Prior to FOZZY's performance at the Rock Allegiance festival on October 6 in Camden, New Jersey, vocalist Chris Jericho spoke with Kristyn Clark of Pop Culture Madness. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On the growth the band has experienced since the release of their latest album, 2017's "Judas":
Chris: "It's been amazing, because we started this tour in May of last year, and here we are still going. That goes to show how popular the record is. The more places you play, the longer the tour is, the more dates that get added, that's directly because of the popularity of the record, the popularity of the band. We were wanting and working to get to the next level, and here we are — three Top 15 singles at this point, sellouts all across the country, playing countries we've never played before, or countries we haven't been in years. That's all directly related to the success of 'Judas'. It's been a very, very gratifying year and a half for us."
On whether the band expected the album to be so well-received:
Chris: "'Judas', the song, is, like, our career song. It's our signature song at this point. It's like our 'Welcome To The Jungle', 'You Shook Me All Night Long' or 'Enter Sandman', whatever you want to say. Do you know it's going to be that popular when you're recording it? Of course not. Nobody knows for sure. I did know the moment I heard the demo, 'Okay, that's the first song on the record; that's the name of the album; and it needs to be the first single'... You want to get to a position like a band like SHINEDOWN or PAPA ROACH [or] DISTURBED. Those guys put out a Chinese menu singing about Szechuan, and it'll go Top 10. That's what you want, and that's kind of what we're getting to at this point."
On whether there's any material left over from the "Judas" sessions:
Chris: "No. We wrote eleven songs, and that's how many songs are on the album. There was a twelfth song that we had dabbled with a bit, but it wasn't really coming together very well. It's, like, 'Why continue working on it?' If it's good enough to write, it's good enough to use. We're not the type of band that has 150 songs that we're going to release in a vault like Gene Simmons did. We don't have those type of tunes. We don't bother working on them if they're not up to snuff and not great. That doesn't mean you give up on them right away. There's a song, 'Running With The Bulls', on this record that our producer didn't want to use because he didn't like the lyrics. I said, 'Let me take a pass at it.' I wrote new lyrics for it, and suddenly, it comes alive. There's certain songs that you know, 'Okay, let's not give up on this one yet,' and those are the ones you continue to work on."
On opening FOZZY concerts with "Judas":
Chris: "People are like, 'Why would you do that?' When I saw METALLICA in '91 on the Black Album tour, they opened with 'Enter Sandman', which was the hugest song they'd ever had. To me, that's the way to do it, because there's a lot of people that are going to be coming to the shows that want to hear 'Judas'. There's two sides to the coin — you save it for the end, but then you have people hearing songs that maybe they don't know for 75 minutes, waiting for 'Judas'. Or, do you play it right off the bat — people go nuts, 'Oh my god, they're playing it' — then they're so stoked and excited, that slides right down the line to the rest of the songs. It worked."
On juggling his musical and other entertainment ventures:
Chris: "Basically, FOZZY is the priority, so everything revolves around the band. That makes it easier. I'm not full-time wrestling — haven't been for years. This year, I think I'll end up having five matches, maybe – three or four of them in Japan. It's just time management, and we've put together the schedule for the band, and anything other than that, if there's things that are interesting to me, [I] fill that time with other projects."
On the current state of rock music:
Chris: "Rock is not dead. Rock is exactly where it's always been, which is a little bit in the underground. Once in a while, you'll get a band that crushed genres and kind of blurs those lines, like a METALLICA or GUNS N' ROSES or NIRVANA, band that change the course of pop culture. But most of the time, and it's always been this way, you'll get bands like IRON MAIDEN, that no one gives a fuck about except the millions of IRON MAIDEN fans that fill stadiums around the world. AVENGED SEVENFOLD, not a mainstream band in any way, shape or form, but they are an arena-sellout band. That's rock n' roll, and I think it's been like that for as long as I can remember. Will we ever have another band crossing over like GUNS N' ROSES or AEROSMITH? I don't know. That's why I love the concept of GRETA VAN FLEET. I love that everyone's talking about them. I love that in the course of a year, they're an arena band, and they're in their early twenties. People go, 'They sound like LED ZEPPELIN.' Okay, you try and sound like LED ZEPPELIN — not the easiest thing to do. I think that those guys and that success, playing that style of heavy music, it's just better for my band. The more bands like that that can break through to the other side, the better it is for FOZZY and everybody that's playing on this festival today."
"Judas", came out in October 2017 via Century Media. The production duties on the disc were handled by Johnny Andrews, who co-wrote FOZZY's "Lights Go Out" track back in 2014 and has written songs with the likes of ALL THAT REMAINS, THREE DAYS GRACE and HALESTORM in the past.
Jericho recently told WDHA-FM 105.5 FM that FOZZY will re-team with Andrews for its next album.