Fozzy, WWE’s Chris Jericho: A star for the stages

 

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

Wearing many hats well, Chris Jericho is atop his game, making him a renaissance man of talents.

He is a legit professional wrestling star/sports entertainer, who’s also become a legit rock star/entertainer.

He really is the “The Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rolla.” Just ask him or his Jerichoholics.

“I am the best in the world at what I do,” Jericho utters confidently during promos on WWE’s signature TV program Monday Night Raw.

Hard to argue.

Jericho, 43, the self confident, humorous, over-the-top, talented and verbose WWE superstar, has been entertaining fans around the world for years, 24 and counting.

Whether it’s performing in a wrestling ring for WWE or on stage with Fozzy or other, Jericho enjoys entertaining the masses, and the masses enjoy him -- no matter what form of performance art.

“I think after a while people don’t really give a %$#@ what it is [else] that you’re doing,” Jericho said. “When I’m wrestling, I’m in wrestling mode. When I’m on stage with Fozzy, I’m in Fozzy mode. They’re two separate things, and it’s cool that I do both. I think a lot of people think it’s cool and can understand that I’m good at both. I don’t listen to negative people or care about negative people or worry about negative people. I just worry about doing the best I can do with whatever projects I decide to do.”

A successful pro wrestler/sports entertainer and rock star, he’s done his best on many projects. He’s contributed to VH1 pop culture shows, hosted a robot combat show on Syfy and a game show on ABC, acted on stage in a comedy, co-starred in a sci-fi movie, wrote an autobiography, been knocked out (storyline) by Bob Barker, Mickey Rourke and Mike Tyson, wrote a column for a music magazine and even finished seventh on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

The journey began in Manhasset, N.Y., his birthplace when his father, Ted Irvine, played for the New York Rangers pro hockey team. Watching pro wrestling shows in Canada as a youth is where he became a fan, later turning his passion into profession.

Living a dream, he loves it.

Another long-time passion for him is music, and he is living that dream, too.

“Music and wrestling have been lifelong obsessions, passions and careers for me,” Jericho said. “I think once people see that and actually realize that...We work twice as hard to get people’s respect, and once we get that respect, we’ve got it for life.”

As lead vocalist, Jericho formed the metal/rock band Fozzy in 1999 along with drummer Frank Fontsere and guitarist Rich Ward.

In 1989, Ward co-founded Stuck Mojo, an American rap metal band from Atlanta. Fontsere joined Stuck Mojo in 1996. Stuck Mojo is considered to be one of the pioneers of rap metal. They toured alongside bands such as Machine Head and Slapshot.

“Celebrities start bands, and people are like, ‘That’s cool.’ It’s something fun for that person to do,” Jericho said, “but for me, the musicians who I’m in a band with are very respected. Rich Ward and Frank Fontsere from Stuck Mojo already had a worldwide name as being great musicians; so to say Jericho’s in a band with Ward and Fontsere, those guys wouldn’t put their name on it, if it wasn’t going to be good.”

A solid base to start its journey eventually led to Fozzy playing festivals with big name groups.

“You start with an underground vibe, but then when you get up to the big leagues, we were a small fish in a big pond for a while,” he said. “You build your name, and people go, ‘Wow, that was actually pretty good.’ When you start to get into the worlds of the Metallicas and the Shinedowns and the Avenged Sevenfolds and Slayers, those types of bands, not only the guys in the bands but their crew, their managers, their fans, that’s when people start to take notice.

“The thing about our band is we’re not doing this just for a lark or for fun or for something to do. It’s a great rock-n-roll band, and it’s a great rock-n-roll band that can go toe-to-toe with anybody...[and people took notice]...and once you got that rolling, then you know you’ve gone to the next step.”

Music matches Jericho’s zest for pro wrestling. He watches old matches, probably on WWE Network, and listens to music, whenever the chance.

“It’s a pretty diverse group of bands that I like nowadays,” he said. “I love the new Avenged Sevenfold record. I love the new Avatar record. Heaven’s Basement. A lot of cool bands that I’m into nowadays. Black Veil Brides, but I still love [Iron] Maiden and Metallica and obviously Ozzy and Pink Floyd, The Beatles and Cream and The [Rolling] Stones. You listen to my iPod Shuffle, and you’ll hear everything from Metallica to Slayer to ABBA to The Who to The Beastie Boys and everything in between.”

Growing up a fan of music and pro wrestling, he grew into becoming a music artist and pro wrestler.

“Last year we got to travel to Australia on a festival tour with Metallica,” Jericho said. “It doesn’t get much bigger than that, especially when you start out as a fan of the band, then you become acquaintances, then you become peers, then you become friends. It’s a really cool experience. It’s something you can always hold true to yourself, like, ‘Wow, you’re really at this level now.’

“I’ve been through it before with wrestling. The first time I went into the WCW locker room in 1996; there is Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair and Sting. Then coming to WWE and working with those guys, it’s kind of the natural progression of going from fan to performer to peer, and that’s the coolest thing that can happen, when you’re playing with these guys, and knowing not only are you on the same stage, sharing the same arenas, but you’re holding your own and giving them a run for their money.”

It doesn’t happen overnight.

“Right off the bat I had a good reputation in the rock world, because people knew that I knew my stuff,” he said. “I used to have a column in a rock magazine, write a monthly thing for another magazine. I was always flying the flag for metal, and I could go toe-to-toe with anybody from a trivia standpoint, but what people didn’t know is I’d been playing in bands my whole life, since I was a kid, 12-years-old singing and playing bass.”

It’s not unusual for the two worlds to collide. Many pro athletes, celebrities and musicians are into WWE, seated at ringside for shows.

“The thing about wrestling is there are a lot of fans,” Jericho said. “A lot of my friends and a lot of Fozzy fans and other bands saw me first wrestling. That’s part of what I do. I love 30 Seconds to Mars, and I first saw [lead vocalist] Jared Leto when he was acting.”

Leto starred in the television series “My So-Called Life” (1994). He film career includes “How to Make an American Quilt” (1995), “Prefontaine” (1997), “The Thin Red Line” (1998), “Fight Club” (1998), “American Psycho” (2000), “Urban Legend” (1998), “Requiem for a Dream (2000), “Panic Room (2002), “Alexander (2004), “Lord of War (2005), “Lonely Hearts (2006), “Chapter 27 (2007), and “Mr. Nobody (2009).

“Rock stars are WWE fans, and they’re movie fans, and they’re sports fans, just like everybody else,” Jericho said. “Some people love wrestling. Some people don’t. Some people love football. Some people don’t. Some people love rock-n-roll. Some people don’t...People have varied interests, and you do find that common ground sometimes, which is always cool.”

Ozzy Osbourne, Snoop Dogg, Timbaland and ZZ Top have hosted WWE Monday Night Raw. Flo Rida and Kid Rock have performed at WrestleMania. Rob Zombie has been in the front row.

“For me, it’s just business as usual,” Jericho said. “I remember we were at SummerSlam a couple of years ago [at the Staples Center in Los Angeles], and I was outside on the floor doing something, and I looked up, and Slash is sitting there with his son. I was like, ‘Dude, I didn’t even know you were here,’ and he’s like, ‘Dude, I didn’t know you were here.’”

Led by award-winning composer Jim Johnston who has been with WWE since 1985, music plays a vital role in a WWE superstar’s success. It’s important for a superstar or diva to have just the right entrance sound.

“[Johnston] does a great job at what he does,” Jericho said. “He really finds the inner core, the inner seed of what the person’s personality is, of what the character’s personality is, and really latches on to that. It always amazes me to see what he comes up with for guys who have been around for years, for guys who are just starting..He’s definitely an invaluable member of the WWE’s team for sure.”

Thanks to Johnston, Jericho’s entrance music, ‘Break The Walls Down,’ is very cool; though it’s not a Fozzy song.

“I don’t use [a Fozzy song] because my entrance song is kind of iconic,” he said, “It’s the same one I’ve always used since 1999. [Break The Walls Down] is kind of synonymous with Jericho, but there are a lot of Fozzy songs that would be great ring songs. WWE has used quite a few Fozzy songs for pay-per-view themes. They used ‘Enemy’ years ago and then ‘Martyr No More.’ They used ‘Sandpaper.’ They’re about to use ‘Lights Go Out.’

“Our music is very high energy. It’s very accessible, very heavy riff, a lot of groove and a lot of harmonies in the vocals and the choruses. So it’s accessible for sports’ themes for sure. Some of our songs are the type of songs you can hear in an arena at a hockey game after a team scores a goal. It’s that kind of vibe.”

Experiencing different kinds of vibes, Jericho is the right person to analyze music and pro wrestling/sports entertainment.

“There’s a lot of similarities between the two,” he said. “They’re both very high energy, aggressive forms of entertainment, very dependent on the reactions you get from the crowd. If the crowd is excited, it makes for a better show -- both in wrestling and with Fozzy. So you get a lot of crossover because there is that certain vibe in both. Certainly WWE superstars are like rock stars -- larger than life, over the top personalities -- and that’s what you’re always looking for in rock-n-roll. Sometimes you get it, and sometimes you don’t, and sometimes you get that in wrestling, and sometimes you don’t.

“Especially when you go to a WWE show with all the fire [and loud noise] and pyrotechnic, a lot of times it’s more than a rock show, than a rock show you might see. There is a common ground between the two.”

Jericho is a six-time WWE champion and has been named one of the Top 10 most popular wrestlers of all time by wwe.com. In 2001, he became the first Undisputed champion in the company’s history (beating The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin on the same night for the undisputed title). A prolific career that started in 1990 against Lance Storm near Calgary and then with Storm as his tag team partner, Jericho has won more than 30 championships.

Adding to his diverse resume and with a degree in creative communications, he also hosts his own podcast: Talk is Jericho.

Fozzy’s Do You Want Start A War

Led by the inimitable duo of vocalist Chris Jericho (famed WWE superstar and media personality) and guitarist Rich Ward (co-founder of the influential underground band Stuck Mojo), the band Fozzy continues to grow.

Produced by Ward, Do You Wanna Start A War is the band’s follow-up to its acclaimed 2012 release Sin and Bones and sixth studio effort since 2000.

Featuring 12-tracks, the new album includes the debut single “Lights Go Out” http://youtu.be/VJso7XYphb4 alongside the title track and the return of the Theremin in “Bad Tattoo.”

Over the years, Fozzy has shared the stage with such music luminaries as Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Steel Panther, Shinedown, and more. The band recently wrapped its spring tour performing across the country winning over thousands of fans at festivals including Rock on the Range, Carolina Rebellion and Rockfest, before crossing the Atlantic and winding down on the main stage of the Download Festival in the UK.

Fozzy is Chris Jericho on vocals, Rich Ward on guitars and vocals, Frank Fontsere on drums, Billy Grey on guitars, and Paul Di Leo on bass.

Do You Wanna Start A War release date is July 22.

Fozzy: Do You Wanna Start A War track listing

1. Do You Wanna Start A War

2. Bad Tattoo

3. Lights Go Out [lyric video: http://youtu.be/VJso7XYphb4

4. Died With You

5. Tonite

6. Brides of Fire

7. One Crazed Anarchist [lyric video: http://youtu.be/A9aKjbRIJ_k

8. Unstoppable

9. Scarecrow

10. No Good Way

11. SOS

12. Witchery

What they’re saying about ‘Do You Wanna Start A War’

“Do You Wanna Start A War is dark, dense and sharp. Sonically and lyrically, this feels like it's going somewhere big. I love it!” - Corey Taylor (Slipknot and Stone Sour)

“Do You Wanna Start a War is a full on assault! Excellently crafted songs, screaming guitars and soaring vocals! FOZZY have raised the bar and are ready to usher in a new era in rock and roll!” - Andy Biersack (Black Veil Brides)

Fozzy on tour

Fozzy announced its first round of U.S. tour dates as it takes to the road with Theory of a Deadman in support of its upcoming new studio album Do You Wanna Start A War (Century Media Records) set for release July 22.

The band has confirmed a dozen shows throughout the South, Midwest and East coast beginning Sept. 17 in Tempe, Ariz.

Additional dates will be announced.

Recently, Fozzy premiered a new lyric video behind their debut single “Lights Go Out” that can now be viewed online

http://youtu.be/VJso7XYphb4.

Currently climbing the rock charts at radio, the track will be featured in the upcoming WWE 2K15 video game released later this fall.

Also, this summer Chris Jericho makes his long awaited return to the ring in WWE with dozens of appearances confirmed beginning July 12 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Fozzy confirmed tour dates with Theory of a Deadman:

* Fozzy only

July 24: Los Angeles, The Whisky* (record release show!)

Aug. 2: Syracuse, N.Y., New York State Fairgrounds*

Sept. 13: Janesville, Wis., Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport*

Sept. 17: Tempe, Ariz., The Marquee

Sept. 19: San Antonio, Texas, Backstage Live

Sept. 23: Atlanta, Ga., Center Stage

Sept. 24: Charlotte, N.C. The Fillmore

Sept. 26: Columbus, Ohio, Newport Music Hall

Sept. 27: Winston-Salem, N.C., Ziggy’s

Oct. 2: Baltimore, Md., Rams Head Live

Oct. 3: Knoxville, Tenn., The International

Oct. 6: Lancaster, Pa., Chameleon Club

Oct. 7: Boston, Mass., House of Blues

Oct. 8: Sayreville, N.J., Starland Ballroom

Oct. 11: Cleveland, Ohio, House of Blues

Fozzy on social media

Official website: www.FozzyRock.com

Twitter: @FozzyRock

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/FozzyRock

Chris Jericho on social media

Twitter @IAmJericho

@TalkIsJericho

https://www.facebook.com/ChrisJericho

WWE in Miami

WWE Monday Night RAW returns to Miami on July 21 at 7:30 p.m. EST at the AmericanAirlines Arena.

Raw will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. EST on the USA Network, and Miami’s own Flo Rida will be performing.

Because of the July 22 release date for Fozzy’s Do You Wanna Start A War, Jericho will not be at Raw.

Tickets are on sale. Prices range from $23-$115. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.

Go to

http://www.ticketmaster.com/wwe-monday-night-raw-miami-florida-07-21-2014/event/0D004C3C89FD5F0E

Tickets can also be purchased at the AmericanAirlines Arena Ticket Office Window on the north side of the arena between Gates 3 and 4. Box office hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and four hours prior to show time on event days. Times may vary.

Visit http://www.aaarena.com/events/detail/wwe-raw-live-tv

Tickets can be purchased at The Miami HEAT Store, too, at Miami International Airport. The store is on the second floor at Terminal D32.

artistid=1523680&majorcatid=10004&minorcatid=27

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