Interview: Chris Jericho


By Andra Jenkin

Rock and Roll with a Smile

I talked with Chris Jericho, about writing songs, fronting for Fozzy and rock and roll with a smile.

Chris Jericho believes in putting on a show. “I think you kind of have to put on a little bit of a character with your frontman because I think that’s the way it should be. You should be somebody that has, like I said, that larger than life persona. All my favourite front men have that, from Freddie Mercury to David Lee Wroth, Paul Stanley, all the guys that you would go, look I want to be like that guy, that’s part of rock n roll, its part of the pomp and circumstance, of why people are attracted to the greats. So that’s kind of the vibe that I’m always giving on stage, you want to be more than you are when you’re off stage.”

He describes what fans can expect from a Fozzy concert. “Not a lot of mosh pits, just a lot of people jumping up and down, people chanting Fozzy, having a couple of beers and having a good time. That’s what rock and roll’s all about, we don’t have a problem with people having fun at our shows, there’s no angst at a Fozzy show, no politics, just a good time and it’s a show that you’re not going to forget any time soon, it’ll be one of the best show’s that you’ll ever see. A bunch of people tell us.”

While Jericho is also known for being a wrestler, he’s been focussing on Fozzy for a long time now. “Fozzy’s a priority and has been for the last 8 years or so, in 2007 we sat down and said, let’s do everything we can to get this band to the next level; you can see the growth of Fozzy since then.” But he doesn’t just wrestle and rock, he also writes books. “Something like writing a book is actually great when you’re on the road because there’s nothing to do on the road up until show time you’re just hanging around doing nothing, so being at work and having your projects and all of that sort of stuff it gives me something to do during the day when I’m waiting for the gig to start. It’s just good time management.”

Being on the road can get claustrophobic for some bands, but Jericho assures me that the members of Fozzy get along great. “Yeah, we’ve never had those problems with this band. We’re a very smart and put together band, everybody is cool and respectful to each other and you have to have that because the two hours on stage is great but it’s the other 22 hours of the day where you need to really get along, so if there’s someone that doesn’t fit in with the tour vibe they’re not going to last very long with us with all the touring that we do. Every show that we do is a gift, it’s an honour, don’t take it lightly. If it’s a small crowd, if it’s a huge crowd, we do the same show. We just make sure people have a great time. Rock and roll with a smile.There’s not a lot of mosh pits at a Fozzy show there’s just people jumping up and down and cheering, and drinking some beer and shouting ‘Fozzy!’ Showing their boobs whether they’re a girl or a guy whatever, we don’t care. We’re happy just to be playing and I think that shows and itsreciprocal, when you have a great audience that’s having fun it makes the band have fun which makes the audience have fun.”

“…we all belong very well we’re from the same outfit like I say that of being respectful to each other, there’s no arseholes in Fozzy, there’s no room for that sort of stuff.”

On writing songs, Chris says “It’s a collaborative effort. We’re all working towards the same thing which is just what is best for the song, and once you start having that attitude it doesn’t matter who wrote it, it doesn’t matter who comes up with the melodies or the lyrics or the riffs or whatever, it just matters if it’s a good song or not and if it’s something that Fozzy can be proud to put their name on. So when you learn that, being that, it’s like being on a really good sports team, as long as everybody plays to their strength you always win. If you start trying to play other people’s positions it’s when you start having problems, work together as a team and the most important part is winning, and that’s kind of the way we look at it.”

I asked what a win for Fozzy was. “It’s just people having a great time and you can see it in their faces you know, you can tell, at the end of the show the people are always chanting Fozzy. That’s the number one goal, that’s what we do. At first our name is kind of strange, but it’s the best name to chant, and they do. Fozzy chants, very prevalent at our shows, you hear them all night long and it’s very easy to get them started and it’s very easy to sustain them. That’s a win, like I said, people having a good time.”

The good times are coming to New Zealand, “It’s one of those things that when you get an itinerary for a tour and knowing that we’re going back to Australia it’s always, we should try going to New Zealand just because it’s a place we’ve never been before we always have requests so when we got some for New Zealand, so it worked out, we’re really excited about it, it’s only the second time I’ve ever been to New Zealand period, and I was surprised the first time there so we’re really excited, it’s a place that not a lot of bands go to so I wanted to be there. I’m sure it’s going to be a great show for some great people that have been waiting a long time to see us.”

“We go to Canada after that. We finish up the Canadian tour mid-December and then that’s it, that’s a wrap on the Judas Rising tour, and then we go back in the studio and continue the momentum going of writing and recording a new record,so that is the best way to do it at this point in time, we’re three singles deep on Judas and we’ve toured everywhere so I think the best thing to do, like I said, to keep that momentum going is to go back into the studio and create something that’s even better than the records which was such a success for us.”

It’s likely we’ll see more of the horror inspired videos for the upcoming songs, Jericho talks about the vision for the previous ones.“ I think that the vibe of Judas, the vibe of the song Painless, it’s going to have a little bit of a darker edge to it. It’s a house party as a video; it’s got that type of a vibe to it. I think you’ve got to pick a video of which you want to do the narrative of that video depending on what the song feels like you want to kind of match up those two vibes, and that’s why I think The Shining, the horror movie type thing I t really works for Judas and Painless because they have those darker vibes for sure.”

The tour is not all he has on. “Everything that I do outside of the band is dictated by what the band is doing.” While Jericho is concentrating on Fozzy, he is also organising the Rock and Roll Wrestling Rager cruise coming up in October. “I’m heavily involved in that, that sort of deal, energy, daily effort, I’ve been working on it every single day since they first went on sale last September, since I came up with the idea almost three years ago now. Obviously I’m working with a great production team. There’s so much work to be done because I want it to be a success and I’m basically spearheading everything. We’re getting close to a sell-out, 75 cabins away. There are a lot of people from Australia coming; I think there’s a couple of kiwis coming too. It’s a worldwide thing and my goal is to sell it out, come down close and make it an annual destination vacation for people who enjoy the same things that I do.”

“We did the KISS cruise a couple of years ago, there was so much to do on the ship so many activities and so much talent I gotta mimic that, and wanted to do the same thing with the Jericho cruise. There’s so much stuff to do, by design, you know, I think that’s one of the reasons it’s going to be successful, why it is a success because there’s such a variety of activity up there you can’t help but have fun. “

On giving it his all? “I don’t take on a project unless I know that I can give 100% to it, and if I’m giving 100% to it I’m doing everything I can to make it a success and that’s my mantra when I’m taking on a project I just want to make sure that people trust my judgement and if Chris Jericho’s name is on it, it’s going to be good. That’s the expectation that I have for myself.”

I asked what Chris Jericho would say to his 14 year old self. “Stay the course and don’t go too crazy man. It’s easy to lose yourself sometimes when you’re on the road possibly and always in the public eye, but it’s a lot of hard work to get to this point, but it’s been worth it for sure.