interview by Michael McCarthy
“Can you take the weight of my world,” asks Chis Jericho during the fourth track on Fozzy’s killer new album Judas, “Weight of My World.” If you’re 99% of people, the answer to that question is a definite no. I mean, who among us could handle everything Chris does? Whether he’s kicking ass by playing a well-awarded heel on the WWE or fronting his metal band Fozzy, who’ve only grown more and more popular with each release, he’s a veritable force to be reckoned with. But then he’d have to be not to crack under the pressure. On top of that, he’s written four best-selling autobiographies and hosts a very successful, twice weekly, hour long podcast. And did I mention that he’s a husband and a father to two daughters? Yet he still took the time to talk to us! Needless to say, we are humbled by his kindness and hope you will enjoy reading the following interview in which we chat about Irma, Tom Petty, and, most of all, Fozzy. Hunker-down and read it while listening to some new and classic Fozzy tunes with the volume cranked up to 10.
MM: I listened to your podcast recorded during Irma. I was glad to hear that you were OK. How bad was the devastation in your area?
CJ: It wasn’t too bad, man. I think we got sort of lucky in my area. I think mostly what happened is people lost power for a while and there was flooding, but it wasn’t complete devastation where there were houses blown away or anything along those lines. So, like I said, we got pretty lucky.
MM: You mentioned people talking about how they have to hunker-down when there’s a big weather event, which always cracks me up. What also cracks me up is how when people hunker-down around here in Massachusetts, first they always run out and buy milk and bread and eggs – all things that would perish soon enough if you were hunker-downed for any length of time. Do people grab those first down there as well?
CJ: I think it’s a lot of water and batteries and stuff like that. I’m not sure if it’s milk and eggs. I think a lot of times when you hear reports about how bad things are gonna be that people over-exaggerate. In a good way. I think a lot of times they’ll tell you that it’s worse than it really is so people will take it seriously. But when you see all the water gone and all the gas gone and all the D batteries are gone – what are you gonna do with D batteries, you know? I think it’s just a reaction to the news instilling this panic, but in retrospect when it happened it wasn’t as bad, which is a good problem. So, I’d rather have a bunch of extra water and D batteries and have nothing happen than be like Puerto Rico with all the problems they’re having. There’s much more devastation there.
MM: You mentioned Tom Petty’s passing at the beginning of your latest podcast. Were you a fan of Tom Petty?
CJ: I was a fan of Tom Petty. I think everybody was a fan of Tom Petty. I’ve never heard anyone say that Tom Petty was their favorite band or their favorite artist, but yet everybody loves him. It’s like AC/DC. He’s universal with his appeal. You know, guys like that don’t come around too often so it was a pretty shocking loss for sure.
MM: We recently lost Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell as well. Did you know either of those guys?
CJ: I didn’t. I’d seen Chris in passing at festivals. Even the last festival that he did right before Detroit was in Wisconsin or something like that and we played there at the same time as him. I wasn’t really close to either one of them, but I did see Chris around from time to time.
MM: I usually ask this question at the end of our interviews, but it seems appropriate to ask it now. If you could resurrect any one musician from the dead, who would you bring back?
CJ: I would’ve loved to see what Cliff Burton would’ve done with Metallica in the late ’80s and the ’90s. Obviously, John Lennon is one that you always think about as well, for me, being a Metallica fan – well, I’m a Beatles fan as well – but I think Lennon is the easy answer, but Burton is the more interesting one for me.
MM: If you could resurrect any one wrestler from the dead, who would you bring back?
CJ: Um, that’s pretty hard man. That’s a hard question to answer because I’ve had a lot of friends that have passed away so I don’t want to pick one friend over another. Suffice to say there are a lot of guys that I wish were still around who aren’t with us anymore.
MM: In terms of wrestling, I was going to write a screenplay set in the wrestling world and I interviewed a guy who managed some minor league wrestlers and he was telling me that the word kayfabe was something that would be said if someone who didn’t realize wrestling was scripted at all walked into a room, to alert the other wrestlers to be in character or whatever. Is that how the term is still used today? Because it sounded like it’s used differently on Wikipedia.
CJ: Well, if it’s on Wikipedia then you know it must be true. [Both laugh] Yeah, it’s still around. It’s used in the business in certain situations and different scenarios for sure.
MM: I know Fozzy started almost as a farce with the way it was tied into wrestling with your Mongoose McQueen character and the back story about Japan and stuff. If you knew it was going to become a serious band that would still be around over a decade later, do you think you still would’ve called it Fozzy then?
CJ: I mean, who’s to say? You never really know exactly what’s gonna happen when you do things, but everything happens for a reason. You know, there’s Def Leppard and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Black-Eyed Peas and Metallica. All those names are pretty strange when you first hear them. I mean, Def Leppard? How about Korn? That’s like saying my band’s name is carrot with a k. I just think a lot of different names that people use, which they didn’t think were gonna go very far, become iconic bands. I mean, that’s our name. It’s got character. It stands out. And by far, by far, it’s the easiest name to shout in all of rock ‘n’ roll. Every single show we play, everyone chants “Fozzy!” I’m not even joking. Every single song. So, strange name? Yes. But also the best name because you can’t really chant Rage Against The Machine. But you can chant Fozzy.
MM: Had you ever been in bands prior to Fozzy?
CJ: Yeah, I’ve been in bands since I was 13 years old. My high school band was called Scimitar. I was in a band called Gray Season Ghost. Another band called Black Stone Menace. So, I’ve been playing, like I said, since I was in junior high school.
MM: Had you thought about becoming a serious musician instead of a wrestler at any point?
CJ: Yeah, well, when I was a kid I wanted to be in a rock band and I wanted to be a wrestler. Those were the two goals that I had. I decided to do both.
MM: How does the songwriting work in Fozzy? Who does what?
CJ: Well, I write the lyrics and my partner Rich Ward writes the music. And we just kind of bounce things back and forth. It works well that way.
MM: Are any of Fozzy’s songs about wrestling?
CJ: No. Two completely separate things. Sometimes people have confusion on that. It’s the same way Jared Leto wins an Oscar then plays the Hollywood Bowl with Thirty Seconds to Mars. It’s never been a wrestling band. I just happen to be a wrestler who plays in a rock ‘n’ roll band as well. And I think that’s a success as well, having a number one single on the charts on satellite radio and top ten on active rock radio, 10 million views on Youtube. You can see that people love this band. Either your band is good or your band is bad. It’s like getting [wrestling] belts – it’s pretty gratifying.
MM: Is Judas the most personal Fozzy album you’ve released?
CJ: I think so. The lyrics are really personal and the songs are very much more about emotions and about feelings and human relations. Some of our older songs were more about the imagery and the lyrics were kind of more mythical and mystical and that sort of thing, whereas these are more emotional and based on personal experiences.
MM: On the song Judas you sing about pushing everyone you love away, becoming a Judas in your mind. Have you ever gone through a period like that in your own life where you turned on everybody?
CJ: Well, that’s not necessarily literal. I think one of the reasons “Judas” is so popular is that people can relate to the lyrics. Making the wrong decision. Knowing you’re doing the wrong thing, but you do it anyways. That could be pushing someone you love away. It could be having that extra drink at the bar. You’re gonna throw up, but you do it anyways. Or having that extra donut that’s gonna make you fat all day. Or cheating on your wife. You know it’s the wrong decision. You do it anyway. So, that’s the concept of what “Judas” is all about.
MM: Who does the rap part on the song “Three Days in Jail”?
CJ: That’s a guy called Hyro da Hero. A guy that we met in England. We were doing some shows over there. That song, we thought it would be cool to have a rap part in it. So, we gave him a call and he turned out a really cool part. It takes the song to a different place. It’s a little bit of a left turn, but we love doing that. We love The Beatles and Guns ‘N’ Roses, bands that have no problem changing up their style when the situation calls for it. Yeah, it’s an interesting part that really brings that song to life to me.
MM: It sounds like there’s another vocalist singing some lead with you on “Wolves At Bay.” Is there or am I imagining that?
CJ: No, Rich and I sing together quite a bit. Rich and I trade vocals on the song like we do on every record.
MM: When Fozzy started you were like a classic metal band doing all those covers and you had a real traditional metal style, but now you have a much more modern metal sound. Was that change deliberate or more of a natural evolution.
CJ: It’s just like a natural evolution. Like David Bowie, he would change his style from time to time. We never tried to be an ’80s metal band or a modern metal band. I think what we are is a very heavy rock band with a lot of melody and a lot of groove with a lot of different influences. We love Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and we love Pantera and we love Kool and the Gang and The Beatles and Hall & Oates. Those elements will drift in and out of your songwriting depending on what mood you’re in. You kind of find a vibe and a groove that you like to work with and go with it and if it sounds good, keep it.
MM: Do you think you’ll ever do another old school heavy metal album again?
CJ: Well, I don’t think we ever tried to. Like I said, a song like “Wolves At Bay” kind of a thrasy type of ’80s thrash type song, whatever that means. There will always be elements of that in everything we do. We just do Fozzy records. We don’t sit down and try to make it modern or ’80s or polka or whatever that may be. It just turns out the way it turns out. We have no problem trying different things.
MM: You mentioned covering The Monkees’ “Last Train to Clarksville” on your porn star podcast. Are you guys actually doing that one? I ask because I’m actually a huge fan of The Monkees.
CJ: Yeah. I mean, we’ve have done “Clarksville.” We played it in Clarksville. It was fun and we did it the next day and then at soundcheck. And that was fun. It was fun to do because we actually were in Clarksville.
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