"The tour has been great", lead singer Chris Jericho tells me during a phone interview in between the final dates of Judas Rising's American leg. "The crowds on this tour are the biggest ones we've ever had. We just played our biggest headlining show ever in Orlando and it just continues on. You can tell how successful a record is by how many shows you play, how many places you're invited to play for the first time, how many places you go back to that you haven't been to in a while, like Australia. And since the first single came out last May it's just been nonstop for us, and a really great experience."
Founded in 2000 by Jericho and Rich Ward, Fozzy began as a side project in between the pair's combined calendar of commitments with their primary careers; Chris as a legendary professional wrestler and Ward as the guitarist of Rap-Metal pioneering band "Stuck Mojo". The first two albums that Fozzy released were a collection of heavy metal covers, with the odd original composition thrown in.
However, in 2010, Fozzy became the top priority for both men, along with a shared goal: making a go of it as a full-time band with their own unique tracks and a signature style.
The collaboration works, Jericho explains, because both men know their individual strengths and weaknesses.
"Rich and I have a great partnership and the biggest reason for that is we both know what each other does best and when to stay out of each other's way. We're both pretty 'Alpha Male' type personalities, but when you're in a band you're a team and there are certain things that I do that are expected of me that Rich doesn't do as much of (and vice versa).
When you respect that process and everyone plays their position properly, like a good team, THAT's when you win the championship. And I think after all this time; band-wise,
crew-wise, the team behind us, we all know we're growing in the same direction. That's why Fozzy's become more streamlined and growing at such a rate; because we do know what everyone does best and just sit back and let them do it."
"It's cool because we knew we would get to this stage at some point," says Jericho. "Now that it's actually happened it's a blowaway experience. After years of working hard and climbing the ladder with every record, to get to this next level officially, it's a place we're going to stay and we're going to continue to build on for sure.
"It's a pretty terrific moment for us all across the board."
While there have been some who have dismissed the Rock and Roll quintet in the past as merely a "stunt band" due to Jericho's undeniable status as one of the greatest and globally recognised pro-wrestlers of all time, Chris is quick to point out the flaws in that line of thinking.
"I think at first we had to work twice as hard to get people's respect purely because of the fact that I was in the band," Jericho reflects. "I'm sure Taylor Momsen went through it [with the Pretty Reckless] and Jared Leto [with 30 Seconds to Mars]. But it doesn't matter what the 'gimmick' is for the band, and every band has a gimmick; whether it's Slipknot wearing masks, or Kiss with the makeup, Audioslave being a 'Supergroup' (etc.).
"All of that is fine to get people's attention and through the door, but if the music isn't good it doesn't matter. I think at this point in time, anybody who dismisses the band because I'm in it, you're not thinking with your head. With 3 top ten singles, all this worldwide recognition, we have to be good at what we do or we wouldn't be around.
"It's too tight of a market right now in the music business to make it as big as Fozzy has. We're not at Metallica's level, but at the level we're at you have to be good and you have to work hard and I have no problems with doing both."
Jericho most certainly practices what he preaches. Nearly 18 months of constant touring have seen sold out shows in Los Angeles, New York, and London. In a few short weeks, Australia and New Zealand will get to experience firsthand the spectacle of "The Fozz".
"We've always had a great relationship with Australia, since the first time we came over in 2005," Jericho informs me. "2013 we came over twice, which was great. Not being [in Australia] for 5 years is a travesty in a lot of ways, but we're remedying that by returning now. It's a great rock and roll country, and because it's a bit out of the way to get to it seems whenever people come to visit everyone is extra accommodating (and extra crazy!) as a result. It's an honour and we've been waiting to come back to Australia for a very very long time, so we're excited. We're getting to the end of the Judas Rising tour, so getting Australia in there before we go back into the studio was really important to us."
There will only be one night to see Fozzy in Melbourne. Those who love live music are well aware of the magical atmosphere Max Watt's holds within its walls. And with November 9th being Chris Jericho's birthday, fans will definitely want to be there to celebrate with the charismatic entertainer.
Tickets are on sale now.