Fozzy’s Chris Jericho Discusses ‘Sin and Bones,’ Balancing WWE Career With Music + More
Chris Jericho boasts a career that only he, and he alone, has been able to accomplish. Along with an incredibly decorated tenure with WWE, a job that comes with a notoriously grueling schedule, Jericho serves as the vocalist for hard rock band Fozzy. Balancing two of the most demanding jobs on the planet, on top of being a father, is a mixture that would quickly burn out the average person, but Jericho takes on the challenge full-force while keeping his fans strongly in tact.
We recently spoke with Jericho about Fozzy’s new album ‘Sin and Bones,’ the upcoming, ‘Evil Dead’ inspired music video for ‘Sandpaper,’ Fozzy’s entrance into the Loudwire Cage Match Hall of Fame and he is able to balance a life devoted to music and professional wrestling, among other topics.
Check out our exclusive and in-depth interview with Fozzy vocalist Chris Jericho below:
‘Sandpaper’ is the first single from ‘Sin and Bones.’ Is that any indication of what fans can expect from the rest of the new Fozzy record?
Yeah, absolutely. There’s certain songs that you pick to be a single because they’re a little bit more radio friendly, so there’s definitely other songs on the record that are in that style. There’s some longer songs, there’s a few more songs that are a little bit more unorthodox, but we thought ‘Sandpaper’ was the best cross-section for what we’re doing now. We discovered this on the ‘Chasing the Grail’ record, that basically what we do best is very heavy music with very melodic choruses, and I think ‘Sandpaper’ is the epitome of what the new record sounds like. If you could take the perfect cross section of ‘Sin and Bones,’ ‘Sandpaper’ would be it.
I recently read the video for ‘Sandpaper’ is going to be inspired by the ‘Evil Dead’ movies. Is there anything more you can tell us about that?
It all stemmed from an idea that I had because I was, for whatever reason, just thinking about how to do a video where the song is a very big section that’s sung by somebody else, by M. Shadows [ of Avenged Sevenfold]. I wasn’t sure if he was going to be in the video. We said, ‘How can we do a video for a song that has somebody else singing and not have me doing that part, so I thought, ‘What if my back is to the camera?’ You do that point-and-shoot camera flying through the woods like ‘Evil Dead,’ and then as soon as it hits ‘Sandpaper,’ I turn around and my eyes are all white.
It kind of started from that and then we said, ‘What if we do a whole Evil Dead-type homage?’ And then we found this bad-ass cabin in the woods in Atlanta, and just everything kind of fell together from there. We found, right by the cabin, there was a civil war burial ground, and there was this creepy bridge that was near it, and the cabin couldn’t have been more perfect for what we were looking for. It looks exactly like the little Evil Dead cabin. Then we started doing all the effects that were involved, all the gags that were involved, the point-of-view camera and being attacked by the vine. It’s just really, really cool. Then we just filmed M. Shadows’ stuff too, so he’s going to be in the video. So I think it’s going to be something no one else has seen before. It’s very, very cool and it’s just what we wanted.
I can’t wait to see that. I’m such a huge ‘Evil Dead’ nerd.
Yeah, man, it’s going to blow you away completely. Nobody has really done a video like this before, and I’m the same way, I’m a huge Evil Dead fan and a huge horror movie fan. It was almost like getting to kill two birds with one stone. It was really fun.
So when it comes to Fozzy in general and the new album, ‘Sin and Bones,’ are there any vocalists in particular that you’re trying to emulate?
No, I mean, at this point in time, after all the touring we’ve been doing for ‘Chasing the Grail’ and after how successful it was, I discovered that if you’re touring as much as we have, you really get to know your wheelhouse about what you’re doing vocally and what you’re doing live. So when you get to the studio, you can use all those tricks and use all those ideas and thoughts. So, I don’t really try to emulate anybody, I’m just being Chris Jericho at this point.
It is funny, though, because people have said over the years that I sound a little bit like Ozzy, who I never tried to sound like, but there’s definitely that quality in there. We did a B-side on the record, and did ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ by Sabbath. It was like, people think I sound like Ozzy without trying, so what would I sound like if I tried to sound like Ozzy? It’s hilarious, because you would think that Ozzy was actually in the studio with us. It worked really good, it was fun. At this point, I’m more interested in the Chris Jericho style of singing, it’s exactly who I am and what I do. I think it’s unique and I think it’s good to the point where people hear my voice and they know it.
You guys did a stellar job of promoting our Cage Matches and ended up winning five in a row and entering the Loudwire Cage Match Hall of Fame. Is that a good representation of a natural competitive nature that you have?
Yeah, I mean, you have to have that with anything you do in life, especially in show business, especially in rock and roll. You have to have that competitive element. It was funny because when the first Cage Match came up, we didn’t know if other people were into this or if it was the just same ten people voting over and over again. But we found out that Loudwire had a lot of readers and a lot of notoriety for doing the Cage Match. Actually when it was first presented to us, we were up against Motley Crue’s ‘Sex,’ and our record company said, “It’s probably going to be hard to beat Motley Crue, but you’re in this thing, so give it a try.” And I was like, “F— it, if we’re in it, lets try it.”
And then we were losing for a while, but we eventually took over Motley Crue and won. To me, it was a big deal. You know, here’s one of the most legendary bands of all time and we can beat them. Then we beat Fear Factory and then we beat Papa Roach and then we beat Linkin Park and then we beat Slash — it was like each band was bigger than the next and we just kept steamrolling. It did mean a lot to me and I thought it was cool. Like I said, I don’t know how may people were voting, but I don’t care. All I know is Linkin Park has over a million twitter followers and we beat them. That to me, means something, and it was very important to us and it was a big honor for us to be involved. So just that we can say we’re in the Loudwire Hall of Fame, it does mean something to Fozzy and to all of our fans who voted. We got everybody to vote; that’s for sure.
Yeah, there were a lot of votes and it’s definitely a testament to the dedication of your fans, I think.
It’s just a long career and, you know, the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations … We’ve been in this for thirteen years and now that we’re kind of getting to the next level and there are so may great things happening with the band, and have been for the last two or three years. I think, not only are we getting so many great new fans, but the fans who have been with us from the start are as loyal as they come, so it’s cool to kind of see that pay off.
That competitive nature, it must spark something within you when you see a truly great live band. Who are some of those live bands that make you go, “Holy hell, I need to try to be as epic as these guys.”?
It’s interesting, I guess about a month and a half ago, I was going to Atlanta to see the the Iron Maiden ‘Maiden England’ tour. When I got there, I just put two and two together and realized that Orion Fest was the next day in Atlantic City with Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold playing. So I just called M. Shadows and I’m like, “When are you playing?” and he said, “Were playing on Sunday.” So I created a little road trip for myself and I went to see Maiden on Saturday and flew to Atlantic City the next day to see Avenged and Metallica.
So in a 24 hour period, I saw three of my favorite bands. All three of them, in different ways, put on clinics on what it’s like to be a great live band. And obviously, you can’t really get much bigger or much better than Maiden or Metallica when it comes to presence and their stage show and energy. But then Avenged, being one of the younger bands, they’re amazing too as far as working the crowd and having that total confidence and their vibe on stage. That’s something not a lot of bands have, and you know, we strive for that too.
We’ve been critically acclaimed, shall we say, for our live performances. Word of mouth has really gone around that we’re a very entertaining, energetic live act, but that’s mostly been in Europe for whatever reason. We’ve done most of our touring in Europe and the UK, and we’ve always done very well there. And that’s why we’re really excited to do the Uproar tour, where we’re going to be going coast to coast in the States, in our own country, and I think some people have seen us because we’ve played a lot of shows in the States, but there’s really a lot of people that are seeing us for the first time. Or side note that, because I think as much as people can hear our music and can hear how the band keeps growing musically, I think when you see us live, it’s a whole different ball of wax, it’s a whole different vibe and it stems from the fact that we are very much big Metallica fans, Avenged Sevenfold fans. You have to know your audience and be able to take them on a ride and they should have a great time and that’s what we do. We don’t accept substitutes for people having fun and for people being involved in our shows. We’ll go the extra mile every time and we’re excited to get on the road and show what it is that we do.
I actually saw two of those ‘Maiden England’ tour dates myself and they were absolutely phenomenal. And ‘Seventh Son’ is one of my favorite records.
Yeah, me too, it’s actually my second-favorite Maiden record. Being a longtime Maiden fan, I think I saw that show [original Maiden England tour] when I was 14. But you know, to see the show, and not just all of the props and all of the effects and all the production of it, but just to hear the band just killing it and Bruce [Dickinson] sounding better now than he did 20 years ago — it’s great to see because I think what’s going on in music, which is really cool, is that age is kind of becoming irrelevant now for people. It’s more about, ‘Is the music good?’ Are people excited about the bands? You see just as many kids at these shows as you see people who are in their 40s and who are in their 50s and everybody in between. So I think music and metal has become almost evergreen in the same way that the Stones, or Motorhead, or the Ramones — there’s people there that are of all ages. It’s that way for Maiden and Metallica as well, where age is becoming irrelevant. It’s just about this rock and roll band and these great tunes that all ages of people who love music can enjoy.
You’ve have accomplished a great deal when it comes to wrestling. And then Fozzy of course, and books, and movies, and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and all that stuff. Do you find it difficult to kind of just sit back and do nothing for a couple of days or even a week?
Not really, the thing with me is that when I was a kid I had two dreams: I wanted to be in a rock and roll band and I wanted to be a wrestler. I’m the first person that’s ever done both of those things and I’ve been through the ringer because of it. A lot of people go, ‘There’s no way you can do both’ or ‘It’s not real,’ but it’s much like Jared Leto in 30 Seconds to Mars. He’s an accomplished actor and a great rock ‘n’ roll singer. It’s a weird thing for people to kind of realize and accept, that it’s legit. Now it’s happened, and especially over the last few years, people don’t really care that I’m a wrestler, they just care that it’s a great rock ‘n’ roll band and it is what it is. So all of those do stem from the fact that I am a creative person.
I don’t put boundaries on myself, and if it’s something I think I can do, then I do my best to make it happen. But the routine when I’m at home, hanging out with my family and my kids, I don’t do anything. I don’t go out, I don’t have friends … I may have friends, but no one that I’m going out to see movies with or hang out with at the bar. I just stay at home and hang out with my kids. That’s the trade off, even when I’m on the road, or working I’m at 1000 percent. I have no limits, no boundaries. When I’m at home, I’m 1000 percent about family and that’s the only way that I can make it work.
Being on the road for such a tremendous amount of time, is there any specific inspiration that the road offers you as a songwriter?
We’ve never written a ‘Turn the Page’ like Bob Seger or a ‘Whiplash,’ Metallica, but what I get from the road is I keep my eyes open at all times and I’m always looking for song titles that intrigue me. And that’s how I write my lyrics; backwards from song titles. You see like ‘Spider in My Mouth,’ or ‘Sandpaper,’ or ‘Dark Passenger’ or ‘She’s My Addiction’ — any songs like that have titles that I’ll write down and then work my way backwards from there. I think also because we’ve been so many places and seen so many things, it gives you a different mindset as far as what to write about. You know what I mean? I don’t just write about “The moon in June, with a spoon” type of stuff. I try to think of songs that are a little outside of the box and I try to be unique and original with every song that I write, including every title. If I think of a song title, I always Google it to see if anybody else has it and see if you know, a song like ‘She’s My Addiction,’ I couldn’t believe that there’s never been a rock song with that title before. I thought of it and then I did some research to make sure no one had done a song like that so it would be original, and off I went.
Song titles mean a lot to me because when I was a kid, I used to look at the back of records and if I saw a title that intrigued me, I instantly liked that song before I even heard it. You know, I remember ‘Disposable Heroes’ [Metallica] or ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’ by Iron Maiden or something like that. It’s like, “Wow, I love that song already and I haven’t even heard it yet.” So, I’m very much into making sure song titles are something that sound intriguing right off the bat.
What would you say are the biggest differences between touring for the WWE and touring with Fozzy?
Well, Uproar [Festival] notwithstanding, we’re playing bigger venues with the WWE, so they’re all arenas and stuff like that. Whereas with Fozzy, it’s more clubs and theaters. With WWE, everywhere I travel, I travel by myself, whereas with you’re in the band, you’re on the bus with everybody else. It’s a much easier vibe to travel by bus, especially in Europe because with the WWE there is a lot of flying. Short flights are hard because you’ve got to get to the airport, you’ve got to check in, you’ve got to go through security, then you’ve got to wait, then you’re on the plane, then you take the flight, then you’re off the plane and you wait, then you get your bags, you go to transportation, then you go to the hotel. The bus is kind of your one stop shop. You get on it, you hang out, you get off it, and you’re at the next gig. So, there is a little bit of sanity in traveling by myself, which I love with the WWE, but it’s way easier to travel with Fozzy on the bus for sure. It makes it a lot less of a hassle to be traveling for long periods of time when you’re in your own little world that you never have to really get out of.
The WWE schedule is so demanding, as is touring with a band. A lot of people get burnt out just doing one of the two…
I don’t do it at the same time. I mean, that’s impossible. So I mean, when ‘Chasing the Grail’ came out, I left the WWE the last time and went into the whole album cycle and it was just all Fozzy all the time. You know, tours go in blocks. You may be gone for three weeks, or four weeks, or five weeks. Then you come home for two or three weeks, or four weeks, or five weeks, so that’s a lot easier. With the WWE, it’s non-stop, but you get two, or three, or four days off a week. You get bigger chunks of time off when you’re traveling with Fozzy, but you get more time away from home with the WWE. I just like being on the road. I’ve been on the road ever since I was 19 years-old, so it’s something that I do, and it’s something that I always do, and I’m just glad to have Fozzy growing to where we’ve grown. When wrestling is long gone, I’ll still be traveling the world with the band and that’s a pretty cool feeling.
Has there ever been tension within the band due to your absences with the WWE?
No, because everybody is always doing other stuff too. Like I said, for the first two or three records with Fozzy, we were doing them both at the same time, but with ‘Chasing the Grail’ we really sat down and said, “We really have a chance to do something here.” Lets put all of our effort in this and do this full time, and that’s what we did. Now that we have this momentum behind us, the side projects are kind of just that; the side. I’m getting ready to finish up with the WWE next week .. and then it’s full-time Fozzy for the whole album cycle. The only reason why I came back this time to the WWE, for the nine months I was back, is because we were recording a new record and my contribution is writing the lyrics and singing. I had all the lyrics written before the record started, and then once we started recording, I’ve got 15 days of work and other than that I’m not doing anything. So, it was a perfect time for me to come back to the WWE for not a short run, but a decent size run. Like I said, the record is coming out, it’s time to go back full-time with Fozzy and see where the road takes me then.
Fozzy’s ‘Sin and Bones’ is now available through Century Media. To purchase the album, click here.