From wrestling world champ to heavyweight rock star
Chris Jericho and Fozzy ready for Uproar Tour
The Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Tour is the biggest rock festival every summer. This year is no different with a lineup that features Shinedown, Godsmack, Staind, Adelita’s Way, POP, Deuce, Redlight King, Mindset Evolution, In This Moment, Thousand Foot Krutch, Candlelight Red and Greek Fire, along with a few others.
The two-stage tour will play the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion north of Houston on Saturday, Sept. 15, with gates opening at noon. A few tickets still remain ($89.25-$25.25) via Ticketmaster.
One band ready to make headlines on the tour is Fozzy. In case you know or don’t know, Fozzy’s lead vocalist is WWE superstar Chris Jericho, also known as Y2J. Before you roll your eyes or jump to a judgment, know that this is no novelty act.
Formed in 1999, the band originally sang cover songs of other rock artists and recorded two albums worth. Then, lights began to shine brightly as they recorded three original albums, and they are touring now in support of their fifth record — Sin and Bones on Century Media.
The Examiner spoke with the man himself, Chris Jericho, about the method behind the Fozzy madness.
How does it feel to be included on the biggest rock festival of the summer?
We are very elated about this tour. We think it’s been a long time coming and we’ve put in a lot of hard work to make it to Uproar. This is the biggest tour we have ever done in the United States. We’ve done a lot of touring, and our last tour — we did 60 different countries. But never an official tour from coast to coast, nor at this level. Very excited, but more importantly, we are ready for this. A few years ago, we may not have been ready for this, but we are ready to kick ass and be a highlight of this tour every single night. A lot of people that are fans of Fozzy, a lot that may not heard us, or have no idea about us will have a chance to see and hear us play. At the end of the day, we want to be the band that everyone is talking about.
Five studio albums, and the first two were cover albums. Then came the first original album with All That Remains. Why was then a good time for original material?
The cover thing kind of came about very strange. We were signed right off the bat with Megaforce Records, which was owned by Jon Zazula. He published Metallica in 1983, and with Anthrax in the early ’80s. He loved the concept of the cover record and cover band. After a few records, we knew we wanted to continue as a band and we knew we had to move forward and do our own thing. So, that’s what we decided to do. It’s almost like the two tales of Fozzy. It’s like the two tales of Pantera. The original Pantera started almost as a glam band with the makeup and puffy hair, and then there’s the Pantera that became legendary when they changed their style and look.
Let’s talk about the new record Sin and Bones.
Chasing the Grail (previous album) was a huge record for us. That is where we really honed in on what the Fozzy sound is, which is very heavy (guitar) riffs with very melodic vocals. It’s like if you took Metallica and crossed them with Journey or Coldplay. When it was time to do Sin and Bones, we signed a really big record deal with Century Media, so we knew we had to take things to the next level. We knew there would be different styles of songs on the record, but we wanted them to have the same tone. We wanted this to be Fozzy’s Black (Metallica) album. If you listen to the Black album, all 12 songs fit a certain vibe. It’s not a concept record, but there is a cohesiveness to that album that Metallica hadn’t had before, and that’s what we wanted. We wanted to tell a story through 10 songs, and I think we achieved that.
Your single ‘Sandpaper’ features M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold. How did that come about?
I was a big fan of Avenged Sevenfold when their album City of Evil came out in 2005. When ‘The Rev.’ (James Sullivan, drummer) passed away and M. Shadows took over on drums, I heard he was a big fan of wrestling, and we met and became very close. We played with them last year when we replaced Sevendust on the Uproar Tour for a week of shows and we got really close to Avenged, and they became fans of Fozzy, as well. When doing ‘Sandpaper,’ I thought it would be cool to have him on the chorus and pre-chorus. I called him up, listened to the idea and loved it. He put a lot of time of time and effort into that song. He went above and beyond to be involved to the point in doing the video with us. It’s a mutual admiration society as well as being a close friend of mine, so it was a natural fit.
Being a WWE superstar, was it hard to be taken seriously in the music world?
Absolutely. That’s one of the reasons we have gotten as far as we have because we have earned the respect of people who knew this was real. We will continue to do Fozzy as long as we possibly can. The lineup we have is the best lineup we have ever had — all across the board. When people heard the album, All That Remains, yeah, album of the year, whatever, then they heard Chasing the Grail, and people began asking, ‘Are these guys for real?’ And now we have Sin and Bones. If someone keeps knocking on the door, you are going to answer it. If the person knocking on your door is a hot Playboy model, you are going to say, ‘Why in the hell didn’t answer the door earlier?’ We know what we can do, and we believe in ourselves. We aren’t going anywhere. When people in other bands – and fans – start understanding that, then they respect and realize that these guys had to go the extra mile to do this, which made us a better band. We are no different than 30 Seconds to Mars. Huge band. Who’s the lead singer? Jared Leto. What does he do? He’s an actor. Is he an actor when he’s on stage? No. He’s good at those two things and made a career out of those two things. It’s the same thing I am doing with Fozzy.
Fozzy is not just you and a bunch of guys. You’ve got a great lineup with you.
They are very good musicians. You won’t find a better groove drummer in the business than Frank Fontsere. You won’t find a better rhythm guitar player (than) Rich Ward. His tone is legendary. Zakk Wylde loves him and sends him guitars in the mail, just because he likes him. Matt Tuck from Bullet for My Valentine worships him. Paul Di Leo has played bass with Adrenaline Mob, Paul Simon, Billy Joel to Ace Frehley. When Billy Joel needs a touring bassist, Paul gets the call. Billy Grey, our guitar player who has been with us for years, is ready to make a big name for himself. I’ve been playing in bands since I was 12. I didn’t wake up one day and say I wanted to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band. I wanted to do this way before I got into pro wrestling, and I’ll still be playing when I am 62 years old. I’ll be the guy up the frickin’ Applebees. You know, the one sitting in the corner with a guitar.
You get the same rush on stage with the band as you do at WWE events such as ‘Wrestlemania’ and ‘Raw?’
I have the ultimate passion for music. I couldn’t and wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t. A couple of years ago, I would do a WWE show, then a couple hours later, I would do a Fozzy show right after in same town. One night, I worked a WWE show in Madison Square Garden in New York City in front of 18,000 people. Then went to play the Tribeca Rock Club in front of about 100 people, but I had the same passion of doing both. A lot of people can’t find one job they love. I have been fortunate enough to find two that I love. I have nothing but high expectations for the future for the band.