They say it is hard to have it all but wrestler/musician Chris Jericho seems to disprove that age-old theory. There have been some sports people over the years who have gone into a music career once their sporting career has ended, but that isn’t the case for Jericho. During a wrestling career that has seen him win a number of championships and wrestled right around the world, Jericho has also held down the lead singer role for hard rock outfit Fozzy (which started out as Fozzy Osbourne).
Jericho recently took time out of his busy schedule to chat to Heavy Mag about Fozzy’s latest album, and he tells us the secret to his career is never actively juggling both his career as a wrestler and his career as a musician.
“It hasn’t been that hard because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid,” he admits. “I always wanted to be in a rock band, and I always wanted to be a wrestler. I’ve never done both at the same time; it’s always one or the other. I’ve done full time with Fozzy and then gone back wrestling, but it would be crazy to try and do both at the same time… and I wouldn’t even want to try. When I was thirteen I started playing in bands, but before that I started liking bands like The Beatles and then moved onto Ozzy and Metallica, but yeah when I was in high school I was always in high school bands and then even when I started wrestling I was still recording music. I always knew that is something that I wanted to do, but wrestling ended up coming first and then music second.”
With Fozzy recording seven albums over nearly twenty years I ask Jericho what he feels has been the secret to the band lasting and he says it can be summed up with two words. “Quality and diversity,” he says. “We never put out anything that we don’t think is our absolute best and every show we play we play it like it is our last. We don’t care if it is a crowd of 10 or a crowd of 10,000 we know how to connect with our audience and we write great songs. At the bottom line it is all about the songs. We’ve had great songs in the past but we’ve really noticed that ‘Judas’ has opened a lot of doors for us. I think we just keep on improving over the years, it doesn’t stop, we believed in ourselves and knew that we were just as good as the biggest bands in the world. Sometimes you can say that but if you say that but don’t believe it then it isn’t going to last. It might sound egotistically or like you’re grand-standing but you’re not. You put us on stage with anybody and we’ll go toe-to-toe with them.”
Jericho is right. Fozzy has shown time and time again that they can match it with the best, over the years they have toured with the likes of KISS and Slash, but he says one of the highlights for them was getting to share a stage with Metallica. “We came down to Australia to tour with Metallica,” he says. “That was a huge thing for us because their fans were there to see them and as a support band, you are almost like a hindrance or annoyance at first because they are there to see their favourite band. But we always see that as a challenge. We like to see people suddenly unfold their arms and start chanting ‘FOZZY, FOZZY’ which is by far the easiest band name in rock ‘n’ roll to chant, you have your work cut out for you when you are the support band but it’s a challenge, and we enjoy it.”
He is also quick to explain to me that they went about things a little differently this time with this album. “Normally Rich and I work on all the songs ourselves, but this time we brought in an outside producer,” he explains. “We decided that they would have the final say and the final decision on the songs and everything like that. It was a little hard giving the reigns to somebody else but we learnt a lot from each other and I think it made a big difference with the songs and it made a big difference in the final record, and it was an awesome experience. When you go from being King of the Castle to suddenly having to ask permission to do things it can be hard at first and the end result is the best record that we have ever done.”
Jericho also admits that there were a lot of different things inspiring him to write songs this time around as well “There were so many things,” he says. “I even wrote a song about my childhood home, there is some dark stuff on there some emotional stuff, but I think it is all relatable. I think that is why ‘Judas’ is such a big hit because everyone seems to be able to relate to those lyrics about betraying yourself. Whether it be cheating on your girlfriend or something else, you know that it is the wrong decision, but you can’t help but make it, and I think that everybody can relate to that.”
With the new album having so many great tracks on it the band had a tough decision to make about ‘Judas’ being the first single and Jericho talks us through the process. “We did have a debate about it (which track should be the first single) because we knew that we had so many good tracks on there,” he says. “We had so many tracks to choose from and ‘Judas’ wasn’t actually the original choice for first single. I think it was always my first choice, but there was other choices as well so there was a bit of a debate at first. But I think we made the right decision because ‘Judas’ is opening so many doors for us right now. You never know what a song is going to do. We’ve had successful songs in the past, songs that I think should have gone higher on the charts but ‘Judas’ was just the right song at the right time with the right video and it has just steamrolled through everything. You can sit back and try to analyse it or just enjoy it and that’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t really care why it has become so successful all that matters is that is has and it is still growing and still building and it is really gratifying. It’s years and years of us working our asses off and we’re proud that we have got this far.”
Judas is out now.