Chasing the grail

Chasing the grail

Fozzy brings Sin and Bones to Dayton

By Gary Spencer

Photo: Fozzy will appear with British metal legends Saxon at McGuffys on Sept. 19

I’ve noticed that the first thing people say to me when I mention the American heavy metal/hard rock band Fozzy is, “Isn’t that the band with WWE wrestler Chris Jericho?”

So, let’s get it off the table right now. Yes, WWE superstar and international wrestling veteran Chris Jericho is the lead singer of Fozzy, and thanks to his celebrity status as a wrestling star and television personality on shows like “Monday Night Raw” and even “Dancing with the Stars,” Fozzy has name recognition with people even before hearing one solitary note of their music. But jumping to short-sighted conclusions about Fozzy due to the wrestler’s involvement with the band as simply a vehicle for Jericho to cash in on his wrestling celebrity in an outside venture as a generic rock n’ roll band not to be taken seriously as actual artists is both trite and dismissive – and with a band moniker like Fozzy, one could easily be forgiven for such generalizations.

Fozzy has developed a life of its own over the course of their 14-year existence as a band.  Despite struggling in the face of adversity and against more than several music critics and fans who wouldn’t give them the time of day due to their silly band name and having a pro wrestler as their frontman, Fozzy has not only persevered, but has grown as craftsmen of groovy, crunchy hard rock with one foot firmly planted in old school heavy metal such as Iron Maiden, but with the other foot nestled comfortably in knowing a catchy guitar line and vocal melody when they come upon one.

Fozzy’s sixth and most recent album, Sin and Bones, came out on Century Media Records back in 2012 and became an instant Heatseeker on the Billboard charts. And with an impending date at McGuffy’s House of Rock in Dayton on Thursday, Sept. 19, I called Fozzy’s musical mastermind Rich Ward to discuss the band’s history, their upcoming tour with British heavy metal legends Saxon, and existence in general. We had a great conversation and here’s what he had to say …

So how did Fozzy get paired up with Saxon for this U.S. tour?

Our singer (Chris Jericho) and Biff (Byford, of Saxon) had been friends and the idea came up of us touring together had been bounced around for a couple of years and it just happened that Saxon wanted to do this U.S. tour, and they got this killer new record and wanted to come over to the states to support the new record and it felt like a great pairing.   -Rich Ward

What makes Saxon and Fozzy such a great pairing for a U.S. tour?

Saxon was an influential band to a lot of us growing up. You listen to interviews with Lars Ulrich from Metallica and Gary Holt from Exodus and others … there’s a common thread that they all grew up listening to Saxon, and so did we. I wouldn’t say Fozzy is a new school band – we’ve been together for 14 years and the drummer and I come from a band named Stuck Mojo which formed in 1989 – we’re seasoned recording and touring musicians. With Saxon our goal is to be better than them, and their goal should be to be better than us. The fans will win by proxy. -RW

What difficulties has Fozzy seen trying to write, record and tour due to Chris’s occupation as a pro wrestler?

In the first 10 years, it was real difficult because Chris was still wrestling full time, on the road 250 days a year. It really only left us small windows to get together. The bulk of the work was done by me being the primary songwriter and producer of the band and then Chris would come in and sing in the studio and not like you normally do where you set aside a week or 10 days to do vocals – he’d sing the full album in one day. If it wasn’t for the fact that Chris is an android superhuman hybrid, he wouldn’t be able to do those things, but as Chris started taking more time off wrestling, we’ve been able to focus more on Fozzy as a full-time band. -RW

Why do you think Fozzy will go over well with music fans in Dayton?

Fozzy has always done well in the Midwest – the reason is I think our music really resonates with the heartland, with working class folk. I grew up in that kind of town and we didn’t get all the big bands and had to travel to see Iron Maiden or Ozzy when they came through. Dayton is by no means a small town, but I think there’s something to be said for the enthusiasm there. I think the energy is better in such a room and I’m looking forward to it. If you want to come say “Hello,” knock on the bus door and I’ll give you a great big hug! -RW

 

Fozzy will open for Saxon on Thursday, Sept. 19 at McGuffy’s House of Rock, 5418 Burkhardt Road. Doors open at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22 in advance and $25 at the door.  The show is 18 and up with valid ID. For more information please visit fozzyrock.com.

 

Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

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