"This is our Back In Black" - In Conversation with Fozzy's Chris Jericho
A man of many talents, Chris Jericho, has lent his hand to many things in a lengthy career spanning public speaking, writing books, wrestling and singing with his band, Fozzy. The Digital Fix were lucky to grab some time with him at this year's Download Festival where the band who recently had online viral success with their latest single 'Judas'.
So you opened Sunday's Main Stage at Download 2017, how was the show?
It was great, the crowd was huge too, there were probably 30,000 people there. I would probably choose playing the Main Stage over any other stage, but sometimes it's scary because you don't know what it's going to be like. It was a great show and I really enjoyed it. Like I said the crowd was crazy and you can't ask for anything else. It's probably the best set out of the four times we have played here.
You had a lot of energy for a Sunday morning at 11am, flying out of the traps, running down that ego ramp...
Oh yeah man, this is Fozzy man, you don't wake up in Fozzy, you are just there, you know. Right off the bat, down that ego ramp and it's "what's up".
After your set and press duties, do you stick around to see any bands?
Well press takes up a lot of my time but a lot of bands playing today are equally friends and I am a fan of them. Steel Panther are here, In Flames are here, Alterbridge are my heroes. Ultimately though I'm not here to sit around and watch bands, I'm here to do the work. With the success and momentum that our single 'Judas' has, you want to keep that rolling and that's why we have so many people wanting to talk to us because we have something to talk about, which is a legit hit single. I can talk all day about it.
Hard work pays off...
Oh yeah for sure, you know, I'm a fan, you're a fan but sacrifices have to be made and Aerosmith are playing tonight but tonight it's not on the cards to watch them because we are working hard getting our music out there. Ultimately we want to be in the Aerosmith position in a few years time. Aerosmith I'm sure would tell you the same thing about how they made it big.
Where does the Fozzy sound and inspiration come from?
We always say if Metallica and Judas Priest had a bastard child it would be Fozzy, we are very groove orientated but melodic with lots of harmonies. We believe in that because there are a lot of bands that we love but the singing doesn't connect. Barking vocals and that sort of thing. I appreciate it and respect it but it's not my style. I love Steven Tyler, Paul Stanley, Freddie Mercury, singers like that, M.Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold, Axl Rose, Bruce Dickinson.
In terms of the musical side of things we are very influenced by the 70's, you can hear the funk and groove of that era in our sound. That's super important to us as well. Because that's what a lot of the bands don't have as well. We don't mind having a lot of space in our songs.
You mentioned the success of 'Judas', currently at 5 million views online. That's pretty incredible.
Oh yeah, since it was released on May 5th that's like a million hits a week [Ed: this interview was held June 11th]. Our biggest hitter before that was 'Sandpaper' with two million. Someone asked me how many views I would like and I said four million. I thought we would get that in six months to a year. I remember the first day I asked my manager what do you think is a good first day. He said 10,000, we actually did 65,000, and then the next day was 200,000. I was thinking if we could do a million in a week I'd be happy and we actually did it in six days. So that's when you start to realise something is going on here. It's the right video, in the right place at the right time and that's just great.
One thing I find quite empowering is that on YouTube when you start typing 'Judas' in you first get Justin Bieber, then the mighty Judas Priest and then your song. Surely you must be doing something right if you are going past pops biggest star today and the Metal Gods themselves?
Well it's funny because when that title came up and I suggested it to be the first song on the album and the album title...I'm a huge Helloween fan and there is actually a 1985 EP called Judas and I don't usually like naming anything that has already existed before but I'll take it. Then the name of the tour is Judas Rising and yes that is a Judas Priest song from 2005 but it's 2017 now so I think I can use it! (laughs)
So the song has been a massive hit, is it representative of the Judas album as a whole?
If you are going to love 'Judas' the song, you are gonna love Judas the album. It's not that like all the songs are like 'Judas' but there are a lot of similarities in terms of the darkness, hook laden, and it being very concise. We feel like it's our Back In Black, where the album is 35-40 minutes long and every song kicks you in the face.
I was just listening to them the other day. You record your vocals and then I'm done. So I have started to listen to some of the mixes and every one of these songs is really good. Every band would say that but there are plenty of songs that could be singles. If this was 1987 and Def Leppard were on the radio our album could have 5 or 6 singles on it and it still could. The quality of the record is making us think this is a whole new side to Fozzy. Some of the songs we play live from 2010 and before, they don't fit anymore. They are simply not as good. They were great at the time but you move on. I can't wait to start playing more tracks from the album.
Fozzy's upcoming album Judas is released on 13th October and you can find out more about their upcoming UK tour here , follow them on Twitter and their Facebook page.