(Part 2) Chris Jericho balancing rock star, WWE superstar status

 

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

WWE superstar Chris Jericho is enjoying his 24th year entertaining fans in the pro wrestling/sports entertainment world, but it’s not the only world he’s enjoyed performing.

Jericho, 43, is also the lead vocalist for the rock metal group Fozzy, and Fozzy, like WWE, has toured the world.

“The saying is, ‘Whenever you do something you love to do, you never work a day in your life,’ and I don’t,” Jericho said, “but everyday is full of activities and lots of things I got to do. I think Chris Jericho is pretty much an industry at this point...It’s always what I wanted to do. It’s always what I dreamed of doing, and I’ll never complain about any of it.”

A successful pro wrestler/sports entertainer and rock star, he’s done his best on many projects. He’s contributed to VH1’s 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.”

“As a wrestler, you’re light on your feet. You have to remember choreography,” Jericho said. “As a musician, you have to know how to stay on a beat and have rhythm. So [being on Dancing with the Stars] wasn’t too off of what I already do. It was a lot of hard work. I’d never done it before.”

Could Y2J hold his own dancing today with WWE diva Layla, a former Miami Heat dancer?

“I think [WWE diva and former Miami Heat dancer] Layla would be great on [Dancing with the Stars]. She’s a trained dancer, but the gimmick of the show is to not be a trained dancer and to see the progression, to see how you do, how you become addicted to it, and I was addicted to it for the six or seven weeks I was on.

“I learned a lot, and I was really excited. I can’t dance now. I know seven dances with Cheryl Burke [his professional dance partner on the show]. I never danced before, and I’ll probably never dance again, but for that time, I did a pretty damn good job.”

So these days Jericho is not dancing, but he’s still a very busy entertainer as a sometimes wrestler and sometimes rocker, doing his best balancing act of schedules.

“I think that adds to the longevity of Jericho [as a wrestler] and the specialness of what I do,” he said. “I’m one of the last of the survivors from the Attitude Era -- from another era -- but I’m still being very relevant to this day and age. I work the same way and pretty much look the same way and think the same way I did, which is different from the way guys think now.

“I think having Chris Jericho on the show is always a valuable addition, but it’s not like they’re waiting around, just counting the minutes until I’m able to come back. It has to work on both our ends -- for their schedule, for my schedule -- what do you want me to do, what’s available as far as angles and storylines, people to work with.

“If those stars align and the timing is right and ideas are right, then I’m more than happy to come back, but it’s never more than three, four, five, six months because then Fozzy fires up again, and there’s other stuff for me to do in that realm as well.

“It’s a good situation to be in. When I’m in WWE, I give 1,000 percent. When I’m in Fozzy, I give 1,000 percent, but there’s no way to really mix the two. It has to be one or the other, and that just depends on what’s going on with the band at the time.”

Whether it’s performing in a wrestling ring for WWE or on stage with Fozzy or other, Jericho enjoys entertaining those audiences, and those audiences enjoy him.

Jericho’s two worlds have met on rare occasions which included Fozzy performing “years and years and years ago” at a WWE event.

“Whenever I was doing Fozzy, it seemed like I was always a bad guy in wrestling,” he said, “so it wasn’t a good idea to promote the band when I’m also promoting myself as the most hated guy in [wrestling]. That’s why you have to keep those separate because people will jump out and go, ‘We’re supposed to hate Fozzy, because we’re supposed to hate Jericho.’

“I keep them separate for a reason, because they’re two separate things, and they should be, and they are.”

Kid Rock, Flo Rida, Ice-T, Limp Bizkit, Motorhead, P.O.D., Saliva, Salt-N-Pepa, Machine Gun Kelly, Living Colour, Sean Combs, Rev Theory and Mark Crozer have performed at WrestleMania, WWE’s super bowl of pro wrestling/sports entertainment, but Fozzy has not.

“We’ve never been asked,” Jericho said, “but if we were asked to do a WrestleMania, and I wasn’t wrestling on the show, and we had a song that was hot at the time...then I’d do it for sure, of course.”

Born in Manhasset, N.Y. when his dad, Ted Irvine, played for the New York Rangers pro hockey team, Jericho grew up a huge fan of music and pro wrestling, later turning his passions into professions.

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.

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.

“When I started wrestling, everyone said I was too small,” said Jericho who is now 6-foot, 220 pounds. “So I realized right off the bat I would never make it on size. I would have to make it on character and personality and entertainment value.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 19. I’m an entertainer. I’m not a wrestler. I’m not a musician. I’m not an actor. I’m not a writer. I’m all of those things, which boils down to being an entertainer, and that’s the way I look at it.

“Some of the guys in WWE are some of the greatest entertainers in the world and can entertain in any aspect. You can see that, whether it’s Rock or Steve [Austin] or Jesse [Ventura] or Mick [Foley] or any of those guys. Entertainment is entertainment. Guys who are just great entertainers, like vaudevillian entertainers of the ‘30s, who can sing and dance and do magic and tell jokes and everything in between. Maybe we’re like the modern day vaudevillian performers.”

WWE Battleground PPV in Tampa

Tampa will host the WWE Battleground pay-per-view on Sunday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m. EST at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The pay-per-view is live at 8 p.m. EST.

Y2J vs. Bray

Chris Jericho faces rising, young WWE superstar Bray Wyatt, leader of the Wyatt Family which includes scarey, backwoods bad boys Luke Harper and Erick Rowan.

A pretty good wrestler, the mind-manipulating, evil, swamp-breeding Wyatt has captivated the WWE Universe.

“It’s different,” Jericho said. “It’s something nobody’s ever seen before. It’s a character that he’s really dropped into. People believe it’s real, and when people believe it’s real, they get into it.

“Same thing as heel Jericho from 2008 and 2009. People wanted to fight me on the streets for real. I was getting in fights with fans. People believed this character was the biggest %$#^& on earth, because that’s the way I played it.

“It’s like an Academy Award winning actor. When he wins an award, there’s a reason for that, because you believed the character. That’s what Bray’s doing. He dropped into it. He’s embraced it. He created it. It’s real. So it’s something the people haven’t seen before, and that’s why it’s getting over as good as it is.”

Wyatt’s promos, entrance and entrance music are winners.

“[The music] really fits the character,” Jericho said. “It’s a swampy type, groovy, New Orleans Cajun type vibe. It’s a little bit creepy, and that’s basically what the Wyatts are as well. It’s very important to have a good ring song that really matches your character to help you get into that character, before you go on stage. That’s very, very important.”

Tickets are on sale, ranging from $25-$427.

Visit

http://www.ticketmaster.com/wwe-battleground-tampa-florida-07-20-2014/event/0D004C7BF8D6CE96?artistid=1523680&majorcatid=10004&minorcatid=27

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.

“Have I had my WrestleMania moment? %$^& man, I’ve had 10 WrestleMania moments,” Jericho said. “The next WrestleMania I wrestle in will be another WrestleMania moment.

“I think Fozzy’s had a lot of huge moments. The last show we played in England at Download in front of 40,000 people on the main stage with all of them chanting ‘Fozzy’ and screaming the words to ‘Lights Go Out’ and ‘Sandpaper;’ it doesn’t get much bigger than that, but I want it to get bigger than that, and I expect it to get bigger than that.

“We’ve had a lot of great moments. We’ve had a lot of memorable moments that I’ll never ever forget, and I expect to have dozens and hundreds more.”

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 Tuesday, July 22.

“It’s a very diverse record,” Jericho said. “The only rule we had for this record was there were no rules. It’s different from anything we’ve done before, and it’s opened a lot of doors already. We think it’s going to be a game changer for us, because it’s different from anything else that’s going on, and we’re a different band than anything else that’s been going on.

“Everything we’ve ever done has kind of been the opposite of what you’re supposed to do to make it in the music business. Yet, here we are, bigger than ever, growing everyday, touring the world with some of the biggest bands on the planet. So we thought let’s do a record that’s indicative of that. The Fozzy sound is very groovy rifs, very heavy rifs, a lot of choruses, a lot of harmonies in the vocals, and that’s who we’ve always been...is it a pop song; is it a jazz song; is it a heavy song; is it a ballad; is it a rhythm & blues song? It’s all of those rolled up into one, and I think it’s going to take a lot of people by surprise in a really good way.”

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 Tuesday, July 22.

Jericho is balancing both worlds.

“I’ll do the [WWE Battleground] pay-per-view [on Sunday, July 20] in Tampa, and then on [Monday, July 21] I’ll be in Los Angeles doing all the press and all the things that need to be done for that week to promote the release,” Jericho said. “The record comes out. We’ll be doing a video. We’ll be doing all the press. We’re playing a show at The Whiskey on [July 24]. It’s full on Fozzy mode. We’ve been preparing for this for months and months and months, and it’s going to be an exciting time for Fozzy that week.”

The band has confirmed a dozen shows throughout the South, Midwest and East coasts 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

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