2017 was the year Fozzy have been pining for since their inception in 1999. The year that they capitalized on great popularity and critical acclaim from their 2014 album ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’ and made everyone in the rock and metal world notice that they aren’t here to mess around. 2017 was the year of ‘Judas’, an album that that took Fozzy to new heights, thanks to its title track, which has amassed over 20 million views since its release in May last year, and went to number 1 on numerous charts worldwide. So how has the band reacted to the booming success from the past year? How do they top it? As KYS’s resident hard rock wrestling guy, I jumped on the line to legendary frontman Chris Jericho to chat all things Fozzy, their upcoming Australian tour and a tiny bit of wrestling!
After five long years Fozzy are making their way back to Australia, this time with a new album in your holster, are you guys excited to play the new material to Australian audiences and see how it’s received in a live setting here?
We’re super excited man. We’ve had a great history in Australia, or “Fozztralia” as we call it (laughs). The first time we came was in 2005, then in 2010 and twice in 2013, but it’s hard to believe that it’s been 5 whole years since we last came. But we’re really stoked because there’s been a lot of great stuff that’s happened since then, and obviously Judas is the biggest record of our career, it even got to number 1 on the Australian iTunes Charts when it first came out, so we just want to keep that momentum going. Our current live show is great, the band is playing so well, it’s a great, energetic fun show, so it’s perfect for the Australians because we know you guys like to have a good time at the rock show. So we just can’t wait for November.
Looking through Spotify, Judas has over 9 million streams, which is insane. Was that the song that, when you wrote it, you knew it’d be a hit or was it a surprise when it took off?
You never know for sure. When you write a record you should put together your best songs, and for us what we wanted to do with this album was do an album, that if it was 1987 and the record company wanted to release 6 singles like they did on Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’, or ‘Appetite For Destruction” or INXS’ “Kick”, we wanted to do an album where we had 10 or 11 songs that we know can be released as singles. So when it came down to choosing what was going to be the first single, all I knew for sure was that Judas was what the record was going to be called and that it was going to kick off the album. So I said “this song is how we need to reintroduce Fozzy to the world after 3 years”, I really believed Judas was the one. One it was released I had no idea how it was going to blow up. On YouTube, we had 1 million views in a week. It was the right song, in the right place, at the right time for the right band.
We took 2016 off by design. We didn’t do anything. We didn’t do anything at all. So by the time we come, people will be like “it’s the return of Fozzy” and we release possibly the best song we’ve ever done. And now we have a song that is the calling card Fozzy song, like “Enter Sandman” or “Pour Some Sugar On Me” or “Stairway To Heaven”. I’m not comparing it to those songs, but for our band, it is THE song that everybody knows, and once you get to that, it takes you to a completely different level.
Continuing with the song Judas, I was in Japan when you used it in the Tokyo Dome at WrestleKingdom as your entrance song, and then months later we saw it used on WWE programming, as well as Ice Hockey and football telecasts. When you wrote the song, did you have it in mind that it can work well as a kick-ass sports pump up song?
You never know man! You can never pick a hit single. If you told me that in anyone in the world said that ‘Chop Suey’ by System Of A Down was going to be a hit single, I’d call you a fucking liar (laughs). You just never know what’s going to resonate with people. And with Judas, it’s simple, but the riff is heavy and there are about three hooks in that chorus, one hook after another. The lyrics are something everyone can resonate with, so I don’t like to analyze it too much, I just enjoy the fact that its a huge song for us.
I will say this though, it’s a great ring entrance song, that’s why I wanted to use it in the Tokyo Dome, because we’ve been trying to go to Japan for years, but we’ve never been able to get there (for whatever reason). So I said “Listen, I’ve got 50,000 people watching me walk to the ring. I’ll make sure I’ll take 3 minutes and 35 seconds to get to the ring, so at least I know people are hearing this song.
And then the other week I was watching the Stanley Cup playoffs for Ice Hockey here in the States, and in between plays they were playing Judas, and I was like “holy shit, that’s my song! Quick, rewind and record it!”. It’s so crazy to see, and as I said, once you get that elusive hit single, it takes you to a completely different level.
So you met guitarist Rich Ward in 1998 due to his band Stuck Mojo’s affiliation with WCW, which means Fozzy are nearing their 20th year as a band. Not many bands hit that 20-year milestone these bands, so to you, how has Fozzy gotten to 2 decades together, rather successfully?
Well yeah, we’ve been playing together for over 18 years, but it was really only in 2010 when Rich and I sat down and said: “let’s push this to the next level, let’s take this as far as we can go”. So that was when I stopped wrestling full-time with the WWE, Rich basically stopped Stuck Mojo and a few other projects and we went full time with Fozzy. 2012, Skin and Bones came out which was a huge step forward for us. Then in 2014, Do You Wanna A War was released and “Lights Go Out” was our first top 30 single.
But it wasn’t until Judas when things really got to the next level. But when they did, you had a band who were ready for it. So all that leads up and happened for a reason, and once Judas hit, it was a like a raging bull just waiting for the gates to open. Waiting for that chain to break and the bull kicks that fuckin gate open, runs out and causes destruction.
And that’s the thing, I’m talking to you from Cadott, Wisconsin, yeah I don’t know where it is either you’ll have to Google map it (laughs), but we played a festival here and there was nobody on this bill, and this isn’t me being a dick, that can captivate an audience from note one to the last note like we do, and that’s something that we take great pride in and that’s something that I believe has helped us progress over the last 20 years.
As mentioned before, Fozzy are coming back to Australia in November what can we expect in your live show? Is it any different to what we last saw at Soundwave in 2013?
Firstly, I loved Soundwave. Five massive stadium shows where all the bands traveled together felt like some kind of crazy fuckin’ psychedelic summer camp. But with our own shows, what we do is exactly what we’ve always done, which is make sure that people have a good time. We know it costs money to go to a rock n roll show, we know there’s a lot of issues in the world, but when you walk into a Fizzy show, there’s no bullshit politics, let’s just have a good fuckin’ time man. Chant “Fozzy”, drink some beer, show your boobs if you’re a girl or a guy, I don’t care. As long as you’re having a good time.
We leave everything on the stage because we want people to tell their friends, whether they saw one concert last year, or one hundred concerts last year, that Fozzy was one of their favorites. And that’s what it’s all about man. I remember what it was like to see a show when I was a kid and I saw bands I was excited about who didn’t go that extra mile. Or I saw bands who I didn’t know, who gave the fans all they had and now I’m a lifelong fan because that’s infectious and that’s very very important to the fans.
There’s a lot of shit going on in the world, a lot of angst, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going to a rock show and having a smile on your face and going “you know what? That is a good time”. I don’t care if it’s the 80s, the 60s, the 50s or 2018, a good show and a fun show is exactly what everyone needs, no matter what year it is. The ultimate trophy at a Fozzy show is the guy who comes in with his arms crossed and stands at the back of the room, but they leave the show chanting “Fozzy”. Or you walk in going “There is no way I will be chanting for Fozzy” but suddenly, you’re possessed by the spirit of the Fozz.
Well, Chris, that’s the best way to leave this, thank you for your time and we can’t wait to see Fozzy crush it in Australia in November!
Thank you for your time too, man. We are looking forward to playing these shows, it’s going to be a great time.
Fozzy! Fozzy! Fozzy! Oi! Oi! Oi!
FOZZY Judas Rising Australian & NZ Tour Dates:
Wednesday 7th November AUCKLAND The Studio
Friday 9th November MELBOURNE Max Watts
Saturday 10th November SYDNEY Manning Bar
Tuesday 13th November ADELAIDE The Gov
Wednesday 14th November BRISBANE The Triffid
Tickets: On Sale Wednesday 27th June at 9:00am