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Chris Jericho discusses Fozzy's 'Do You Wanna Start a War'
Get the guitar solos ready: Chris Jericho is coming back, babaaayy!
Not to WWE. He already did that. But The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla is returning to record stores and live venues everywhere as the front man of Fozzy, Jericho’s band that has wound its way steadily through the years to become a cult-favorite fixture on the modern rock scene on the verge of a major breakthrough. In between stops on his latest jaunt with WWE, ”the best in the world at what he does” took a few moments to speak with WWE.com’s own Joey Styles on Fozzy’s latest record, “Do You Wanna Start a War,” the finer points of road life and the key differences between breaking codes and melting faces. Roll the footage, monkeys.
WWE.COM: First things first: How do you find the time to juggle Fozzy, “Talk is Jericho” and WWE?
CHRIS JERICHO: Well, you can’t really juggle both. It’s gotta be one or the other, and the reason why I was able to come back to WWE, or even consider it, is because Fozzy was off the road. And it’s not like WWE is sitting around waiting for Chris Jericho to come back either; it just so happened that there was an opening for both of us to make it work.
I always enjoy coming back to WWE, but I like coming back with a purpose. We talked a few times over the past year but could never figure anything out. Not in a bad way —just never figured anything out, or it wasn’t the right time. And since Fozzy was off the road and this opportunity came up, it was the perfect timing.
“Talk is Jericho” is great because I can do it on the road. Whether [I’m with] WWE or Fozzy, there’s a lot of time where I’m just waiting around, hanging out at the venue, hanging out at the building, and this gives me a chance to do something to fill that time. I’ve been taking advantage of it, I’ve been doing interviews every day since I’ve been back in WWE, finding closets and areas to go, hotel rooms, back rooms, whatever, and finding whoever I can that wants to do the show that I think is interesting. It gives me something to do to tie up some of those loose ends during the day. It all kind of works symbiotically, but I could never do Fozzy and WWE at the same time; it has to be one or the other.
WWE.COM: How does being on the road with WWE compare to being on the road with Fozzy?
JERICHO: Travel-wise, I’m more independent when I’m with WWE. I travel by myself, I drive by myself. But when you get back on the road, you realize how taxing all that travel is with WWE. We just did a show at [Madison Square Garden] and went to Wildwood, New Jersey, which is about 200 miles, and that’s just as the crow flies. You’ve gotta get in and out of Wildwood, and that’s just a one-way road from the Jersey Shore. Of course, there are beach people out there, and then going from that show — which ends at 10:30 — and doing 300 miles to Richmond, Virginia, and then another 220 miles to Fayetteville, it does kind of add up.
That's What They Do: Fozzy and other Superstar side projects
Traveling by myself, there are pros and cons. When you’re with the band, you get on the bus and you don’t have to worry about driving. If you want to have a drink, you have a drink. If you want to watch a movie, you watch a movie. If you want to go to sleep, you go to sleep. Even though there’s not as much independence — you gotta go with the pack and go where everybody else goes —it’s a little easier as far as having to get around. So there are pros and cons to both, but mostly pros.
I enjoy both elements of WWE travel and Fozzy travel. I think Fozzy travel is a bit more camaraderie, because you’re with the whole family. You’re with the crew, you’re with the guys in the band and everybody kinda hangs out. When I’m in WWE, I just basically go by myself from place to place. You might see somebody from the show for dinner every once in a while, but sooner or later everybody splits up and goes their separate ways.
WWE.COM: Sticking with Fozzy, what can you tell us about the new album?
JERICHO: “Do You Wanna Start a War” is the name of it, it’s out now and I’m really excited. We got a lot of momentum and growth from the last record, “Sin and Bones,” but this one is, we believe, a game-changer. As a matter of fact, just this morning, I found out that “Lights Go Out,” the first single, is our first official Top 40 single release on the Active Rock charts and on the Modern Rock charts, which is a huge deal. I think the single’s been out for two-and-a-half, three months now, and that’s how long it takes to break into the Top 40, which is kind of rarified air. Once you can get in there, you know you’ve got something good.
We wanted to continue the [momentum] from “Sin and Bones.” Not just from record sales, from notoriety, from reception, from buzz, from the touring we did — we went out with Metallica, Shinedown, Godsmack and Avenged Sevenfold; a lot of great bands over the last tour. For this album, the only rule we had was there were no rules. We wanted to make a great record that didn’t stick to any conventional styles. If it was a good song, we recorded it. We love a lot of bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Metallica, Iron Maiden, et cetera. But we also love Queen, The Beatles and Pink Floyd; bands that changed their styles throughout the course of a record, but still sounded like that band.
Take Queen, for example. They had a rock song, a metal song, a ballad, a rockabilly song, a disco song all on the same record, and they were all good. That was what we wanted to do with [“Do You Wanna Start a War”]. It’s like there are no rules for us. Let’s just make a great record, take all that momentum we accrued from “Sin and Bones” and blast it through to the next level. We think that’s what’s going on, and that’s actually what is going on as far as the reception to the record before it’s even come out. It’s going to be a game-changer for us, we think.
WWE.COM: Congratulations on breaking the Top 40. It’s got to be long odds for a single performer to have the kind of simultaneous success you have in both rock and sports-entertainment, which were your two dreams as a kid. It’s got to be a one-in-a-million shot.
JERICHO: I appreciate that, because anybody who knows my story knows that when I was a kid, I wanted to be in a rock band and a wrestler. I don’t know why — both those genres just captured my imagination. I think I can honestly say I’m the only person in the world who’s ever done this: been a WWE World Champion and had a legitimate Top 40 single, and it’s not a novelty. It’s not “Land of 1,000 Dances” or “Pencil-Necked Geek” or something like that. It’s a song that fits right in with the new Avenged Sevenfold song or the new Stone Sour song, or whoever else is on Modern Rock radio right now.
It’s pretty cool because it’s been a long road. Fozzy’s been around for a long time, different incarnations and different versions. To get to this level is very gratifying; it goes to show if you have a dream and you believe in yourself, go for it. And I can feel the momentum. I’ve been through it before as Chris Jericho. I take Fozzy now, we’re in the same spot that Jericho was in 1999 when I first came to WWE: on the verge of something big if everything goes well.
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I’ve felt this before, I knew what it was like when people said I would never make it in wrestling because I was too small; I didn’t listen. I knew what it was like when people said we’d never make it as a band because I was a wrestler; I didn’t listen. And now here we are, all these years later, with a legitimate hit song and a record with huge buzz behind it. I’m sure it’s the same thing that Taylor Momsen goes through with The Pretty Reckless. She’s a famous actress —[she played] Cindy Lou Who in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” she was on “Gossip Girl” and now The Pretty Reckless is one of the biggest bands in the country. I’m sure there are people who always thought of them as “the actor’s band,” but you just have to prove those people wrong. Continue doing what you’re doing, put out great records and keep doing great live shows, and everything else will fall behind it. That’s where we’re at with Fozzy.
WWE.COM: Fozzy is far from being new, too. How is evolving as a band different from evolving as a WWE Superstar, which you’ve done since you started?
JERICHO: Yeah man, you gotta keep evolving. The thing that you realize, both in wrestling and music, is you have to stick with what you do best. I’ll never forget, the first week of training camp, Lance Storm could do the best leg drop. And it used to drive me crazy, because I couldn’t do a leg drop. I would try and try and try — “Ihaveto do a leg drop,” I’d say — but I could never do it. To this day, guess what? I don’t do leg drops. Never have, never will. It’s the same thing as a singer. You find where you wheelhouse is, what your range is, stick within there and create your own style.
There are certain things I can do better than other things, and I stick with what I do best. Songwriting with Fozzy, we keep the melody lines [and try to figure out] what does Chris Jericho do best? When you listen to a melody line from an Ozzy Osbourne, a James Hetfield or an M. Shadows, they stick with what they do. And that’s the biggest thing; it’s not what you do sometimes, it’s what you don’t do. You can make yourself look bad if you try and overstretch yourself. You just stick with what you do best, make that your own and make it your own style, and that’s when you can really start making a mark.
Rock on: Fozzy on iTunes
I think the last two records have really shown the growth that I’ve achieved as a singer, and that’s from a lot of touring. You really find out who you are when you’re singing live, really become tighter and know who we are as a band. I think “Do You Wanna Start a War” has, by far, the best vocal performances in Chris Jericho’s vocal career and my style. When you hear me sing, you know it’s me. I think it’s a pretty unique and cool thing to be able to say that I’ve achieved my own style over the last four or five years, and that’s just from experience.
WWE.COM: Where can fans get their hands on the new album?
JERICHO: iTunes is obviously the big one. We had more pre-orders [for this one]than we had first-week sales for the last record, and the last record was the first one we ever had chart in the Billboard 200, so I think this is gonna be a pretty big statement for us. But yeah, iTunes, Amazon, Google, record stores if you can still find one, Walmarts … wherever fine music is sold.
In this day and age, we’re kind of in a transitional period with music. Some people still don’t buy it sometimes —they’re downloading it for free or listening to it on some streaming sites — but true fans still buy the music; always have, always will. I’ve never streamed an album in my life. I still buy every single song I’ve ever listened to and I take great pride in that. It’s art. It’s like people stealing WWE pay-per-views; it’s not the right way to do things. So if you believe in Chris Jericho and if you believe in Fozzy, put down your 10 bucks and check it out.
“Do You Wanna Start a War” by Fozzy is available now on iTunes and all major music outlets.