Chris Jericho of Fozzy talks "Sin and Bones" and Getting a Helloween Tattoo with M. Shadows
Thu, 15 Aug 2013 10:18:29
"Every city we'll do a little poll so fans can choose a song to keep it fresh," says Fozzy mainman of his band's upcoming tour with Saxon.
Fozzy always keeps it "fresh" though. Last year's Sin and Bones remains a perfect slab of 21st century metal, recognizing the forerunners of the genre while adding its own kick. Now, Jericho and Co. are gearing up to dispense their undeniable metallic beatdown this fall on the road. At the same time, he's already cataloging ideas for the next Fozzy album. He's gunning for the metal crown and is well on his way to taking it...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Chris Jericho of Fozzy discusses Sin and Bones, getting a Helloween tattoo with M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold, and so much more.
So, what's your favorite hair band?
Nelson! They're so awesome. They're super underrated. They have great harmonies, great songwriting, and awesome hair. If you're looking for hair in a hair band, they had the best hair. They were like a hippie hair band. They didn't have the poodle shit going on [Laughs]. They were like, "We've got long hair and we're sticking with it!"
Sin and Bones feels like a complete vision.
I really appreciate that. We worked really hard on Sin and Bones. We had a lot of momentum with the Chasing the Grail record in 2010, and we wanted to keep it going. It was our debut on Century Media, which is the biggest record company we've ever been on, and we knew this was our chance to take things to the next level. We really focused on making Sin and Bones our Black Album. What I mean by that is The Black Album is a very cohesive record from start-to-finish. It takes you on a journey. All of the songs have a similar vibe, even though they've got different styles. We wanted that for Sin and Bones. We wanted to make a very groove-oriented dark kind of record you could listen to from the first song to the last and it would take you on a journey. It was meant to be listened to in sequence. Whenever you can do that, it becomes a memorable piece of work. With the reviews we got and the response, it was the highest-charting, biggest-selling, and best-reviewed of our career so far.
What ties it together for you? Is it the groove or a lyrical idea?
Once again, it's the tone and the vibe of the record. When we did Grail, we realized what we do best as a band is make very heavy and melodic music. If Metallica and Journey had a bastard child, it would be Fozzy. Heavy groove-oriented music with a lot of melodies and harmonies is not something a lot of bands do right now. I think that makes us a little bit different. That's one of the reasons Sin and Bones stands out. You have songs like "Sin and Bones" and "Sandpaper", which are very melodic and heavy. Then, you have songs like "Dark Passenger", "Shine Forever", and "Inside My Head", which are very Fozzy but maybe a little weirder. It's a very diverse record, but it's all anchored by the tone and the vibe. Maybe the darkness is the thread. It's a bit of a dark record. That's what I think whenever I hear it.
What's the story behind "Storm the Beaches"?
I've always loved long, epic songs like "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", Dream Theater stuff, and some of the longer Helloween songs Keeper of the Seven Keys, etc. We did a song called "Wormwood", which was based upon the book of Revelations in the Bible. I thought it was the perfect subject matter for heavy metal. People really responded to that so I wanted to do something of a sequel, another epic tune based around D-Day. Nobody has ever really done a song based on that. I know Iron Maiden had a song called "The Longest Day", but it was vague. I wanted to do a more detailed account of the D-Day attack. That's where that came from. I went online, Googled some things, and did a bit of research. I found a letter that one of the survivors had written to his mother recounting that day. I took that and started writing the lyrics from there. Next thing you know, I had eight or nine pages of lyrics. Rich did a great job of writing this amazing symphonic score for it and this really cool riff. Billy Grey wrote a great riff too. It became this cool, epic song from Fozzy that we can hopefully do live someday. It's another element of our band that we do, which a lot of people wouldn't expect such as a 13- or 14-minute song. Who does that? Well, we like that certain type of stuff, so we do it.
Was it important for you to tell stories and paint pictures with the songs?
When you have a song like "Storm the Beaches", you have to paint a picture. All lyrics have to, but I think I stretched as a lyricist on this record because I started writing about inner relationship things like "Inside My Head" or "Shine Forever". "She's My Addiction" is inspired by the worst of all evils—women [Laughs]. Then, doing things like "Sandpaper" or "Spider in My Mouth", those lyrics are more based upon imagery. Still, they're very important. It's not a literal thing, but it paints a picture. That's another side of the lyrics. I like writing fantasy, historical, and relationship lyrics, but also imagery. That's a lot of fun to do. That definitely worked well on Sin and Bones also. I don't write lyrics based on song titles. I'll think of a song title first and work my way backwards from there. That takes me some different places no one really goes to because I don't like song titles that have occurred before. I'll usually Google a song title. If it already exists, I'll switch it to something else.
If you were to compare Sin and Bones to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
I've always enjoyed lyrics. I was always the guy who would go home and read lyrics on an album or cassette sleeve. If I didn't what they said, I'd try to figure it out. I think that rubbed off on me. I always try to drive away from being pedestrian and do something original and paint different pictures that you can see in your head. I want to stay away from the "action satisfaction" stuff. That's so overused. If you're writing that type of song, that's okay, but I try to be a little deeper with my lyrics. I'm from the James Hetfield and Jim Morrison School where everything has to mean something important to you. As far as a movie goes, there are a lot of different elements to it. Obviously, "Storm the Beaches" is a World War II movie. That's basically Saving Private Ryan. That's exactly what I'm writing about. "Spider In My Mouth" and "Sandpaper" are like a David Lynch movie such as Twin Peaks or Mulholland Dr.. "Dark Passenger" is directly inspired by Dexter. He always talks about his "Dark Passenger", and I thought that was an interesting concept. That's my own version of what a "Dark Passenger" could be. "Blood Happens" is about a bar brawl. It could be from Road House [Laughs]. Every song could be its own little movie, but tied together, it would have to be an anthology or something like that.
So, you got a Helloween tattoo with M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold?
M. Shadows and I have been friends for a long time. That's why I asked him to help us with "Sandpaper". He did a great job with the arrangement and the vocal parts. One thing that made us even closer kindred spirits is the fact that we both love Helloween. We were coming to the Roxy to do a show, and he came down. I was like, "Dude, we should get a Helloween tattoo!" We talked about it for a couple of days before and figured out the pumpkin we wanted to get. He's got so many tattoos that his pumpkin was like the last little bit of real estate he had on his arm. I don't have a lot of tattoos so it was like I had this pumpkin in the middle of my forearm for no apparent reason so I thought I'd put something around it. I came up with the idea of doing my four favorite bands and putting them all together. It's Metallica, Helloween, Iron Maiden, and The Beatles. It ended up being pretty cool.
What have you been listening to?
I like the new Bullet for My Valentine record , Temper Temper. I like the new Stone Sour records. I thought they were great. The new Avenged Sevenfold song is awesome. Halestorm is doing some pretty cool stuff. Avenged is probably my favorite over the past few years. I like Mike Portnoy's new album The Winery Dogs.
Have you begun writing the next Fozzy record?
I've already written all of my lyrics for it. Rich is starting to write music. The idea is to get it all down and ready to rock and start recording in early January for release summer 2014. We want to keep the momentum rolling. We want Metallica's job. That's why we're doing this. Once you get a foothold in the door, you have to keep banging away to get the fucker opened.
What's your favorite Fozzy song?