“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a wrestler and I wanted to be in a rock band.”
It’s an inspirational and impressive thing when someone is able to turn their dream into a reality once, yet alone do this twice. Whether in the ring as a professional wrestler or touring with heavy metal band Fozzy, it’s no secret that bestselling author and podcast host Chris Jericho is a man of many talents.
While touring in support of Fozzy’s sixth studio album Do You Wanna Start a War, we had the opportunity of giving Chris Jericho a call to discuss not having recording rules, why they covered ABBA, recording with Michael Starr of Steel Panther, what he does on tour, Game of Thrones, and achieving the “impossible”. Here’s what he had to say:
AMBY: Hey Chris, welcome to our site and thanks for speaking with me today. I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time so it’s a real pleasure speaking with you.
Chris Jericho: Oh cool. It’s my pleasure. Thank you.
AMBY: Fozzy’s latest album Do You Wanna Start a War premiered at #54 on the Billboard 200 chart, marking the band’s best-selling first week ever. Congratulations! How do you feel about the album’s success so far?
Chris Jericho: Anytime you’re doing a record, you’re always a little bit worried about how it’s going to do and how people are going to react to it because you put a lot of time and effort into it. In the back of your head, you could be thinking that it’s the best thing you’ve ever done… and it’s gratifying when people agree with you. Coming in at #54 is the highest we’ve ever had. It’s a real cool feeling after all of the hard work. It feels like it all paid off.
AMBY: You’ve been both singing and wrestling a long time and have obviously been inspired by a lot of people throughout your career. When it came to recording Do You Wanna Start a War, who were your biggest inspirations?
Chris Jericho: The only rule we had when we were doing War was to not have any rules. We thought, “let’s just go into the studio and write great songs and not think about if one is too heavy or too poppy or dancey”. You talk about influences and look at a band like Queen, for example – they would put out a record and it would have a heavy metal song, a pop song, a rock song, a disco song, a balled. It was great because it was Queen and every song was good. That’s kind of what we wanted to do; we didn’t want to worry about a certain genre, just good songwriting and good songs and knowing that if Chris Jericho is singing on it and Rich Ward is playing guitar on it, it’s going to sound like Fozzy. We wanted to do something different, and that’s what we did.
AMBY: Speaking of something different, there’s an ABBA cover on the record where you shared your rendition of SOS. When I first heard that you had covered this on the record, I had no idea what to expect, but it’s a great cover. What inspired you to cover that specific song and put that on the album?
Chris Jericho: That’s definitely one that everybody is talking about. A lot of the tunes are getting a lot of coverage, but SOS seems to be the one everyone is interested in because I don’t think that people would ever expect it, and that’s why we did it. We were backstage after a show in Germany and I had my iPod on shuffle… then that song came on. The whole band were thinking how it could be a really cool song to cover. It was kind of a song that was so out of the box that we could make it into our own. It was a really cool example of doing something different and having no rules.
AMBY: The album features guest-vocalist Michael Starr of Steel Panther on the track Tonite. I’ve had the opportunity of interviewing him before, and between the two of you, you both have an excellent sense of humour. Were there any funny stories that happened in the studio?
Chris Jericho: The funniest thing is that you don’t have to be sitting in a studio together to record a song. What happened was we were touring with Steel Panther in Australia last December… they’re all top notch musicians but are also comedic and fun. He said that he wanted to sing on the next Fozzy record, and to have someone of that stature want to do something on our record, we immediately tried to find a song. Tonite was the perfect song for his voice and is a real power-pop/Cheap Trick on steroids kind of tune. We sent him some tracks and he sent some back to us from his studio at home and that’s kind of how we worked on it. We weren’t all sitting in the studio snorting coke off a hooker’s ass or anything.
AMBY and Chris Jericho: [laughs]
Chris Jericho: It ended up being an amazing performance and a great song. It was one of the highlights of creating the record, for me.
AMBY: In support of the record’s release, Fozzy shared the main stage at Download Festival as part of the Lights Go Out tour. What was that experience like for you? I know you were all very excited to be playing in front of 40, 000 people.
Chris Jericho: We’ve played Download three times and I’ve kind of judged the progress of the band each time we’re playing. We started out on the smaller stage, then we moved to the second stage, and now we played the main stage for the first time. We played fairly early – at noon – but there were a lot of Fozzy fanatics; they were chanting our name and singing along to the songs. Anytime you get to play a festival, there are people who know who you are and then people who learn who you are. It’s always a blast playing festivals for us and seeing people walk in as Fozzy virgins and leaving as Fozzy fans. That’s why festivals are so important.
AMBY: You’re constantly on the road in both of your professions. What are your must-have items to keep sane when you travel?
Chris Jericho: Definitely headphones because you need something to kind of shut out the outside noise. Then I’d say a good book or a good TV series to watch – right now it’s Game of Thrones for me and I have the next season all queued up [laughs].
AMBY: It’s such a good show. I can’t wait for the next season to come out.
Chris Jericho: Don’t tell me anything! I’m only on season three, so don’t spoil anything.
AMBY: [laughs] I won’t, don’t worry. Do you have a favourite character from the show?
Chris Jericho: I like Tyrion. He’s a great character.
AMBY: Going into this interview, I found a quote from you which I really admire. When you were 15 or 16 years old, people told you that you wouldn’t make it as a wrestler. Then you went through the same experience when wanting to be a rock star. The quote was, “when you see success… the only person that can put chains on yourself is you.” I feel a lot of our readers can relate to that since they’re in smaller bands or pursuing their passion for music. With that said, what other advice would you give fans of yours who want to pursue a career in the industry?
Chris Jericho: Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do anything in your life. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a wrestler and I wanted to be in a rock band. It seemed impossible to achieve and I battled to get one of them and then I battled to get another one. In order to do both, I had to believe in myself and not care what people said. I didn’t care what people told me I couldn’t do and I just made it happen. I had to believe in myself. If you don’t believe in yourself, then no one else will. Believe in yourself – that’s the most important thing you could do.
AMBY: Thanks for sharing that, Chris. Something else you often mention is the difficult balance between being a rock star in Fozzy and then a star as a wrestler. Whenever you do either, it’s obvious that you dedicate one hundred percent to the task. Is there any kind of project you haven’t explored yet, but would like to?
Chris Jericho: I don’t really have a list. My list was music and wrestling. Everything else that’s happened to me, all started as a result of music and wrestling. I don’t have an overall goal, but if something comes up that I find interesting, I’ll do it.
AMBY: Well we’re at the last question, where we wanted to ask: what’s something about Fozzy that most of your fans don’t know yet?
Chris Jericho: When we’re on the bus or in the dressing room, we always listen to music. Most of the time, we listen to “yacht-rock” and a lot of seventies rock and funk. It’s not always about metal – it’s more about the groove and the funk and listening to those amazing Motown rhythm sections. That’s probably the biggest thing about us that people wouldn’t expect. If any fans came on our bus after the show and heard what we were listening to, they would probably say, “is this the right bus?” [laughs]
Thank you Chris Jericho, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout