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Fozzy | Happenstance | interview | Chris Jericho |Moongoose McQueen| metal | Lollipop

Fozzy

Happenstance (Megaforce)
An interview with singer Moongoose McQueen/Chris Jericho
by Scott Hefflon

Fozzy are the stuff of legend. And like most legends, some of the facts don't quite jibe. So the legend has it (well, the bio and the 30-minute Spinal Tap-esque rockumentary have it) that Fozzy was a young hard rock band in the early '80s that attracted a Japanese label mogul who dazzled them and signed them to a 20-year contract. Soon after they signed, the label went under but the contract, uh, stuck. The label head honcho allegedly sent Ninja after them to enforce the contract, and they can be pretty persuasive, ya know?

The band took minimum wage jobs and wrote songs. Word of their sound and style leaked out and bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, the Scorpions, Accept, and W.AS.P. began passing off Fozzy's songs as their own. Now-classic metal tunes such as "Freewheel Burning," "The Mob Rules," "Big City Nights," "L.O.V.E. Machine," "Balls to the Wall," and "Where Eagles Dare," among countless others, were originally Fozzy's songs. Gee, who knew?

Since their return to American soil, rumors have circulated that singer Moongoose McQueen is actually none other than wrestling superstar Chris Jericho and that other members of the band were in Stuck Mojo. Yeah, right! Geez, people'll believe anything, huh?

How'd you hook up with the Stuck Mojo guys?
I was injured three years ago when I was in the WCW, so I had to take four months off. I'd become friends with Rich Ward, the guitar player, and I said we should form a band and play our favorite covers and have some fun.

Are you from Georgia as well?
No, I'm from Winnipeg. That's in Canada. But I was living in Tampa at the time. We did some shows and it was a lot of fun. Then I came up with the idea that we should claim the songs were ours, and we created the whole backstory. We shopped the idea around and ended up signing with Megaforce Records. What started out as a novelty snowballed into a living, breathing rock band with a worldwide cult following.

Is the only way to play heavy metal these days to be in a joke band?
We're not making fun of metal or mocking metal, I think that we're paying tribute to the spirit of metal. All the great heavy metal bands had a sense of humor about what they did, but they also believed in it very much and took it seriously. Kinda like what John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd did with The Blues Brothers. They played characters and wore costumes, so to speak, but they had a kick-ass blues band backing them up.

In your 30-minute rockumentary, you have some pretty high-level rockers making cameos.
Zakk Wylde, Sebastian Bach, Dee Snider, and others. And lots of other guys have stepped forward saying they're really into the concept. We did that thing two years ago and it still holds up.

You did that after playing together for a year?
Rich and Bud (Fontsere, drummer) have played together for years (as Stuck Mojo, creators of the "Mojo Groove," long before "nü metal"), and the bassist, "Watty" (Keith Watson), is in Sick Speed with them, and we also have Andy Sneap in the band...

The English producer, Andy Sneap? The ex-guitarist of Sabbat who produced Napalm Death and Machine Head?
Yeah. He also worked with Stuck Mojo and Skinlab and Exodus and Testament and Kreator, I think...

Are you a heavy metal fan or a thrash metal fan or both?
I'm a fan of most things metal. But I'm not really a fan of most of the nü metal stuff. The songs aren't tuneful enough, and the vocals, especially, do nothing for me. I like melody and harmony in my vocals. I also love guitar solos and guitar harmonies. Whatever happened to them?

Then again, Alice in Chains was tremendous, with strong vocals and guitar work and harmonies, and I really like System of a Down just cuz they're weird. Slipknot and Rage Against the Machine I like for about three songs, but then it just feels like more of the same.

You're covering some of the most distinctive metal vocalists that there are, but there's more to it than just hitting the right notes.
We just all love those songs and we wanted to keep them alive, to continue the legacy of those great bands. A lot of kids might not have ever heard some of these songs, and if they get our CD, we might be able to turn them onto some of the best metal ever made. We kinda also put our own stamp on them as well; a different arrangement here, a different harmony there. Again, much like the Blues Brothers.

So time-wise, you can manage both wrestling and playing in Fozzy?
It's busy, but I can do it. I have a great time doing both, and seeing as I've been wrestling for 12 years, when you do something for that long, you start to take it for granted. But with Fozzy, we're starting from scratch and every minor victory is really a step forward. Like when I first started wrestling, every time I got a match, I was really excited. And now, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, everything that happens in both the WWE and in Fozzy is just another triumph, another way to express myself creatively.

Final question, why "Fozzy"?
Well, the story has it that we named ourselves after a battleship in Belgium because there's not much heavier than a battleship. The funny thing is, Andy did an interview and told that story, but what he didn't realize is that he was talking with a Belgian magazine, and they're like "We don't have a navy. And we certainly don't have any battleships named Fozzy." And he's like "OK, you got me." (laughs)
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