Chris Jericho On Why Australia Is A “Great Rock N’ Roll Country” & Which Wrestlers He’d Tap To Open For FozzyWritten by David James Young on November 6, 2018
Plenty of rockstars have hobbies. Some like to paint, some collect cars. Hell, even Alice Cooper is an avid golfer. There’s only one living rockstar, however, who can lay equal stakes in the world of professional wrestling as they do in the world of music – and his name is Chris Jericho. Some will know the 47-year-old Winnipeg native for his time in companies like WWE and New Japan Pro Wrestling, the latter of which is where he is its current reigning Intercontinental Champion. Others know him out the front of Fozzy, the hard-rock five-piece that will be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year and is presently rocking a world tour in support of their seventh album, 2017’s Judas.
Needless to say, the man born Christopher Irvine is remarkably busy – so, imagine our luck to score 10 minutes with the Ayatollah of rock-and-rollah himself ahead of Fozzy’s Australian tour this month.
Music Feeds: Touring the world with Fozzy, wrestling for New Japan, cameos in WWE, an upcoming cruise… most people would see your calendar from this year and quiver in their boots.
Chris Jericho: It’s been a busy couple of months, for sure. I like it, though. For me, it’s a sign that things are going well. After we finish up the Judas tour, we’ll thankfully all have some time to get back to our families and enjoy the holidays together. ‘Til then, though, there’s work to be done – and we’re ready to do it.
MF: We’re coming up on a year since Judas came out. Are you the kind of musician who self-critiques a lot? Do you go back and listen to albums and think you could have done anything differently?
CJ: I think it’s smart to go back and review your previous work, whatever it may be. You get a sense of what worked and what didn’t. As far as wishing you’d done different or wishing you could change something… I don’t think that helps. What’s done is done. It’s all about learning, and improving on the areas in which you think you could do better. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, or how long you’ve been doing it – you can always get better at what you do.
MF: The Judas tour has been quite extensive – what have been some of your personal highlights from it?
CJ: We’ve had so many shows – we’ve been on and off for about 15 months now. There have been some great shows – playing places for the first time like Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic all come to mind. We’ve played some of the biggest headlining shows of our career on this tour. Playing places like the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, playing First Avenue in Minneapolis, selling out the Gramercy Theatre in New York, selling out in Las Vegas… here we are tonight, even, at the House of Blues in Orlando.
Having said that, for me I don’t think it’s been so much about the individual shows themselves. The overall highlight has been watching the band grow this past year. We’ve gotten a lot of airplay and a lot of support for Judas. We’ve had three top-20 singles on the Billboard Rock charts for Judas – it’ll probably be three top-10 singles when it’s all said and done. The amount of momentum we’ve had, and to see the band building after all this time, has just been incredible. That’s the best feeling about all of this.
MF: With seven albums, you now have more material to draw from than ever before. Has the setlist for the Judas tour changed much since you first went out on the road?
CJ: Those things pretty much write themselves a lot of the time. I’ve always been a proponent of at least trying to play something off every album. After a time, you realise some of the older albums don’t stand up as well as you’d thought. There’s still great songs on them, but you find yourself more drawn to the newer albums and the things you were able to do there.
We’ve taken into consideration that there are a lot of people coming to the shows that are new to Fozzy – either on the back of Judas, or at least in the last couple of years. It’s better for us to be playing mostly newer songs. With that in mind, the majority of our set is coming from the last three records. We try and throw in a couple of older songs in there for the die-hards, but mostly we’ve gotta stick with the newer stuff. It’s just about acknowledging what has been the stuff that’s cracked us and brought us to this next level.
MF: How have you found the balance between your two worlds this year? It’s one thing to return to one after time with another, and it being separate. It’s another, though, to be taking on high-profile matches and feuds in New Japan while still having dates with Fozzy looming.
CJ: It’s not necessarily as complicated as that. I think, at this point, Fozzy is the priority for me. That’s not to say I don’t love the other things that I do – it just means that it comes second to what Fozzy is doing. In terms of my schedule, I’ve made it very clear that’s what comes first – and I’m lucky that I have that understanding with that side of things.
MF: Do you feel like the Venn diagram has grown closer with the release of Judas in regards to your audience? There’s always going to be those outliers at a show that will know you for one thing but not so much the other.
CJ: I think so. At this point in time, I’d like to think everyone that’s coming to a Fozzy show knows what we’re all about. Definitely when we were first starting to tour, we’d get a lot of curious wrestling fans at shows – to a degree, we still get them. I totally get it – it’d be crazy to think there’d be zero wrestling fans at a Fozzy show; it’s what I’m known for.
At the same time, I feel like people have really gotten to know Fozzy as an entity over the years. People know our songs now more than ever, thanks to the success of Judas. We still get wrestling fans that have never been to a Fozzy show coming out to see us on tour, but by the time we’re done up there I think we’ve put in the work to turn them into Fozzy fans as well. Sometimes, all it takes is two or three songs and I can see those guys in the wrestling shirts have that switch flicked for them. They’ll tell us they didn’t know what to expect, but what they got was fucking awesome. [laughs]
MF: One of the last places Fozzy will visit before the Judas tour wraps is Australia. Do you remember the first time you came out here with the band?
CJ: Yeah, that was 2005. It was when we put out All That Remains. The band has always had a great relationship with Australia, I’ve found. If I’m not mistaken, this will be our fifth tour there. The fact we haven’t been over to see you guys in five years is a travesty. It’s okay, though – we’re coming back! It just goes to show how popular Judas has been that we’ve been able to take it to all of these places and really make this a world tour.
MF: Australia definitely loves a bit of Chris Jericho – you can’t go to a rock gig or a wrestling show without seeing either a Fozzy shirt or a Jericho shirt.
CJ: I’m already feeling incredibly positive about returning to Australia – I think this going to be the best tour we’ve ever done down there. The last time we were down there was as a part of Soundwave – the year that Metallica headlined. While we were down there, we got to tour with Steel Panther. It’s very gratifying to be able to return to Australia as a headliner. It’s a great rock & roll country. It’s always been so supportive of everything that Fozzy does. It’s a perfect time to come back, now that the band is the biggest it’s ever been. It’s gonna be a good time, that’s for sure.
MF: Before you go, we wanted to quickly go back to the rock and wrestling connection. You’re definitely the most famous person to go between the two, but you’re not the only one. What we’d like to do is pitch you some musically-inclined people involved with wrestling and ask how you think they’d go opening for Fozzy.
MF: First up: Marty Scurll.
CJ: I’m sure he’d go down a treat. We’d set him up with a karaoke machine, he could do lots of tricks with his umbrella in-between songs… come to think of it, we could even get him to do ‘Singin’ in the Rain’!
CJ: Frankie would we welcome to open for us any time! I’ve talked to Frankie a lot about music – he genuinely loves it, and his band would be a great fit to play with us. The door is always open.
MF: Matthew Lee Massie, AKA Papa Buck.
CJ: He just got added to the bill for the Chris Jericho Cruise! I found out he’d been making all these songs for the [Young] Bucks – as it turns out, him and Frankie jam together quite a bit. I don’t know what kind of tunes he’d do opening for Fozzy, but he’d definitely look cool doing it.
MF: Finally, Jeff Hardy.
CJ: I think that would be really cool. He’s really different when he’s on-stage as opposed to when he’s in the ring. You might expect him to be flipping around the place, but he’s really invested in the performance. He’s a guy that just loves art, and I think that really shines when he’s working with Peroxwhy?gen. Jeff would be a lot of fun to play a show with, no doubt about it.
Catch Fozzy on their ‘Judas Rising’ tour through Australia this November. Details below!
Fozzy 2018 ‘Judas Rising’ Australian Tour
Tickets on sale now
Friday, 9th November
Max Watt’s, Melbourne
Tickets: Silverback Touring
Saturday, 10th November
Manning Bar, Sydney
Tickets: Silverback Touring
Tuesday, 13th November
The Gov, Adelaide
Tickets: Silverback Touring
Wednesday, 14th November
The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets: Silverback Touring