The band Fozzy has really always been about one thing: having fun. What started out for guitarist Rich Ward as a weekend cover band in Atlanta, Georgia, soon became an internationally signed act with professional wrestling star Chris Jericho as its lead singer. Fozzy, consisting of Jericho (vocals,) Rich Ward (guitar,) Billy Grey (guitar,) Jeff Rouse (bass,) and Frank Fontsere (drums,) released its highest charting record Do You Wanna Start a War last July.
Fozzy began as Fozzy Osbourne, a play on the name of metal vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, and was a cover band assembled by Ward. In 1999, Jericho and Ward met in San Antonio, Texas after a wrestling show and Jericho was invited to play with the band. Eventually, the band went on to shorten their name to Fozzy and began creating original content. “We all had similar taste in music, similar personalities and we all just started jamming together,” recalled Jericho. “I think a lot of bands start that way; a couple guys meet, throw out a couple jams and see how it goes. But here we are 15 years later with our six records, Do You Wanna Start a War, which was the highest selling record of our careers and the highest charting record of our career and definitely the most diverse. So it’s definitely been great to see how much we’ve grown, especially over the last four years. It always takes a while for bands to kind of come into their own and figure out what their sound is, what their vibe is and for us we’ve really developed kind of the Fozzy sound. It grew to have a lot of melodies and a lot of harmonies. The chorus is almost as if Metallica and Journey had a bastard child.”
Along with being the lead singer of Fozzy, Jericho has also become well known for his work as a professional wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment. One may wonder what a WWE professional wrestler and the lead singer of a heavy metal band have in common. To this, Jericho responded, “There are tons of similarities! They’re both kind of a party host. You’re leading the show. The most important thing for anything live—whether you’re wrestling, doing stand-up comedy, or being a Shakespearean actor is that you have to connect with your audience in a live element. It’s not like making a movie or making a TV show where you get six or seven different takes, which one do you like better and we’ll change the angle here, when you’re live, you’re live! There is no editing. So you’re out there, doing everything you can to connect with your audience and make sure they’re having a great time… making sure they live in the ‘now.’ Anybody can hit some notes, it’s not about that. It’s about the presentation and the feeling you get when you go to a live show. So in that respect, you really just have to make a connection with the crowd and make them want to pay money to come see you. If you can do that, you’ll always have a job.”
While it may be tricky for someone that isn’t a busy wrestler/heavy metal singer to stay in shape, Jericho says that keeping fit on tour has been a fairly easy task. “It’s important to stay in shape as a human being—whether you’re a wrestler or not. It’s never been an ‘ok, I’m on the road and wrestling, I have to stay in shape’ thing. I have to stay in shape no matter what and a lot of that has to do with yoga and the performances. I think I sweat more with a Fozzy show than I do anything else because it’s very involved. It’s very aerobic for 60-80 minutes. So it’s not soft. When we play, we are the show. We don’t have dragons flying from the ceilings or fire shooting out of the drummers’ nipples. It’s all about doing what we do, which is making sure that everyone stays involved and has a good time. When it comes to having fun, we expect it, we demand it, and we make sure it happens at the show.”
When asked about Fozzy’s latest title track and music video, Do You Wanna Start a War, Jericho had this to say: “I came up with those lyrics. It’s not so much about starting a war with guns and knives. It’s about starting a war with things that oppose you… with things that are holding you down. ‘Throw your hands in the air/ Now’s the time to not care/ Throw your hands in the sky/ Say goodbye to bad times.’ If you can face those things that are dragging you down, whether it’s a bad situation, a bad day, a girlfriend that’s always yelling at you… whatever it may be. Just be what you can be and do you. But I wanted it to be a kind of war cry to believe in yourself. That’s why I wrote it.”
According to Jericho, Fozzy has been touched by a variety of genres, which has helped to inspire the band’s unique sound. “We love heavier bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Black Sabbath and Ozzy. We also really appreciate those melodic bands from the 70’s like Foreigner, Styx, Journey. Queen was also a pretty big influence on us. Even some disco music and R&B music, all of that sort of stuff has a groove and a feel to it,” Jericho explained. “For me it’s all about The Beatles, Iron Maiden, and Metallica. Those are my three favorites. You take those influences and you morph them and use them into being who you are as a band. We’ve been very fortunate in that we have a sound that’s a little bit different from what’s going on in the world today in the world of rock and roll. I think that’s part of why we’ve been able to stand out like we have because we are a little bit outside of the box when it comes to the sound of our band.”
Looking back at Fozzy’s ordinary beginnings, Jericho says that the band has come a long way. “You can definitely see the Fozzy story when you hear all of the records. There is a journey and an evolution from one record to the next. I think the biggest difference from Do You Wanna Start a War and our other albums is that it’s a little bit more diverse. And we weren’t concerned about ‘Is this too heavy? Is it too poppy?’ We were just making 12 great songs that all had major hooks and major melodies and made sure that they were all well written songs and not worry so much about which genre does it exactly fit in. The record is our most diverse and it’s our most popular because of the different sounds that are on it. You always see an evolution—which is important—but it always has to remain a Fozzy record. You always hear an album being different from the last. U2 and the Beatles, they always changed up their sound but it always still sounded like them in one way, shape, or form. I think that’s important as a band. There’s only one AC/DC that can have a very similar sound every record. Our band will never be that way because we believe in evolving and experimenting, but still staying true to what we are,” said Jericho.
It would seem that the U.S. is just starting to catch up with what the rest of the world has known for quite some time—Fozzy rocks. “Right now there’s a focus on a tour of Europe. The U.K. especially is one of our biggest countries, if not our biggest country—one of the first to really embrace Fozzy fully. So we’re excited it’s one of the biggest tours we’ve ever done over there. It’s gonna be a great tour,” Jericho speculated. The band’s current tour schedule can be found on their website.”
As the snowball effect takes hold of the talented Fozzy and its mass of followers, it is likely to only be a matter of time before the band returns to the U.S. Until then, you might want to catch up on all things Fozzy. “If you’re with us, we appreciate that and we’ll always do our best to give you the best music we can,” promised Jericho. “And if you’re not with us, what are you waiting for, man? You don’t wanna be that guy in school that’s not into what’s going on. So if you haven’t checked out Fozzy and you like rock and roll, get off your ass and go check us out!”
You heard the man. Go get your Fozzy on!