FOZZY vocalist Chris Jericho (of WWE wrestling fame) recently spoke to Rockdetector.com editor Bernard Doe. In the interview Jericho talks about the forthcoming FOZZY album "All That Remains", touring, religion, wrestling and the murder of DAMAGEPLAN/ex-PANTERA guitarist Dimebag Darrell. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
Rockdetector.com: When was the decision made to go with a full blown album of original FOZZY material?
Chris Jericho: "We've actually thought about doing this for a while now. We started off the band just as a fun project between friends, and because of who was involved we got a record deal right off the bat. On the first record we did two original songs. And then when we come to do our second album, 'Happenstance', we decided that we wanted to work more on original material, so we did half and half. So it came to the point in the band's evolution that it was time to do all original material. We reached a point where it was a case of either do all original stuff and be ourselves or it was time to maybe not do the band anymore. This is the only way for us to go and we are all really excited about it. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised. I'm just waiting to see people's reaction to it. If you listen to the record and don't like it then I can live with that, that's cool, but all I ask is just listen to the record. Give it a chance, that's all I'm asking."
Rockdetector.com: You have a number of guest performers on the album, like Zakk Wylde (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, OZZY OSBOURNE), Marty Friedman (ex-MEGADETH) and Mark Tremonti (ALTER BRIDGE, ex-CREED). What tracks do they play on?
Chris Jericho: "Zakk plays a solo on 'Wonderlust'. He is actually a really big fan of Rich Ward (FOZZY guitarist), the way he performs and the way he plays... he is very groove-orientated. So Zakk has been very cool with FOZZY. So I sent the song down to him and not only did he play a solo on it, it was one of the best Zakk Wylde solos I've ever heard. I was amazed at how he played it.
"Marty Friedman was a friend of our producer Rick Beato. We just e-mailed the track to Marty in Japan where he lives now and he just laid down a typical crazy Marty Friedman solo which was just perfect on the song 'Born Of Anger', which is a kind of Bay Area thrash metal-type song. His solo is just awesome.
"Then we have Mark Tremonti from ALTER BRIDGE. I knew him through a friend of a friend, and Mark had expressed some interest in working with us when I was hanging out with him one night. I had kind of forgotten about it, but then as fate would have it we were recording in the exact same studio. We were upstairs and he was downstairs, so I wandered down there and gave him the track 'The Way I Am', and he laid down a great solo on the end of that song."
Rockdetector.com: You've just finished a short U.S. tour, but will you be going back out on the road once the new album is released in January?
Chris Jericho: "We wanna keep that option open. We've never done a full tour before. We've just played eight shows in 13 days over the past two weeks and it was a lot of fun. You really get tighter as a band and it's easier for me as a singer because you get more into the groove and more into the vibe. It's something I definitely wanna do and I definitely wanna come to the U.K. and play in Europe, Japan, Australia and some of those territories that we've never been to before, because we have a lot of fans over there. We are actually working right now on maybe doing some shows in the U.K. in February, and we are looking forward to that. Also, hopefully we will get the chance to play some of the festivals in Europe? We played the Bang Your Head festival in Germany two years ago which was a lot of fun, but I think now we will really turn a lot of heads and really whoop some ass with what we are doing."
Rockdetector.com: I understand that you are a very religious person. So what would you say to all those religious people, especially in America, who claim that heavy metal is the music of the devil?
Chris Jericho: "Well, I actually came to look at God and Jesus through Metal in the '80s. I was a big STRYPER and BARREN CROSS fan. I just found it very interesting that you could be a Christian and look like a rocker and play heavy music. So that actually helped me get a relationship with God and Jesus, and knowing that it's not what you look like or what you wear. It's all about how you act and what's in your heart. I'm not a perfect guy by any stretch of the imagination, but I really feel that having a relationship with God and Jesus has given me a lot more drive to succeed and to follow my heart and dreams knowing that there's somebody in charge of everything."
Rockdetector.com: Obviously the tragic murder of Dimebag Darrell and three other innocent people at the DAMAGEPLAN gig in Ohio has saddened the whole rock community. Did you know Darrell at all?
Chris Jericho: "No, I never actually met him, but Zakk and Rich were very close to Darrell, especially Zakk, and they have said how much of a great, kind and sweet heart of a guy he was. It's interesting because the NAMM convention is coming up in Los Angeles, and there was talk of us playing a gig with BLACK LABEL SOCIETY and DAMAGEPLAN. And because both Dimebag and I drank Crown Royal, they were gonna get us to drink some Crown together. But it's like of all the guys that it had to happen to... it's always the nicest guys. I still can't believe it. He was definitely one of the top three players in the world today, and definitely top 10 of all time in rock guitar playing."
Rockdetector.com: The tragedy seems to have united the heavy metal community somewhat.
Chris Jericho: "Yes, because it's relatively a very small and loyal community to begin with. So when something like that happens, especially with such an influential legendary guy, then it definitely unites the entire metal world. But I don't want to think about his last day, I want to think about all the great riffs and all the great songs he created up until then. Unfortunately, Dimebag Darrell is going to end up being remembered in the same way as Randy Rhoads, Stevie Ray Vaughan and all the great players who were taken before their time. It sucks that it has to be that way man, it really does. I wish I'd had the chance to play that show and drink Crown with him."
Rockdetector.com: I heard a rumour that you may be retiring from wrestling once your current three-year contract with the WWE runs out?
Chris Jericho: "I wouldn't say that. I mean, people are always talking and there are rumors and stuff like that, but I don't think that will happen. Y'know, I enjoy playing with the band and it's fun for me to build the FOZZY brand name. The same way I built the Chris Jericho brand name over the last 14 years. But I won't walk away from one just to do the other. I will definitely continue to do both for as long as I can."
Rockdetector.com: What gives you the biggest buzz, performing in the wrestling ring or playing on stage with FOZZY?
Chris Jericho: "Oh, they're both a lot of fun because it's vibing off the reactions from the crowds. If you get a hot and energetic crowd, then that's the most important thing, because you can feed off it. They give you energy and you give it back. With wrestling that's cool and with the band it's probably even more fun because it's a newer experience. It's been five years with the band and 14 years with wrestling. They are both tremendous buzzes though."
Read the entire interview at Rockdetector.com.