Chris Jericho is best known for his two decades traveling around the globe in the wrestling business, most notably for the WWE. However, his primary focus nowadays is his Rock band Fozzy. Formed in 1999 with Stuck Mojo guitarist Rich Ward, Fozzy released their fifth studio album, Sin and Bones, last year and the band is about to hit the road with British Metal greats Saxon for a fall tour kicking off September 12 in Patchogue, NY and running up to October 10 in Vancouver, BC.
While not on the road with Fozzy, or with WWE, Jericho has branched out into a diverse variety of entertainment projects: radio host, Dancing With The Stars contestant, TV personality, actor and author. In a new interview with FMQB, Jericho talks about the growth of Fozzyís fanbase, his SiriusXM show which recently wrapped up and much more.
Youíre about to kick off your next North American tour with old school British Metal group Saxon. Why did you choose to tour with them, instead of a newer band?
Saxon is a legendary, influential band; huge all around the world; sold millions of records all around the world; and this is their first extensive U.S. tour in years. When the opportunity came up for us to go out with them, I thought it was a great mix because the most important thing when you tour with other bands is that you want to gain new fans. Iíve got a lot of respect for Saxon, Iím a big fan of theirs, but most importantly their new album Sacrifice is one of the best records theyíve done ever. Theyíre not phoning it in. Theyíre still putting out great material and theyíre still a vibrant, living, breathing rock n roll band. Itís a really cool mix because thereís going to be a lot of Saxon fans that donít know Fozzy and a lot of Fozzy fans that donít know Saxon. We all come from the same place, we both have very heavy but melodic music, and at the end of the night, I think weíre both going to have new fans gained. People that are there that donít know one of the bands are going to leave as fans of both and thatís the most important thing, so itís a great mix. Our last U.S. tour we went out with Shinedown and Godsmack and now weíre going out with Saxon so you get a real diverse, cross section of fans that are seeing us and thatís the way to build our band.
Talk a little about the growth of Fozzy over the years. You started as a cover band and are now an accepted part of the Hard Rock/Metal scene. Itís been great, we started out as a fun band and didnít know where it was gonna take us. Then about 10 years ago, we started doing our own thing and over the last three years we really started focusing 100 percent on Fozzy. Over the last two years we broke the band and the growth has been phenomenal. Itís a testament to all the hard work weíve put into it. Every band goes through phases but definitely over the last 3-4 years, weíve really focused and honed in on who Fozzy is and the results have been unbelievable.
One thing thatís really impressive about Fozzy is the lengths you go to with your fans. How do the VIP meet and greets work before your shows?
Weíre very fan friendly, from everything that we do on social media to the shows themselves. We demand a lot of audience participation from our fans and we get it. Thatís one of the reasons we have such a great reputation as a live band. We started a VIP program a few years ago. I was looking at other bands doing VIPs, but I thought that bands were charging a lot of money and not really delivering a lot. So we came up with a whole VIP meet and greet system thatís a little bit different from the norm. We let fans watch the soundcheck. If weíre headlining, we have dinner with the fans, if not, we make sure to spend time with them and take them on the bus, and get to know people a little bit. Itís not just a run and gun, and I think weíve created a whole new society of Fozzy fans that met each other just from our VIP program. People have gotten married from meeting each other as Fozzy VIPs. Itís a cool, underground society that we have cultivated. Especially in Europe because weíve toured there so much, and weíre really excited about doing that on this tour as well.
Between tours and festivals, youíve pretty much played with all your heroes at this point, aside from Sir Paul McCartneyÖ Is there anyone left you havenít performed with yet that you still want to?
Iíd like to do a full tour with Metallica or Avenged Sevenfold. We still havenít done anything with Ozzy or BlackSabbath or IronMaiden, thatís probably the wish list. Ozzy and Maiden, we havenít played any shows with. But other than that, all the rest weíve done, pretty much everybody else multiple times as well.
Your radio show The Rock Of Jericho recently wrapped up, after airing on iHeartRadio and SiriusXM for a while. What were some of the highlights? Did you make it to 100 episodes?
I got to 97 and then the channel I was on ended, so my show ended as well, but it was a great time. I really enjoyed doing it. I had it down pat to a system. I booked the show myself, which was a little bit hard because sometimes weíd run out of people to call on, but people always came through. The only bad thing about it being canceled was that Lars Ulrich finally had time to do the show in September, but it ended in August, so I ran out of show. [laughs] Other than that, I talked to pretty much everybody I ever wanted to talk to. It was a lot of fun and Iím sure Iím not completely finished with radio, whether it turns into a podcast or I take it to Boneyard or Octane [on SiriusXM]. I really enjoy doing radio and I donít see it ending just because The Rock Of Jericho ended, and itíll come back around again.
How did it feel being the interviewer instead of the interviewee?
I loved it; it was a lot of fun. I never wrote down questions for my interviews, I just went with the flow. Most of the guys I had on my show were taken out of my phone book, so it wasnít like I didnít know them. I think there were two or three guests that were booked for me but the rest were just friends, it was a blast sitting around talking with your friends, because how often do you get to have a 30 minute conversation with a good friend that you usually just see backstage at a show? I would never have 45 minutes alone to talk with Slash or M. Shadows, guys who are good friends of mine. You might see them or hang out with them for a little bit, but to get a 30 minute conversation one-on-one itís a real cool vibe, so I had a great time it. And it was my show, so I could have anybody I wanted, I could have Slash or M. Shadows or Corey Taylor, the biggest names in Rock. And then if I felt like having Frankie Banali from Quiet Riot or Russ Dwarf from The Killer Dwarves on, just because I liked their bands, I could do that too. I was in control of doing whatever the hell I wanted.
Youíre always incredibly busy, even while taking a break from the WWE right now. What other projects are on the horizon?
Itís not really a break from WWE, the only time I work WWE now is when Iím on a break from Fozzy, so WWE is one of those ancillary projects I do when Fozzy is off. But I always have something going on, Iím in a new web series called Jon Davis Gets A Sex Robot, Iím working on my third book right now. Iím doing a bunch of signings for World Of Wheels next year, thereís always stuff going on. A couple more acting things and TV shows brewing. And thereís always WWE, I could always go back there if I have chunks of time, it just depends on my schedule, but thereís definitely no shortage of jobs, thatís for sure [and] thatís a good place to be.
Iíve watched a few of the Jon Davis episodes and youíre essentially playing a dirtier version of the ďwacky neighborĒ sitcom character.
Yeah [Part 4] was my favorite, it was the pinnacle of playing the wacky, perverted neighbor. It was fun to play and I get a chance to diversify and go out and do things that I wouldnít do before but I know I can do.
You hosted Robot Combat League on SyFy earlier this year, which was a really fun show. I actually knew your co-host Dave Farra [morning co-host at KXTE/Las Vegas] when he worked at a different radio station years ago.
Thanks, it was a very expensive show because of the robots. It did good ratings, it didnít do great ratings, but it did very good ratings. I donít know if that was enough to keep it going, because it was a very expensive show.
Whatís next for Fozzy beyond this fall tour?
We have this tour with Saxon coming up, then I think weíre going to Australia before the yearís end. Weíve already started writing the new record. We plan to have all the songwriting done by the end of December, and start recording it in January, February and March, and then have it out and ready to for next summer. So thatís the plan and weíre excited, because thereís a lot of great momentum with Fozzy. Weíve done a lot of touring on Sin and Bones, I think weíre up to 100 gigs already, and when you get to three digits on one record, thatís success. So we want to keep that going and keep it rolling.