In town last week for an appearance with Fozzy at the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival in Tinley Park, I chatted with frontman Chris Jericho about touring the festival circuit, working with Motörhead's Phil Campbell and much more. In the second part of this interview, we talked at length about the recent release of Fozzy's latest album Sin and Bones through Century Media...
Q. Well, Sin and Bones came out [about a week] ago and there’s a lot of momentum in the Fozzy camp. In this era where it’s gotten difficult to sell records you guys have done pretty well: All That Remains sold 100,000 copies. I imagine expectations have got to be pretty high for the new album...
Chris Jericho: Well, absolutely... The expectations are high and it is harder to sell records nowadays... but it's not impossible. You just have to think outside the box, think differently. Obviously record sales have gone down but there still is a market for records. You still have to put them out to become relevant and do it in the best way possible where the most people are going to check it out. That's one of the best things about iTunes. Even in this day, unless you're Linkin Park, there's no band that you can't go into a store and say like "Do you have Fozzy?" "No, it's not in yet." "I couldn't find Fozzy at a record store!" Well, you just take out your phone and hit buy and you've got it.
There's people who grew up holding the physical copies in their hands like I did and I still like having that but I also like the convenience of having it on my iPod and listening to it instantly. So a lot of times I'll buy two copies of something. So there's people that aren't buying records and there's people like me that are buying two. Even though sales have gone down, it's still important and there's still a way you can sell records and there's still a way you can make it relevant.
Q. When I think about the first two albums and the covers and the band’s gimmick, there’s certainly been a lot of growth from there to Sin and Bones where you’ve got everything from radio ready singles to a twelve minute rock opera closing out the album. What's that progression been like for you as an artist?
Jericho: We kind of started out like we did once again with Chasing the Grail. That's kind of the Fozzy template that we've really found worked and it was a big success for us so we wanted to continue along in the same direction with Sin and Bones.
I mean, yeah, we started as a cover band like most bands do… Except our covers were recorded and released on a record. When Jonny Zazula, who signed Metallica in 1983, called and wanted to sign Fozzy, the cover band, we were like, "Are you sure you've got the right Fozzy?" He was like, "I love this idea and I love the covers and I love the story." And it was like, "Ok, man!"
After the first couple years, we realized "Listen, we've really got some legs with this band. We really like playing together. We've got a lot of good ideas. Let's just do our own thing, play our own music and really make a go of it."
I almost consider our band to be a lot like Pantera, in that there was two versions of Pantera: There was the early version with Power Metal and Metal Magic where you look at the back cover and Vinnie Paul's got makeup on and he's got goofy hair and it’s like "Is this the same guy?" But then suddenly they changed their look, they changed their style and became the legendary Pantera. Kind of the same thing happened with Fozzy. There was the version that existed first, up until 2002, and then the version that has existed since 2004 which has been us.
So it has been a definite evolution and especially over the last three years, four years when we really started realizing that this was something that we wanted to do, take it to the next level and do it at the biggest level possible.
And that's when we really started honing in on what it is that Fozzy does best... and that's very heavy riffs with very melodic, hooky choruses. I think that's one of the reasons why we've gotten to where we are and why we're seeing the growth: Because we're doing something that's a little bit different from what's going on today and doing it our way! It's like, there's no band that's gone through this type of evolution before so instead of ignore it, might as well embrace it. It's part of who we are and it's kind of given us the strategy that we're going to do it no matter what.
And that's when we really started honing in on what it is that Fozzy does best... and that's very heavy riffs with very melodic, hooky choruses.
I think that's the reason why we've been able to last. A lot of people are like, "Fozzy is still around?" We heard all these guys years ago like "F--k, I've never even heard this band. I better check it out." Or, "I'm gonna check it out kind of reluctantly." And then when they finally do it's like "What have we been waiting for? This band is killer!" So I like those kind of reviews and we've been getting a lot of them.
Q. You just hit on something that I find interesting about the band that I think speaks to its success amongst a pretty broad audience. And that's a respect for the rock and metal music that has come before you and an appreciation for your contemporaries. To that end, on Sin and Bones, you worked with Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows on “Sandpaper”… but you also worked with Motörhead's Phil Campbell on “She’s My Addiction,” which is one of my favorite tracks on Sin & Bones. How did that come about and what was that like?
You know, what comes around goes around. Here we are in 2010. We have a gig at the Whiskey A Go-Go in Los Angeles, the famous Whiskey, and [Motörhead's] Phil [Campbell] calls me, says "Can I come play with you? Can I come jam?" We're like, "F--k! Are you kidding me? Obviously!"
Jericho: Well, it's funny and this is what I'm talking about where the evolution of Fozzy has been very interesting. Phil has been a fan of our band for years: Since All That Remains came out in 2005. And he always calls me and says, "Can I do something with Fozzy?" He just really likes our vibe and likes what we do. We get along very well, we're friends... but we weren't at the start. It's not like he was my friend and I said "Listen to my record." He just started getting into it.
What happened was we took one of his son's bands on tour when we did Wales back in 2005. And he always says it was a personal favor so he's always been very Fozzy-friendly. You know, what comes around goes around. Here we are in 2010. We have a gig at the Whiskey A Go-Go in Los Angeles, the famous Whiskey, and Phil calls me, says "Can I come play with you? Can I come jam?" We're like, "F--k! Are you kidding me? Obviously!" So he came down and we did Dio's "Stand Up and Shout" and he was awesome. It was just very cool to have him onstage. And then about five or six months later, he calls me and says "Listen, when you guys do the record, can I do something on it?" And once again, it's like "Let me check my sched... Obviously!" So it wasn't just one call. He kept calling... like every week. "Hey, can we do something?" Or, "When are you guys recording?" It's like, "Well, we're just starting work on it, Phil."
So I had this idea. I wanted to do a Buckcherry/Guns N' Roses song that a stripper could really get into and grind to. So I started writing the verse for "She's My Addiction." And when Rich [Ward] wrote the [guitar] part, the bridge and the song, I said "Well that's the one Phil can play on" because it's got a very cool Motörhead vibe. I said, "This is perfect for Phil!" So I finally called and said "We got the song for you, man!" I sent it to him and he was on the road but about two weeks later he got home and listened to it and laid down the solo for it and there you go. So it's just very cool to show the relationships that you have with these guys and also when they start digging your band for the music and then [when] stuff like that happens it makes it all that much cooler.
Q. You’ve worked with a diverse array of musicians on Fozzy albums… Everyone from Zakk Wylde to Butch Walker. Who’s still out there that you’d like to work with?
Jericho: Well, to me, it's not so much "Oh, we've gotta have a guest on this vocal. We've got to have a guest on this record." The Butch Walker thing… Man, I forgot about that. That was actually funny. We were looking for someone to do a vocal just as a guest and he was around.
But Zakk was actually an important path for us. He was a big fan of Rich Ward, one of our guitar players and songwriter. When we were doing All That Remains, which was our first all original record, I wanted some names on there that people would see and go "Wow!" So Zakk was perfect for that.
M. Shadows came about because I wanted to do a little bit of a call and response sort of thing on "Sandpaper" and him and I have become very close over the years so I called him up. He put a lot of time and effort into it and kind of worked on the arrangement with us and really hit a homerun.
So all of these things came because it was just organic. So, I don't really know. If something comes up on the next record... It's hard to say. When I met Jeff Waters from a band called Annihilator, he did solos on the last record. We wanted a fast, really shready solo. Jeff is one of the most underrated guitar players in the world and he was perfect for it. But now we have Billy Grey who could do that, that's now playing. So I don't really know. If something came up where it was relevant, I would.
I love the idea though of having the guest vocal. If you listen to any top forty song... They always have somebody else on the track. I wanted that. Fozzy featuring [Avenged Sevenfold's] M. Shadows.
I love the idea though of having the guest vocal. If you listen to any top forty song, it would be Jay-Z with Rihanna. Or Fun with [Janelle Monáe]. They always have somebody else on the track. I wanted that. Fozzy featuring M. Shadows. So I like that idea and if something came up where it was relevant to do that again I would definitely call but there's not somebody on my wish list.
Touring wise? F--k, we'd love to tour with Avenged Sevenfold. We'd love to tour with Bullet For My Valentine or Iron Maiden or Metallica or Shinedown. There's a lot of guys we could tour with. But as far as doing actual songs, it would have to depend on the song.
*** This interview was conducted by Jim Ryan
Sin and Bones
Released: August 14, 2012
Click HERE to listen online
Click HERE to purchase Sin and Bones
Click HERE for part 1 of my interview with Chris Jericho (A Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival Concert Preview)