AS a former professional wrestler, Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho is used to talking big, but this time he really means it when he says new album Do You Wanna Start A War is the best of his band’s 15-year career. The metallers’ sixth album is due for release on July 25th, and Jericho has high hopes.
Your album’s about to come out. How are you feeling?
It’s always a cool time for you guys or for fans, but when you’re in the band and recording it, you hear the songs over and over and over again. From the writing stage to demo stage to tracking stage to editing stage to re-tracking to listening to putting the track list together and everything, we’ve heard the record hundreds of times. We think it’s the best record we’ve ever done. Now, a lot of bands say that and this is the way you should feel, but it’s always, shall we say, intimidating to wait and see what does everybody else thinks, and that’s kind of where we’re at right now. It’s a cool time to be at, because you make records for yourself and we did the best record that we think feels best for us. Hopefully people agree.
Why was ‘Lights Go Out’ chosen as the first single?
It’s one of the best songs on the record, has a great hook and is a little bit different. It has a little bit of a dance vibe to it. If Fall Out Boy and Black Sabbath had a bastard child, it would sound like ‘Lights Go Out’. You could hear it at a strip club and you could hear it at a Slayer concert and anywhere in between. The reason why it fits perfectly for us is that it’s still dark, but it’s got a groove that’s sexy and sleek. It’s a really cool song that we thought was one of the stand-outs. We wanted to start this record – even though it’s an old-school record like [Def Leppard’s]Hysteria or Appetite For Destruction, where there’s five or six singles on it, we wanted to start off with something a bit different, so when people hear it they go ‘wow, I never expected that from Fozzy’ or ‘we never knew Fozzy sounded like that’. It’s a song that opens doors, because it’s going to appeal to long-term fans and it’s going to make a whole lot of new fans, and that’s kind of what it’s all about.
How has the new material been going down live?
We’ve been playing ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’ and ‘Lights Go Out’. ‘Lights’ is making tracks on radio and we’ve been opening our sets with ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’; a song that people have never heard before. That’s always an interesting concept, but we can see people slowly getting into it because it’s such a hooky, catchy song and by the second or third chorus they’re singing it and they know it. I’m really excited to hear what people think when they hear the song for real; not just on a grainy, scratchy YouTube clip or just from experiencing it in the moment live. People might like it even better than ‘Lights Go Out’.
In a recent interview you said Fozzy have been playing both big arenas and small club shows. Do you have a preference?
It’s always been the way for us. Our motto is “10 or 10,000”; we play the exact same show whether there’s ten people there or whether there’s 10,000 people there. Any band will tell you this; it doesn’t matter if it’s Avenged Sevenfold or the local pub band playing across the street from you right now. Sometimes crowds are loud and crazy and sometimes they’re not, and it doesn’t matter. You have to be able to go with the flow, work that crowd and get them into it as much as you possibly can. Some nights you play in front of bigger crowds and some nights it’s smaller crowds; it doesn’t matter. You should never punish the people who’ve showed up. They’ve paid their money no matter if there were thousands or dozens of others with them. You can’t phone in a show, because every show matters, and we’re in the big leagues now.
Are you keen to throw your hat into the ring for Soundwave next year?
We’d love to play Soundwave. We played Soundwave in 2013 and it was one of the best tours of our career. We had great crowds; we were one of destination go-to bands every day. It was funny, because I always pay attention to what the crowd is like before you played and what the crowd is like after you played. It was very interesting, because although we were on early, you could tell people were coming to check us out because the band before had not a lot of people, then we played and there was six, seven, eight thousand people. In Sydney, eight thousand people came to see us and then I’d go out 20 or 30 minutes later, and the next band was playing in front of dozens of people. That’s when I started to realise we’re a destination band; people would come to see Fozzy and then go on to the next band. When you get that sort of reputation and response, you know you’re making headway. We’d love to do Soundwave again; hopefully it works out. If it doesn’t, we’ll come back in another capacity, because Australia has always been a great country for us. We’ve been touring there since 2005, and you can just see how the band has been growing and evolving every single tour, to the point where we toured Australia twice last year. I’d say that’s a pretty rare thing, to be able to do that. I love Australia; it’s a great rock and roll country, it has great fans, beautiful girls, awesome food. What more could you want? Book me now man; I’ll come play at your house.
You’ve had a few line-up changes over the years, but what makes the relationship between you and Rich Ward work so well?
It’s just chemistry and understanding. We’re lifers, man. We understand what it takes to make it. In all fairness, there were three of us who started; me, Rich and Frank Fontsere. Being in a partnership with two other guys for fifteen years is a pretty cool thing. Obviously everybody wishes they could be U2 or ZZ Top or Rush and have the same line-up their entire career, but everybody’s line-up changes. There was a time in the early ’90s where Iron Maiden had only two original members as well; Steve Harris and Dave Murray. And to this day they only have two. For us, the core unit is Ward, Jericho and Fontsere and it’s just one of those things. It’s like being in a marriage. If you’re going to make it in a long-term relationship you have to compromise and weather the good and the bad, and it’s the same as being in a band. It’s just that instead of being with one guy, you’re with two or three or four, and you don’t get to have sex with them, so there’s not even any fun in that respect either.
Will you be pretty much be touring for the rest of the year?
Yeah, just getting ready to release the record, getting ready to release the video and playing a bunch of radio festivals here in the States. Then we’ll start hitting the road in earnest, starting with the States and then heading overseas early next year. We did 17 countries last time, and I expect to beat that easily with this record.
DO YOU WANNA START A WAR BY FOZZY IS OUT JULY 25.
For The AU Review