Chris Jericho on Fozzy: “We sound a bit like the bastard child of Metallica and Journey”
As interviews go, this is something of a biggie for me. Just as anyone who spent their youth glued to WWF on the TV and practising piledrivers in their front room would, I leapt at the opportunity of interviewing Christopher Irvine – AKA Chris Jericho – AKA Y2J – to discuss a job-spanning career which has seen him take the wrestling world by storm, write a number of books (including a NY Times bestseller), try his hand at acting, host a popular podcast, and front a hugely successful heavy metal band.
He’s something of a busy bloke, that’s for sure. Chris tells me with a laugh that Fozzy, his fivepiece outfit which formed back in 1999, sound a bit like “the bastard child of Metallica and Journey” – and if that’s not enough to pique your interest, they’ll also be bringing a spanking new album to Corporation this month. After a few schedule re-arrangements, I was finally patched through to Florida and greeted with a “Hey, it’s Chris Jericho!” before we got stuck straight into the new album chat.
So, Judas is your 7th studio album now. Just how excited are you for its release?
Well, I’m really excited about it. As you can see with the title track, it’s done so well for us. That song has reached the Top 10 on Rock Radio, No 1 on Satellite, No 1 on Spotify, No 1 with iTunes, almost 10 million views on YouTube – it’s just spiralling out of control! To have that elusive hit single, it changes everything for us as a band and, man, the buzz is bigger than it has ever been before. We really just wanted to concentrate on the songs themselves and not worry if there isn’t a guitar solo or like a two-minute intro, stuff we used to worry about in the past. Our idea was to create a record that had the potential to have six or seven singles on it, and I think we did just that. ‘Judas’ was actually not the unanimous decision for the first single, as there were a couple more that could easily have been chosen. However, that track has done all this heavy lifting and opened up so many doors for us; it’s gonna be great when the next singles come through because the hype is really there right now.
How does it feel when people say this is the best piece of music you’ve created?
It’s great to hear, man. When you do a record, you make it for yourself and you want it to be great, but you can’t rely too much on what other people think… it’s not how you should judge it. But once it does come out and people do appreciate it, it’s a fucking load off, man, let me tell you. There’s nothing more frustrating and disappointing as an artist to put your heart, soul and effort into something then people don’t embrace it or appreciate it and it just comes and goes very quickly. We want this to be something that people listen to for years, to come and think of it as the definitive moment when Fozzy became THAT band. When it shifted from “Oh yeah, we know them” to “Holy fuck, those guys are awesome!”.
I imagine that expectations are really high now – for both yourselves and the fans?
Yeah, like I said, we’re ready to go now. ‘Painless’, ‘Drinkin with Jesus’, ‘Weight of my World’, ‘Three Days in Jail’, ‘Running with the Bulls’ – there are a lot of tunes on there that people are freaking out over and loving. ‘Running with the Bulls’ is the ninth track on the album and people were telling us to release that as a single, which shows you the strength of the songs. There’s no reason to release more just yet because ‘Judas’ is still growing and we don’t wanna step on that. We’ve just cracked the Top 10 for the first time, so who knows? Maybe we can make it to No 1 before the next single comes out. We realise that the only way to make it work, to really make it work, is to do things our way, the Fozzy way.
Growing up, did you want to be a famous rock star or a professional wrestler?
I wanted to be both. I decided young that wanted to be in a rock band and I wanted to be a wrestler. A lot of people told me I couldn’t do that, but I really didn’t give a shit. I put all my focus into the reasons why I could do both. Once I made it in music and wrestling, that was dangerous as I realised I could do whatever I want. If I could make it once, I sure as hell could make it twice, three times, and four times. That said, I’ll only do things I feel are good and worthy of the Chris Jericho name. Because if my name is on it, all my fans, and there are millions of them worldwide, they trust my judgement. I don’t ever wanna put my name on something that isn’t up to par as I know my friends and fans trust me to bring them good entertainment. I stake my reputation on that.
When Fozzy first got together, did you ever think you would be so successful as a band?
I don’t think you ever expect it, but it wasn’t completely unexpected either. We didn’t get into it to be No 10, we want to be No 1. We want to be the biggest band in the world, we want to have No 1 songs on rock radio and play soldout shows around the world – and that’s kinda happening now. I mean, fuck, why wouldn’t you want that? When people ask me what’s the point in Fozzy, I just say “to play stadiums”. If you’re not thinking like that, it’s not worth it. It’s just like wrestling: your goal is always to win the world title.
How does it work juggling two huge careers in wrestling and music?
There is no wrestling career or music career at the same time – it’s one or the other. Fozzy is the priority and has been since 2010, but then I’ll go back and do some wrestling on breaks between tour cycles.
And where does time for the TalkIsJericho podcast come from? There’s a huge worldwide audience to worry about keeping satisfied with that one.
Ah, there’s a lot of time spent sitting around on tour so the podcast is great for that. I carry my portable radio around with me and see who’s around and wants to do a talk. It’s the same with writing books. It’s very hard to write a book but I got nothing but time when I’m on the road.
It sounds like you’re a guy who likes to be kept busy?
Oh yeah! It’s either do that or learn another language or learn how to knit. I don’t really want to knit, and I’m probably too impatient to learn a language, so I do a podcast and write books in my spare time.
You’re heading to Sheffield for a show this month. Just how big is the fanbase over in the UK?
We’ve got a great fanbase in the UK, and this is the biggest tour we’ve had. The people who’ve seen us know they’re going to get a good time with Fozzy; it’s all about energy, electricity and having fun. We love Corporation! Last time we played there we had a great show, and now with the buzz that Judas has and the success of the song and the record, we expect this to be the best show we’ve ever played in Sheffield. This is gonna be THE show of the Christmas season so if you miss this one, you’ll be having a black Christmas for sure.
Fozzy play Corporation on November 3rd. Head to corporation.org.uk for tickets and more info.