Breaking down the wall6/24/2015
Chris Jericho made his name in the squared circle of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). But from an early age, growing up in Winnipeg, Canada, Jericho wanted to be two things: a professional wrestler and a rock star.
Fast-forward three decades, and the 44-year-old stands as a six-time WWE World Champion. (Calm the “it’s fake!” vitriol. You don’t become any business’ most visible asset without talent and charisma.) and has three best-selling books under his belt to boot. And the rock star thing? That is working out pretty well, too.
Jericho founded his band, Fozzy, in 1999 with Stuck Mojo guitarist Rich Ward. Originally little more than a hobby project when he was off the road from WWE, Fozzy started life as a cover band with a fictitious back story.
“When we first started, it was just a fun thing,” Jericho concurred during a phone interview. “We had kind of a Blues Brothers back story going on. When we (Ward, drummer Frank Fontsere, guitarist Ryan Mallam and bassist Dan Dryden) first got together, we didn’t know what to expect. But we wound up having a great camaraderie, so we started talking about dropping the story and just being ourselves.
“What pushed that forward was when we did the Howard Stern Show (in 2003),” he continued. “(Howard) was doing this bit where he was having his band, The Losers, battle against all these “celebrity bands.” So Corey Feldman would come in, or whoever it was each week. So we figured that if we were going to do that, we wanted to drop the gimmick and just let people hear us as a real band. We went on and were the first band to beat The Losers.”
Fozzy had released two albums by then, with 80 percent of its output consisting of cover songs. But that would change in 2005, with the release of the entirely original “All That Remains,” an album that was received favorably by critics, with Allmusic.com comparing the act to Black Label Society.
“We always wanted to do original material,” Jericho said. “We got signed as a cover band, but it was never our goal to stay a cover band. So that lasted for basically an album and a half, and then we realized that this was only going to go so far. And if we wanted to continue as a band — just like any other band — we needed to write our own stuff.
“Our progression isn’t really different from any other band,” he continued. “When a band starts, most of the time they begin by playing covers, until they write enough original stuff. The only difference is that while most bands do that in bars and garages, our covers were recorded.”
It is that extra level of promotion — brought about largely by Jericho’s wildly popular and successful other job — that has made some people view Fozzy suspiciously. A healthy number of cynics will always approach a celebrity-fronted band with a “don’t quit your day job” mentality.
“I’m sure you can ask Taylor Momson or Jered Leto about the same things,” Jericho said. “And ultimately, I don’t give a shit. If people are still like, ‘That’s the wrestler’s band?’ — get over it. We’ve toured with Metallica. There’s only so much we can do. If you don’t like our band and you haven’t heard us? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. If you don’t like our band and you have heard us? That’s fine. Thanks for checking us out. Now make room so our fans can have better seats.” CV