Chris Jericho: From the ring to the stage

When American-born Canadian-raised multifaceted performer Chris Jericho was growing up he had two ambitions. He wanted to be a professional wrestler and a rock star.

Having completed a 12 year tenure in the ring, in which he claimed a total of 29 championships at the sport's highest level with the WCW and WWF/WWE, he's now happy living out the second part of his dream, fronting heavy metal act Fozzy.

While his band may not be a main event, Jericho is more than happy to see Fozzy take its place on the undercard of Soundwave 2013 [Sydney Showground, Sunday, February 24], alongside metal heavyweights Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax.

Fozzy was born in 1999, when guitarist Rich Ward and members of his legendary rap/metal act Stuck Mojo, sought out a fun way to pay homage to their own scene idols.

Jericho was recruited to sing under the alias Moongoose McQueen and together they devised a set of live covers with material from the likes of Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, WASP and the Scorpions.

To the band's surprise, they were signed to a record deal and released two albums [Fozzy and Happenstance], mostly containing cover tracks.

In 2005 Jericho and Ward decided to take Fozzy to a new level, releasing All That Remains, the first album of all original material.

''We started just as a fun thing ... just a bunch of guys coming together to play the music that we love,'' said Jericho, who also acts, is a radio host, boasts two best-selling books and appeared on American Dancing With The Stars.

''We got signed to a record deal right off the bat which probably took us for a little bit of a loop because we weren't really expecting to and after the first couple of records that's when we really thought, 'we really enjoy playing together ... we've got some great chemistry'.

''That's when we decided to start doing our own stuff. At that point you start thinking, 'we could really do something with this'. You think of Pantera. There are two versions of the same band. There's Pantera with the original glam metal thing and their hair teased up, and then they changed singers and changed their vibe and the way they dressed and they became the legendary Pantera. It's kind of the same with Fozzy. We started of one way and then we took a left turn and became a different band and that band became a million times more successful than the original concept ever did. It's kind of cool to know we we were able to do that. It's not easy to make it in a band in any way, shape or form.''

Jericho said that his passion for music started long ago.

''I've been playing in bands since I was 12-years-old,'' he said. ''I didn't just wake up one day and say I'm gonna be the singer in a band. I've been playing in bands - singing and playing guitar - my whole life basically.

''When I was a kid I wanted to be in a rock band and I wanted to be a wrestler - those were the two things that I wanted to do and I didn't know I was going to do either one of them, but I just decided this is what I want to do.

''I think sometimes kids say they want to be an astronaut or a geologist or whatever and move on to the next thing. But for me, I never moved on. It was always about both of those things.''

Jericho said there were definite attitude parallels between the ring and stage.

''As far as being a frontman, whether you're wrestling in the ring or standing on a stage singing, it's the same concept. You want to influence people to have a good time. You want to be the party host. You want to take them on a roller coaster ride and you want them to feel good about paying their hard earned money to buy a ticket to come and see you,'' he said.

''I've always had that concept and vibe for everything I've done.''

Since All That Remains, Fozzy has released two more original long-players, Chasing The Grail and this year's sensational Sin And Bones.

A sum of many parts, the material is heavy, yet extremely melodic.

According to Jericho, it's all in the influences.

''The Beatles are my favourite band of all time,'' he said. ''Then Metallica and Iron Maiden ... they're like my magical trio of amazing bands. But I also love The Police, Helloween, Kiss, Loudness, Rush, Pink Floyd, The Stones, Queen, The Who, Guns N' Roses, Cheap Trick - anything that just makes you feel. Good melodies, good music.

''I think that's what Fozzy does. We're a very heavy band. There's a lot of roots to that 70s rock n roll, a lot of harmonies and a lot of melodies, everybody sings - it's almost like Fozzy is a bastard child of Metallica and Journey.''

Jericho said that as far as fellow frontmen were concerned, David Lee Roth was a definite quality yardstick for self assessment.

''There's been better bands than Van Halen, but David Lee Roth was the best frontman,'' he said. ''He got you into it and you had fun. There are better singers than Roth but it didn't matter. I always wanted to be the David Lee Roth or Paul Stanley [Kiss] of wrestling.

''When Fozzy started I took exactly the same attributes that I was using in wrestling at the time and took it back to music. So it came from music, I took it to wrestling, and then took it back to music. It was just a complete goulash of all these different ideas, but it was all the same idea ... I just wanted to make sure that people had a great time.''

Making the transition from professional wrestling legend to band frontman and being taken seriously was never going to be an easy task for Jericho, but it's something he takes in his stride.

''It's all been hard,'' he said. ''A. We started playing the covers. B. Our name is Fozzy; and then, 'well Jericho's a wrestler'. We didn't care. We stuck to our guns. We knew we were good, we knew what we could do. There's always going to be haters, there's always going to be people that downplay everything you do and I really don't give a shit.

''I know what we can do. I know what our fans want from us. I know that we're gaining fans and selling more records than we ever have. After 13 years of doing this there are people that don't even know that we started out as a cover band. It doesn't matter, and our name Fozzy ... an interesting name to say the least, but so is Def Leppard.''

Hard work is the basic ethic of the band, says Jericho.

''We just always had to work harder to get farther and I think that's why every time someone comes and sees us they're blown away,'' he said. ''We don't take anything for granted. We are very honoured and very proud of everything we've achieved and the fact that we're growing after 13 years is huge to us, because a lot of bands after 13 years are done.''

Jericho said the Soundwave tour offered much in the way of opportunities for Fozzy, which boasts two previous headling tours of the country.

''There's gonna be thousands of people going home every night going, 'you know what, Metallica was great, Blink 182 was great, but Fozzy, they were the surprise band of the day - we didn't know,'' he said.

''They may never have heard of us or may never have checked out our music or whatever, but if you like Metallica, if you like Bullet For My Valentine, if you like Anthrax, if you like Avenged Sevenfold, if you like Shinedown, then you're going to like Fozzy. It's a no brainer. Just get the people there and we'll do the rest.

''When you play at a festival the crowd is a massive monster - it's one massive, living, breathing thing. You can't really pick out certain faces. When you play smaller shows you can see everybody's face, if there's 500 people there you can pretty much see them all - it's a little bit more of a personal vibe. Also when you're doing shows, you're preaching to the choir - they're your fans, your audience. The people who paid to see you.

''There's benefits to doing both. We love the big stage. I feel very much that Fozzy is a big stage band because of the energy we project and the energy we have. We don't have a massive set. We don't have a pyro. We are the show and every night we give a great show.''

Jericho said little compared to performing live.

''That's the brilliance of it,'' he said. ''It's exactly what the word says, it's live. Some nights its the most amazing show, everybody plays great, everybody sings great, the crowd is going nuts, they're giving you that X factor that you can't create - it's just there, its magic.''

Last year Fozzy shared a bill with the abovementioned Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax, along with metals final member of the scene-declared Big Four, Megadeth.

Buying into the ''who's best'' battle, but from a distinct wrestling perspective, Jericho said one band would most definitely walk away victorious from a fatal-fourway bout.

''Metallica - James Hetfield would beat them all,'' he said.

For the latest Soundwave information click here

Fozzy, featuring Chris Jericho (centre).

Fozzy, featuring Chris Jericho (centre).

This story Jericho breaks down the walls of metal first appeared on Hawkesbury Gazette.


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