For those who have watched professional wrestling over the last 20+ years, you will be all too familiar with the name Chris Jericho; having wrestled in both WCW and WWF/WWE, as well as performing in Japan. Don’t assume that this is the only thing that Jericho has done, as this man is far from a one-trick pony!
Not only has Jericho been entertaining crowds within (and sometimes out of) the squared circle, he started talking to Rich Ward and Fozzy was formed in 1999; this partnership introduced the world to Fozzy thanks to their debut album Fozzy in 2000 and the world has been infected ever since. Fast forward to Friday October 13th 2017 and Fozzy released their seventh album Judas. The anticipation to this date has been eased slightly by the release of the single ‘Judas’; which not only has amassed over 9.5 million views on YouTube, but also gone to number one worldwide on various charts!
OVERDRIVE sat down with Jericho a couple of days before Judas was released; the first topic of discussion was about the upcoming release date and the excitement within the Fozzy camp. Jericho explained how “I mean, it’s always a cool time; we’ve spent the better part of two years working on this record!” before elaborating further:
“You know, you make the record for yourself and make sure that you’re happy with it; but when it comes time for it to be released, you want to make sure that everyone else likes it to! With the success of ‘Judas’, it’s really cool to see the vibe that the band has now, or ever had in our entire history! We just cracked the US Top 10 today, so there’s a lot of vibe about this record; so now that it’s here, we’re excited to give a lot more people the chance to hear it. Friday has been a long time coming, so we’re hoping people are very excited at what we’ve delivered!”
When asked how long Fozzy have been counting down the clock to October 13th; Jericho mentioned that “I think from the initial writing process to the creating was about a year; we finally finished the record in April or May” before explaining about a small setback that Judas experienced:
“Unfortunately we missed the deadline for an August release, so it got pushed back until October. The record had basically been done for about 3 months; throw in the fact that I recorded my parts back in January and February, I was eager for this record to come out in August. We were a tad upset when we missed the deadline, but we decided that we weren’t going to rush this and that we were going to release it when it was ready. I would have loved for it to have come out earlier, but we’ve been able to turn these negatives into positives: within 17 weeks, ‘Judas’ cracked the top 10! Had there been a new record out a month ago, people might not have paid as much attention to ‘Judas’ because there was a record out and more songs to choose from. As I said, it worked out great that the record got delayed! The momentum is still growing now and we have ended up with this huge hit that could turn into our ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ or ‘Stairway To Heaven’. You know, it’s still very hard to get a top 10; I’ve never really realised that until I got into the numbers every week. It’s like in sports where this time has to win, this time has to lose and this time has to tie, just to make the play-offs! It’s really a numbers game and as I said, just today we broke into the US Top 10; a lot of doors have to open and we have to reach out to a lot of people for it to happen!”
‘Judas’ had a lot of doors open up when the WWE used it as one of the official songs for the NXT TAKEOVER show in Chicago. Jericho explained how “that was a great way to kick it off! One of the reasons the song is so popular and really gained some traction is because fans have thought ‘maybe we should check it out sometime.’ When people went out and heard Fozzy for the first time or gave us our first chance, I think it was the right song at the right time for the band; having the right video made a huge difference as well! All these factors came together and combined to give us a huge, huge sound; plus having NXT use it as a theme for Takeover has been different this time around. WWE has used our songs as themes before, but this vision has been a lot different to what we’ve presented before and they’ve used it in a way with a lot more emphasis! All of this combined has just added to this vibe and the experience of this really cool song.”
Having said that though, this partnership with the WWE can come with the effect of being a double-edged sword; Jericho gave a very unique insight into the negative side that his illustrious wrestling career has played with the Fozzy part of his life:
“It’s hard to get people to respect you as a musician when they know you primarily as a wrester; people weren’t necessarily taking Fozzy seriously as they could have been if I hadn’t spent a lot of time in the WWE and wasn’t a “WWE Superstar”! We’ve seen it with Reckless and 30 Seconds To Mars; there are people who are talented in multiple fields. Both bands are great rock and roll bands from a live standpoint, from a song-writing standpoint and everything in between; we didn’t need what you would call breaks, but we needed a way for people to come and check our band out. When they did and they heard ‘Judas’ with the whole new vibe that it showcases, it’s exploded almost in spite of the fact that we were backed by the WWE; we’re not just an industrious band anymore. There’s a lot of old fans who don’t care anymore and why should they; hopefully we’ve proven with this record that it’s the best record we’ve done sound wise and performance wise!”
After his departure from the band back in 2014, Paul Di Leo has made a return to the Fozzy line-up. Jericho gave another great insight into how much Di Leo’s departure affected the band, as well as how much his return meant to Camp Fozzy:
“It’s like being a great football team; you’ve got to have that chemistry to really win championships; Paul had his reasons why he had to leave and it sucked for us! When you lose a big part of the band from a personality, performance and playing standpoint; he’s the best bass player we’ve ever had. We went through a bunch of bass players and never found a replacement; we found some great ones but no one ever really fit like Paul did. As guys are known to do, we just started texting each other; all of a sudden there were a lot of pictures of us from the tours that we had done. Finally I just said ‘hey, do you want to come back to the band; is everything cool with you now?’ and he said ‘absolutely.’ Rich and Paul had a chat about coming back to the band; having him back has been great! Maybe we wouldn’t have been ready two years ago without Paul; he’s a big part of our sound and our live show, so to have him back for Judas is great! Fozzy is a juggernaut with the five of us back again and I’m not interested in changing the line-up ever again.”
This interviewer was curious as to whether there was much done differently during the recording of Judas, compared to when Fozzy recorded Do You Wanna Start A War. Jericho explained how “the main thing about this record is that we had an outside producer in the name of Johnny Anders, which we’ve never had before. We’ve usually had the decision power to say ‘yes’ to this and ‘no’ to this, but Johnny helped opened our eyes; it isn’t about who gets the best solo, who writes the lyrics or who does the screams, but it’s about what’s best for the song! Once we were able to embrace that attitude and focused on what Johnny was saying, it made everything a lot easier and gel so much better. When you have ‘an outsider coming into the circle’, your initial reaction is to rebel; but once you realise that they’re there to help you get the best out of your performance, it helps you achieve the best you can out of your songs as you’re all on the same page! We ended up making a pretty good team when we realised that the album is what matters the most.”
This interviewer had just enough time to ask Jericho about the upcoming Chris Jericho’s Rock N Wrestling Rager At Sea. For those of you who don’t know, this is a four night cruise that consists of multiple bands, a high quality wrestling tournament hosted by Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, as well as stand-up comedy, from October 27th to October 31st. Jericho explained where the inspiration for this cruise came from:
“It was something that I had the idea for right after we did the KISS Cruise in 2015; as soon we got off the boat, I said ‘I should do a version of this that combines things that I’m into; rock music and wrestling!’ I’ve been working on it for two years and it’s been quite hard work; all the travelling and the booking of everybody, as well as arranging a place to hold it. It’s been a HUGE undertaking but it’s got over a year to sell out; I just wanted it to be a destination vacation for everybody is into the same stuff that I am.”
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