The Edge catch up with Rich Ward, Fozzy songwriter and guitarist in an exclusive interview following their show at The Talking Heads last year. He talks WWE wrestling, kodiak bears and the dark side of technology…
TE: For those unfamiliar with Fozzy’s music, what bands do you like yourselves to?
RW: It’s kind of a blend between old school Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath mixed with some of the new school stuff whether it’s Metallica, Megadeth or Pantera.
TE: Did the joint acclaim of your time in Stuck Mojo and Chris’ time as a WWE wrestler help launch Fozzy as a band?
RW: It’s the only thing that launched the band. Everyone has a gimmick; Nickelback sing about strippers and Kid Rock wears a fuzzy hat and has a midget. Everyone has an avenue to promote themselves, it doesn’t matter who you are. We were lucky in that the Stuck Mojo brand was well known and Chris’ brand as a wrestler was well known, so that helped get us through the door. But all it guaranteed us was an ear; if it sucked people still wouldn’t care about it. There’ve been plenty of celebrities that have made records that no one cared about, like Keanu Reeves and Kevin Bacon… of course I loved those albums [laughs]but I’m talking generally.
TE: You guys have been on the road for a while now, living in quite close quarters. What can you tell us about each of the band member’s quirks?
RW: Chris farts in his sleep, which I just realised. I never noticed it before. I don’t know if he’s just in and out of sleep, and just waking up and farting or what. Me, when I’m sleeping on my back I snore like crazy, I’ve been told. [Signals to bassist, Sean Delson] I actually heard you snoring last night.
SD: Yeah, I had trouble breathing.
RW: …and Frank, our drummer, who is like 6’3 and 250 lbs, a crushing big dude, sleeps in just his underwear. So he looks like a huge Kodiak bear in the morning. I sleep in a shirt at least, in case the bus wrecks, because I don’t wanna be found in some strange stars and rainbows underwear [laughs]. In the last shot of me, dead on the side of the road, I don’t wanna be wearing that.
TE: Have there been any embarrassing slip ups so far on the tour?
RW: Chris almost fell on this cabinet. It was a hardwood floor, and he took one of the guitar cabinets and threw it down and stood on it, then ran back and jumped on it. He ended up surfing across the stage. It was the near miss of the tour. Aside from that, I don’t think there’ve been any embarrassing things, but the tour’s not over.
TE: A while back, we ran a piece on the Journey song, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and the Glee cover. We’ve heard you’re a big Journey fan…
RW: They’re my favourite band of all time.
TE: …and we were wondering if we could get your opinion on the cover?
RW: I tried watching Glee one time and I didn’t enjoy it, it doesn’t do anything for me. I love the actress who plays the teacher though, Jane Lynch. She was amazing in Best In Show, she was great in Big Breaks. But I have no idea what Glee did to that song.
[Bassist, Sean Delson chimes in]
SD: It’s like T-Pain, just huge autotuning.
RW: Well, let’s face it, soon there’ll be no need for musicians, just some producer with a tone generation machine, running it through some processor to make an album. It cracks me up, especially when I hear it in dance music and hip hop; what they think is cool, rock guys bend over backwards to avoid.
I’ve used autotuning, of course. If I’m gonna have Chris sing a song six times in a row, and on one word he has the best attitude in the world and I want to tune it a little bit, I’ll do it. If it’s good enough for Ozzy Osbourne and Def Leppard, it’s good enough for me.
People when they buy a record want it to be great; they don’t wanna hear people messing up. That’s what the live experience is for, because the volume and energy covers up the flaws. Say you’re photographing a model – I’m married so I’m speaking generally – if you see a model in a magazine with a big zit on her forehead, airbrush it. Why would you leave it there? But if you’re having sex with that model, it doesn’t matter that much [laughs]. In the live experience, the flaws are ok. But when things last forever, like a photograph, album or movie, make it right. Not to the point of being sterile and fixed to death, but make it right.
TE: What are your feelings about file sharing and downloads?
RW: I’ll speak for myself; it doesn’t bother me. Other members of the band download a lot, but it doesn’t bother me. All technology has a dark side. I use technology to advertise my music, but if I’m gonna do that I have to understand that there’s a dark side to it. I have to know that if I sleep with a beautiful girl, she may well have slept with a lot of other dudes; the dark side is you may well contract a venereal disease [laughs]. We all know, moving forward, that faster motorcycles are gonna get more people killed, but we want faster motorcycles. It’s human nature to want to push the boundaries. So there’s a dark side to all technology. Does it hurt my ability to make a living? Yes. But I also have to think of it in terms of it having helped my ability to make a living, through webpages and posting sound bytes for people to listen to. I hope that I put on a good enough show and I show enough integrity, that my fans will download some songs for free through file sharing, like it a lot and they’ll buy the album to support the artist. If they don’t, that’s ok, what am I gonna do, knock on their doors?
TE: Where do you see Fozzy in five to ten years?
RW: Maybe in a nursing home? [Laughs] Peeing ourselves in a bed somewhere? I don’t know. Who knows man? If you asked me when we first started this band, I never would’ve thought we’d make albums. We were just friends playing Priest and Maiden covers and somewhere along the line, eleven years later, we’re here talking to you, in England, eating curries and going to Old Trafford to watch Manchester United play. I always find expectations are a bad thing in life, because if you have expectations, life can be tough when those expectations aren’t met. No expectations? Life’s good because you’re never let down.
TE: Have you got a message for The Edge readers?
RW: Download our album for free, then go buy it. [Laughs]
By Michael Havis
Fozzy’s Chasing The Grail is available now online and from all good retailers.