Interview // Chris Jericho of Fozzy
He’s best known as one of the icons of World Wrestling Entertainment – his snappy catchphrases and bitter put-downs that made him one of the sport’s most popular stars – but these days Chris Jericho is fully focused on his metal band Fozzy, who have moved from strength to strength with their new album ‘Sin and Bones.’
Speaking exclusively to Something for the Weekend ahead of the band’s twin dates in Cork on Friday night and Dublin on Saturday, Jericho appears genuinely humbled by Fozzy’s swift ascent from a an apparent novelty act to a band that even the most begrudging metal fan now has to take seriously.
The singer says: “I’ve been playing in bands since I was 12 years old. I always wanted to be in a rock band and I always wanted to be a wrestler – those were my two dreams. Wrestling came first but I always wrote songs, recorded demos and played live. We started Fozzy in ’99, and three or four years ago I decided all my time would be based around Fozzy’s schedule.
“It’s amazing the leaps and bounds we’ve taken since we really put our noses to the grindstone and made this the priority. To see the reactions from the people and to see the crowds grow at the shows and to see the records being sold everywhere, it’s been a really cool experience. Everybody is coming back and saying to us that Sin and Bones the best record we’ve ever made. It’s really cool to have that gratification.”
Fozzy’s story is slightly unusual in that they were originally formed and signed as a covers band, a side-project for Rich Ward, guitarist with defunct nu-metal outfit Stuck Mojo. Their first two albums consisted mainly of pretty straightforward renditions of popular heavy metal songs, but for the past few years they’ve built a reputation as one of the hardest-working original metal bands around.
Jericho adds: “It’s fun playing covers but you don’t get in a band to play somebody else’s songs. You get into a band to play your own songs so it’s a natural progression. All bands start out playing covers, we just got a record deal to do it, which is kind of an interesting way to go, but after a couple of years of doing that it was time to move on and do our own thing. If we hadn’t have started writing our own material, we wouldn’t be here right now. We definitely wouldn’t be the size of band that we are.”
‘Sin and Bones’ is the band’s biggest release to date, coming out on renowned US metal label Century Media, and is their first to land on the Billboard charts in the US. In Jericho’s mind it’s their most complete recording to date, furthering cemented their identity as a five-piece.
He notes: “We’re focusing on what we do best, which is heavy riffs and very melodic choruses. It takes a while for a band to find their identity sometimes and we’ve definitely honed in and made that concrete. From now on that’s what you’ll hear from Fozzy – very heavy and very melodic. That’s one of the reasons we’ve gotten as far as we have and why we continue to grow.”
Alongside balls-to-the-wall metal tracks like ‘Sandpaper’ and ‘Spider in my Mouth,’ the standout track on ‘Sin and Bones’ is the epic 12-minute closer ‘Storm the Beaches,’ a track Jericho reveals was inspired by his desire to capture the drama and imagery of the D-Day landings in song.
He says: “I write a lot of my lyrics around song titles, and I just loved the title ‘Storm the Beaches.’ I instantly thought that it had to be about D-Day. There’s never been a heavy metal song that’s focused on the D-Day topic – there have been a couple that have delved into it, but never into the detail, the visual, the painting of the picture that I did with this song. It made for a very natural, epic topic to write about, and that made it very natural for us to write an epic music and lyrics and harmonies around that.
“I found a letter online by a soldier who survived the attack. He wrote a letter home to his mother about the experiences he went through, so I kind of wrote my lyrics based on that. Then I went online and researched – any time you’re writing about potato mashers and Pershing tanks, you’ve got to delve a little deeper to figure out what the hell it actually means.
“You close your eyes and listen to that song and you can see what’s going on in your head – that’s always a cool indication that there are some interesting lyrics.”
However he’s equally keen to stress that he’s by no means a military history buff. He laughs: “I’m not a huge World War Two fan – it’s not like I’m Lemmy, collecting Nazi uniforms or something like that!”
The weekend’s dates will mark the third time the band have hit Irish shores a record that’s sure to be appreciated by locals who are often frustrated by international metal bands who land in Britain but never make it this side of the Irish Sea.
“For whatever reason the crowds are always insane in Ireland – maybe that’s just because a lot of bands don’t come there – but if we had our way we’d come to Ireland every tour. I know there are a lot of people in Belfast who want to see us and hopefully they’ll be coming up to Dublin to see us, and it’s great to come to Cork for the first time.
“We’re starting this tour in Ireland and we wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s no better way to start the tour than by having crushing shows in Ireland. It’s been a long time and we’ve been waiting patiently to return ever since. We’re looking forward to tearing everybody’s head off!”
Originally published in the Irish Sun on Friday, November 23, 2012.