Friday, November 24, 2017
Tampa Bay Music & Shows

Chris Jericho is a wrestler, author, actor. Now his band Fozzy has a hot single

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To get along equally well with wrestlers, rockers, actors, podcasters and authors, you don't have to be some sort of omnicultural savant.

Sometimes, you just have to love dinosaurs.

"I get along really well with Slash because we're both dinosaur fans," Chris Jericho said. "I don't know if he has too many people he can talk to about dinosaurs, you know? You meet guys like that, and it's like, 'I like dinosaurs too!' He just happens to be one of the greatest guitar players of all time, and I just happen to be whatever it is that I am, and we both love talking about plesiosaurs."

Whatever it is that I am. That's a good self-description for Jericho, whose success across many disciplines may be rivaled, at least among wrestlers, only by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

A former WWE and WCW champion, Jericho, 46, has dabbled in a little bit of everything: Television (Dancing With the Stars, a galaxy of talking-head and panel shows), podcasting (Talk Is Jericho), film (MacGruber) and more. In 2018 he'll host his own namesake rock and wrestling cruise out of Miami; cabins are already sold out.

A bestselling memoirist, he recently released his fourth book, No Is a Four-Letter Word: How I Failed Spelling but Succeeded in Life, which he describes as "more of a self-help, motivational speaking book, rather than just another Chris Jericho autobiography, because I figured, does the world really need a fourth Jericho autobiography in 10 years?"

And last week, Jericho dropped Judas, his seventh album with his hard rock band Fozzy. What started as a goofy classic metal tribute has evolved into a legitimately popular hard rock act — the title track is closing in on the Top 10 of Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, making it Fozzy's biggest hit to date.

All of this the Winnipeg native has done largely from Lutz, his home since the late '90s, where he comes to unwind with family. He hopes to book a hometown show with Fozzy in 2018. Until then, he was happy to talk about his career's wild evolution.

Have you had any good rock-star hangs when your friends pass through Tampa?

I've had the guys from Avenged Sevenfold over to my house a couple of times for a barbecue. Guys from Black Label Society. I live a long way out of town, so it's a little bit of a drive. But when I'm at home, I'm really not very social. I basically hang out with family. That's the tradeoff of being on the road so much, is that when I'm at home, it's 100 percent for them.

You've hung with pretty much every metal legend there is. Is there a common thread that unites the Lemmy Kilmisters and the Axl Roses and every other all-time rock star?

When you've been doing this as long as I have, in show business for like 27 years, you're almost a kindred spirit. You kind of flock to each other. That's why I am pretty close to a lot of those guys, because you can talk to them like you wouldn't talk to a quote-unquote "normal" person. I'll never know what it's like to work at Hooters, because I've never worked there before. But if someone else has worked at Hooters, they can relate. It's like that with some of the dudes that I know in music or acting or wrestling or whatever it may be. When you get to a certain point, there's only a few people that you can really talk to and have conversations with that don't involve stupid fanboy questions.

The fact that you've had success in so many different disciplines makes it even rarer for you to find a peer. Do you find people are impressed by that?

It's just being worldly. That's why I got along really well with Lemmy, because anytime he brought up a story about, let's say, Chuck Berry, I could add to that story and give him some information that he didn't know. Or if he's talking about obscure British comedies, I've seen them, so I could come back to him with quotes that other people might not know. That has nothing to do with rock and roll. It's just having similar interests.

How would you describe the Fozzy that put out Judas compared to what you were when you began?

We've had successful songs in the past, but having that elusive hit song has changed everything for us in a good way. We're doing more walkups than ticket sales, and ticket sales are great. The good thing with the album is, there's a lot of songs that are locked and loaded in the chamber. Judas wasn't the unanimous pick for the single. There's Painless and there's Elevator and there's Burn Me Out. We wanted to make this record like Hysteria or Appetite for Destruction or Kick by INXS, where there's five or six or seven singles on the radio, and when the single has reached its peak, the next single is ready to go, and it's just as good, if not better than the last.

Do you ever worry that you're going to run out of stories for your books?

If I die, I'll probably run out of material for books. But other than that, I have a pretty interesting life, doing a lot of cool things, and a lot of ridiculous things happen. When you're doing all these interesting and fantastic things, I could probably write another autobiography right now.

Contact Jay Cridlin at cridlin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

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