With the release of the latest offering from Fozzy, I caught up with lead singer and all-around nice guy Chris Jericho to discuss the bands latest release Judas.
Firstly, congratulations on the new album Judas, with the title track tearing up the charts, what does it feel like to be an overnight success 18 years in the making?
“Its great man to have the Judas hit single after all these years. It’s a really cool feeling to know that so many people are digging the song and the record hasn’t even come out yet. And the other cool this is Judas wasn’t even the unanimous choice for the first single, there was a little bit of debate over which song should be used as the first one. We have two or three others cocked and loaded in the chamber ready to go as soon as Judas reaches its peak, which it still has no sign of reaching yet. It’s got into the US rock radio top ten which is massive and that’s after 17 weeks, so who knows how much farther it can go. I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.”
The single not only being a killer track has an equally as good music video, whose idea was the video and how did that come about?
“I had that idea in mind for a while from a Guns n Roses video called The Garden off ‘Use Your Illusion’ and it was a one camera shoot and we wanted to do a modern version of that so we filmed it at half speed so that meant a four-minute song turned into an eight in one take. So eight minutes later we’re finished and when you play the song back at normal speed it looks all erratic and weird and jumpy and crazy. As I say man it was the cheapest video and the quickest video we’ve ever done and by far the most successful. It’s a video that’s had nearly 10 million hits in less than 6 months, we know we got something special.”
You have a long history of covers starting with your first couple of albums being 100% covers, and the ABBA classic ‘SOS’ showing up on Do You Want To Start A War, there isn’t one on Judas? Maybe a bonus track?
“Yeah absolutely, there’s three bonus tracks and we kept them a little bit more mainstream. We did SOS as you mentioned, and that was really cool but we were going to do a couple more off the wall type songs but the first couple we did for B sides are pretty straightforward – Maiden, Ozzy and Quiet Riot. So pretty much harping back to our metal teenage years.”
Something I’ve always wanted to ask: I know you, Rich Ward, and Frank Fontsere are huge KISS fans why have you never recorded a KISS song?
“We’ve never actually recorded one but we did do Cold Gin and that’s a fun one to do, and we had the idea to do calling Doctor Love but we decided to do other songs instead. But Kiss are always good for our VIP sound check for sure. (As part of the Fozzy VIP meet and greet fans are treated to a five song mini concert)
There are 11 songs on Judas and no filler. How much to and fro is there between the guys in the band on song selection and order?
“We just wanted to have a record that had ten singles on it, like ‘Appetite For Destruction’ or an album like ‘Hysteria’ that has so many hits on it. You hear albums on the radio that have six or seven singles on it and we thought what if we did a record like that where every song could be a radio song. And that doesn’t mean selling out, it’s just being diverse. So we did that and that’s why the album is eleven songs. We were working on thirteen or fourteen and three of them just weren’t working. They were great songs but they didn’t really fit what we were going for so we ditched them. As far as the running order that’s pretty much me and I run them past Rich for, approval shall we say. I still listen to records on CD’s or iTunes all the way through from track one to track ten or eleven. There’s an art form to that. To putting what flows, and this record flows. You know track eight could be as much a single as track one.”
On the new album, you’ve changed the way you do a few things, notably the writing. How has that been letting someone else in to write lyrics?
“So Rich and I decided to get Johnny Andrews and bring him in as an outside producer and let him make some decisions. And you know talking about the song, what’s right for the song. I was always the primary lyricist for Fozzy, not anymore. There are three of my pieces that we used and the rest were written Johnny or by Rich and that’s fine I’m still the singer, I have to sell the song. Even if someone else is writing it, I have to sell it and that’s the most important thing.”
You guys have always collaborated with other artists in the past, on Three Days In Jail you’ve brought in rapper Hyro Da Hero. That’s a song you wrote and it’s got a bit of everything in it.
“It was one of those songs that I brought to the table and it’s not the same song as we started. That’s the songwriting process, you sit down, you re-edit it, you do it over and over again until you get it exactly where you want it. And bringing Hyro in, we really wanted to do some rapping in there so it really fit. We’ve done it before on ‘All That Remains’ with Bone Crusher, you know we don’t really care what anyone else is doing or what we’ve done in the past it’s what’s right for us now. Just do something and get people into Fozzy.”
Last question, it’s be a long time since Soundwave 2013 and the Steel Panther tour, when are we going to see Fozzy back in Australia?
“Yeah man we had a blast that last tour with Steel Panther and it was great on Soundwave with Metallica so we want to come back to Australia. It’s long overdue for Fozzy to come and we wanna do it right, get together a great package and come over there and do a great round of shows and pack the place. From the interest we’ve been getting from you guys I’m pretty sure it’s gonna happen sooner or later.”
Thanks to Chris Jericho for the chat. Judas is Out Now via Century Media so ignore your Paraskavedekatriaphobia and get on it people!
Interview by Gareth Williams (@notgareth)
Check out our review of Judas right here