Dante caught Fozzy’s set at the 2012 “Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival” (Toyota Pavilion) in Scranton, PA – & also had a chance to sit down with guitarist, Rich Ward, before the show. Hands down, Fozzy performed the BEST SET of the day! Through the years, Fozzy has been surrounded by criticism…”These guys are a joke…this is never going to work…Chris Jericho is a wrestler, & he sucks.” Well, Dante’s got news for you…that Fozzy is THE REAL DEAL. The band puts on a great live performance, & as frontman Chris Jericho pumps the crowd with “old school” awe & revelry, the band continues to look hungry for the success they’ve dreamed about for a very long time. It is a look many reviewers seldom see anymore, & distinguishes a mediocre band from one being a “GREAT LIVE ACT”…& Fozzy are definitely above their calibre.
DM: How is the new CD “Sin & Bones” doing?
Rich Ward: We got #1 on the “Heat Seekers Chart” & #143 on “Top 200”. For a band that has not done a full U.S. tour, & had no radio support up until last week, it’s pretty amazing! We beat the odds. The truth is…we have spent almost all of our time in Australia & Europe touring, & I think the biggest hurdle we had to overcome is that our singer is a professional wrestler & the core of the band came from a rap-rock band, called Stuck Mojo…& a lot of the time, when you have a celebrity as a singer, a lot of people have a “wait & see” attitude. A lot of people might think it’s a joke or a gimmick, so it has taken a few records for us to gain that respect. It is the same thing that happened to us in Stuck Mojo, & for Chris in the wrestling business. When it does not happen overnight, you appreciate it a whole lot more. I think, the climb to “The Top” is the best part. Being on the charts is great, but now we need to set new goals for ourselves. You always want to be THE BEST at what you do. Today, not counting the main stage, there are twelve bands between the other two stages…& our goal is not to have a good show…our goal is to make the people, that see Fozzy play, forget they seen eleven other bands. It has to be.
DM: You guys have a good time slot for it…you are headlining the “Jagermeister Stage”.
Rich Ward: Yeah, you’re right. We go on right before P.O.D. – who are an amazing band. They are headlining the “Ernie Ball Stage”, but let’s face it…we are a different kind of band, so that allows us to differentiate ourselves.
DM: How would you compare “Sin & Bones” to Fozzy’s previous albums?
Rich Ward: It used to be…I would intentionally write for “Fozzy”, & I would try to make it different from “Stuck Mojo”, & I would try keep the two bands separated. But I think the real difference is, for this record, we just wrote without rules. Our drummer, Frank Fontsere, & I started Stuck Mojo in 1989…so he & I are, basically, the sonic sounding groove of Stuck Mojo…& we always tried not to be that, on purpose. “Chasing the Grail” – our last record – I love, because I love trying different things as a writer or as an artist. But the truth is…when you write totally in your comfort zone, it’s like that old t-shirt that you had for twenty years. You put it on…it feels right, it fits right…& that’s what I did on this record. I wrote, specifically, for WHO we were as a band. We wrote organically with no rules, no second-guessing ourselves. We did whatever came natural, & I went with whatever my gut instinct was with riffs & arrangements…& I think we came up with the best album of our career – based on just being who we are.
DM: Through the years, how hard has it been to put Fozzy on the road full-time…considering Chris’s schedule?
Rich Ward: It’s been impossible. The reason why we are able to do it now, is because Chris took some time off. But I think, Chris is at a point in his career…that he has been “The Champ” six times – he has done it all. He has been in the main event at WrestleMania, he has put out two books…both of them have been on the New York Times “Best Sellers” List. He is a real driven guy with a lot of goals. Chris still loves wrestling, but (I think) he thinks there is more to life than just that. I am sure he will go back & do a run, here & there.
DM: Are there any videos coming out for this CD?
Rich Ward: We finished the video for “Sandpaper” & they are working on a release date for it now.
DM: Any chance of a “LIVE” DVD in the future?
Rich Ward: It’s in discussion. I think, after these tours & sometime after the first of the year, we might work out a time schedule for it. Right now…this tour, & the “Soil” tour coming up, are not headlining shows for us. This tour, we are playing thirty minutes…in Europe, we have an hour. For a live DVD you want a “full concert” – a good hour & a half, at least.
DM: What’s next after Uproar?
Rich Ward: We are going to Europe with “Soil” for about a month. I think, sometime after Thanksgiving up until Christmas.
DM: I wanted to ask about Stuck Mojo, considering your last record came out in 2009…is there a possibility that we may see another Stuck Mojo record?
Rich Ward: Yeah, absolutely. I believe part of the blessing, & the curse, of Stuck Mojo is…that when the band fractured, I took the band over as my own personal solo project…which I should not have done. The truth is, when you get so close to things at times, you have trouble seeing the “BIG PICTURE”. I love Stuck Mojo, it gave me an opportunity to write about things that are personal to me. It could be about the world, or politics, or sociology, or interpersonal relationships…those are the things we don’t write about in Fozzy…nor should we, we are a metal band that writes about imagery. We are more influenced by bands like Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Dio, Iron Maiden, & Judas Priest. It’s a different approach to writing lyrically, so that’s why I love having Stuck Mojo as a vehicle. If we move forward with Stuck Mojo, which I know we will eventually, I want to go back to the “FOUR GUY” philosophy – all four guys having equal input in the songwriting, as opposed to me sitting in a room & writing twelve songs, & having guys come in & playing what I write. After writing this last Fozzy record, I found it’s much better writing as a group…because you get different prospective & different input…& it works out great. Now, if I ever want to do a solo project again…I’ll just do another “Duke” album & keep it at that.
DM: Is there anything you want to say to your fans that have been with you throughout the years, in Stuck Mojo & Fozzy?
Rich Ward: To think I’m sitting in a 1.2 million dollar bus, with leather seats, & playing on one of the biggest festivals, & playing with some of the BIGGEST BANDS in the country…& someone hands me money to play guitar – it’s crazy. It’s completely stupid, because I was the worst guitar player in my high school. I stuck with it because I love music…not because I wanted to be famous. There was never talk about money, or records, or getting a manager, or any of that stuff – we just wanted to play shows. We went out every night, handing out flyers…we just wanted to be THE BEST band. I owe everything to those fans that started off in Atlanta, then the Carolinas…& things just grew & grew…& through Stuck Mojo’s success, I met Chris Jericho…& our relationship musically, & as friends & bandmates, has just gotten better over the years. Like I said, I owe everything to the fans that have allowed me to (basically) live a life that seemed unreachable. I don’t take it for granted, & I don’t take myself seriously…because I know playing guitar does not cure cancer…it does not feed hungry children. All we do is provide entertainment, & give people a temporary escape from whatever it is they need to escape from – while we are on stage. Whatever it is, people are going through in their lives, our job is to give them a good time while they are here…& for the folks who have not heard Fozzy yet, give us a shot – go to YouTube & check us out. Who knows?!? You might like it.