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 Fozzy’s fanbase, his SiriusXM show which recently wrapped up and much more.
You’re 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. I’ve got a lot of respect for Saxon, I’m a big fan of theirs, but most importantly their new album Sacrifice is one of the best records they’ve done ever. They’re not phoning it in. They’re still putting out great material and they’re still a vibrant, living, breathing rock n roll band. It’s a really cool mix because there’s going to be a lot of Saxon fans that don’t know Fozzy and a lot of Fozzy fans that don’t 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 we’re both going to have new fans gained. People that are there that don’t know one of the bands are going to leave as fans of both and that’s the most important thing, so it’s a great mix. Our last U.S. tour we went out with Shinedown and Godsmack and now we’re going out with Saxon so you get a real diverse, cross section of fans that are seeing us and that’s 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. It’s been great, we started out as a fun band and didn’t 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. It’s a testament to all the hard work we’ve put into it. Every band goes through phases but definitely over the last 3-4 years, we’ve really focused and honed in on who Fozzy is and the results have been unbelievable.
One thing that’s really impressive about Fozzy is the lengths you go to with your fans. How do the VIP meet and greets work before your shows?
We’re 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. That’s 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 that’s a little bit different from the norm. We let fans watch the soundcheck. If we’re 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. It’s not just a run and gun, and I think we’ve 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. It’s a cool, underground society that we have cultivated. Especially in Europe because we’ve toured there so much, and we’re really excited about doing that on this tour as well.
Between tours and festivals, you’ve pretty much played with all your heroes at this point, aside from Sir Paul McCartney… Is there anyone left you haven’t performed with yet that you still want to?
I’d like to do a full tour with Metallica or Avenged Sevenfold. We still haven’t done anything with Ozzy or BlackSabbath or IronMaiden, that’s probably the wish list. Ozzy and Maiden, we haven’t played any shows with. But other than that, all the rest we’ve 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 we’d 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 I’m sure I’m 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 don’t see it ending just because The Rock Of Jericho ended, and it’ll 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 wasn’t like I didn’t 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 it’s 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.
You’re always incredibly busy, even while taking a break from the WWE right now. What other projects are on the horizon?
It’s not really a break from WWE, the only time I work WWE now is when I’m 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, I’m in a new web series called Jon Davis Gets A Sex Robot, I’m working on my third book right now. I’m doing a bunch of signings for World Of Wheels next year, there’s always stuff going on. A couple more acting things and TV shows brewing. And there’s always WWE, I could always go back there if I have chunks of time, it just depends on my schedule, but there’s definitely no shortage of jobs, that’s for sure [and] that’s a good place to be.
I’ve watched a few of the Jon Davis episodes and you’re essentially playing a dirtier version of the “wacky neighbor” 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 wouldn’t 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 didn’t do great ratings, but it did very good ratings. I don’t know if that was enough to keep it going, because it was a very expensive show.
What’s next for Fozzy beyond this fall tour?
We have this tour with Saxon coming up, then I think we’re going to Australia before the year’s end. We’ve 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 that’s the plan and we’re excited, because there’s a lot of great momentum with Fozzy. We’ve done a lot of touring on Sin and Bones, I think we’re up to 100 gigs already, and when you get to three digits on one record, that’s success. So we want to keep that going and keep it rolling.