Fozzy’s Chris Jericho Discusses Being a Metal Ambassador, Shares His Festival Survival Tips
Chris Jericho is a master of multiple mediums, first coming to fame as a pro wrestler, then seeing his band Fozzy take off and most recently hosting his own podcast. ‘Loudwire Nights’ host Full Metal Jackie spoke with Chris Jericho at the recent Welcome to Rockville festival and they delved into the fine line between being a super fan and a peer of the group’s he loves, serving as a metal ambassador and offering a few tips for festival goers. Check out the chat below.
It’s Full Metal Jackie with the one and only, Chris Jericho. What’s up?
Hey, just hanging out here at Rockville in our fine dressing room, which is kind of a trailer. It’s funny, I was just in Hellyeah‘s dressing room and they have banners up on the walls, tapestries, KISS. Skynyrd, Christmas lights and tunes playing. I’m like, “Alright, next time I’m doing that.”
Yeah, they do that in any dressing room. They make it home.
Can you CGI? I know there’s a big budget for this show.
Have you taken any time to watch any bands today?
I just watched the first song of Hellyeah, that’s the first band that played. I think I saw the band that was on the Ernie Ball stage, I think they’re called Nothing More. I watched them a little bit too in Tampa.
What did you think?
It’s good. When you come to a festival like this, a lot of time there’s press. This is a really big one, so there are stages on both sides so we can — so I can watch the bands on this side of the world but on the other side, I won’t check them out until after their set.
Unless you have binoculars, or a helicopter.
What’s the difference in the excitement you get from watching a band as opposed to the exhilaration of walking onstage and performing?
It would depend on which band it is. If it’s a band that you don’t know, you’re just there to see what they sound like, what are they like? First impressions, oh this is cool. If you’re a fan of the band. For example, later on we’re going to go watch Avenged. I know every one of their songs, big fan of their music. So then you really get into it, you just become a diehard fan. That’s just the same if I’m going to a Metallica show, or the [Rolling] Stones or [Paul] McCartney. You can lose yourself in the music, but when you’re playing the music, especially if you have a lot of fans that know your stuff and a lot of fans that don’t. In a festival, that’s usually what happens, which is great.
My favorite part is watching them slowly get familiar with what’s going on during the set and then at the end chanting “Fozzy” and getting into it, rockin’. That’s when you know you’ve converted some people to your cause, which is why you do shows like this. Anyone can go and have a killer show and a killer reaction when you’re headlining because those are your people, but when you go to a show and you’re opening for a band or at a festival and you’re winning people over, that’s the real rush.
Chris, You love this music. You play the music, you live this music. If there was an official position, would anyone be better suited than you to be the ambassador of metal?
It’s funny you say that. Whatever mainstream acceptance that I have, it always falls back onto metal. Even when I did ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ I think I’m the only guy ever who competed on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ that listened to ‘Gung Ho’ by Anthrax ten minutes before showtime. I remember at Golden Gods a few years ago, Alice Cooper was there and I was hosting it. Alice was like, “Chris Jericho, he’s like the ambassador for metal. He’s done more for metal in the mainstream than anybody has in years, vote for him on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ Vote for him is a vote for metal!” I was like, that’s cool.
I also met Geezer Butler for the first time there and he’s like, “I watched you on ‘Dancing With the Stars.'” I was like, “Wow.? He’s like, “I even voted for you too.” I was like, “Wow! Geezer Butler watches me? That is pretty cool.” Yes, I am the ambassador for metal. Even when I first started wrestling, all I wanted to be was to be the David Lee Roth of wrestling or the Paul Stanley of wrestling. The ultimate frontman in that ring. When I started playing music when I was 12, it was the same thing, I just wanted to be in a band and play so much. So the fact that I get to be here and do this, and still do all the other stuff I’m doing, it’s a real cool plus for metal and metal fans.
You’re genuinely excited about everything you get a chance to do. You bring certain level of energy to it.
Much like you, we’re fans. We started as fans. You become, not sure a critic is the right word, but when you get in the business. You start to see the other side of the coin, the music business, some of that part sucks. When you actually go back to the music, when that kicks your ass, that’s what it’s all about.
It makes the other stuff not matter as bad.
Exactly. Right? This is why I do this. Still, we did Soundwave last year in Australia. It’s a touring stadium festival, and Metallica were the headliners. We played earlier on in the day, had great sets, great crowds and you’re like the king of the world. Then, later on in the night, you get to go stand side stage and watch one of the reasons why I got into music in the first place — to see the greatest metal band of all time, for me, and watch them as a peer. But I’m still a fan, i was like, “Wow, this is like the greatest night ever.” Then one time Lars let me watch from the “cockpit” behind his drums, behind the stage where they have grating so you’re kind of looking through. You can’t see s–t, but the fact is you’re standing there and then Lars comes back, they massage his back between tunes or James comes back to change guitars. It’s like, this is the worst / best seat ever! I’m here as a peer of the band, but also as the biggest fan. Things like that you can never take for granted.
Do you ever find yourself getting giddy or fan-boy like?
Yes. I’ve never met Paul Stanley. He was supposed to do my podcast a few weeks ago, it didn’t work out at the last minute. I was so disappointed, I was so looking forward to having Paul Stanley in there. But the only way I could ever meet him and not be a blubbering fanboy is when I’m working, as a professional. I’m going to give him the best interview he’s ever had. As a fan, if I saw him on the street I would not know what to say. The first time I met Hetfield a few years ago, afterwards I had to go stand in the corner and breathe.
You build these guys up so much, even now when I see James I’ll talk to him but it’s like, after it’s like talking to a real hot chick for the first time. What the hell was I saying?! Why did I say that!? I think that’s something that keeps you grounded. If you ever stop being a fan, I don’t think that’s healthy. If Paul McCartney saw Little Richard, he’d probably flip out. I’m sure he’s met him a million times, but still, he probably feels that ‘oh my gosh.’ You have to have that. We started as fans, we continue as fans and you end as a fan. If you can keep that perspective, it makes everything – you don’t take things for granted. You can’t take this business for granted. You work so hard to get here, there’s — forty bands today? We’re one of these forty bands and last year we weren’t.
So, wow! We’re now in this rarified air but now it’s like, OK now the real work begins. Next year, we’re headlining Ernie Ball today. Next year I want to headline whatever stage is next to us, then the year after that headline the second stage, then the main stage. That’s what happened to us at Download. Five years ago we were on the fourth stage, two years ago on the second stage, this year on the main stage. Every year pushes you to go further and further and never take it for granted. LIke, hey we made it. We’re rock stars, start treating people like s–t or demanding things. Until you’re the Rolling Stones, you probably should not take anything for granted. David Lee Roth always said, “Here today, gone later today, ow!”
We’re talking about Rockville, being in Jacksonville today and this being the world’s loudest month with all these festivals. What advice would you give to concertgoers on how to survive a full day of rock?
Especially when you’re here on a day like this, you gotta wear a hat and lots of water. Be hydrated, pour it on yourself. Another thing I notice, you can’t drink too much early in the day. It will kill you. We did Uproar a few years ago and we played I think 5PM, it was the perfect slot, because people were just getting drunk enough where they were having a good time but not too drunk. But for the people that didn’t time themselves properly — there’s nothing worse than drinking in the sun. That will mess you up. The other thing, I find that a lot of people have destination bands. I want to see this band, I want to see that band. As the day goes on, they kind of give that up and park themselves at the front because it’s hard to get around. Let’s say you want to see Avenged Sevenfold.
There are people that will wait there all day long in the front row, even if they want to see Hellyeah or Fozzy or anyone else on that stage because they don’t want to give up their spot. If you want to see a band, pick a stage that says, “OK there’s three bands on this stage, and two on this stage, but it’s on the other side of the field.” Maybe stick around that one stage, make your commitment and stay with it and go see the other bands another time. That’s Chris Jericho’s field guide to festivals.
If it’s muddy out, like at Download, you gotta wear your wellies! Which are rubber boots.
They’re not cool looking, but you feel like you planned accordingly.
The best thing about Download a few years ago, it was super muddy and Jack Black, Tenacious D was playing. He didn’t even take off his Wellies when he was on stage. Those are the most un-cool things I’ve ever seen on a rock stage.
He can get away with it. Did you hear their version of ‘Last in Line’? Is there a flute in there?
There’s a flute solo. It’s funny, because I was listening to them and going, this is standard. Tenacious D usually does something weird, but they were sticking to it and then pull out a flute solo, I was like, that’s perfect.
I think Tenacious D is such a great band, Jack Black is a really — he’s a great rock singer. Yes, it’s funny. It’s like Steel Panther, yes. But the reason why it works is because their songs are so good. Their hooks are off their charts. When that record came out, it’s the first song I listened to on it, then of course the next one was the Metallica medley which also kicked ass. And another, Rainbow, maybe I was too young for Rainbow so I never really got into them, which is weird because they’re awesome but then I never heard ‘tarot woman’ before until Metallica played it and now it’s one of my favorite songs. So the classic stylings of Metallica leading us to different music that we might not have known, I thought that was really cool. I like that track on that record.
The whole record is great, we’re talking about the Dio tribute record. Pick that up, really appreciate you taking the time to hang out with us. Thanks for your guide to surviving a rock fest.
Watch Chris Jericho Play ‘Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?’