Chris Jericho is the charismatic and highly entertaining frontman for Fozzy. Last week, the band released their sixth album, Do You Wanna Start A War. Following up on the album review on JOAF, I am very excited to present to all of you my interview with Chris. We talk about the new record, live shows, being a frontman, and more.
Alex Obert: The band has an upcoming tour with Theory of a Deadman, which songs are you excited to fit onto the setlist?
Chris Jericho: It’s such a diverse record, there so many songs that we wanna start playing live. I think with Theory of a Deadman, we’ll have about forty five minutes. That’s about eight songs or nine songs. So the thing is, when you get three, four, five, studio records, it gets harder every time to decide what songs you’re gonna put in there. There’s songs we have to play. We have to do Enemy, we have to do God Pounds His Nails, we have to do Sandpaper. And that’s half the set right there pretty much. War, definitely. Definitely Lights Go Out. We did Bad Tattoo and One Crazed Anarchist at the Whisky, those will probably be in there in some way, shape, or form. But then Died With You needs to get in there. Tonite’s another one that needs to get in there as soon as possible. And that’s half the new record, but you kind of have to wait for people to get more familiar with it before you start doing more. There’s a real process for putting together the setlist. You don’t want it to be all new songs, you wanna play some of your good ones, classic ones too. When you have a record as diverse and exciting as Do You Wanna Start A War, we could do all twelve songs and it would be fine by me. So one gig at a time and one song at a time to see what your set’s gonna be.
Alex Obert: Would you ever look into an opportunity for Michael Starr to appear at a Fozzy show and sing Tonite with you?
Chris Jericho: Not sure, I mean it’s always kind of fun. M. Shadows came and sang Sandpaper with us. Phil Campbell came and did Addiction with us one time. It’s all about where you are and what the different bands schedules are and all that sort of thing. It would definitely be awesome, he did a great job on it. Love those guys and we’ll do a lot more towards with them again, so you never know.
Alex Obert: Regarding another guest vocalist on the album, who is Christie Cook and how did you discover her?
Chris Jericho: Rich has been working with her for years. She’s a girl from Atlanta and that music scene there. She was on the Duke record, I believe. And she actually did some touring with Rich when he took the Duke project on the road. She’s been in the Fozzy extended family for a while. And when it came time to start tracking Unstoppable, Rich had this vision of having a female vocalist on it to do a duet for a Gimme Shelter/Great Gig in the Sky type of a vibe. It would be where the girl is not just on the chorus, but actually having her in on the verses as well. We thought about should we get the typical Lzzy Hale or Cristina Scabbia or somebody like that, well we thought to just ask Christie. She’s already in the family and she’s a great singer. So we’ll give her the spotlight, give her a little day in the sun. We couldn’t have found a better singer. She absolutely nailed it, really did a great job on that song.
Alex Obert: What are your thoughts on the track, Scarecrow?
Chris Jericho: I love it. I think it’s a great song. When I first heard it, it was one of my favorites because it’s so different and weird, there’s a little bit of a prog element to it. Some of these songs on this record are a little more straightforward, little more of a poppy type vibe, Tonite or Lights Go Out, that sort of thing. No Good Way too. But then Scarecrow came on and it’s not a long song, but it’s very much progressive with the tempo changes and a really amazing chorus. It fits the vibe with a really super heavy riff. It’s a great tune, man. We think it’s gonna go over great live as well.
Alex Obert: You were telling me about Rich Ward earlier, how do you feel he influences you?
Chris Jericho: Well we’ve been working together for so long. I’ve learned a lot about music from Rich as far as phrasing for lyrics. He writes all the melodies for Fozzy and he knows exactly where my voice sounds best and what notes I would hit best. So I think rather than an influence, it’s more of a partnership. We kind of really work in tandem for everything that Fozzy does. Recording, that’s more his thing. Promotion is more my thing. Choosing what tours we accept, we think of that together. That’s the secret of being in band, there’s the songs and the music and that sort of thing, but the secret is more being able to get along and do a little bit of the give-and-take. It’s a good team. If you’re gonna win the Stanley Cup, you’ve got a guy that’s the main goalscorer, you’ve got a guy who’s killing penalties, and both of them have to know and respect the other person’s role in their team to win the game. That’s what we’ve figured out over the years, how to do that.
Alex Obert: With a live show, what’s the secret to being a good frontman?
Chris Jericho: Just a connection with the crowd. People want to have a good time when they come to a show and you have to do everything you can to let them know that it’s okay to have a good time. Some crowds are easier, some crowds are harder, but you have to go the extra mile to get those people to open up and realize that they’re there to have fun. So it’s all about the connection, man. It’s the same whether it’s a Fozzy show or a WWE show, you have to have that connection with the crowd. And when you get that, they’re gonna be more into what you’re doing.
Alex Obert: Who are some of your favorite modern-day frontmen?
Chris Jericho: I think M. Shadows is a great frontman, he does a great job. Corey Taylor’s a very good frontman, he’s not afraid to go the extra mile to get people excited and into what’s going on onstage. The basic tricks of a frontman all boil down to David Lee Roth, Paul Stanley, Mick Jagger, and Freddie Mercury. It’s the same concept. Like I said, not being afraid to be yourself and to go out there and just have a good time, man. And when you have a good time, it rubs off on the crowd. So then they feel the same way. As a frontman, you set the tone for the rest of the show. You set the tone for the vibe of the audience. If you’re kinda a laid-back type of guy fronting a band, that’s probably the type of reaction you’re gonna get. But there’s some people, that’s what they want. Not for us. We want people to go nuts. We want people to chant, “Hey! Hey! Hey 1! 2! 3!”, and just throw their hands in the air. That’s what we want. We’ve gotta put on a show.
Alex Obert: Regarding your live show, would you want to look into releasing a second live album? Since the last live album, Fozzy has released three albums.
Chris Jericho: That live album, we did it about ten years ago, it’s sat in the can for a while until we were finally able to release it. But it wasn’t really a proper album per se. It was recorded over one night. I think it was ten songs. But we would love to do a full Fozzy live album with all the songs that we play and record it over a few nights. Put together the package the way we used to love getting live records too. But I think it’s something that’s not really a plan. Right now is all about Do You Wanna Start A War and the tour behind it. If we can put together a live record, that’s something that’d be fun to do, but definitely not something that’s being planned right now. Right now it’s all about touring and getting War as high as it can possibly get, getting to the next level. And then when this tour cycle’s over, maybe we’ll think about it.
Alex Obert: Who do you hope to tour with after Theory of a Deadman?
Chris Jericho: You know, it really doesn’t matter. We don’t care. When you hear Do You Wanna Start A War, you know how diverse it is. And our touring partners are the same. We can go tour with Shinedown to Steel Panther to Slayer to anybody in between. That’s kinda what we did on our last tour. We went out with Metallica and Shinedown and Godsmack and Soil and Drowning Pool and Steel Panther and Buckcherry, it’s just a real kind of diverse list of bands that you can go out with. And I expect that more the same for this tour. I don’t know it’s smart or lucky or beneficial to us is that we have a very diverse sound. If we wanted to go on tour with All That Remains, we could put together very heavy set. If we wanted to go on tour with Steel Panther, we could put together more of a lighter, pop type of a set. With Bon Jovi, we could do it. Slayer, we could do it too. So it gives us some good choices when it comes to touring time.
Alex Obert: Speaking of various genres, though you’re known for being a huge fan of heavy metal and classic rock, I’m curious about which punk bands you’re into.
Chris Jericho: Never really got too much into punk. I mean I love The Clash, I respect The Ramones, kind of the old classics. There was one punk band in Canada when I was growing up called The Dayglo Abortions. They had some good stuff too. Dayglo kind of turned me onto Dead Kennedys and Jello Biafra, so I got into those band as well. Just more of the traditional seventies/eighties punk. I do like Rancid. I do like NOFX, Shadows turned me on to NOFX. They’re a pretty cool band as well.
Alex Obert: Favorite one-hit wonder?
Chris Jericho: Gerardo, Rico Suave.
Alex Obert: Fozzy gig you wish you could relive?
Chris Jericho: Wow, there’s been a lot of great ones, man. I think Download this year was a great gig, a lot of fun. And our last gig that we just played at the Whisky a Go Go, that was a great one. Anytime you’re playing in a famous place like the Whisky, it’s an honor. It was a sold-out crowd, all of our friends were there, and record company people. It was just a really special night for us.
Alex Obert: Cover you wish that Fozzy did on the first two records?
Chris Jericho: I had originally pitched Loudness, We Could Be Together to Rich. He claimed that we didn’t do it cause the bass player didn’t wanna record it, but I later found out that he didn’t wanna record it. (laughs)
Alex Obert: All-time female musician crush?
Chris Jericho: Probably Stevie Nicks. Just her voice and her looks. Gorgeous voice, gorgeous face.
Alex Obert: Favorite band name?
Chris Jericho: I think probably Anthrax is the coolest heavy metal name of all time. It’s just a great name, it’s not cheesy, it’s not lame. When you think about Megadeth or Metallica or Slayer, when you first hear them, they’re pretty pedestrian, but Anthrax always sounds cool. I think Avenged Sevenfold is a great name as well.
Alex Obert: Favorite album cover?
Chris Jericho: I’m gonna go with Somewhere in Time by Iron Maiden because there’s always clues and allusions to different songs that they have done. I think that there’s twenty five or thirty little tidbits in there that you could find. The clock is 2 minutes to midnight for example, things like that. I remember as a kid just having that record and just looking through to find all the different clues and tipoffs to other songs that they had done on the cover of that album. So I spent a lot of time reading through that.
Alex Obert: What you have to say to readers who are about to discover Fozzy through this album and the upcoming tour?
Chris Jericho: Get ready, man. We’re gonna rip your head off and rock. You’re gonna love it. If Journey and Metallica had a bastard child, it would sound like Fozzy. So if you like Journey, you like Metallica, you’ll like us. If you don’t like all of those bands, then why are you reading this website in the first place?
Alex Obert: Looking forward to the tour starting on September 17th. And I’ll make sure everyone gets that album. Thank you so much for your time.
Chris Jericho: Anytime, man!
Photo Credit goes to C3 Photography