous or arrogant of me to discount twenty years of wrestling…but we really have turned a corner in terms of perceptions of the band.

“I mean pilots don’t go see Iron Maiden just because Bruce Dickinson flies airplanes. They don’t expect him to talk about wingspans and airline peanuts. The same goes for me and Fozzy when fans don’t expect me to talk about wrestling.”

Though Chris has many projects on the go at once, Chris feels he doesn’t need to prioritize because he “fits everything in anyway.” He would never give up music for wrestling or wrestling for film since, in his own words, he “has been a musician longer than he’s been a wrestler.”

“I’ve been playing in a band since I was twelve years old,” he recalls. “I’ve been a complete psycho-fanatic of music since I was eight. When I was a kid I wanted to be in a rock band. But I also wanted to be a wrestler. Instead of one dream, I’m going to be greedy enough to have two. I’ve been fortunate enough to make both of those dreams come true. When I’m wrestling, wrestling is a priority. When I’m with Fozzy, Fozzy is a priority. There isn’t really a deviation, like I said. Whatever I’m doing at that time, that’s the number one priority.”

He’s even squeezed in time to write another book entitled “Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps” which will be more of a ‘rock-n’-roll tell all’ than his previous wrestling-oriented books.

“It continues right where the last book left off,” he explains. “The cool thing with this one is that it goes from the year 2000 to 2007 and it takes in the Fozzy years as well…so it’s about rock n’ roll as much as it is wrestling. I mean, the stories I have with the band are just as entertaining and just as ridiculous as the ones I experience as a wrestler.

It’s a very different thing because you’re seeing two different sides of my career. In 2000 I was kind of at the top of the ladder and starting from scratch with Fozzy. Seeing Fozzy grow in that stage was kind of like where I was with wrestling back in 1990 and there were a lot of parallels amongst the two. For me, some of the stuff in the Fozzy sections are my favorite parts of the book.”

It’s been eleven years., The bond between Rich and Chris and the rest of the band (Frank Fontsere and Sean Delson respectively) has evolved into one of a kindred brotherhood, the energy and chemistry coming out in their live performances. Chris’s passion through his words is testament to it.

“Every gig I’ve ever played, Rich has been with me on stage under the Fozzy name. We’ve been together for eleven years – that’s longer than I’ve been married! It really is a partnership; it’s gone through some ups and downs but it’s been a great relationship. We definitely know what our different roles are in this band…Fozzy definitely wouldn’t work without Chris or Rich. There is chemistry there. Through all the phases of the band it’s always been Rich and I leading the way.

"It’s really cool to know that all of the stuff that we’ve been through and the relationship we’ve had and to see this band grow to see us get to where we are right now. It’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of ups and downs, trials and tribulations – when you start seeing that success and seeing what your band is and can be, it’s a really cool feeling.

"I mean, we did this – we created this. To see it get to the point where it is now? It’s very gratifying. It’s very rewarding. We’re very proud of ourselves and to see people like our band and come see us is just like ‘wow, we really did it.’ It’s kind of like seeing your child that you love who runs a race and wins the gold medal – it’s kind of how we feel about Fozzy.”