It’s been an interesting journey that has brought both the main protagonists behind American classic hard rock/heavy metal band Fozzy to this moment in time. Guitarist Rich Ward is founding member and main man behind long-running American band Stuck Mojo, who formed way back in the late ‘80s and are considered one of the pioneers of the rap-metal movement. And the name Chris Jericho needs little introduction. Well, at least amongst fans of WWE wrestling (of which there are many). He has been wrestling at the highest level for nigh on twenty years, and is absolutely one of the biggest names in professional wrestling on the face of the planet.
Come the year 1999, these two highly driven individuals got together and decided to form their own hard rock band. Initially under the moniker ‘Fozzy Osbourne’, and playing classic rock and metal covers, the band gradually phased out most of the covers and morphed into a full blown original project with their own identity. To reflect this, the ‘Osbourne’ was dropped from the band’s title, and Fozzy released their first album of all original material, entitled All That Remains, in early 2005.
A live album was released that same year, but it wasn’t until last year that both men could find the time amid their heavy schedules to write and record their second album of original songs (and fourth overall). That album, called Chasing The Grail, was released early this year and has garnered critical acclaim and solid sales. Fozzy have found themselves being taken seriously as a band in their own right, as opposed to being merely a cover band featuring the members of Stuck Mojo with a famous wrestler out the front. Jericho himself took time out to chat to Beat about the album, touring plans and the growing Fozzy legend.
“We took a lot of time on this record to make it the best we possibly could,” he begins, regarding the Chasing The Grail album, “’cos we need that if we hit a home run with it, it could kick us to the next level. All the reviews that we’ve received across the board have been over the top,” he adds, “and sales have been bigger than ever, so we really are excited, and we really are happy with how things have gone.
“It had been a long time since All That Remains came out in 2005,” he acknowledges, “so there was a lot at stake for us. You know,” he muses, “would people still be into it? Would the interest be there? Would it get better? So we spent a lot of time getting the album exactly the way we wanted it, and it was very gratifying to see that all of our hard work paid off at such a high level. So definitely a thumbs up; a home run all across the board for Chasing The Grail,” he grins.
“When Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden is playing ‘Grail and saying ‘This is a great record’,” he continues, “it’s great. I mean, we’re getting that from everybody. I just got a text from M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold, saying how much he loves the record.”
With those ringing endorsements, Fozzy return to Australia to play for the first time since 2005, in what will be only the band’s second tour down under, although Jericho himself is even less of a stranger to our shores.
“With Fozzy, it’s the second (trip to Australia), and for me total I think it’s my fifth or sixth time,” he recalls, “but I haven’t been to Australia in any capacity since the last Fozzy tour in 2005 and I’m very excited to return. We’re very excited to come back over and play some of the new songs, and just enjoy Australia. You’ve got some great rock ‘n’ roll fans and some great Fozzy fans and Jericho fans,” he adds, “so we’re really looking forward to coming over and tearing things up, for sure.”
And so, especially for the fans who may not have seen the band on their last tour five years ago, what will people get from the Fozzy show? “This is a whole different world now, the band has grown so much in the last five years,” he states with pride, “and we just finished a marathon tour over in the UK, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and France, and we’re really happy with the reception we got from the crowds.
“The band is playing great, the songs are sounding great. We always pride ourselves on having a very energetic, exciting show. A lot of intensity and a lot of crowd participation, and we’re really taking that to the next level, so it’s gonna be a party that’s for sure!”
Chris has put himself in the enviable position of having had two massive and extremely challenging goals as a kid – to both be a world famous wrestler and to play in a rock band that releases albums and tours the world – and having accomplished both. It has obviously taken a lot of hard work, a lot of time management and a lot of simply sticking to his guns when most people would have given the dreams away in favour of a quieter, more ‘normal’ life. “Well, you pretty much have to be a bit of a workaholic,” he surmises, “to get anything off the ground, especially in showbusiness.
“When I was a kid I had two goals, I wanted to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band and I wanted to be a wrestler, so I definitely had a big task ahead of me. I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge or a goal; I knew how much work it would take. It’s been that way my entire life… and when it starts paying off, that’s the biggest reward of all.
“To see the band get to where we’re at, to see how much we’ve grown over the years, to see how much the fan base has grown, it’s just the best payoff that you can ask for!”
Chasing The Grail is out now through Riot!