We’ve had to work twice as hard to get people’s respect...
Starting a second career as a rock star can be something of a double-edged sword.
Take WWE superstar Chris Jericho, for example. The charisma-heavy Fozzy frontman acknowledges that his profile may attract some curious onlookers eager to check out ‘that band with a wrestler in’, but he adds that there’s just as many downsides as up in this scenario.
“We’ve had to work twice as hard to get people’s respect and we know that,” he says.
“We have been around for so long now that we have a lot of good will. People are checking us out now and they have heard [new single] Judas and that sucked them right in.
“I was talking to Taylor Momsen, and she said when she first started singing people thought she would be standing on stage in an elf costume reciting lines from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. When we first started, people thought I’d be on stage with a wrestling ring and talking about body slams.
“Bruce Dickinson is an airline pilot. He doesn’t go on stage and sing about fastening your seatbelt and little bags of peanuts. When he’s flying the plane, I don’t want him to be singing Run To The Hills, I want him to fly the fucking plane! When I’m wrestling, I will wrestle and entertain you, but when it’s Fozzy time I’m a frontman.”
When we catch the band on this summer’s festival circuit, they manage to attract fans in their thousands, despite hitting the stage before noon.
“Fozzy is a destination band,” he says.
“At Download at 11am, 30,000 people came out to see us. We made sure to throw a nice ice bucket of rock ‘n’ roll water on them to show that we weren’t messing around. Within the first minute, everyone was into it and going nuts.”
A huge part of Fozzy’s success is Jericho’s easy command of the stage, and so it makes perfect sense that when we speak with him we ask him to share the frontmen that he holds up as the best in the business.
1. Paul Stanley
“All of the guys that I have chosen on this list are guys that have stood the test of time. That to me is the biggest thing, because that means that the band stands the test of time as well.
“The thing with being a good frontman is having that connection with the audience and not being afraid of the audience. It’s not being afraid to say, ‘clap your hands’, or tell a joke or say do this or do that.
“I find guys with guitars a little bit more anchored down as frontmen, except for Paul Stanley. He is probably my number one influence as a frontman.
“Every band has a gimmick. KISS has make-up, Slipknot wears masks, Fozzy has the wrestler in the band. That’s all fine. But that only lasts for a short period of time. It’s either good music or it’s bad music.
“With KISS, you don’t have to like the music to enjoy their show because it is so entertaining, but if you listen to them then you will like the music because they’re a great band. Any band with a gimmick that does bad music will drift away. Good music is good music. Then as a frontman you can help getting your band up to the next level.”
2. Mick Jagger
“It doesn’t get any better than Mick. Probably more than anything I try to embody the spirit of Jagger because he is still the best at how he commands those big stages with all eyes on him.
“That’s why I love playing big stages. There is so much room for you to put on the show of a lifetime. Whether it’s to 100,000 people or 10 people you can take advantage of the space that you have and make it work.
“The Stones play big stadiums. I saw them last summer, and to see how he commands a stadium stage is unbelievable. That is an inspiration. They’re not a great rock ‘n’ roll band for guys in their 70s; they are a great rock ‘n’ roll band for absolutely anybody.
“Mick puts everybody to shame. He knows what he’s doing and he has you in the palm of his hand. I might not always get that, but that is what I always try for. I want that crowd in the palm of my hand. Once you start getting the confidence to do that, 99 per cent of the time I can get them there.”
3. Freddie Mercury
“My favourite gig of all time is Queen at Live Aid.
“It’s this 30-minute set, there’s hardly any talking, it is just body blow, body blow, punch to the face and then leave. Freddie does this thing on stage during that where he bends over with his ass to the crowd - I did that today on stage, it was a total Freddie Mercury moment.
“That guy was so theatrical in such a good way. He sold those songs. Being a singer is like being an actor: you have to sell the songs. It doesn’t matter who wrote the songs and who is playing the songs, as a singer you are the most important conduit in getting those songs into people’s heads, and Freddie was great at that.”
4. Ozzy Osbourne
“What I realised when I first started playing in bands at 13, and something that I took to bands and then that I took back to Fozzy, is that it is all about connecting with the crowd.
“If you do that, then people will want to see you. I can’t remember the last Ozzy show that I saw where he sang perfectly. But I can’t remember the last Ozzy show that I saw where I didn’t walk out loving it. If you want perfect, go listen to the album. If you want a rock ‘n’ roll show, that is what a frontman brings you.
“Sometimes you can’t hear everything in the mix, and sometimes you miss a note, but that doesn’t matter. To me, the most important thing about any show is how the crowd is reacting at the end of the show.
“I don’t care if you played a perfect show and hit every note - if at the end the people are sitting on their hands then you failed. If you screwed up a bunch of stuff but the people are going nuts at the end then that is all that matters.
“My favourite thing about Ozzy is his vocals. His vocal lines are so high. If you listen to Megalomania or Centre Of Eternity, they are so high. I don’t expect him to sing those any more. I think Ozzy is very underrated as a singer. He is such a powerful and unique singer. As a frontman, he could be the best out there.”
5. Bruce Dickinson
“I was a Maiden fan right from the start of me being a music fan.
“Well, I was a Beatles fan first, and then when I got into heavy metal at 14, Maiden was the first band that I got into. Bruce is still one of the greatest singers and performers of all time. There is no doubt about it.
“I saw Maiden last year and Bruce was perfect. He sang better than ever before. Some guys can still do it as they get older, guys like Bruce, Dio and even Paul McCartney.
“Bruce has a great connection; he is funny if he needs to be. But he’s nobody’s patsy. It’s like we had a fight in our crowd in Illinois. I stopped the show and said, ‘You guys are going to fight after all this shit that went on in Europe at the Ariana Grande show? You’re going to fight at my show? Nope, done. Get ‘em out of here.’
“You need to have that element: you are the party host, you command the crowd, the crowd doesn’t command you. Bruce is really good at that.”