“Metal means freedom." says Chris Jericho, the WWE wrestling superstar who has, since 2000, led a double life as the vocalist for the popular heavy metal quintet Fozzy. "It’s a release from everything that holds you down. Metal is an exclusive club, and it's one of the biggest clubs in the world, but it's still kind of underground, which is a little strange to me."
Bearing this point out, Jericho explains: "We can go play Rock On The Range in front of tens of thousands of people, and there will be no mainstream media covering it. If it were a Kenny Chesney concert, you’d have media from all over. But that’s OK: Metal is the people’s music. It brings them together and takes them through dark times.”
A lot of people raised their eyebrows when Jericho, a six-time WWE champion and holder of other numerous titles, began spending more of his time on concert stages than wrestling mats. “Sure, there were tons of naysayers," he notes. "‘Who the hell is this guy? Who does he think he is?’ Like I just woke up one day and said, ‘OK, now I’m gonna be a rock star.’ That wasn’t the case at all. I’ve played music my whole life, I’ve been in bands since I was 14 years old – it’s always been there. When I was a kid, I said, ‘I’m gonna be in a rock band, and I’m gonna be a wrestler.’ Those were the two goals I had, and I went out and made it happen."
Fozzy's sixth album, the upcoming Do You Wanna Start A War (due out July 22), is a musically diverse effort. According to Jericho, the band took their cues from groups such as The Beatles, U2 and Queen. "With those bands, there were no rules," he says, "and that's where we tried to go. It didn't matter what kind of song it was, as long as it was a good song. And that brings it back to the mindset of metal: Don't have a map. Don't listen to what anybody who says you can't do something. Enjoy your freedom."
As for the album's provocative title track, Jericho explains that it's not to be taken literally. “It’s not about starting a war with missiles and guns," he says. "It’s about starting a war with things that oppose you. It’s about believing in yourself and getting over the hassles you might have. If something is getting you down, start a war with it and beat it."
Spoken like a true metal master. On the following pages, Jericho runs down his picks for 10 essential metal albums. To pre-order Fozzy's Do You Wanna Start A War, visit Amazon or iTunes.