Interview: Chris Jericho of Fozzy —"We have a track about Vikings tearing each other apart, it's the love song of the Summer"
Sun, 14 Mar 2010 17:48:01
WWE star Chris Jericho doesn't only kick ass in the ring; he's also quite skilled at crushing skulls on stage.
Chris Jericho just dropped the latest slab of skull-crushing heavy metal from his band Fozzy, Chasing the Grail, and it's every bit as brain-bashingly awesome as Jericho is in the ring. Jericho's stage exploits will extend past rocking out even, as he's set to host Revolver Magazine's second annual Golden God Awards at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles this April.
In the meantime, Chris Jericho sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about Fozzy's latest and greatest, Chasing the Grail, why Fozzy are the musical equivalent of Saving Private Ryan and reading the Bible for lyrical inspiration.
Chasing the Grail sounds like traditional metal, but it's still fresh. How do things typically come together for you?
It's interesting. Since the record came out, a lot of people have pointed out that our music is very heavy, but it's also very melodic at the same time. It's got a real modern sound, and a lot of bands aren't really playing the kind of music that we're playing. That's enabled us to carve out our own little niche in the scene. A lot of it has to do with our influences. First and foremost, Rich Ward is the leader of Stuck Mojo and has been since their inception. Stuck Mojo was one of the pioneers of the modern rap-rock genre. Rich has that real heavy, Sevendust or Shinedown vibe. We also love Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne. We're also fans of bands from the '70s like Journey, Bad Company and Styx. We get a lot of vocal harmonies and melodies from that style of music as well. There really are a lot of different styles that go into this Fozzy blender to create the sound that we have. I've been playing in bands since I was 12-years-old, and when you start playing, you try to be the next Iron Maiden, Metallica, Dio or whatever. As you continue to play for 10 or 15 years, your own style shines through. That's what it takes to have some notoriety as a band and be successful. You have to have your own style and your own sound. A lot of people say I sound like Ozzy vocally, and I never intended that. I always wanted to be like Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford, but there is an Ozzy style to my voice. I also bring a Jericho style to it as well. This is our fourth studio album and our tenth year as a band. We've played hundreds of gigs and spent countless hours in the studio, practicing and rehearsing. You just hone your craft and sculpt your style. You see what works and what doesn't. We've found our box in terms of what Fozzy does.
If Chasing the Grail were a movie, what would it be?
Wow, that's a good question! It'd be Saving Private Ryan because it makes you laugh, it makes you cry and there's a whole lot of blood and guts in the meantime. There you go [Laughs].
Are you Tom Hanks or Matt Damon?
I'd be the guy who gets attacked by the German and stabbed with the bayonet right near the end. He slowly drives the spike into his stomach. He dies slowly and painfully. That's probably how I would die. I'd never be valiant enough to die with a gunshot like Tom Hanks did and get my final words, "Go on without me!" I'd be one of those guys screaming, "Don't kill me, please don't kill me! No!!!" [Laughs]
You could probably kick some ass with your bare hands though…
I would try. I'd do it "Pray for Blood" style. That track is about Vikings tearing each other apart. It's the love song of the summer [Laughs].
What's the story behind "Wormwood?"
When we first started talking about doing a new record two or three years ago, I had an idea to do an epic song. I always loved "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" and "Keeper of the Seven Keys." Plus, I'm a huge Rush and Dream Theater fan. I knew that we had the players in the band to pull it off, and I had great subject matter. I've always thought that book of Revelations and the story of the End of the World would be a great epic. I sat down with a Bible and Google, and I just started writing. Three weeks later, I had ten pages of lyrics. I knew it was going to be a monster to handle. Our guitar player at the time, Martin, was really into that stuff. So we worked together to create "Wormwood." It's one of my favorite songs on the record, and it brings Fozzy to a different world. Not too many bands can pull off a 14-minute song and make it memorable. We've been able to do that, and it gives us a whole new dynamic within the band and shows our fan base, as well as people who've never heard us before, another dimension.
It never gets boring either…
Exactly, it's not the same riff or lyrics over and over again. I deliberately came up with this seven-part story based on exactly what was in the book of Revelations. Each part has a different vibe and sound. Mike really captured the sinister, foreboding vibe of the lyrics with the riffs and atmosphere he created. It was a great example of one musician taking another musician's idea and making it his own. It was a perfect songwriting collaboration. On this record, all of the lyrics were written before the riffs—that's the first time we've ever done that. Rich just kept creating these tremendous riffs that really fit the lyrics I was writing. I think that's why this record is our best. It's really cohesive, and it takes you on a journey. It was written classically with the songwriters working together from scratch and seeing it through to the end. We've never really done that before. This time, there were lyrics set before the music was even attempted.
What else, other than the Bible, is on your reading list?
"God Pounds His Nails" is actually taken from The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. It's a saying that they use in this netherworld where the book took place. I always thought that would make a great song title. Song lyrics come from anywhere. "Pray for Blood"—I was always intrigued by the 16th and 17th century Vikings who would have these battles. The guys would kill their enemies and then eat their hearts, thinking that the enemy's soul and courage would become a part of them. With the power of Google, you can look anything up and find ideas to write about. Same with " Paraskavedekatriaphobia (Friday the 13th)" I saw it in a car company ad somehow so I Google'd it and found out it's the phobia of the day "Friday the 13th." I found every superstition I could and translated them into the lyrics. I always enjoyed the Iron Maiden and Metallica style of songwriting, where they would talk about historical events, war, feelings of being of psychotic or angry and life in general—not the "you can give me what I need, satisfaction guaranteed" lyrics.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…