Chris Jericho – ‘I Do Not Take It for Granted That in 2022 Fozzy Has a Gold Record’
Congrats are in order for Fozzy. The Chris Jericho-fronted band recently scored their first ever gold record for their 2017 album Judas, surpassing 500,000 certified units in combined album sales and streams. The RIAA officially certified the album gold on April 13, and we recently had a chance to talk with Jericho about what achieving that feat means to him at this stage in the band's career.
These actually are the best of times for Jericho, who is not only riding high off the sales honor of a previous album but is also receiving positive reviews for the forthcoming Boombox album, which has already yielded the hit singles "Nowhere to Run" and "Sane," with "I Still Burn" currently making its way up the charts as well. Plus, Fozzy are headlining a stellar tour bill that includes GFM, Krashkarma and The Nocturnal Affair and gives the band a chance to showcase their new lineup, one that Jericho says he hopes never changes and expects to take them to new heights.
Check out our chat with Fozzy's Chris Jericho about their new Boombox album (due May 6), and tour and also get the singer's thoughts on Judas going gold and the wrestling community's backing of the album's title track below.
Chris, you’ve got a amazing record here!
Thank you. We’ve had this record done for about a year and we were working so long on it that we were calling it ‘Chinese Fozzocracy’ because we started it in 2019. And then once we finished it last year, we didn’t want to release it at the tail end of the pandemic when there still wasn’t really a lot of touring going on and that sort of thing. So we’ve been sitting on it and releasing singles every couple of months. So now that the record is coming out, you go through that phase where you hope that everybody likes it. The indication that we’ve got from the songs that we’ve been playing live and that people have heard is that they really, really love it. So we appreciate your sentiments on that as well.
I was curious about this, cause I know at one point this was going to be called 2020. Obviously we’re way past that year now, but I was wondering how much did the pandemic allow you to add to what you were already planning for this album?
It’s so funny to think about it because it seemed like such a revolutionary name at the time. It’s 20/20 vision and it’s the year 2020 and it all just really fit and we had a whole concept around it. And then Bon Jovi announced he was going to have an album called 2020 and we were like, “Shit!” And then the pandemic happened and it was just like, “This is not a good idea.”
Plus we weren’t even going to have it done in 2020, but the original plan was to have it done in conjunction with the year, 20/20 vision, almost like an homage to Van Halen with 1984, but it changed, obviously, and Boombox is a far better title and I think we just want to distance ourselves from 2020 as much as possible.
But we wrote all these songs basically two or three years ago, and when we recorded the record we didn’t really need to add anything. We had 12 great tunes, and it wasn’t like “Did the events of the world influence you at all?” We didn’t really want to dwell on it. And there’s certain songs like “Sane” for example, you could attribute that to lockdowns and pandemics and “It’s crazy, days like these I don’t want to be sane.” But that was just more of a coincidence than anything. So we wrote this record, then lived through a very historical event and we didn’t think we needed to write another song about it. So the record was done, but we decided not to rush it because there’s a lot of bands that put out great records over the course of the pandemic that just kind of got forgotten.
AC/DC’s Power Up is probably my favorite modern day AC/DC record. They put it out and that was kind of it. But DC is on a different level. They could tour five years from now on Power Up. But Fozzy’s not that so we just wanted to wait until the time was right and people started touring again. The fans would be coming out to see the shows and rock radio is back where it needs to be, so it was all those kind of factors. Timing just worked out the way that it should have.
My joy this morning was waking up and finding that “Purifier” was out there. After hearing this album in advance of the interview, that felt to me to be one of the strongest songs. And you had talked online as well about the excitement that fans have shown for that song.
Well this is something that you don’t realize. So last night after the show in Detroit I start getting all this feedback from people on how much they love “Purifier” and how great it is, and I’m like, “How are people hearing this?” But I had no idea that “Purifier” came out last night on Spotify. In Europe, it’s going to be the next single, so the record company just released it on Spotify worldwide and no one told me. (Laughs)
But we did just release “I Still Burn” a couple of weeks ago and it impacted at rock radio huge and it’s great to have “Purifier” out there as well. But we’ve been playing “Purifier” live for a couple of months now, so sure, put it out. It’s a great tune, it’s a great live tune and even the cover, the thumbnail for it is awesome, so the more the merrier.
It’s a different world now when the record comes out May 6, but people already have four songs in their collection. When we were kids, the record would come out and the single would come out the same day and you’d have three or four moths to promote the record and it’d disappear. In this day and age, it doesn’t work that way today. This record will be promoted for the next year or two years or whatever may be. So let’s do it. The new Red Hot Chili Peppers came out last night and there were four songs in advance of that as well, so I’m just glad that people like it and they’ve been waiting long enough.
I always loved it when my favorite bands put out new stuff and one of the songs was just a kick ass rocker. “Sane” was just a kick ass riff monster, but “Purifier” is just [passionately sings riff]. It’s a headbanger and we love playing it live and it’s just another great song from the Boombox record.
Two additions to the band basically going into this album cycle. PJ [Farley] played with you in Kuarantine. Can you talk a little bit about what that relationship has meant to you and was it just a natural transition to bring him into the band?
Yeah. You know bands change and people come and go and we had a great core with Rich [Ward] and I and Billy Grey but this is really the lineup for me. PJ was a natural fit. We just couldn’t find the right guys. They would come and go. Our last bass player Randy, he didn’t want to do any shows or leave his house and we had to keep the pirate ship sailing and Rich and I said the same thing, “Let’s bring in PJ.” And once PJ came on board, he’s a 30-year working musician and he just gets it. He’s a great guy, great player, great singer. As you know the playing ability is important, but it’s the hang on the bus for the other 22 hours that means just as much. He just fit right in like a glove.
And then Grant Brooks is a drummer that I knew and was like, ‘Wow, if we ever need a guy?” And he actually came up to me last year on one of our tours and was like, “If you ever need a guy…” But you just see him in Fozzy and it just fits. He looks great, he plays great. I saw a picture of the band last night, our current lineup, and I was just like, “That looks like a pro arena level rock ’n’ roll band.” And it sounds like one, too, so we’re really excited about the new rhythm section that we just organically naturally put together. I don’t see this lineup changing ever again. I don’t want it to change ever again because all the elements are here to take the band higher than we’ve ever been before.
You’ve done a great job championing metal over the years, but it was a nice surprise listening to this record and hearing the marvelous cover you’ve done of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax.” I know you’ve always been a metal guy, but was there a young Chris Jericho out there sporting a “Frankie Says” shirt at some point in the ‘80s?
Hardly. I was Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Scorpions back in ’84, but a good song is a good song. And that song was everywhere and you knew it. It’s almost like a dirge or a trance. It’s basically “Relax, Don’t do it” times 100. There’s three or four words in the song. But everybody knows it and we just thought, “What if we made it a little heavier, add to the production and put a little Rammstein spin on it.” And it came out amazing. We’ve experimented like this before when we did “S.O.S.” by ABBA on the Do You Wanna Start a War? record, and it just works.
It’s not a song you’d expect us to cover. We’ve covered “Metal Health” and we’ve covered “I Don’t Know” and those types of songs, but “S.O.S.” and “Relax” are where people go, “Wow, I forgot how good that song is,” or if they haven’t heard it, going, “Wow, that song’s killer.” We played it overseas in England this past December, in Ireland and Scotland, and it just tore the house down. I was just like, “This is a great live song, and it’s a surprise,” like you said. Here’s the new cover from Fozzy. Oh what could it be? Frankie Goes to Hollywood? Wow, that’s interesting. It really works for us and like I said, our version I think is the perfect kind of upgrade for this really great song. And if you had to ask me, and we’re already three singles deep here, but if you had to ask me about a fourth or fifth single, I’d put “Relax” in contention for one of those cause I think people will go nuts for it.
I think you’ll get that chance. Yes there are three songs already out there, but you’ve got the quality to go deep with singles on this album if you wanted to.
Thank you, thank you.
Fozzy, "I Still Burn"
So, as the title is Boombox, there’s another throwback reference. I grew up with boomboxes in the ‘80s. So let’s take this back in time. Who was Chris Jericho back in the ‘80s? And how much did that period factor in, if at all, in terms of being an influence on this?
Well, we were looking for a title for the record that really fit into more of what Fozzy is as a live band. And our last few records of Judas and Do You Wanna Start a War? and Sin and Bones are very heavy, darker titles. So for this one we wanted to find something that really more kind of matches who we are as a live band, which is more of a fun, party atmosphere, Van Halen circa 1981, just have a good time [group]. We take our music very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously onstage. We want to make sure that people have a good time.
And I can’t remember if it was Rich or I that came up with it, probably Rich, but Boombox just kind of has a connotation to anyone who knows what a boombox is, like you said, it just brings back good memories of a different time. I remember when my mom’s car didn’t have a stereo in it, so that’s what you put in. We called it a ghetto blaster at the time, or more like a shack blaster because it wasn’t very big, but you put the cassette in there, press play and turn it up as loud as you could and that would be what you would listen to.
If you didn’t have a Walkman, well and it was even pre-Walkman, but you’d carry this suitcase looking thing around that was playing music. And if you don’t know what a boombox is, well it just sounds cool – “Boom!” – what’s more sonic of s sound than a boom? What is a boombox? Well we know the original definition, but Fozzy is a boombox as well. We’re a self-contained rock ’n’ roll machine, which is basically what a boombox is in reality.
And there was just this whole cover concept that I had in mind of just a boombox on fire kind of in the middle of a downtown Blade Runner utopian rainy street at night. I just love it. I love the imagery visually and mentally, and it really fits what Fozzy is so that’s really where that came from and it’s just part of what we do.
Fozzy, Boombox Album Artwork
Speaking of the rock ’n’ roll machine, the tour is just now underway and you get a chance to put Mr. Brooks and Mr. Farley to use. Can you speak to how the lineup is coming together live?
Well PJ’s been with us a couple of years now so he’s done a lot of touring, but last night was the first show we ever did with Grant. And it was a really great show, which is a good indication of how that band is going to be. The first show is usually the roughest with queues and that sort of thing. He’s got a lot of songs to learn and we have a lot of little nuances that we’ve been doing for years. It’s natural for us, but for Grant, he’s just getting to learn them. He did a great job and is a wonderful player and is just a pleasure to be around. He’s so passionate. There’s so much fire and he really wants it. He really wants to be in Fozzy and it’s really refreshing. It was just fun to see this guy playing with no shirt on and rocking and it kicked everyone in the ass.
We had a packed house last night in Detroit and it was Darren McCarty’s 50th birthday, one of the greatest Detroit Red Wings of all time. The guy who signed us along with Jonny Z, Michael Alago, he signed Metallica, he signed White Zombie and he signed Fozzy and here we are 20 years later, kind of his last signing in the business, with five consecutive top 10s and a gold album for Judas, so it was great to have him there as well. So it was really one of those special nights kicking off a tour and it couldn’t have been any better across the board.
You led perfectly into the next question with Judas. Knowing what a historian you are of music, what does it mean after 20 years with your band to be getting a gold record?
It means everything to me. It’s the dream come true. I remember seeing pictures of the Beatles in 1966 getting a gold record for Rubber Soul and they’re all standing there smiling. And then hearing Ozzy talk about “gold discs and platinum discs” in Decline of Western Civilization, and thinking, “Man, that’d be so cool.” And then seeing something on MuchMusic which was Canada’s version of MTV where there was Rudolf Schenker of the Scorpions at his house showing off all these gold and platinum albums on his wall. I was just thinking, “God, that would be so cool. Someday, you never know.”
So about a year ago we started hearing that if it keeps up at this pace, it’s gonna go gold. And we’re like, “Really? What are you talking about? Who’s buying records nowadays?” And how things have changed was that in the past a gold album was 500,000 units sold. Now, in 2022, a gold album is a combination of sales and streams. Well, how many streams do you need for a gold record, 500,000? No, 75 million. Think about that. That’s the equivalent of what you need to equate to 500,000 in sales. So at that point it was at 60 million. Then it was 62 million, 65 million, and you combine that with 100 to 150,000 actual units sold, and suddenly, it’s like, “Guys, in three weeks, it’s gonna go gold!” Two weeks, one week, then we’ve got it.
But here’s something I didn’t know. When you get the sales tabulated, you then have to send it to an accountant, an official RIAA accountant who then has to supervise to see if you have the sales. So then we got it. And then it all starts. It’s like picking out wallpaper. You have to pick the design of the gold record. How is it going to look? What’s the plaque going to look like? What’s the wording of the plaque? Who’s going to get them? Guys in the band, guys who were in the band, radio stations that supported us, managers – the Michael Alago’s of the world. Who gets them? And I’m like, “Are you fucking kidding me? We’re sitting here having to pick out a design of a gold record and who gets them? It really just blows my mind.” I do not take it for granted that in 2022 Fozzy has a gold record.
It also puts you on a different level. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of working rock bands who’ve been around for decades that don’t have a gold record and we do. I’ll never take that for granted and it means everything to me to be able to say that we’ve done that. If there’s any other issues of our legitimacy or that Chris Jericho is a singer in a rock band, well now you can really shove it up your ass. Actually, you can shove our gold record up your ass if you don’t like it.
Seeing the Judas title track grow over the years, one of the special things has been to see your usage of it as your AEW entrance theme. Can you talk about what it’s meant to see that song’s evolution within your wrestling venture and how the fans have been singing along to it and embracing it?
Well when I left WWE, I went to work in New-Japan Pro Wrestling and I needed a new song. And we had been trying to do a Japanese tour for 20 years and had just never gotten the opportunity. So I had a show at the Tokyo Dome and I just thought, “Fuck it, I’ll just use ‘Judas’ and hopefully those 50,000 people at the Tokyo Dome will hear the song and maybe someone in the crowd is a promoter and will want to bring us over.” That didn’t work. However, I realized from that experience that this is a great entrance song. It’s got a great vibe for what I’m doing and it’s just very powerful and I’m just going to use this song from now on. And in the course of that time in Japan is when AEW started and when it did, I told them I wanted to use “Judas.”
Tony Khan, my boss, loves using actual songs. CM Punk has [Living Colour's] “Cult of Personality” and Jungle Boy has the dinosaur song, it’s actually called “Jungle Boy.” So we licensed the song and we used it. And I guess about four or five months in, we had Chris Jericho’s Rock ’n’ Rager at Sea, the cruise that I do, and we did a live AEW Dynamite from the ship and as I was walking to the ring, on the deck of the cruise that I created, in a company that I helped start, with my song by my band playing … it just doesn’t get much cooler than that. But it actually did get much cooler because for whatever reason, the 2,500 people that were on the deck just watching the show just started singing along to the song. It just blew my mind.
This was incredible because when you’re doing a live show, music, wrestling, whatever, you want the crowd to be involved. You do certain things and use certain tricks to get them involved, but this, there was no tricks. It was organic. They just started singing. And I thought, “We’ve just stumbled on the rarest of treasures.” It’s like Indiana Jones and we’ve just found the rare gold Incan statue. They are now involved and we didn’t have to do anything.
And then right after that the pandemic happened, so we were wrestling for six months in front of nobody. So when people started coming back, I was nervous. But they remembered and it picked right up where we left off, to the point where we did a show in Houston over the summer where the storyline was the bad guy forbade me from using “Judas,” so I came out to the ring with nothing, and you’re hoping this would happen, but people just started singing it on their own. It was just like this is one of the greatest moments in wrestling history.
It’s just followed from there, and it’s definitely one of the reasons why Judas went gold for sure because you’re hearing it every week on national TV and people are going around signing it. Even when I turned heel, turned bad guy, we thought about getting rid of it, but you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face. Sure, I get one week of people going, “No Judas? Boo, fuck you,” and then you’e got nothing or you can continue having this amazing moment every week that no other wrestling show has of people singing this song and going nuts for it. The best part is, this is not a Living Colour song or a Smiths song or whatever, it’s a Fozzy song and it makes it all the more sweeter.
Thanks to Fozzy's Chris Jericho for the interview. The band's 'Boombox' album is due May 6 and can be pre-ordered at this location. You can also keep up with their touring and get tickets here. And get info on VIP and meet-and-greet packages here.