WWE/NJPW superstar Chris Jericho’s band Fozzy will hit 12 Canadian cities this fall, including Toronto, Moncton, Halifax, Quebec City and Montreal in support of their seventh album, Judas (out now), but in the meantime, the former World Heavyweight Champion talks about WWE’s first-ever all-women pay-per-view Evolution, his advice for young wrestlers, The Rock running for president, and more, in our new interview!
This month marked the one-year anniversary of the release of Judas. How do you feel about the reception the album’s had looking back now?
It definitely was a game-changer for us. It took us to a completely different level, which is what we wanted when we started making the record. In the past, bands used to have six, seven, or eight singles on a record, which is the way it used to be if you’re looking at records like Appetite for Destruction. We wanted a record that could do that as well where we had 10 or 11 songs and all of them could be potential singles, and that’s how we wrote the record. We didn’t worry about how long the songs were or if there were guitar solos, and that taught us a lot about songwriting and our band because now we have three top 15 singles, two top 10s, and hundreds of thousands of sales, which today is nuts in terms of people buying music. So, this album gave us a career signature song and once you get that it completely changes things for the better.
One of the most surprising things on Judas is the song ‘Three Days In Jail’ as you guys include some rapping on it. What drove you to experiment with a mix of genres?
We’ve always had that kind of element. It stems from Rich Ward’s previous band Stuck Mojo that had a rapper as a singer. On our All That Remains album we did a song called “It’s A Lie”, where we incorporated my vocals with an R&B singer and a rapper, so it’s something we’ve always dabbled with because we really respect the art form of rap music. For “Three Days In Jail”, we were talking to someone who really wanted to do the rapping but it didn’t work out for record company reasons so we approached Hyro the Hero and his part was even better. We like to be diverse with our musical choices and it’s one of the things that Fozzyexciting because you never really know what you’re going to get from us. We are big fans of David Bowie, The Beatles, Guns N’ Roses, and U2, and other artists that always change up their style and don’t have a problem doing different things within their music to make it more refreshing and different.
Do you ever learn anything from the music business that affects your wrestling career and vice versa?
Not really because it’s all show business. When you’re involved in wrestling or music or anything like that, you make it or break it by connecting with the audience. If you can connect with the audience in a live setting whether you’re a wrestler or a musician, you’ll always have a job. And that’s the same no matter the form of entertainment that you’re using. You have to have that connection. Look at the great wrestlers whether they’re faces or heels, they have that connection where the girls want to go on a date with you and the guys want to have a beer with you.
If Cody and the Young Bucks asked you if they should join WWE, what advice would you give them?
I’d say that it’s up to them. There’s no real advice I can give anybody. If you’re getting to that point of being in the wrestling business for 10-15 years, you’re probably getting to that level where you go to the WWE, there’s really no advice I can give you. It’s show business, man. If you can connect with the audience, that’s the best advice I could give. If you’re working around the world, you know that already, and there’s nothing I can tell you that you don’t already know.
What’s one thing you wish young wrestlers wouldn’t do?
I’m not much of an advice person. I just forged my style and my character. I guess maybe don’t be like anyone else and try to do something different. Be original. To me, it’s important to just find your way and figure out what your character is going to be that enables to connect with the audience.
What is the biggest difference between working for WWE and working for NJPW?
I guess a little bit more freedom.
From a creative standpoint?
Yeah, from a creative standpoint. They’re both very big companies with different styles of doing things but that’s like anywhere you go. WWE style is different from Impact style, which is different from Ring of Honour style, which is different from NJPW style. But wrestling is wrestling, and I can’t stress it enough that finding out how to integrate yourself with whatever it is the audience is interestedin seeing and making that happen.
Why do you think you’ve been able to keep your character so fresh for so long?
It’s the David Bowie principle. He constantly updated his image and he would always be something different in every record, always evolving, always reinventing, and that’s the same thing that I do, and not just in wrestling but with Fozzy as well. I don’t ever want to be a nostalgia act where I go out there and talk about Y2J or whatever because that was 18 years ago so it’s important to update and revamp. It’s just like the Stones or Paul McCartney where they don’t have to release new albums but they do because that’s what keeps that creatively stimulated. And you can go do the hits but you have to also sprinkle in new songs as well and that’s what I do in both of my careers.
Recently, Smackdown had its 1000th episode. Did WWE ask you to make an appearance?
No. Fozzy has been touring so much and I think I might have been off that day but I wouldn’t have been able to go even if I wanted to. I’m not really interested in flip-flopping back and forth. I mean, I’m doing it a little bit in New Japan, but that’s a financial thing, and there’s more freedom, but I’m only doing three matches this year. When I’m focusing on Fozzy, that’s what I’m focusing on, and that’s the way it has been for the last year and a half when we started our tour in May 2017 and all of the countries that we’ve gone to and getting chances to play places we haven’t played in years like Toronto, which has always been a great city for us, and the reason is because we made Fozzy the priority and that’s the way it stays. So once this cycle is over, then I’ll worry about Smackdown 1000 or whatever it may be. It’s hard to mentally switch back and forth so when I’m in Fozzy mode, it’s best to stay in Fozzy mode.
What do you think of the ongoing controversy surrounding WWE’s upcoming Crown Jewel PPV?
I don’t have an opinion because I’m not paying attention to WWE right now. I know they’re going over there but it doesn’t affect me so I don’t have an opinion on it.
Regarding the rumors of The Rock considering running for President, do you think we’re in the era of the celebrity president?
Absolutely. No doubt about it. It started with Obama. I’m not a political person, but if you look at a guy who basically had no political experience and he ends up running for President and winning, it’s all about connecting with the audience. That’s the reason why Trump won because he was able to connect with the audience that voted for him based on his charisma and his rhetoric and how good he was in front of the camera. The Rock is exactly the same. So am I, so maybe I’ll run too. I was the first undisputed champion, and I’m a dual U.S/Canadian citizen so maybe I’ll run for Prime Minister and President, and I’ll be the first undisputed prime president of North America.
With WWE’s first ever all-women’s PPV, Evolution, coming up, what more can WWE do to take women’s wrestling to the next level?
I don’t know what else they can do. They’ve been pushing it from the start very hard for the last year or so and they’ve got some great performers in there so there’s really nothing more they can do because they’re really doing a full-core press of it now.
If at some point in the future you decided to have another WWE run, who would be your ideal feud?
It would really depend on the story. I’ve always been based around storyline because that’s what attracts me so it doesn’t matter who you’re working with as long as you have a great story behind it. Whether it was Shawn Michaels, or Rey Mysterio, or Dean Ambrose, or Kevin Owens, it was all based around having a great storyline and that’s the most important thing to me. I don’t care who my opponent would be, it just matters that the storyline is impactful and connects with people and gives them something to sink their teeth into and me as well.
Is that why you’re reluctant to take on one-off WWE appearances because they don’t have that impactful story behind it?
No, it’s more because if you do one-offs it cheapens your value. I think you need to be there for a storyline for people to get into it and you can’t really get into it something that is only there for one day.
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