International rock powerhouse Fozzy, led by multi-hyphenate superstar Chris Jericho and acclaimed guitar guru Rich Ward will be hitting the U.K. and Ireland in November for their 2022 ‘Save the World’ tour. The ten-date run begins in Manchester and calls through Birmingham, Nottingham, Dublin, Belfast, Swansea, Bournemouth, Bristol, Glasgow and finishes in London. We caught up with charismatic front man and band leader Chris Jericho for a preview of the tour, and chat new album ‘Boombox’, fanboying, and his turn of the millennium Metal Edge column. Sin and bones; Eamon O'Neill.
Hi Chris, how are you today?
What’s up man, I’m good. I am doing excellent, man. I’m busy, but it’s good though.
Fozzy are coming back to the U.K. and Ireland; are you looking forward to those dates?
We always have a great time in the U.K. and Ireland and Northern Ireland, obviously, Scotland, Wales, England. It’s kind of been a second home for us since we started touring there in 2005. We just were there about a year ago, and the whole tour was completely sold out before we even got on the plane which was amazing, so we wanted to keep the momentum going and come back again and play some bigger places. So it really is a second home for us, and it’s always important for us to continue to build the territory and continue to come back frequently, which is why we’re coming back.
You’ve playing bigger venues this time around, including the Ulster Hall in Belfast, which is where place Led Zeppelin premiered ‘Stairway to Heaven’, live.
Well, there you go, exactly! What a classic place! And listen, we’ve been playing the Limelight, and the last time the Limelight was jam packed insane, so Belfast, honestly, is always one of the best crowds that we have, and the cool thing about this show on November 9th in Belfast is it’s actually my birthday, so I can’t think of a better place to have a birthday celebration than Belfast!
You’re in Dublin the following night at the National Stadium, so that’s another chance to party!
I’ve got to be a professional, but I’ll do my best! [laughing]. A lot of these venues we’ve never played before because we’ve usually been playing the next one down, so we’re looking forward to it. And the same thing, Dublin’s always a crazy crowd. You know, Northern Ireland and Ireland, people like to rock there, and they like to party. When we were there the last time in Belfast and Dublin, I think a couple of days later there was another bit of a lockdown, in December last year, so we’re glad that’s all done and now we can just concentrate on having a great time, which is what we’re here to do. We’re super excited to come back to Dublin, and Belfast as well; great rock and roll cities, and great Fozzy cities, and always have been, so we can’t wait.
You’re touring in support of new album ‘Boombox’, so you must be excited to take those songs out on the road.
Yeah, well the thing that’s cool is that the record has been done for such a long time that we’ve been playing a lot of these songs since last year. There’s some new songs added for sure, and I think the most important thing is now that people will know all the songs and be familiar with them. ‘Boombox’ was a big hit for us all across the board, so yeah, we’ve kind of got it down to a science now where we know exactly what songs to play, and we always throw a couple of new ones in for the people that come every concert. We’ve had five consecutive top ten singles in the States, and it gets to the point now where you have to pick and choose what songs you’re going to play because if you put a new one in, which one are you going to take out? So, it’s pretty cool. It’s a new set list from what we did last Fall, and we’re stoked to get out there and start doing it.
Two of the bigger singles off the album included ‘Sane’ and ‘I Still Burn’; how have those been going down live?
Yeah, I mean, ‘Sane’ starts the show like it starts the record, and great, that as a big hit for us, and then ‘I Still Burn’, I think it was one of the most played song on American radio this year, so another one that just right off the gate, was a big hit, and that’s cool! So, you want, obviously to play your hits, and you want to play the older songs as well, and then we always try and play a couple of songs that are a little bit off the beaten path because I always like when Maiden does that, or Metallica does that as well. But it’s a great problem to have when it gets harder and harder to pick the songs that you want to play, and then some of the ones that have, you know, five million views on YouTube have to come out of the set. That’s just kind of part of growing a band.
You covered Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ on the album; had you any trepidation taking on that one?
No because a couple of years ago we did a record called ‘Do You Wanna Start a War’, and we covered ABBA’s ‘S.O.S.’, and people loved it because it really did lend itself to more of a heavier arrangement. So when we started thinking about ‘Relax’, it really kind of felt a little bit more industrial, almost like a Rammstein song or something. When we stated playing it in the U.K., it really got over right out of the gate. So everyone knows the song, everyone likes the song, but you haven’t heard it for forty years, so for us to kind of update it a bit, make it a bit more heavier, it’s one of the highlights of the set for sure.
The last time I saw you perform was at Dimebash in Santa Ana back in 2020; how did you enjoy that?
Yeah man, it was kind of right before the lockdown started, so it was the last NAMM Show that I went to. I remember we did ‘The Number of The Beast’ with The Iron Maidens. It was pretty cool.
You’re a real fanboy, and you also worked with Metal Allegiance around NAMM Show.
Yeah, we did ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’. Well I mean, that’s how anybody in a band is. When you start a band you have the guys that you’re influenced by and the guys that you really love and appreciate. The coolest thing for us with is Fozzy is we’ve played with KISS on the KISS Kruise; they invited us on that; we did Australia with Metallica; we played a stadium opening for Iron Maiden, direct support in Los Angeles, so it’s cool when you get a chance to play with your heroes and you realise that you have a very short period of time to fanboy and then you’ve got to bring it. You know, I see an Anthrax poster on your wall; we opened for Anthrax probably a dozen times, and it’s really cool, but then you’ve got a job to do; you’ve got to be great, and you’ve got to entertain their fans for the forty-five minutes that you’re up there.
You’ve got to go to work.
It doesn’t matter how close you are as friends or how much you respect them when you were growing up; when you get on stage with those band you’ve got to bring it, and that’s what we’ve always done. I think it’s one of the reasons why we keep getting invited to do shows like that with these bands that we love and admire, and it also brings up our own shows, as far as the numbers. It’s just a great way to get more exposure, but we also have a great fan base that just want to see Fozzy too.
You must feel a great sense of achievement in reaching new levels, as far as bigger venues goes.
Well it is, man, and like I said, to see the growth of the band is the most important thing. We’re not doing this to play ‘rock star’; we’re doing it to build Fozzy, and build the brand, that you know, it’s a business, so you want that business to be profitable and when you get to the point where you figure out how to do that, it is very gratifying.
You launched ‘Boombox’ with an unplanned listening party in London in 2021.
When we were in London last year, I had some issues where we couldn’t do the show, and we just had to do more of a listening party. No one had heard our new record yet, and to go to London and have everybody listen to ‘Boombox’ for the first time, you’re always nervous! The record had been done for a while, but you don’t know; “is anybody going to like this?!”, and then just to see the vibe of every song just going over huge, it was really cool, and I don’t know if that would have happened if we were in, you know, New York or L.A. To do it in London was the perfect place, the perfect fan base, and the perfect reaction for us.
Flicking through an old copy of Metal Edge magazine from 22 years ago, I found your column ‘Metal is Jericho’, and in this one, you state; “these are the best of times to be a metalhead”; does that still apply today?
I think it does, probably even more so. I mean, if you look at what was going on in 2000, we were still in the middle of the nu metal thing, and I think all the bands that were just getting back up and running on 2000 are now stadium bands; Iron Maiden, Metallica, Guns n’ Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers. I think the newer bands like The Struts and Dirty Honey and those types of bands are much more rock and roll than what was going on in 2000. You know, Avenged Sevenfold and that sort of thing, there was kind of a whole resurgence in the mid-2000s, Mesuggah and Trivium and that sort of thing, and then now, I think a band like Fozzy. We’ve become so much bigger and gone so much further by just basically playing rock and roll.
So I think there’s much more of a rock and roll vibe now, and, you take yourself seriously, but there’s much more of a fun element, and I think that takes it back to the ‘80s and the ‘70s, which I like better now. We do our shows, it’s a lot of fun; a lot of chanting, a lot of singing along. They’re not afraid to tell some jokes on stage and just have a good time, and I don’t think we really had that in 2000. It was a lot more serious then, so I think it’s better now in 2022, and it’s better for us too.
Finally, what’s happing next for you; are you looking towards a new album, festival dates for next summer, that sort of thing?
Well it’s funny because, like I said, ‘Boombox’ was three years in the making and it was done for a full year before we released it, so we just had a new record come out in May, but yeah, we already are working on new stuff, and I think the way that music is released is going to change. I don’t know if we’re going to do another ‘album’, per se, because you do twelve songs and every song is great, but once, you know, you put three singles out on radio, that’s pretty much the end of it. So, we might just focus on one song at a time, just more frequently.
You know, obviously, thinking about the festivals for next summer, it’s been a while since we played Download, and we’re always excited to do a show like that and do some of our own tours again. So I think we’re just kind of piecing it together, but the thing that I know is we’re really excited about what has been happening for us on U.S. rock radio, and we’re also very excited about what’s been happing for us in the U.K. and Ireland, and Northern Ireland, just to continue to grow. I’d like to come back to the U.K. every year; every November is Fozzy in the U.K., and continue to expand and build in that respect as well. So we have a plan in mind, and the plan is just to continue to build the band and play great shows and do great songs and to just have fun!
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Fozzy’s UK & Ireland ‘Save The World Tour’ with special guests Escape The Fate an Scarlet Rebels starts next month.
Fri 04 Nov - Manchester, England - O2 New Century Hall
Sat 05 Nov - Birmingham, England - O2 Institute
Sun 06 Nov - Nottingham, England - Rock City
Tues 08 Nov - Dublin, Ireland - National Stadium
Weds 09 Nov - Belfast, N Ireland - Ulster Hall
Thurs 10 Nov - Swansea, Wales - Patti Pavilion
Fri 11 Nov - Bournemouth, England - O2 Academy
Sat 12 Nov - Bristol, England - O2 Academy
Sun 13 Nov - Glasgow, Scotland - SWG3
Mon 14 Nov - London, England - O2 Forum
Tickets available from fozzyrock.com