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INTERVIEW: Chris Jericho of FOZZY

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Fozzy vocalist and newly crowned AEW Wrestling Champion Chris Jericho spent some time with SoCalMusicToday.com recently to talk about Fozzy’s new single “Nowhere to Run”, the new album to be released next year, Fozzy’s opening gig for Iron Maiden on September 14 as well as his thoughts on streaming media. Catch Chris Jericho and Fozzy on tour September 5 through September 28 and check out the killer new single “Nowhere to Run” on iTunes, Amazon music and streaming media. For all things Fozzy click here.

Hi Chris – THANKS for taking time to chat with SoCalMusicToday.com – much appreciated! So you have a couple of exciting things going on in the world of Fozzy to talk about.

First up Fozzy has a new song being released on August 29, titled “Nowhere to Run” which I have had the pleasure of already hearing – it’s a groovy mid-tempo rocker. Tell me how the song came about and its meaning?

Chris Jericho: It definitely continues where the Judas singles left off, it continues the momentum of what we built over the last couple of years and it was the first time ever we were contractually obligated to deliver a single before this upcoming tour starts in Denver. It is very cool to be under the umbrella of Sony music and have them dictate some orders (not in a bad way). We knew we had to deliver something heavy hitting as this was kind of the first step under the Sony banner.

It’s really exciting – people are really digging it already that have heard it. It’s a continuation of the buzz surrounding our band.  

You mentioned deadline, most bands today work on their own schedules . . . How did having to meet a deadline impact the approach to making the song?

Chris Jericho: It did have an impact. I think it’s really cool that we have the machine of Sony music behind us. We haven’t had the major label experience yet; we haven’t had a lot of attention put on us. It’s just really good timing that Sony took over Century Media (our previous label) right as Judas started rolling.

I take a lot of pride that we are getting this type of attention from Sony, its well-deserved and it’s just gonna serve to make us into a bigger more powerful band.

When they ask you to do something you just do it and it’s brand new to us for such a machine to get behind you in such a big way – it can really take you to the next level and we are ready for it.

So you have been in the studio recording the new record. Do you have a release date yet and do you have an album title yet that you can share?

Chris Jericho: The record is called 2020 – obviously because that is the year it is going to be released and the reference to perfect vision. The record will be finished in the next two to three months and will come out in early 2020. So yeah we definitely have to have it out in 2020 due to it being called 2020, so there’s your deadline right there.

Can you share a bit on how Fozzy writes and records? Do you guys work individually then get together or is it more of an in person collaboration? What formula works for you guys?

Chris Jericho: It was always just me and Rich Ward in the past and now you add Johnny Andrews (songwriter/record producer) into the mix and he is kind of our Bob Rock or Mutt Lange. As soon as Def Leppard worked with Mutt or Metallica worked with Bob, you become a different band and he becomes the boss. Now it’s not just Rich and I debating over which songs to use or which lyrics to use, now Johnny comes in and says this is what you are going to be doing and this is the way it should be.

It really does change your mindset, we have learned a lot from each other as far as how to write a song with really hooky, hooky riffs and choruses – this is what Johnny Andrews is really good at and we’ve sat back and let him do his magic to the point where I’m not even writing lyrics on this record. On this one we just said let’s see what Johnny comes up with and it’s been all great stuff. It doesn’t matter to me who writes it, it just matters how good the song is.

I’m the one that has to sing those lyrics to the world so as long as they are good and resonates with people, that’s all that matters to me.

Let’s talk about the upcoming tour in September . . . obviously the date that sticks out is the September 14th date in Los Angeles with Iron Maiden. How stoked are you for that one?

Chris Jericho: That’s HUGE, it’s one of those things where as a kid you grew up listening to Iron Maiden and now 30 years later they are the seminal Heavy Metal band besides maybe Metallica, and those are the two biggest bands. But Maiden just continues to get bigger and better with no mainstream credit whatsoever. So when we got the offer to open for Iron Maiden, it’s not that I couldn’t believe it, It was kind of like a slap in the face – like why us? Why not this band or that band? It doesn’t matter as someone obviously heard something, Maiden doesn’t do anything half-ass – they took a look and decided we were the band they wanted to add.

Of the 30 or so shows this summer it’s been Iron Maiden with opening band The Raven Age, the only band they are adding at any show is Fozzy in LA and I take great pride in that. The gig sold-out a month in advance and that’s huge.

Now we have the enviable task of going out there and commanding Maiden’s crowd and warming up the crowd and making sure nobody leaves there spot to go get a beer. It’s a great test for us and something we are very excited about.

All that matters in Rock n Roll is connecting with the audience, if you can do that, you will always have a good show and nobody knows that more than Iron Maiden. I’m considering it an audition of sorts, I don’t know if they will ever ask us to do another show but this is our one chance – they will either hate us or love us but either way I want them to have a reaction and I think it’s gonna be one of the greatest nights of our lives for sure.

So for a show this big with Maiden do you prepare for the show any different or is it business as usual ? Anything special we can expect?

Chris Jericho: We were smart – for the tour route, I think we have eight gigs before the Maiden gig, so we will be tight, we will be ready to go – that is the best preparation we can do. Other than that you just gotta go up there and treat it like it’s your gig. I never go onstage and say “Is everybody ready for Iron Maiden”, I want everyone to forget Iron Maiden is there while we are playing – it’s all about Fozzy for the 45 minutes we have. We have to hook the crowd and get them into it. We are very good at having people who have no idea who Fozzy is at the beginning of the set chanting Fozzy at the end of the set – it’s one of our super powers and I am really looking forward to it.

If we do what we are capable of I have no doubt we will walk off that stage as triumphant heroes with everyone extra ready to see Iron Maiden.

Have you ever played on the same stage with Iron Maiden – at a festival or anything like that?

Chris Jericho: We have never played any festival or anything with Iron Maiden. When the tour poster came out that said “Iron Maiden with special guest Fozzy”, I stared at it for like 20 minutes just enjoying the fact we have this chance to play with one of the greatest bands.

I know all the guys in the band (Iron Maiden), I’ve seen like 15 Maiden shows. I actually just spoke with Adrian Smith today. They are all friends of ours but friends don’t matter with this – its business. They have a stadium to fill and they chose Fozzy to help them fill it and now the fun part begins and that’s us playing and kicking ass on September 14 in Los Angeles.

With Iron Maiden being one of your favorite bands, what is your favorite Iron Maiden song?

Chris Jericho: “Powerslave”, my favorite record is Powerslave. But man “Aces High” is amazing, “Where Eagles Dare” is amazing but yeah I would say “Powerslave” is my favorite song.

Will “Nowhere to Run” be included in the setlist on the upcoming shows? Any other new songs you may be playing or do you wait until the album is out?

Chris Jericho: Yeah I think that is the way to do it, you play a song once and suddenly it’s all over the place and on YouTube. I don’t want people to hear a new song for the first time on YouTube not properly mixed, etc – I don’t mind older songs on YouTube. So as of right now just “Nowhere to Run” and as we get closer to the release date possibly adding some other new songs but for right now we have a really strong set and you’re gonna know all the songs – we’ll be playing all the cool aggressive live songs.

We dropped a couple songs, we added “Nowhere to Run”. It’s always becoming more and more challenging to put together a set list but it’s a good problem to have.

Speaking of Set Lists, I have to assume after creating a bunch of albums, it must get a bit challenging choosing a setlist? How does Fozzy choose what’s in and what’s out for the live show?

Chris Jericho: You gotta pick songs that work live and you gotta include new songs. We never have a problem playing newer material – you gotta try them and see which ones work live and which ones don’t. We did a song “Weight of my World” maybe only three of four times last tour because it just wasn’t working  – it’s a great song on the album but it wasn’t a great song live.

The song “Elevator” has become a standard in our set, it wasn’t even a single. The song “Sin and Bones” will always be in the set because I love singing it, it’s not a hit per say but you gotta have ones you like playing as a band. I think there is always a combination of songs you have to play, songs you are trying out to see how they work live and songs you want to play because you are in the band – it’s gotta be fun for us too – especially for me as a singer.

Streaming media continues to be in the news, especially recently when Tool joined in on the fun. What’s your take on streaming albums and songs from an artists perspective?

Chris Jericho: It’s the way of the world today so you can’t be against it – it’s just a different way for people to hear your music. I think it’s getting better for artists getting royalties from it. Again it’s a way for people to hear your music and that’s the most important thing.

The music business has changed to where it’s not as much about selling albums as it is about the live shows and selling your merch but I think its gonna continue to get better. I think we are kind of in the wild west now where one foot is in the past and one foot is in the future but as we get more into the future you will see how the pay scale for musicians changes.

Lastly, any fun wrestling news you wanted to share or any other Chris Jericho things for fans to watch out for?

Chris Jericho: It’s just really cool to see where things take me, Fozzy is a priority and I am starting with the AEW (All Elite Wrestling) which begins soon so the wrestling side of things is strong but yeah it’s just fun building all these great things I am doing and continue to have fun and hopefully all my fans have fun too.

I don’t do anything for money anymore, I do it because it creatively stimulates me and it’s a challenge and as long as I do that I think people will continue to follow me with whatever I do.

Chris – thanks so much for your time – it was a pleasure speaking with you and I look forward to seeing Fozzy in LA on September 14. Best of luck with everything!

Chris Jericho: Thanks man – appreciate it

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