With the release of their brand-new album Judas, out now, US outfit Fozzy have catapulted into the hard-rock stratosphere. Signs that this release would be a hit began to show early in the piece. Even at the announcement that a new album was in the works, fans appeared to sense that something wicked this way comes.
Something wicked indeed came, with the first single and title track off the record absolutely kicking the doors off the frame. The track would spend 17 weeks busting skulls on its way to the pointy end of the US rock charts, no easy feat, even if the vocalist is WWE champion Chris Jericho. All it comes down to is talent.
Rather than resting on his laurels, which so many of his peers appear comfortable to do, Jericho proved his mettle with Fozzy. He poured more blood, sweat and tears into Judas than he ever left in the ring and fans the world over, eager for more substance in the rock, picked up on the scent.
We spoke with Jericho moments before the album dropped.
The Neversphere: It feels like there’s so much buzz around Fozzy now. Judas is currently smashing it on airwaves and headphones the world over, there’s lots of online love aimed at you…It must be a particularly awesome time to be part of Fozzy…
Jericho: It really is, man. There’s a lot of buzz about the band that was never there before. We’ve had some great fans over the years but the doors have really opened up because of the success of Judas the song. Just to see how far it’s gotten…It cracked the Top 10 today on rock radio in the States; that’s huge, and it’s not easy to do that. After 17 weeks, the song is bigger than it’s ever been. It’s a great time.
The beauty of it is, as great as Judas is, and how big it is, it wasn’t a unanimous first choice for the first single. there was some talk about Painless…Elevator was in contention…Burn Me Out was in contention. Now that Judas has kicked in these doors, there are all these singles locked and loaded in the chamber to come out next. Those ones will probably have an even easier time because Judas has done all the dirty work, so to speak, turning all these heads. All these people who have never listened to us before are now giving us a chance.
The Neversphere: I’d like to know if you had any Eureka moments when you were making the record. Moments where you all looked at each other and thought ‘Fuck yeah, this is going to work’.
Jericho: When I first heard the demos for Judas I thought ‘This needs to be the title track of the record‘, and it needed to start the record – I wanted it to start the live show and the album. Drinking With Jesus, when I first heard that one I thought the groove was amazing. That really stood out for me. I think Wordsworth Way was really important because that’s completely my piece lyrically; it’s about my childhood and my Mother who passed away years ago, so it’s very close to home. When I heard the arrangement for that song, it was unbelievable. Those were some of the moments where I really sat back and thought ‘Whoa…this is cool‘.
But I’ll be honest with you…There’s only a few songs…Painless for example, which will be the next single, when I first heard it I hated it! I didn’t like it at all. That was the first song that I heard. Now it’s ended up the second single and I totally, one thousand percent think it should be the second single. A lot of people thought it should have been the first single. I didn’t like it when I first heard it but you never know how a song will end up once you mix it, master it, and finish doing all the things you’re going to do with it.
The Neversphere: Fozzy has been making noise on the music scene since 2010. I wanted to get your opinion, from your perspective on why you think there’s so much love for the band at the moment?
Jericho: We made a decision to take 2016 completely off, and not do any one-off gigs, or weekend gigs or festivals or anything; just stay completely away and work on the record. I think that’s one of the reasons a lot of people were like ‘Where’d Fozzy go?‘ A year in this day and age is a really long time. It’s a very Iron Maiden thing to do, just disappear for a while. I think that had a lot to do with it. Also, I had such a huge year in the WWE in 2016 that when people found out I would be leaving to go back to Fozzy, which was always the priority since 2010, I think people got really excited, thinking ‘If he’s leaving the WWE for Fozzy it must be something really special. If he’s going to leave to do this where must be something behind it.
So, there was that part to it. Then when these people would check us out for the first time, they’d be hearing the best song we’ve ever written. It was the right song, at the right place, at the right time from the right band. All the good will we’ve had over the years from all the band we’ve toured with, the turning of the tides with all the people who still had a problem that I was ‘Chris Jericho from the WWE’ finally got their heads out of their arse and realised ‘Who cares what the singer does outside of the band?’ IT’s either good music or it’s bad music and when they hear it they realise it’s pretty fucking good.
I think people finally realised this wasn’t some sort of vanity project or a pipe dream, it’s a real-deal rock and roll band. With the amount of stuff that I do, people realise now that I only do things I really want to do. I don’t do anything for money, I don’t do anything because people tell me I should do it. Sometimes it takes a while to convince people that something’s real. At first people wanted me to just wrestle until i was 90 and die in the ring. I’m not that person. I’ve wanted to be in a rock band ever since I was 13…Now I think everyone has figured out that it’s OK to listen to Jericho’s podcast, it’s OK to read Jericho’s book, it’s OK to watch Jericho’s show or listen to Jericho’s band. It’s still me and if my name is on it I give 1000%. Our goal is to be the biggest band in the world, man, and if you don’t think that way then you don’t do it. It all starts by having great songs, and having loyal fans that have been with you for years and we have those things.
The Neversphere: When you started Fozzy in 2010, it sounds as though you were met with this negative attitude from people off the bat Did you know back then that it would only be a matter of time before fans started accepting that you were allowed to have other creative outputs? Or did you think it would always be a thorn in your side?
Jericho: Well, you never know if somethings going to happen. You know from The Pretty Reckless and Thirty Seconds To Mars that there are people who can do this. Think about Rob Zombie movies, I use to talk to Rob and people would get mad at him for having the audacity for wanting to be a filmmaker. I never cared what people thought. I only care if something is good or bad and if it’s good, the cream always rises to the top. I know how good Fozzy is; right from the start I knew it because of the reaction from the bands we’d tour with from Black Label Society to Avenged Sevenfold to Steel Panther to Buck Cherry to Theory Of A Dead Man…All these great bands we were with are all Fozzy fans. When the musicians like your band, you know that it’s real.
Then we started coming into our own more. We started writing these songs like Judas and playing these shows we’re playing. That’s when you could see this total sea change. Now, as you said, Fozzy is hot, it’s exciting. We just finished a years tour yesterday…The walk ups, and the last minute sales for the shows were through the roof, we’ve never had so many people at our shows before. Now we’re heading to Europe and we sold out Glasgow, a week before the gig.
All of that stuff is starting to culminate and it feels real good because, not to sound egotistical, we deserve it. We’ve been working hard, we’ve been providing the tunes, the shows, now we have the numbers and we’re getting to be unstoppable.
The Neversphere: On top of that you paid your dues as a band rather than just rely on your celebrity status like a lot of people in your position seem to do.
Jericho: I never rely on my celebrity status, I never combined the two – I still don’t. This isn’t a wrestling thing and you can’t promote it like one because if you did, dead. your band would be done because people would see it as a novelty and it’s not. It’s bigger than that, it’s better than that. Fozzy might be Chris Jericho’s band but there’s five guys in the band; all of us equal, all of us have personalities, all of us are rock stars, all of us great performers on stage. I think people are now knowing that and it’s a cool place to be.
The Neversphere: You have such a strong following in Australia, I’m sure you’re itching to get back. What are your plans for an Australian tour?
Jericho: It’s one of those things that everybody’s asking. We were really lucky to come to Australia twice in 2014, we’ve been there four times in total and it’s always been great to us, right off the bat. Now, more than ever we can come and do some great shows in Australia, do it properly as a complete package with enough time so people know we’re coming. it’s going to be a slam dunk. 2018 will be the year we return to Australia. One way or another I’ll make sure of it…
…I’ll personally guarantee it.