Fozzy had been on hiatus for a bit while frontman Chris Jericho focused on wrestling. They have regrouped and just kicked off the Judas Rising Tour. Bassist Paul Di Leo is back in the band after an absence of a few years, and the band recently played the Carolina Rebellion, where they had a sizable crowd for their late afternoon set.

They opened with their new single "Judas" as the charismatic Jericho expertly interacted with the crowd. They played their biggest hit, "Lights Go Out," along with songs from throughout their career. They closed with the Krokus cover "Eat the Rich" from their 2000 self-titled debut.

In addition to taking photos of their performance that you can check out above, Loudwire also spoke with Chris Jericho about Fozzy's upcoming album, his podcast, upcoming book and more.

How did bassist Paul Di Leo come to rejoin the band?

We always loved Paul. He was the best guy we've ever had as a personality, as a player, the chemistry in the band. He had some personal issues he had to take care of, so we were sad when we lost him. We went through a succession of bass players, like Spinal Tap, and then I just started talking with Paul again and he sounded like he missed the old days and I said, "You want to come back to the band, dude?"

Put him and Rich together and worked all of the stuff out, and he's back and better than ever. The first time we were in the room together for the photo shoot for Judas, the chemistry's undeniable having him in the room. We're really, really happy to have him back. He's our brother, and always will be.

Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for this album compared to past records?

"Lights Go Out" from our last record (Do You Wanna Start a War) was the biggest song we've ever had. That was written by Rich and Johnny Andrews, so we brought Johnny in to produce this record. Johnny and Rich wrote all of the songs. There's a couple I did some lyrics for. That's the difference in having Johnny as the producer and kind of being in charge, and saying, "Why do you need a guitar solo in this song? It doesn't fit, it doesn't make it better."

We argue a bit, and I always go back to thinking about Metallica when James and Lars are mad at Bob Rock for telling them what to do. We went through that phase, too. Any time you get a producer to come in and explain the lay of the land, it's a little bit of a chafing, shall we say. Then you start to learn and figure out that he's pretty much right with what he's doing, and it makes for a better song, which is all that matters.

Proof is in the pudding. "Judas" came out a few days ago and it's already No. 1 on the iTunes chart in eight countries, and the video's done almost 700,000 views in four days. So you're seeing right off the bat, the influence that the song has, the buzz that it has, and it all goes back to the songwriting tips that we learned from Johnny. [Editor's Note: The "Judas" video now stands at nearly 2 million views on YouTube.]

When is the full-length album coming out?

It'll probably be in the fall. We were going to do it originally in May, and then it was too late to do May. You can't do June, July, August, that's insane. So we'll go with the fall. This is a little bit of a preview. It's gonna be a while until the album comes out. May is such a big month in the United States, with all of the festivals here, and we wanted to reintroduce Fozzy so people know that we're back. Like I've said, we've had successful songs in the past, but nothing like this. The buzz for this song is through the roof.

Fozzy had taken some time off. When you came back together did you have to knock the rust off ?

Always. We do rehearse, but it's like anything else. Until you get out to a stage, it's different. We had our first headlining show since 2015 last night, and it went fairly good. There was a couple of missed cues, a little rustiness, but it has to be expected. I guarantee in about another three or four shows we'll be back on track.

So are you playing the one new song in your set?

Yes. We don't want to do one of those things where you play a bunch of songs that no one's heard. Also, I don't want new songs being introduced via YouTube live versions. You never know what it's going to sound like. We chose the one song, and that's what we're going to stick with all summer.

Does the initial success of the single increase your expectations for when the album comes out?

I think so. If this was 1987 when you have an album like Hysteria that has seven singles on it, this album could do that. There's so many great songs on there. I know every band says that, but if you like "Judas," you're going to like this record, because there's a lot of songs that are different, a lot of songs that are similar, but the writing style is the same.

When you do your headlining shows and are able to play more songs, will you add new songs to the set as they're released?

Yeah, of course. It's funny, when you do new stuff, and then you play a lot of older stuff, sometimes those older songs don't hold up as well when you compare to how far you've grown as a songwriter. So we're looking forward to adding more new songs. We love those old songs, but when you play something like "Judas," and then play something like “To Kill a Stranger,” people love it, but it's not quite in the same category to us. If you grew up with the song, you're going to love it, but that's the difference.

As the frontman, is it necessary to emotionally connect with older songs when you perform them?

It is. If I don't feel like singing the song, I'm not going to be able to sell it to the audience, and that's what a singer does. You're an actor. You're feeling these songs and singing them. You have to sell them to the point where people believe them and feel them the same way. That's why I think people love "Judas," because the lyrics ring true, and there's a lot of emotion in the song. You bring that to every song that you sing, and some of them are easier than others.

Your headlining run is called the Judas Rising tour. Is the “Rising” part an homage to Judas Priest?

Obviously the song is "Judas." The album is going to be called Judas, so I didn't just want to call it the Judas Tour. Yes, it is Judas Rising, which I thought sounds very cool. I think some people will probably get that, but most people won't. Even the song "Judas" itself, I mean, there's a Helloween song called "Judas" and only a few people got that one. I like Judas Rising. I like how it sounds.

Earlier you mentioned the video for “Judas.” How important are videos these days?

Very. If you can do something special like we did with our video. We filmed it in one take half time, so it took 8 minutes to film. When you play it at normal speed, it makes it jerkier and weirder. We rehearsed it. It was a lot of interstitial characters that come and go throughout the video. When you have all this motion and all these cues, and it's only one take, everyone's gotta get it right. Third try, we got it right. It was the quickest video and the cheapest video we've ever done, and our most popular video.

After focusing on wrestling for a while, is Fozzy going to be at the forefront again for a bit?

Yeah, you can't switch back and forth between wrestling and Fozzy. It's too demanding. That's the way I like it. You have to focus 100 percent on what you're doing in either one of those mediums. I had a good year in the WWE last year, but we're looking forward to kicking off a huge year with Fozzy.

In addition to that, you've also got your podcast, which has become very popular.

I love doing it. It's become a great secondary business for me. I love it. I have so many in the can right now. I remember last time we played Carolina Rebellion I did Vinnie Paul. I did Rob Zombie. I just carry my little bag around with me. If somebody I see is interesting I'll record it, and there's a podcast. I have a lot in the can as well, so I have it all kind of mapped out for the next two months or so, but always keep an eye open for new interesting conversations that you can have.

Who's on your bucket list to get on the podcast?

I'd love to have Ozzy on, McCartney, Keith Richards. Shoot for the stars, right? That's the other thing I like, my show is very diverse, and people listen to it no matter who's the guest. Some do bigger ratings than others, but it's more about the experience of "The Jericho Show" rather than who's the guest.

You've become quite a prolific author as well. What's the subject of your latest book that's coming out this summer?

It's called No Is a Four Letter Word. It's basically like a self-help motivational guide as to how I was able to make both these dreams come true being in wrestling and rock and roll when everybody told me that I couldn't do it. No is a dirty word. You shouldn't use it. I think that if people read this book, they'll see I have 20 principles as to how I was able to do what I did. All of them based around advice that I received.

There's the Gene Simmons principle, the Paul Stanley principle, the Mystic Man principle. If somebody taught me something over the course of these years, I made it a theme for the book. I like it because it's different from any of the books that I've done, but still has a lot of great ridiculous stories but there's a theme to it.

It sounds like it could have a pretty wide appeal.

I think so, and that's one of the reasons that I wanted to do this because it's not another autobiography. Believe me, I have enough material, but I think four autobiographies in the course of 10 years might be pushing it. This is not an autobiography per se, but it still has a lot of great stories from all the years that I've experienced these things.

Our thanks to Chris Jericho for taking the time to speak with us. Pick up the Fozzy's "Judas" single on iTunes, and see Fozzy's upcoming tour dates here.

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