Its been about 20years since Cyndi Lauper and Captain Lou Albano first joined with MTV to promote something called The Rock & Wrestling Connection. A canny and crass if a touch unhinged exercise in cross-promotion that wound up having a major impact on the way professional wrestling would come to be marketed.
These days, wrestlers entering the ring are greeted more like rock stars than athletes, but one celebrated strongman World Wrestling Entertainments former champion Chris Jericho takes breaks from pinning foes to pack nightclubs.
As lead singer and guitarist in the Atlanta-based metal quintet Fozzy (which also boasts former members of respected rockers Stuck Mojo), Jericho has sold tens of thousands of records and toured several countries. Through cathartic live gigs that find their own originals mixed with old-school metal anthems, the group is earning raves from both rock and wrestling fans alike.
When you put your money down for a Fozzy ticket, the native Manitoban says proudly, you're going to go home with sore ears, a tired neck and a smile.
The group drops their third album in just a few weeks. Its their first CD to feature 100 percent original material, and Jericho considers it their true debut.
I caught up with him recently for some quick questions about life on the road.
Connect: These concerts arent officially in conjunction with your matches, right?
Jericho: Exactly. Our show will start about an hour after the WWE event, so me and the fans have time to make it to the gig.
Connect: How many Fozzy gigs happen after your wrestling matches?
Jericho: Id say about 75 percent of them. It used to be less, but for travel purposes, it makes sense to book them together.
Connect: Does your celebrity help things?
Jericho: Being in the WWE opened some doors and closed some others. People may check us out because of what I do outside the band, but we have to kick ass for them to come back. Were starting to get a lot of folks who couldnt care less. They just love the band. The only way we can evolve is to earn our own fans.
Connect: What are the similarities between working the crowds at a wrestling matches and metal shows?
Jericho: Well, as far as being the party host and making sure people have a great time, you have to get the crowd going. Its part of being a showman. I use some of the same tricks in both genres. Both personalities are very bombastic and aggressive. The art forms are different, but the mindset is almost the same. I just have to make sure I dont hurt my voice at the match before the show. There are some intricate vocal harmonies in our songs, and I have to be ready to sing properly after getting my ass kicked.
Connect: Did you foresee this career?
Jericho: When I was a kid I always wanted to either be in a rock band or be a wrestler, and now I do both. (laughs)
Connect: Whats the show like?
Jericho: I consider Fozzy to be one of the best live bands in the country right now. We could go toe-to-toe with anybody live, as far as pure energy goes. We have a great time and dont take ourselves too seriously. Im looking forward to showing Savannah what Im talking about.
Connect: Does anybody ever get lit and try to mess with you in a club?
Jericho: Nah, man. That never happens. I think Im the type of guy people would wanna have a beer with, not fight with!
Connect: Which wrestler would you hate to hear sing in a rock band?
Jericho: Id probably say Steve Austin, because Ive heard him sing. Hes rotten.
Connect: Which rock star would you love to take a crack at in the ring?
Jericho: A couple of years ago I would have said Fred Durst, but hes so off the radar now, hes not even worth fighting. You never know who might want us to play with them, so hey, I love everybody.
Connect: Oh, come on. What about the guy from Creed? Hes not busy anymore.
Jericho: Thats funny, cause (ex-Creed guitarist) Mark Tremonti played a solo on our record, and he just fuckin hates that guy! He has all these stories about what a dick Scott Stapp is. Ill be the decoy and give my friend Mark his chance to get a shot in. Ill challenge Stapp to a match, but have Mark show up instead in a mask.
Connect: Youll be the catalyst.
Jericho: The old bait-and-switch.
Connect: The enabler!
Jericho: Exactly! (laughs)
Fozzy plays The Jinx Saturday night, after Chriss match at the Civic Center. w