By Andrew Catania
Rich Ward of Fozzy was gracious enough to speak with me about Fozzy’s new record and future plans for the band.
Was it your intention to have it sound heavier than previous releases?
RW: Yeah, I think it is a combination of a lot of things. And part of it is the lyrics are a bit darker than our previous records which I believe it is a significant contributor to that naturally, your lyrical content sets the tone for the songs. And then as a byproduct, I believe the direction of the music got darker. You and I listen to Zeppelin, Hendrix, then Lamb of God, there’s a definite difference in heaviness between those bands, but they all are heavy in their different kind of ways.
And so I think this record will show you the Cannibal Corpse fan won’t be super heavy to them, but really to the average kind of rock and metal band this is probably a definite turn to at least a darker direction for us, and you know the world is what you make of it.
There’s a definite kind of dark side to humanity that when tapped into and when observed and discussed makes for fascinating music. And I think especially in rock and metal you know AC/DC is the most famous band at grabbing working class. Having a good time with your friends and just you see letting it all hang out kind of party, and I’m there. They’re the greatest band in the world of evil. And then you have groups like Steel Panther and other bands like Buckcherry who are kind of in that category of really awesome Funtime rock bands. Then on the other side of the Idol, you’ve got Korn and Manson who sort of embrace the darker side of things. I think Fozzy has always done an excellent job of straddling both worlds where we are a good time rock band and our shows are so much fun, and there’s some fun material on the record.
But there’s also been some darker material, and I think for whatever reason this album just kind of tilted more to the darker direction and I think it worked well for us.
Do you think the darker direction of the new album is going to affect your fanbase?
RW: I would doubt it. Part of that reason I would say that is because you can’t change the personalities and Jericho is that larger than life guy. Jericho can play a character so he could be a babyface or he could be a bad guy, or you know where he currently shades of gray.
I think just because I’ve seen so many bands who for me come across at times a bit unbelievable because I know them and they’re fun-loving guys, and you hear them in interviews, and then you see them on stage, and they look like you know ax murders. And it just doesn’t you know I think there are a few examples that I give a pass to and that’s like Ozzie and Alice Cooper because I think there is a character in Ozzy’s even spoken about it. You know when he’s off stage he’s John Osborne, and when he’s on stage, he becomes Ozzy Osbourne. And I think the same is true for Alice Cooper in that he assumes the role of Alice Cooper. When the intro music rolls. And I think that works for those guys. But I think there are very few exceptions that for my work when you don’t.
I’ve met Rob Zombie a couple of times. He’s the same guy onstage as he is off. And he is a playful fun loving guy. But he has a darkness to him as well, so it is a really nice balance in that same character on and off stage you know is that is he who he is, and I think Jericho there is a dark side to him and you’ll see that in some of our you know in our shows. But I think Chris knows that nice job of straddling the line
How did the song collaboration go for the new record?
RW: This band has always been a collaboration. We all kind of wear different hats. So the type of core structure of writing the music and the melodies have been up to me, and Chris has been the primary architect of the lyrics on this record. It is a little different in that we collaborated on the songwriting with Johnny Andrews who produced the albums just like you’ve seen documentaries with Bob Rock with Metallica. The producers are very active in helping to kind of shape the songs, and then there are other producers like Andy Sneap who I’ve worked with for many years and many albums which was a little less involved with the creative process at least in my relationship with him. It’s more about the technical side of the sounds and creating the soundscape. From an engineering standpoint, Johnny’s role with us was much more hands on. There was a lot of songwriting a lot of collaboration.
So the dynamic of this record is a little different, but it’s still the guy still plays the same role. We never tell Paul, our bass player how to play bass or what to write. He always writes his parts, and he consistently performs the pieces that he wants to play, and they’re apparently based on the structure of the songs as they are it’s not like you can just you know to recreate the song. There was a bass players job is to find where does he fit in between where the drums are and where the riff is, and that’s where the greats are. You know is it’s how to make the bass playing to find that balance between being a supportive rhythm instrument and also adding an extra bit of time and rhythm and melody to the music. And then Billy Grey the lead guitar player is his primary role was a lot like Kirk Hammett and Metallica where he comes in and plays the solos, and it’s just a fantastic lead player.
And then our drummer Frank he and I have been friends since 1988 and have had been playing together since we were teenagers and we have a great you know kind of chemistry not only you see well on stage but off stage and so he’s been a big part of this. The sound of every band I’ve ever been in and the album’s just because he has a real signature style and approach to playing drums.
How did you meet Chris Jericho?
RW: I met Chris Jericho backstage at a WCW event. Chris had seen us play actually before he came to see us in Orlando when he was living in Orlando. We opened up for Testament, and he had seen it before. So I was friends with Diamond Dallas Page. I was backstage as a guest of DDP, and I met Chris. I’m still obviously in touch with DDP. It’s incredible that my friendship with a Dallas Page is responsible for Fozzy existing.
What are Fozzy’s plans for 2018?
RW: Stuck Mojo Band is still active. I always do these bands and cycles, so my Stuck Mojo tour cycle and album cycle was 2016 so once that was done just like Chris you know now his wrestling is done for now and so all of his efforts are in Fozzy and his podcast. He just put out a book, but now that book cycle is over with all the book tour, so you kind of it’s hard to balance a bunch of things. And for me I’m not a good multi-tasker so right now it’s all Fozzy and soon as soon as the record comes out which is a couple of weeks from now we will you know we’ll start to get more hot and heavy on trying to figure out what 2018 looks like. I know that we’re are speaking to a lot of big bands about doing some support tours the usual festivals will happen in the States in Europe that we love to play and we’ll probably do more headlining dates. I’m sure it will be just kind of a goofy grab bag of a bunch of different options.
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