Check out the full audio of our conversation below, along with a few typed highlights.
0:00 approach to interviews big and small
1:30 songwriting process
4:30 special guests on albums (e.g., M. Shadows)
6:30 earning respect from the metal community
7:30 upcoming tour with Saxon
9:00 Kai Hansen, Helloween, German metal
10:30 M. Shadows - matching Helloween tattoos
11:00 Golden Gods Awards
12:00 future show business plans
12:45 long hair (wrestling or metal?)
Highlights (full audio above)
Being interviewed by Jimmy Fallon compared to doing college radio: It's all the same place. If you have a project that you're excited about talking about, youw ant to talk to anybody that you can, and some nights you talk to Jimmy Fallon or Howard Stern, and some nights you talk to Little Joey's Website, who's got 45 followers. But if 2 or 3 of those people check out the band, or the tour, or the show, or the match, or whatever it is I'm promoting, then mission accomplished. It's just like playing a show. Our next gig is in Wacken, Germany, in front of 70,000 people, and other times you play shows where there's a hurricane in town, you play in front of 70. So all the shows are important, all the press is important, and if I didn't want to do it, I wouldn't be doing it. I don't ever have to be conned into press, because if you're going to go through the hassle of putting on a great show or putting out a great record, you want people to know about it, and it's all part of it. So if someone wants to talk to me, it's an honor.
Inspiration for songs on Sin & Bones: I'll put down song titles, and being a big Dexter fan, I always loved the concept of 'dark passenger', a really interesting concept. So, like you said, I took inspiration from the show. It's not really about Dexter per se, but just the whole concept of the 'dark passenger', this other person, this other entity that would lead you to do things that you might not necessarily want to do.
Making sure the guest appearance by M. Shadows on the song 'Sandpaper' isn't a distraction: That's okay. I think every band has a gimmick, or a lot of hit songs have that guest appearance vibe, but if a song is no good, what does it matter if you have M. Shadows or Paul McCartney on it if it's a piece of crap song, people are going to listen to it once as a novelty and throw it away. It's the same thing with a band. KISS has makeup, or Audioslave was Chris Cornell with the Rage Against the Machine, or Fozzy, Jericho is the wrestler. If you don't have good material and put on a good show, who cares who's in the band? It's kind of like that with guest appearances. And the thing with M. Shadows, I wanted to get Matt involved because I was missing a piece of a song I thought he could help me with. And then I thought how cool it would be to have Fozzy featuring Matt Shadows, the same way that every Top 40 hit would be Macklemore featuring Ludacris, or Jay Z featuring Lil Wayne. If hip-hop guys can do that, then why can't metal guys do it, too? It really works out well. Sometimes there'll be a place that you want to have a guest that fits perfectly, and that's when we'll use them. We don't just do it for stunts like a stuntcasting thing. We do it because there's a reason for it. [YouTube - 'Sandpaper']
Getting past the label of cover band or side project from the early days: I think that we had to work twice as hard to get half the results because there was some prejudice against us at first, because people, I think, were thinking, 'Well, is this just a fly by night thing, just a novelty that this guy is going to do until he gets bored?', not realizing that I've been playing in bands since I was 12 years old, and I'll be playing in bands when I'm 80. It's just a part of me, and when I was a kid, I wanted to be in a rock band, and I wanted to be a wrestler. Those were my two dreams. Wrestling took off first, but I never stopped writing songs, or playing in bands, or going out and jamming with local musicians, whatever you can do. So when Fozzy started at first, it was just another band for me until we realized we really enjoyed playing together and had a lot of chemistry. And that's when the band took off, we started putting all our effort into it. That's when we started getting some real respect and some real legitimacy from the metal community and from fans, when they knew that this was something they could trust, something that was good, something that was real, something that kicked ass. Once we got that respect, I think we got even more loyalty than we ever had, because people knew that nothing in this band was ever handed to us. And that's fine - we don't mind working hard to get our results. That's the way it should be.
Touring with Saxon in North America this fall: A legendary band, like you said, we grew up listening to, but they're just as good now as they ever were. Their new album Sacrifice is probably one of their best. [check out Dr. Metal's March 2013 interview with Biff Byford]
Did it bother you getting the stink eye from Kai Hansen at Bang Your Head 2002? Not really, because that day we were higher up on the bill than Gamma Ray, and I'm sure he was kind of wondering why the hell 'Chris Jericho Wrestler Band' was higher up than Gamma Ray in Germany. I'm still not too exactly why that was ourselves, but it wasn't my fault. It was a little bit of a disappointment that he was kind of taking it out on me. But that's rock n' roll, man. I'm sure if I saw him now, he'd probably be super friendly, or maybe not. But whatever. That's kind of how it goes. When you're on your way to the top, sometimes the people get their nose out of joint, and that's fine. For every Kai Hansen, there's a hundred Lars Ulrichs and James Hetfields who are super excited to see our band grow and super excited to know that we're doing this. [check out Dr. Metal's February 2013 interview with Kai Hansen]
Feelings about Helloween and German metal in general: I love Helloween. To me, they're the pioneers of power metal, so I find that most other bands from that area are kind of just Helloween ripoffs, so they don't appeal to me as much. But there's a few - I like Avantasia, I like Edguy. Tobias Sammet, I think he's done a great job over the years. Of course I love The Scorpions. So there's some German bands that appeal to me for sure. Rammstein, obviously a huge German band.
It's funny. It's one of the reasons why Shadows and I became such good friends. He's a huge Helloween fan as well. We actually got matching Helloween pumpkin tattoos, which is a real good bromance. [Great video of him talking about his tattoos at loudwire.com]
How he prepares material for his work as emcee for the Golden Gods Awards: [I] work with a team. A lot of it is improv, off the cuff as well. That's one of the reasons I think I get the gig every year is they know they can trust me no matter what happens. Because on a show like that, there's always glitches, and things change - guys are late, or guys can't find the stage, or something breaks down, especially the first couple years we did it. The last couple years, especially the last year, it went very smooth. You just have to go out there with your eyes and ears open and just go with the flow, and I think that's one of the reasons why I pretty much have gotten that job for the last four years and why I think I'll continue to get it. It's not what's written - it's what happens when there's nothing written. For the actual intro and all that sort of stuff, I definitely work with a couple other guys.
Future endeavors - is a talk show a possibility? Actually, it is on my bucket list of things to do, to have my own talk show. You do a lot of improv in wrestling, you do a lot of improv when you're the frontman of a rock n' roll band. I studied with the Groundlings Los Angeles for a year, improv, performed with them quite a few times as well. I definitely have that improv element as well as just having a natural sense of humor as well. When you've been in show business for 23 years like I have in all different aspects, you need to have that ability to keep the ball rolling, and it comes in handy quite a bit actually a lot of times.
On growing his hair long: That was completely metal. I've always been more of a music guy than a wrestling guy. I know way more about music and always way more influenced about musicians. When I started wrestling, I wanted to be the David Lee Roth of wrestling. I wanted to be the ultimate party host frontman and take those qualities into the ring. I started growing my hair I think when I was 12, because that's when I started getting into Ozzy and Maiden, that type of thing.
On cutting his hair: Well, I think at that point when I cut it off, the only guys who still had long hair were wrestlers. I think most musicians were cutting their hair around that time. When Bruce Dickinson and James Hetfield cut their hair, I was like, 'There's no real reason for me to have long hair anymore either.'