Bloody-Disgusting recently caught up with WWE Superstar Chris Jericho to discuss his band Fozzy and their upcoming album Sin And Bones, which comes out Aug. 14th via Century Media Records (pre-order here). We also spoke about horror in wrestling, the upcoming Rockstar Uproar Festival, Chris’s love of horror, and how his mother thought he might be The Antichrist. Check below for this exclusive interview!
Bloody-Disgusting: How are you doing sir?
Chris Jericho: Good, good! Just ready to rock it!
BD: First of all, congratulations on Raw 1000! I’m sure it must’ve been amazing to be a part of something so momentous and historic.
CJ: Yeah, it was cool. Especially when I found out that I had the second most matches in Raw history. That was pretty cool too! You never realize things like that until you get to a landmark number like that. All the details, all the stats, come out, so it was cool.
BD: So let’s chat Sin and Bones! Listening to the album, I noticed this really effective mix of 80’s and modern heavy metal. The songs are very tight and focused, almost in a visceral way. Care to expand on that?
CJ: Yeah, it’s kinda what we do. We’ve really that figured out over the last few years, especially with the Chasing The Grail record, the one before Sin and Bones. What we do best is very crunchy riffs with very melodic, hooky choruses. Almost like if you took some Metallica, threw in some Coldplay and then some Journey for good measure, it’s kind of a combination of that.
So we really focused on writing songs in that vein and we wanted to make this Fozzy’s Black Album [Metallica’s self-titled 1991 album]. And what we meant by that was we wanted a certain vibe. So it’s cool where a lot of interviews will say what you just said because it’s like “Mission Accomplished”. There is a real theme behind it without it being calculated. We just wanted the same tone and vibe on these songs.
There’s a darkness to it as well. Lyrically, every song fits the same mold of something that’s a little bit off-center, a little off kilter. That’s how I like to write lyrics, and we like our songs to be deep, something where you have to put some thought into it where it’s not all mapped out for you every single time.
BD: This is your first album with Century Media Records. What made you think they were the best fit for Fozzy?
CJ: We finally have a home now. We have a good record company, a big record company that’s behind us and understands what it is we do and who it is we are. We’ve had a very successful business model for the last 10 years. We’ve done everything ourselves. We’re very much hands on, do everything our own way. Now to be with such a big machine behind us we don’t have to worry about every little detail, every little thing. Distribution, press, promotion, to our album cover, which was based on an idea that we had but taken to the next level by a true professional who works for a record company and makes record covers.
The whole vibe, the whole machine behind us now is above and beyond anything we’ve ever had and I think we’ve delivered a record that’s above and beyond anything we’ve ever done, so it’s a perfect storm.
BD: You’ll be rocking out on the Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival in just a few weeks. How is playing for a concert crowd different from performing in the ring, if at all?
CJ: Both draw from the same places. Whether you’re a singer or a wrestler or an actor in a play, you have to engage yourself and connect with that crowd. Every crowd is different. The tricks you use on day one might not work on day two, so you have to be really cognizant and really just go with the flow and hope that you get there. That’s something I do really well. Over 22 years of being in show business and 13 years of being in Fozzy, you get to learn how to read a crowd. There are a lot of similarities between the two. A great crowd with lots of energy that reciprocates to what kind of performance you’re giving, I mean, if you’re giving the greatest performance in the world but no one is reciprocating, it doesn’t really matter.
So you gotta go above and beyond to get that emotion out of the crowd, to make sure they have a good time. Sometimes, you have to lead the horse to the water. You have to let them know it’s okay to cheer, it’s okay to scream, it’s okay to let your hair down and go f*cking crazy. And that’s what we do.
So it’s gonna be really cool to go on tour. It’s our first national United States tour. We played a lot of shows in the States but never a full-length tour and I think we’re going to take a lot of people by storm and surprise a lot of people in a good way in how much fun people have at our shows.
BD: I think that Fozzy stands out a bit from the rest of the line up as you guys have that melody that, say, Shinedown might have but with a much harder edge. I think fans will come away remembering you guys as standing out.
CJ: Well, that’s the idea. We want to combine what we do musically with what we do visually and I do think that we will be one of the bands that are the highlight of the day and that’s our focus, that’s our goal. We want to steal the show every day.
And because of the things you’ve just said, I think we do have an advantage over those others bands. Obviously Shinedown is a massive band with hit after hit after hit on the radio, and that’s cool, but I think we have the same qualifications and powers that they do, just without the US focus on us. And that’s going to change with this tour. I think we’re going to be a surprise in a good way, so it’s gonna be a really cool step up to the next level for us.
BD: What do you think of the bands you’ll be touring with on Uproar?
CJ: I really dig Shinedown, I think they’re a great band. I really dig Papa Roach. Godsmack is very punchy and hard-hitting. But some of the other bands I don’t know, so I’m looking forward to seeing them because I know that they guys behind them, John Oakes and John Reese, have a very specific plan, a very specific view of what they want for this festival. The fact that they chose us to be on the festival is an honor and it’s also our duty to ensure that we make them look very good.
BD: I wanted to talk a bit about horror. Sin and Bones begins with a very creepy rendition of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and the chorus to “Sin and Bones” itself reminds me of the old riddle, “The man who builds it doesn’t need it, the man who buys it doesn’t want it, the man who uses it doesn’t know it,” which is of course a coffin. There are also other very intense, mysterious, and eerie lyrics throughout the album. What was the inspiration behind these lyrics?
CJ: It’s weird. I do all my lyric writing based around song titles. I don’t really know why that is but I’ve been the type of guy who would look at the back of a record or a CD and certain song titles stand out for me. I’ll like those songs better, just because of the title. Like “Damage, INC.” or “Disposable Heroes”. Those were very interesting to me, so I went into those songs with a great attitude. “Beast And The Harlot”. I was like, “Wow, that sounds really, really interesting.” Better than “She’s got a red car and big tits”. I don’t care about that type of song because I know what it’s about, y’know?
So I have a list of song titles when it’s time to write lyrics and I go back and look through what I have. You mentioned “Spider In My Mouth”, the itsy-bitsy spider thing, and that was something I read from a Stephen King book, which said something along the lines of, “He couldn’t have been more disgusted that he’d woken up with a spider in his mouth,” or something like that. I always remembered that. What a great opening line! I woke up with a spider in my mouth. What a f*cked up thing that could happen.
But obviously you don’t want to write that literally. “I woke up with a spider in my mouth, I spit it out, then I used some mouthwash and brushed my teeth and was still really grossed out.” That doesn’t make for a very good song. So I went to different things that were kind of weird. “I woke up with a spider in my mouth/and a cockroach in my head/I went to sleep with a killer in my house/and a monster in my bed”. Stuff like that has a lot of imagery there. It’s very surreal, like a [David] Lynch movie where it’s not exactly literal but just images and thoughts.
“Sin and Bones” was originally like that to. It was originally called “Survival of the Sickest” and I wrote that about people who will do anything to win. And when we decided upon “Sin and Bones” as the album title, it just kinda really fit the vibe of the lyrics.
There are other lyrics, like “Storm The Beaches”, which is literally about D-Day in World War II, where I go the inspiration of that from a letter that a 19-year old kid wrote to his mother. He was actually there, he survived D-Day and wrote this letter and it was describing what had happened. I used that letter and wrote this epic World War II story.
There’s also a song called “Dark Passenger”, which is based on the TV show Dexter. In that show, he’s always talking about his dark passenger, and I thought that’s a great f*cking title.
We have a B-side called “Walk Amongst The Dead”, which I got from “Among The Living” from Anthrax but imagining if you were among the dead and then it turned into a Walking Dead kind of thing.
Whatever kinda strikes me is what I put onto the page. There’s always a dark tone to my writing. I’m not very much into the, “We’re in the month of June/Under the light of the starry moon”. That doesn’t really work for me.
BD: You yourself were in a horror movie, Albino Farm. Is something you can see yourself doing again?
CJ: Yeah, I really loved that. It’s funny that you mention that because Albino Farm was a really good movie. The first two thirds of it were very, very cool and then the end kinda pooped out as a lot of movies do sometimes. I’ve been a horror movie fan my entire life. Things like Bloodsucking Freaks, Sleepaway Camp 3, Basketcase.
So, when we did the video for “Sandpaper”, I called Sean McEwen [director, Albino Farm] because I really wanted to do an almost Evil Dead, Cabin in the Woods video. I’d never seen a band do a video like that. And we talked about it and threw out some ideas. It’s gonna be really cool. Imagine a rock band stuck in the Evil Dead cabin. What might happen?
So a lot of stuff I do is definitely influenced by horror movies and I would love to do more of it in the future. It’s been a big part of my life since I was 8 or 9 years old.
I do remember before we had a VCR, in 1980 or so, there used to be midnight horror movies every Friday or Saturday and my mom would let me watch them BUT I had to go to bed first! She wouldn’t let me stay all the way up to midnight. So I would go to bed around ten o’clock, set my alarm for midnight, wake up and go downstairs to watch London After Midnight or Lon Chaney Wolfman or whatever was on. There would always be two of them. Invasio of the Body Snatchers or The Thing. Just all these cool movies like that. And then I would just go back to my room and go to sleep afterwards. As long as I had my hour and a half sleep first, my mom would allow me to watch those midnight movies.
BD: You know? That’s a caring mom! That’s a good compromise!
CJ: It is! Here’s another one to show you how caring she is. I remember woke up one night and she was looking through my hair and I was like, “What are you doing?” and she said, “Oh nothing.” Found out afterwards that my parents had gone to see The Omen, came home and decided they were going to make sure I wasn’t The Antichrist. They were looking for the number of the beast.
BD: Sounds like you have a really cool mom!
CJ: Yeah! How could you NOT get into horror growing up with that, right?
BD: Looking at wrestling, both Kane and the Undertaker are rooted in horror and are very popular. And horror and heavy metal have a long history together. So, there is this interesting triangle of horror, heavy metal, and wrestling. I feel like you might have a very interesting perspective on why these three seem to go so well together.
CJ: All are very dark forms of entertainment and, when you’re a kid, not everything is as rosy as you’d want it to be. So I think that it’s very aggressive, a lot of energy, and fantasy involved, so if you have a good imagination, you can appeal to all three of those food groups, so to speak. I mean, Rob Zombie is a perfect example. He loves wrestling and is obviously into horror and music. Then there’s Scott Ian. I think there’s a lot of guys you can put into that category.
I think that’s one of the reasons why. When you’re a kid, you’re always looking for an escape and ways to leave your troubles and problems behind. That’s why kids really empathize with music and with horror as well. I know I loved all three of them. I remember seeing Argento’s Phenomena and seeing “Featuring music by Iron Maiden” and I was so excited. I was like, “Oh my god! Iron Maiden is in this horror movie! We gotta watch it!” So you would reciprocate by watching a movie if it had the right soundtrack, if it was weird.
I remember when VHS first came out going to rent every single movie I could. I remember in Fulci’s Zombie where the splinter goes in that woman’s eye. I watched that when I was probably, I don’t know, 12 or 13? We rented it and it was this amazing scene and we’d just watch it again and again and again. I’ll never forget that image.
BD: Chris, thanks a lot for the interview and I look forward to seeing you on the Uproar festival!
CJ: Thank brother, I appreciate it!