Not true. The singer of Fozzy has never played a concert in San Antonio.
That may not be a big deal to those outside of the Alamo City. But given that Jericho has always said the impetus for his band's existence began when he met guitarist Rich Ward at a World Championship Wrestling show at the Alamodome way back in 1999 -- yes, it is.
Fourteen years later, Jericho and Fozzy (Ward, guitarist Billy Grey, bassist Paul DiLeo and drummer Frank Fontsere) are finally going to party like the turn of the century when they open for Saxon at Backstage Live on Friday, Sept. 27 (details at bottom).
The aforementioned accomplishments barely scratch the surface regarding the life of the self-proclaimed Ayatollah of Rock N' Rolla, otherwise known as Y2J or the WWE's first undisputed champion. Which can only mean one thing:
There was plenty of ground to cover when I phoned Jericho on Wednesday in Florida:
Q: You and I spoke by phone during Wrestlemania week in 2010, and during that time, you had talked about how you met Rich (left) in '99 at the Alamodome, and that's how things got rolling for Fozzy. So it's incredible to me that you guys have never played a show here. How much are you looking forward to the Sept. 27 gig?
A: You know, it's funny that you pointed that out. I never thought of that before, but you're absolutely right. That was the first time I ever met Rich Ward. Yeah, it's where the genesis of Fozzy came to be. We're looking forward to playing San Antonio not just for that reason now, (but) because San Antonio's always been regarded as one of the biggest heavy metal cities in all of America, for every band. I know for a fact that our tour brothers Saxon have a huge fan base in San Antonio, and we're looking forward to this being one of the highlights of the tour.
Q: You don't hear of many tour pairings having a classic/current feel like this one does. What are you looking forward to the most about touring with Saxon?
A: I think that's one of the reasons why we like it. It's one of the reasons why Saxon liked it, is it isn't just your typical, "OK, it's Saxon, let's stick 'em with Anvil or something like that." I think one of the reasons why you do a big tour like this is to gain new fans. We toured last summer with Shinedown and Godsmack throughout the States. And now this summer we're doing it with Saxon. So I think one of the most important things for our band that's been able to see us grow so much over the last few years is the diversity of what we do and the diversity of who we play with. We always knew we could play with anybody from Shinedown to Slayer, and we believe that because our music appeals to a lot of different people. So getting back to what you're saying and how the idea for Saxon came up, obviously we're huge Saxon fans. Very legendary band, very influential. But the thing that really appealed to me is the fact their last couple of records, more specifically their last record Sacrifice, is one of the best records they've ever done. They're still putting out great material even at this stage of the game. And they're really a breathing, vibrant Rock N' Roll band, which I thought was really, really important. They're not just phoning it in. They're still out there to kick ass. And also too, they've got something good in the States. They're still headlining major festivals in Europe and in the UK, but they haven't toured the States for awhile. And this is kind of a big return. There's going to be a lot of Saxon fans that don't know Fozzy or Fozzy fans that don't know Saxon. But at the end of the night, those people are going to leave being fans of both bands, and that's why you do something like this.
Q: The tour kicks off on Sept. 12 in New York. But if "Thursday the 12th is bad for (your) health," did you try to get the tour started on a different night?
A: Haha! Well, Thursday the 12th is bad for my health, but Friday is worse! We haven't done that one in awhile, so I forget the lyrics. Yeah, somebody pointed that out to me, and they used to say all the time, "Oh, wow, they should put it back in the set for that night in New York." That in fact is Friday the 13th, which would give you paraskavedekatriaphobia if you were so inclined.
Thank you for saying that, 'cause I never knew how to say that word!
Yeah, it's funny, 'cause Rich never even tries. He just calls it Friday the 13th. I thought that was the best Iron Maiden song title that Iron Maiden never used. I always loved the song titles where you're actually gonna go look it up in the dictionary to find out what it meant, and that's why I used that for that song. For those of you listening, paraskavedekatriaphobia is the phobia of the day Friday the 13th.
Q: Chasing The Grail is a great, heavy record virtually throughout the whole album. Sin and Bones obviously has its heavy moments as well, but it's also a more diverse record. Would you agree with that?
A: Yeah, we got a lot of momentum from Chasing The Grail. A lot of new ears were listening, a lot of new eyes were upon us. And we knew we had the chance to go to the next level with Sin and Bones, especially since we had just signed to Century Media, which is the biggest record label we've ever been on. So I knew that we could hit a home run with the record and take it to the next level. So Rich and I worked really hard to kind of figure out what it is that we do best, which is very heavy riffs and very melodic choruses. I always say if Metallica and Journey had a bastard child, it would sound like Fozzy. That was one of the things we do that a lot of other bands don't do. We use a lot of singing in our songs. We love Metallica, we love Avenged Sevenfold, but we also love Journey and Styx and Foreigner -- those bands from the '70s where everyone in the band sang. And we kind of wanted to utilize that trick in Fozzy. We started doing that when we were working on Sin and Bones. It really kind of showed us this is what we need to be, this is who we are. And it is a little bit more diverse, but it still fits that heavy/melodic vibe. It's our biggest-selling record of all-time, it's our highest-charting record, most critically acclaimed. It's far and above and beyond what we were hoping for. It looks like our plan paid off. And I think in the future, it's going to be kind of what we'll stick with.
Q: Is "Spider In My Mouth" taken from personal experience?
A: Ha, no, man! Well, kind of. I read that phrase, I believe, in a Stephen King book somewhere. He couldn't have been more disgusted if he woke up with a spider in his mouth, and that always stuck in my head, like, what a cool song title. When you write the lyrics for it, what do you write about? Like literally, "I woke up with a spider in my mouth, I spit it out, it tastes really bad?" I said, nah, I want to make it more of an imagery type song where you're giving all these images that give people thoughts like, "I woke up with a spider in my mouth. Well, that's gross. I had a cockroach in my head." I like those type of lyrics as well as the more literal lyrics.
Q: Which WWE superstar is the biggest Fozzy fan or has attended the most concerts?
A: (Randy) Orton used to come quite a bit. ("Stone Cold" Steve) Austin came a few times. Triple-H is a fan. Dolph Ziggler and Miz always come to see us. Miz has probably been to the most shows most recently.
Q: You've hosted the (Revolver Magazine) Golden Gods Awards several times, and obviously you're tailor-made for that. This past May, how difficult was it to keep the humor and things going given that Jeff Hanneman died that day?
A: Well actually, it's obviously a terrible day, but it was probably in retrospect the best day that could've happened. Because you had all of his friends gathered together, and instead of a real despondent, horrible time, it was almost like a real big celebration for Jeff. It was a real coincidental thing but in a positive way. If there's anything positive about that, from him passing away is that, you know, you'd (otherwise) have some guys over here, some guys over there, some guys over here -- (but) everybody was there. You had people from The Big 4 gathered together that day. And it was a really cool experience because everyone was there to celebrate Jeff's life. Some of his closest friends, guys that he influenced the most and then of course 2,000 of his biggest fans that were in the crowd. It actually ended up being kind of a big, giant wake, and it was actually a positive experience in the middle of a horrible situation.
Q: Unfortunately I don't have satellite radio, but I know "Rock of Jericho" ended this past weekend. How bittersweet was it?
A: It was kind of bittersweet. I loved doing that show, but I had thought of wrapping it up because there was no upward growth. It was on a specialty channel on XM Sirius, but it wasn't on Sirius XM. You couldn't get it in Canada. And there was no record of it, no podcast of it or anything. Once the show aired two or three times, it was gone forever, and I was doing some great interviews. From Slash to Scott Ian and Kerry King to Adrian Smith to Corey Taylor to M. Shadows. The biggest names in Rock N' Roll were coming on my show. I would've liked to have seen it for a couple months longer because I finally had a rock following and time to do it. But other than that, I pretty much got to interview everybody that I wanted to on all 97 shows. So I'll definitely continue doing more radio. I think it will be some show with doing a podcast because then the shows exist forever.
Q: Did you have complete freedom to play Fozzy songs on your show once in awhile or were you kind of restricted?
A: Oh yeah. I mean, I wouldn't shove it down people's throats. I'd take requests via Twitter, and people would request certain Fozzy songs. Probably one show out of three I'd play Fozzy songs. I'd play a lot of Iron Maiden too or a lot of Metallica as well, whatever. Some of my favorite bands.
Q: I have a couple of questions from my social media readers for you. Joe from San Antonio asks: Has your celebrity helped or hurt the band with the opportunities you may get or not get, and are you taken seriously in the industry because of your background?
A: Well, I think it's hurt and helped. A lot of people listen to the band because I'm in it, a lot didn't. But we had to work twice as hard to gain the respect, and once we got it, it's there for life. We're a better band, a more stubborn band, we've been given more of a drive to get to the next level, which we have. Are we taken seriously? I think that's up for you guys to answer. When you have Zakk Wylde or M. Shadows or Phil Campbell playing on your song on your record, Kerry King and Slash and all these guys come to see you play, we've definitely taken great strides over the last three or four years. We are taken seriously. That's why Anthrax has taken us on tour or Saxon or Avenged Sevenfold or Drowning Pool. If you don't take us seriously, come see us live, and we'll kick your f----- ass.
Q: Michael from Houston wants to know: When is your next book coming out?
A: Working on it as we speak. I actually have my laptop in my hands, and as soon as I'm done talking to you, I'll get back to work. Hopefully maybe early next year. I'm not sure exactly what the publishing company wants to do to put it out, but I know it has to be delivered very soon. I'm really behind, but I'm working on it.
Q: I've read your commentary on your website about why you chose to do "Dancing With The Stars" and found the part about your late mom pretty moving. For those who haven't read it or aren't aware, can you explain how a guy who has rocked on stages worldwide and wrestled in front of millions of fans would be a little nervous about dancing on a TV show?
A: Well, because I'd never done it before. You can go in front of millions of fans and sing a song or wrestle a match, the key is I've done it a thousand times before or 2,000 times before. But that was the first time I'd ever danced before 24 million people. I don't care who you are (laughs), it tends to make you a little nervous. But that's why I did the show. I wanted to learn something about the artistry of dancing and being a part of a show because it was such a juggernaut at the time. And it was an amazing experience. Once I got the confidence, then I was able to lock it in because of my musical background, because of my wrestling background in being in front of a crowd. In a lot of ways, it was tailor-made for what I do best, and I really, really enjoyed that. It was a blast to do that show.
Q: Was it difficult for you to agree to lose to Fandango at Wrestlemania because he was so new and it was his first one, and you're a veteran of those? Or was it a case of you figuring you may have received a similar break early in your career?
A: No, I did the Euro thing -- just do what the boss told me to do, like everybody does. I don't care. Whatever he wants is what he gets. I don't put a lot of personal stock into it. If I'm doing a movie for Steven Spielberg, and the script has me dying on Page 10, I won't go to Steven Spielberg and go, "OK, listen, I don't think my character should die on Page 10." He'll go, "Well, get the f--- out of here, we'll get someone else to play that character." And that's exactly what my attitude is. The only thing that I care about is if the performance is good and if the match is good. That's all that matters to me. Winning or losing, I could care less.
Q: Can we expect you to make a dramatic return at the Royal Rumble if not sooner?
A: Well, there's no plans as of now. We're (Fozzy) pretty much booked until the end of October. I think we're going back to Australia in December. We're writing our new record, maybe tour in January and release it maybe in the summertime. I might go back for short stints here and there, but my days of being a full-time WWE performer are done.
Q: Lastly, I know you're a big Winnipeg Jets fan and obviously your dad (Ted Irvine) played in the (National Hockey League), so I'm curious as to what your predictions are for the upcoming Olympics?
A: Upcoming Olympics?
Q: Yes, for Sochi (Russia).
A: I'm sorry?
Q: For the hockey tournament in the Olympics, what's your prediction for Canada and the U.S.?
A: Oh, I forgot it's the Winter Olympics this year?
Q: Yeah (technically February 2014).
A: Dang, I don't even know what damn year it is. Well, Canada always of course is my prediction. I don't know who's going to be on the team or whatever. I'm a dual citizen; till it comes to hockey, I'm Canadian through and through, so it's always Canada. I don't care if it's a bunch of 85-year-old grandmothers playing, I'm still going to go with Canada.
Well, that's a great way to end, Chris. Thank you so much for taking the time. I used to live in the Tampa area, and I used to see you hanging out every once in awhile at Ruth Eckerd Hall (in Clearwater) at shows.
I always respected your privacy and left you alone, so I'm hoping to thank you in person here for taking the time and shake your hand. Wish you guys the best of luck, and enjoy the tour.
Looking forward to it, man. San Antonio's gonna rock. I'm excited. Thanks, man.
- WHO: Saxon with Fozzy, Halcyon Way, S.A. Territories
- WHEN: Friday, Sept. 27 (Doors 6 p.m.)
- WHERE: Backstage Live (1305 E. Houston St. -- outdoor stage)
- TICKETS: $26 advance; $30 at door; purchase here.
- OF NOTE: For the SAMME's prior interview with and coverage of Jericho, click on the "Suggested" links in blue below. For his latest interview with Saxon singer Biff Byford, click here.
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