Podcast extraordinaire/ best-selling author/ consummate Rockstar/ almost inarguably the greatest professional wrestler of all time Chris Jericho recently took a chunk of what little spare time he has to graciously chat to Wall Of Sound in lieu of his band Fozzy careening down under for a tour on the heels of releasing 7th studio album Judas (our review here); their most successful to date. Jericho has been busy beyond measure his whole career, and 2018 is far from an exception, so we hooked up with him as his tour bus was heading to Hamburg, Germany amidst a massive European tour.
Hey Chris! Thanks so much for chatting to me today. I’m sitting here in a Jerichoholic T-shirt, honoured as always to be chatting to you.
Oh my pleasure, man. No problem.
Seems you’re busier than ever. Have you ever had as many irons in the fire as you do now?
Well I’m always a busy guy, and now with Fozzy being as successful as we are, there’s a lot of touring going on. Which is great! It’s proof you’ve put out an album people are enjoying and makes people want to see you play. So it’s a good sign and a good time for us right now.
Did you foresee this bottleneck of popularity and obligations on the horizon between being IWGP Intercontinental Champion, touring with Fozzy, organizing a Rock n’ Wrestling cruise, and still making time for podcasts and autobiographies?
When I was a kid I wanted to be in a rock band and I wanted to be a wrestler, and that’s what I’ve done, so I think this year being Fozzy’s biggest year kind of… recognition-wise has been a long time coming. I knew it was going to happen eventually. The fact it’s happening isn’t a surprise, but we’re very happy about it. Going to Japan was another deal that was pitched to me last year around this sometime and it just seemed like the right step and something exciting to do, and it has been!
It’s been a great couple of months, and I’m looking forward to extending it all the way to the end of the year. It’s busy, but it’s the way it always is for me and what I’ve been working on for years. It’s a good time.
That all said, you’ve never organized a Rock n’ Wrestling, several day boat cruise before! No one has, so how’s all that going amongst the other stuff?
It’s going great, man! It’s been – once again – a lot of work, but it’s something I knew I could make happen but it took me about two years to get it rolling, and we’ve been up now and on sale for eight or nine months now. There’s only a few months to go, so the trip coming together is exciting, but man, it’s been a lot of work to get it to this point. We have over 40 Australians coming! Which is great to hear; it’s world-wide business that we’re doing here.
Whenever has not been done before, you’ll usually get a lot of people telling you why it won’t work, and I had to deal with all of that. Now that we’re going and rolling, the idea is for it to not just be a one-off, it’s designed to be an annual destination vacation for everybody to go get on it. I’ve been promoting it daily trying to sell the cruise up. We’re doing good business on it, we’re not sold out yet, I hope we will be even so it’s gonna be jam-packed, and a lot of fun.
You are of course globally touring your new latest album Judas to unprecedented success. I’ve been listening to it end-over-end for weeks now, and did so today trying to unpack some of the themes behind your lyrics. The album’s eponymous single seems to focus a lot on self-doubt. Is that what the song is about?
Yeah, it’s a lot about betraying yourself. I think it’s something everybody can relate to. You sometimes make bad decisions even when you know they’re bad decisions, you can’t help it. I think everybody knows that feeling, so I think it’s one of the reasons the song became so popular; people can feel what we’re saying in the work.
Just as a quick aside, how do you manage to get Duff McKagan to send bad jokes to your Talk Is Jericho Podcast every single week so diligently?
Well Duff’s a good friend of mine, he’s a great guy. I think we started telling knock-knock jokes one time back stage, and we did that podcast together last year. I think it’s the only podcast he did for the Guns n’ Roses reunion tour, and he started it off with a knock\-knock joke, and ended it with a knock-knock joke, so I asked if he wanted to call in a knock-knock joke every week, so it started as that and kind of morphed in to awful Dad jokes. He’s great, man. He calls in all the time no matter where he is or what he’s doing, and he’s always… I said don’t feel bad if you want to stop doing it! He was like “No! I love it! It’s fun!” I know he and Axl exchange bad jokes on stage, so I’m sure some of these bad jokes came from Axl, or at least he’s heard them as well.
It’s kind of a cool thing having a guy calling in from wherever, Germany, Slovenia, or wherever the hell he is getting ready to go on stage in twenty minutes! Here’s a joke! It’s like an extra little fun bonus we have. It’s almost been a year, and he’s never missed week.
You must pinch yourself that a man from a band you grew up idolizing now willfully sends a joke to your podcast every week for millions to enjoy.
That’s the thing; when you first get to meet these guys, you start out as a fan, and then you become friends, and then you become peers. We’re all just doing the same thing, y’know? Just on the road playing music. Some bands are bigger and some are smaller, but we’ve all got the same attitude and same vibe, all looking out for each other as well. It’s a good feeling.
Do you draw musical influences from any of these people with whom you travel down the road? Who influenced your recent album?
Like I always say, we love Iron Maiden, Metallica, we love The Beatles, The Stones, 70’s funk… I think we know who we are, though. It’s very heavy, it’s melodic, lot of groove in the playing. I think once a band figures out what they do best, that’s when you can really draw inspiration from yourself. It takes a while to get to that point, but I think once you do, you’ll know when you all get together whether this is or isn’t a Fozzy song, y’know?
We can do stuff outside the box from what we do, but sometimes certain things are just perfect for it. I think you should know you who you are as a band first-and-foremost, and then all those influences will just come out, but I think it’s best to just have your style. When you figure that out, you’re up and running.
Seems like there’s a niche to carve and stick to with music more than wrestling at times? Fans can love a style of music, but wrestlers need often change their style or gimmick to stay relevant. Have you noticed that?
Well I think there’s a lot of diversity in Fozzy’s music. We have our style, but there’s some diversity within that, and that’s by design. We always make sure it’s not the record every time, but still have those trademark styles and sounds that makes people enjoy us. If you’re talking about a song like Judas or Painless they’re different from the songs we did in the past. There’s more concise. There’s no guitar solos in either of those songs! There’s no solos in Burn Me Out either, so there’s three top-40 singles we have with no guitar solos.
Not a lot of rock n’ roll bands so that, but we were recording this record and decided not every song needed a solo, just a musical bridge or cool riff. It makes for a better song. I think that’s something we’ve never done in the past. There’s always that scale and variety in Fozzy’s music, while still rooted in our style.
Judas also made for a really cool entrance theme for you this year headlining New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 show! That must’ve been cool singing your own theme music.
Yeah man, walkin’ into a sold out Tokyo dome with our band’s song playing was a pretty cool moment, for sure.
Can you not ask someone at WWE to get a Fozzy song on instead of your original theme music?
I tried to change that music a few times, but realized that for Jericho and the WWE that the theme I’ve had for the last 20-odd years, almost, should stay. When I went to Japan it’s a different character, and a different Jericho. I wouldn’t have used that same WWE theme even if I were allowed to. It just wouldn’t sit with two very different vibes going on. Judas fits better for Japan, and that Break The Walls Down is the eternal WWE song, for sure.
We’re out of time! What a shame, mate. I could pick your brain all day about wrestling and music. Thanks heaps for chatting and we’ll see you down under in November!
I appreciate it. Thanks, man. See ya.
Interview by Todd Gingell
Fozzy – Judas Rising Tour 2018
Friday 9th November MELBOURNE Max Watts
Saturday 10th November SYDNEY Manning Bar
Tuesday 13th November ADELAIDE The Gov
Wednesday 14th November BRISBANE The Triffid