When Chris Jericho stepped into the world spotlight, he was 19. From that time forward, he spent many years wrestling professionally in the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), WCW (World Championship Wrestling) and ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling). He’s credited with being the first Undisputed WWF (World Wrestling Federation) Champion as well as the first ever Undisputed Champion of the WWE, and is the only one to have held six different titles in the history of World Wrestling Entertainment. Jericho has two New York Times Top 10 Best Sellers (both autobiographies), which landed in the Top 10, and peaked at Number 8. He transitioned to film and TV for a bit before stepping onto a different kind of stage, heavy metal. Now, you may be asking yourself, “What is a pro wrestler doing fronting a heavy metal band?” Well, he’s singing.
Fozzy is the brainchild of Jericho and his guitarist, Rich Ward. They’ve been gaining credibility and a growing fan base since the band’s inception, and just released their new album, Sin and Bones, which debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. For the first time in the band’s 12-year history, Fozzy is touring the U.S. with Staind, Shinedown, Godsmack, and Papa Roach for the Uproar Festival; they’re headlining on the Jagermeister Stage.
It’s an exciting and hectic time, yet the calmness in Jericho’s voice reveals not the slightest bit of stress. “Well I’ve been playing in a band since I was 12 years old,” says Jericho. “We’ve been doing Fozzy for 12 years, and I was in bands 13 years prior to that. When I was a kid I wanted to be in a rock band and I wanted to be a wrestler. Those were my two dreams. And I was fortunate enough and crazy enough to make them both happen. So that’s what I’m doing fronting a rock band. It’s something I’ve been doing my whole life, basically. And it’s just that wrestling took off first, but I still always continued to play in bands and all of that sort of thing too. So I’m just lucky that I had these two things that I both wanted to go for, and I made it happen. I played bass and sang. My band was called Scimitar, which is this weird, curved sword that you see in Sinbad the Sailor movies.”
The artists and music Jericho listened to growing up were not all that different from anyone else. He discovered the Beatles as a very young child and graduated to Ozzy by the time he hit junior high, though it seems it was his interest in girls that led him to bands like Metallica and the Prince of Darkness. “Well the first band I ever got into was the Beatles when I was about eight years old,” states Jericho. “I kind of got into with them, with all things Beatles. And then when I started to going to junior high school in the early 80s, being a Beatles fan wasn’t a cool thing. The Beatles weren’t the be-all, end-all that everybody knows that they are now. So it was kind of a weird thing to be into. And then when I went into junior high school all the girls were wearing Ozzy shirts and Judas Priest shirts and that sort of thing. So I thought, ‘If I’m ever actually going to talk to a girl maybe I better check out some of these other bands.’ So then I checked out Ozzy and I kinda got hooked on metal. It was Ozzy and Maiden and Metallica and all those sort of bands, as well. So those are kind of the bands I was into when I was a kid, and still the bands that I’m into now, like Avenged, Sevenfold, Slipknot and Bullet For My Valentine. Anything that’s heavy, I’m into.”
The Uproar Festival has proven to be one of those “heavy” things Jericho and Fozzy are into; they’ve toured extensively in Europe and have been welcomed with open arms there, but America is new territory. When it comes to Europe, most American bands are embraced with an exuberance that probably hasn’t been felt stateside in many years. “We’ve played a lot of shows in the U.S., but as far as a coast-to-coast actual tour, this is our first one,” explains Jericho. “So I’m really excited because it’s a great tour to be on, as well. Hopefully we’ll be playing in front of thousands of people that have never checked Fozzy out, and that’s all we need. I always like to say the only people that don’t like Fozzy are the ones that have never heard us. And especially when you see us live, it’s a whole different experience. So, yeah, we’re really excited about it.”
Our mission is to be the best band in the world and to steal the show every night…
Jericho describes Fozzy’s live show as very high energy with a lot of crowd participation; he just wants people to have a good time. Fozzy wants to steal the show every night and have people leaving with an energy they didn’t have prior to seeing them. “Hey, I really just want people to enjoy themselves, which sometimes I think is a lost art at a rock show,” states Jericho. “Heaven forbid you go and have fun at a rock and roll show. Our mission is to be the best band in the world and to steal the show every night; we’ve been pretty good at doing that anywhere we play, whether it’s our headlining shows, or whether we’re opening for other bands, or playing big festivals. We like to make our mark and make a stain, as I always say. So it’s been good. We just did Download in England, and I think the word-of-mouth was great. I think the band before us — we were on at, like, noon during the day — had, like, 500 people there, and I was like, ‘Oh, alright.’
“I showed up there behind the stage in the dressing room, and gave my band a gesture like, ‘Well, it’s gonna be a small show,’ and then we went on stage and there was, like, 30,000 people. I don’t know where everybody came from. They were like gremlins that just multiplied on the spot. But they were there and they were ready to see us, so it was cool. It’s good to know that people were aware of what we were doing, and were coming from all across the giant field to come see us, so it was cool.”
It’s very exciting to go on the road for any band, but as much as they love the life, even local touring on buses and jumping from city to city is enough to make them wonder why they didn’t ask for lithium before they left. Imagine the kind of trouble one can get into in another country. “Stupid stuff happens every day,” says Jericho, with assurance in his voice. “One time I was in the dressing room after a show in Brighton, England. And I just realized it got really quiet and there was nothing going on. So I walked out of the dressing room. and it was pitch dark, and I couldn’t figure out why. I used my phone as a light and started walking through the club. I was walking down the stairs and I realized that everybody had gone — everyone had left and locked me in.
“There was no way out, and I had no reception. So I couldn’t call anybody. And then I walked through this tripwire, and the alarm started going off, where now I’m stuck inside of a locked, black club and the alarms are going off. And then I started freaking, like, ‘What if there’s a fire? How am I gonna get out of here?’ I got arrested. And I was like, ‘I didn’t do anything. I just was inside my dressing room hanging out and then I came out and everything’s locked.’ They said, ‘We’re sorry, sir. We have to get the club owner to get here and verify that you are who you are.’ It was ridiculous. If you’ve ever seen the movie, Spinal Tap, that is so exactly what happens all the time whenever you’re on the road. Just dumb stuff like that.”
Fozzy must be doing something right; the reception from people hearing them for either the first time and/or live is always warm, and the momentum behind them in the last couple of years is gearing up like a rocket ready to take off. “We get a real warm reception where ever we play,” says Jericho thoughtfully. “I think when I first started a lot of people had the same question you had, like, ‘What’s he doing fronting a band? Is this real?’ And now after all these records and tours, and just the fact that we continue to stay around, I think people have kind of realized that, much like 30 Seconds To Mars is Jared Leto’s band — he’s a great singer; it’s a great rock and roll band — and he just happens to be an actor. I don’t think anybody thinks of him as ‘the actor’s band,’ and if they do, they don’t get it. And it’s the same with us. We’ve gone past the, ‘Oh, that’s the wrestler’s band,’ to ‘It’s a great rock and roll band and the singer sometimes is a wrestler, but who gives a shit what he does!’ ”
Jericho feels Sin and Bones, is the best thing Fozzy has done to date; it reflects the heavy melodic style, they’re becoming known for. And Jericho invites you to come to one of their live shows. He guarantees it will blow you away.