DATE OF INTERVIEW:
19th March 2010
METAL DISCOVERY: I think one of the most interesting things I read about Fozzy is that you had four guitarists in the band at one point, including Andy Sneap at that time too…how the hell did that work out live because you must’ve had a pretty intense, loud sound at shows?!
RICH WARD: Oh yeah, and then we actually let Chris play guitar for the encore so there were five guitars!
(Rich Ward on his satisfaction with latest Fozzy album, 'Chasing the Grail')
"There are so many variables when you make records and, for me, every once in a while the stars come together and you just end up doing something that you feel like it was as good as it was going to get for that moment. So I really feel like this album for this band at this point in time, it couldn’t have been any better."
Fozzy - uncredited promo shot
Interview by Mark Holmes
Official Fozzy Website:
Official Fozzy MySpace:
Thanks to Andy Turner for offering, and arranging, the interview
All That Remains (2005)
Chasing the Grail (2010)
MD: Five guitars?!
RW: Oh yeah! That was back, obviously, during the back-story and the Spinal Tap approach to things so more was better in our book! We were trying to up the big bottom with everyone playing bass but we just figured we would try to one-up them by having too many guitar players onstage! It was massive sounding, especially because we had four great guitar players onstage. Andy’s an amazing player. So when you had all these great guitar players onstage who were good in their own right, playing together just sounded like a wall of death! You know, like the black plague in the form of six strings! [laughs]
MD: Fantastic! You’ve got some UK dates coming up in May, with Fozzy, including two shows on the same day in London. Is that a usual thing for you to do matinee and evening performances on the same day?
RW: No, that actually came about because of our lack of touring availability right now because of Chris’ schedule. Chris is the heavyweight champion in the WWE right now and, because he’s the champ, he can’t take any time off from the television obligations that he has. He has to be on TV every Monday night and every Tuesday night, so that leaves us…he wakes up on Wednesday, gets on a plane, arrives in the UK on the Thursday, and we play Thursday night, Friday and, we were trying to figure out - should we play a large venue on the Saturday night or do two shows in a medium sized venue? We’d done it on a previous tour where we played a matinee show in Manchester and then drove off to Liverpool for the evening show. It was great! We loved it! It’s was really cool! It was exciting! It was neat just to be able to say “everybody pack up, let’s go, we’ve gotta get to the next show!” We thought, well, why don’t we…the concept was cool, but why don’t we try to do it in the same venue and then, what we’ve decided to do is just switch up the setlist so that we’re playing two different sets for the matinee show and the evening show. And we’ve changed the opening bands for the support slots so that, if you so chose to, you could go to both shows and see a completely different opening act and see a completely different set. I thought that was kinda exciting.
MD: That’s a really cool idea because if you go to a gig and really love it, and then leave and sort of think ahhh, when am I gonna get to see ‘em again?…oh, five hours time! So I’m sure there’ll be a lot of people going to both.
RW: Right, and that’s what we thought, it’d be a kinda cool thing. Obviously it came out of a bit of necessity based on our schedules of Chris then having to return to the States on the Sunday, but out of necessity comes ingenuity, as they say. We feel like it’s probably gonna be a neat thing because we’re gonna try to organise a really cool meet and greet between the two shows, and something like “have dinner with Fozzy” or something. We’re still trying to figure it all out where we select a few fans to have some kind of neat get together, and that’s more for us than it is for them because we get an opportunity, face-to-face, to have some quality time and meet our street team members. That’s the most frustrating part of being in a band is that the schedules are usually so tight that you normally only have a little bit of time before or after the show to really say “thank you” and spend some time with the band’s supporters. And this really gives us some time between the shows to really have a chance to show our appreciation and get to meet some folks, and have some good face time.
MD: Definitely. So it will be more of an “Eat and Greet” than a “Meet and Greet” if it’s having dinner with Fozzy!
RW: Oh, you don’t have that copy written, do you?!
MD: No, steal it!
RW: I have to steal that! I’ll give you credit. I’ll give you credit though because an “Eat and Greet”…I love it!
MD: Just off the top of my head. It might catch on in the future with other bands, you never know.
RW: You might want to copyright it right after this! [laughs]
MD: Do you still play any of the covers live for which you, obviously, became well known for?
RW: Yes, we do Krokus’ ‘Eat the Rich’ and Priest’s ‘Freewheel Burning’. We will probably have a couple of additional covers that we’ll have ready for the London shows so that we won’t play both covers at both shows, so there will be some alternating of them. But ‘Freewheel Burning’ has always been a real fun song for us because it’s got the twin harmony solo and Jericho loves the vocals, especially the bridge vocal, the real fast…[Rich sings the lyrics in a high-pitched voice]. He loves it with the big delay on each word so, for him, it’s a favourite vocal performance. He loves Halford, as we all should.
RW: And ‘Eat the Rich’ has always been one of those songs that we tried dropping out of the set for a while but fans…they love it. I think a lot of it has to do with, even though it’s a Krokus song and, of course, I love Krokus, they had some great songs that I grew up listening to, but that song is very AC/DC. So it has a very Malcolm and Angus Young approach to the guitar parts. I think, because of that, it becomes kind of a party anthem, the feel of the song, because it’s got a call and answer chorus. We found that because it’s become a fan favourite that we’ve been chastised for not playing it, so we always have to have that one prepared. There are some other songs, obviously, that we play that we love. ‘Livewire’ by Mötley Crüe, even though it’s not on my iPod playlist, it is a barn burner of a song if you put it on steroids with the big fast double-kick.
MD: Yeah, yeah, I’ve always hated Mötley Crüe, to be honest, but I used to do ‘Livewire’ in a band because it was a great song and you can do a lot with it I think.
RW: That, for us, is what we look for in covers is what song can we take that…we don’t even have to like the band. Because I’m with you - I’ve never cared for Mötley Crüe. I went with the girlfriend to see them on the ‘Dr. Feelgood’ tour and I was bored to tears. There was nothing about it that I enjoyed. It didn’t speak to me because there’s nothing about that LA Strip approach to metal that speaks to me at all. I grew up on New Wave of British Heavy Metal and that was my introduction to Priest, and Maiden, and Saxon, and I even loved The Scorpions, I loved Accept, so I was much more a fan of the European and the UK approach to metal than I ever was the American approach. And so, for me, when we do songs from American bands we almost approach them in a European way. One of Chris’ favourite bands is Helloween. He loves German metal. I hate to segue, but Andy just did the new Accept record and I went up with him a few times, up to Wolf’s house in Nashville, and it’s just amazing being around…and I’m sure, over the years, you’ve met many of the classic guys that played on these albums…it’s the first time I’ve ever sat in a room and watched a guy who made classic albums play guitar in such close proximity and said “yeah, now I know why he is Wolf Hoffmann and is worshipped, and I’m Rich Ward and I’m okay!” He has a touch for the instrument that is special.
RW: Yes, and I loved ‘Metal Heart’ and ‘Balls to the Wall’ growing up; I thought they were great albums. I love Wolf’s metal, dark, bluesy thing with that kind of classical influences. I loved that; it was like the next evolution of Rhandy Rhoads but darker. Having a chance to meet these guitar players over the years, for me…I mean, I actually got a chance a few years ago, Bruce Dickinson came onstage with Stuck Mojo and sang ‘Wrathchild’ with us.
MD: Oh wow.
RW: Yeah, and those are experiences that if something happens and I couldn’t play music ever again, and my career ended, I’ve done so many special, amazing things and had so many great experiences that I thought never could be possible. It is a dream come true for me because I’m still a little fanboy at heart. I’m still passionate when I hear an old record like ‘Screaming for Vengeance’; I still get goosebumps when ‘Bloodstone’ comes on. I mean, there are things that bands have done over the years that inspire me greatly and I’m just honoured to be in the music field with these guys.
MD: That’s a really cool attitude to have. Finally, if you had to sum Fozzy up in five words to encourage people who will be reading this to check you out, what would they be? Or three words…or one word…it’s up to you!
MD: Or any selling point…many words maybe!
RW: [laughs] Well, my favourite three word phrase for the new album that I told Chris the first time that I finished it, he was like “what do you think?”; I said “just that damn good”! [laughs] A classic four words! [laughs]
MD: That’s all that needs to be said then, isn’t it!
RW: You know how it is. When you do something and you put your heart into it, it doesn’t always mean it’s going to end up great. There are so many variables when you make records and, for me, every once in a while the stars come together and you just end up doing something that you feel like it was as good as it was going to get for that moment. So I really feel like this album for this band at this point in time, it couldn’t have been any better.
MD: It’s incredible.
RW: I’m so happy about it and, again, thanks for the kind words and for spending the time with me to talk with me about it. It means a lot. I know that your time is obviously valuable and you’ve got lots of folks that you talk to…
MD: I’m sure you have many more interviews to do as well!
RW: I’ve got a few more to do today and then that’s it.
MD: Okay, thank you very much for your time, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you.
RW: And you as well, Mark, and thanks again for you and all the rest of the folks at Metal Discovery for giving me some time, I really appreciate it.
MD: Yeah, cheers, and good luck with the album and the UK tour dates too. Hopefully I’ll make it along to the Nottingham show. And I’ll expect to see the “Eat and Greet” tagline!
RW: Yes! And, of course, you’re gonna get credit for that! Actually, Andy’s gonna be coming out onstage with us and playing ‘Freewheel Burning’ at all the UK shows.
MD: Ah cool. I’ll be seeing him at the end of April too as Sabbat are supporting Arch Enemy over here.
RW: That’s right. It’ll be fun, man. When Sabbat came over to the States and played a few shows, Andy got me to tour manage for them and it’s so funny to have the shoe on the other foot. All these years I’ve hired Andy to be my producer and then he hires me. Those guys are a handful, man! It’s so funny, I’m so used to American drinking style and those guys…
MD: Oh yeah, I know Martin likes a drink!
RW: Yeah, but the amount of red wine that was consumed by that gentleman…it was a feat! It really should be some kind of reality show! [laughs]
MD: Definitely…his own version of ‘Spinal Tap’!
RW: [laughs] Well thanks so much, man.
MD: Yeah, thank you.
RW: And hopefully see you in Nottingham. Please make a point, if you can, to come say hello. I’d love to say “hey” in person.
MD: Definitely, will do. Okay, cheers then.
RW: Cheers. Take care.