An Interview with Chris Jericho of Fozzy

An Interview With Fozzy

By Carl Marsh

Having held a total of 35 wrestling championships, including 8 World titles and 10 Intercontinental Championships with the likes of WWE, WCW and AEW: the legend that is Chris Jericho has also been the frontman for rock band FOZZY for the past 20+ years and they are coming to the UK in February for their Spotlight on UK headline tour.

How did the band originally come about?
Chris: It’s just like any band; you start playing covers and figuring out what your style and vibe are. There were basically three stages to the band. There was the beginning from 2000 to 2004, where we did covers. Then, from 2005 to 2010, we did some original stuff, but in 2010, we said, “Why don’t we go full-time and really give this a go?”
In 2016, we started getting played on Rock Radio here in the States, which is a huge deal. And that took the band to a completely different level to where we’re now, a mainstream rock and roll band with seven top 20 hits in a row. So, you can see the band’s growth from the popularity and mainstream success we’ve had over the last five or six years. Twenty-three years on, we’re bigger than we’ve ever been. And I don’t think a lot of bands can say that. So, it’s been a cool journey for us to be where we’re at right here in 2023, about to be in 2024.

Fozzy seems to get bigger every year, current track, ‘Spotlight’, is flying up the chart listings as we speak!
Chris: I think it hit the top 20 in four or five weeks, which is the quickest we’ve ever got in the top 20. It’s different in the UK, but radio play is so important and means so much in the States. In the UK, we are getting ready to do our biggest UK headlining tour ever. So, we continue to grow in the UK as well, which is very important to us because we’ve been coming to the UK since 2005 or so, and it’s always been like a second home to us. We are always very, very cognisant of touring regularly in the UK and playing as many places as possible. It’s not just always London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. It’s important to go everywhere in the UK that you can because we’ve got so many fans around the entire territory.

An Interview With Fozzy

What differences have you found between the UK and US concert fans?
Chris: Every city has a vibe to it, and that’s anywhere in the world. And when you’re talking about the UK, instantly you’ll think, okay, Glasgow in Scotland’s permanently insane, or in the States, Chicago is always crazy, or Sydney, Australia, is always an awesome time. Within 30 seconds, you’ll know whether the crowd is going to be hot or not. Welsh crowds are always great, too, but it’s cool to play different cities other than just Cardiff. The most important thing as a live performer is connecting with the audience, hooking them, and ensuring they have a great time right out of the gate. And when you set that tone from the show’s beginning, people know what they’re getting into. At a Fozzy show, right at the start, we expect a lot and give a lot, too, people know they’re coming for a ride, and it will be a good one. So wear a helmet, put on your seatbelt and get ready to rock!

You’ve had a bit of a career [massive understatement] in wrestling, you joined the WWF [World Wrestling Federation], now WWE [World Wrestling Entertainment, at the end of 1999, yet had your first World Title only 18 months later!
Chris: I might have actually been quicker than that. I think I had the title for about 20 minutes, just six months into my run in the WWF/WWE. [Laughs]

In that short time, you’d gone from a debut match into a world championship match, defeating Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock (Hollywood megastar Dwayne Johnson) on the same night in 2001, thus becoming the first Undisputed WWF Champion. What’s the secret to your success?
Chris: It probably took me nine years to get to that point, I toured the world before that, got so much experience which is the most important thing. There’s no secret because wrestling is not up to you. It’s up to the promoters and the people in charge and what they want you to do. So, for them to decide that I was at the level to at least try giving the world title to shows that I knew how to connect with the audience, that’s the most important thing with wrestling. It’s not about the matches or about anything more than having a character that people can get behind.

There is that connection with the audience when you’re wrestling. You can also bring that into the music because you have that rockstar persona as a wrestler whilst being a rockstar in real life.
Chris: Absolutely. It’s a rockstar persona in wrestling and a wrestling persona in rock’ n’ roll. They’re all reciprocal. When I first started (wrestling), I wasn’t the biggest guy in 1990, but I realised I could have the biggest personality. I looked at Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, David Lee Roth, and these great frontmen who can control the crowd and have had them in the palm of their hands at all times. So, that’s basically what wrestling is: whether you’re a good guy or a bad guy, you want people to react to what you’re doing at the highest level. That’s the basic concept, bottom line, and secret to making it in show business, whether you’re an actor, singer, wrestler, comedian, news broadcaster, or whatever it is. When you’re in front of a crowd, you have to connect with them and ensure they are interested in and get behind what you’re doing. If you can do that, you’ll always have a gig because people will be excited to hear what you’re going to do and be involved in what you have going on. And that’s the most important thing about the whole show business.

When you signed for AEW [All Elite Wrestling] a couple of years ago, was there any hesitation from yourself about signing a contract with them, as they were a brand new outfit, in essence, taking on the big boys at WWE?
Chris: I’ve always believed in myself. There was hesitation to start Fozzy or get into pro wrestling in the first place at 19 years old when I did. When you believe in yourself, you know you can always count on your instincts. And for me, I just felt that was the right thing to do, I felt that AEW had a real shot to do something big. And we did! Here we are, less than four years into our existence, putting 80,000 people in Wembley Stadium. And we’re returning in August [2024], and that’s just from the UK standpoint. There are so many huge things that we’ve done, and so many huge things that we have left to do, but the bottom line is we took a chance. We created something great, very quickly, and continue to build and grow on it.

You can see Fozzy at Bradford Nightrain on 17th February. Tickets are available here

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