When we call Chris Jericho, he’s in a car on the way to the airport, living up to his reputation as the busiest man in our world.
He’s taking one of his monthly trips to LA for “a couple of TV shows out there, a couple of podcasts”, before heading to Calgary, Canada, for some WWE shows. There’s simply no stopping Y2J in 2015.
As a child growing up in Winnipeg, Canada, Chris wanted to be two things: a rockstar and a professional wrestler – “music and wrestling have been my passions since I was very young – everyone thought I was insane,” he explains. Now, aged 44, Chris can cross both childhood dreams off his list. But there’s so much more to him than this, from coming up with TV show concepts to playing a rollercoaster operator that runs away from a giant shark. He’s many things to many people, but how does he keep his pursuits in check, and what does it all mean to the former Ayatollah Of Rock And Rolla? We got the man himself to give us the definitive inside story of his crazy, non-stop life.
Formed in 1999, Fozzy have released six albums, and toured the world playing some of the biggest festivals in the UK, the States and beyond…
Chris says: “Fozzy was a side-project, but in 2009 Rich [Ward, guitarist/vocalist] and I decided if we wanted to continue this, we had to have a real go at it. I was done with wrestling, he was done with his projects, but Fozzy became a priority, which is when it began exploding. It was a good move, ’cause that’s when the records started getting better and there was a whole new fanbase.
“It was cool to play on The Kiss Kruise with Kiss, or Soundwave a couple of years ago with Metallica. These guys were heroes at first, and then became peers, then contemporaries. Now it’s our job to go out there and kick their asses every night with our live show. It’s something that I don’t take for granted; I’m really proud of the fact that we’ve worked ourself up into that position.
“I don’t only have one amazingly cool job – I have two. They’re both living, breathing jobs, and if you want to be envious of it I’ll take it, ’cause I worked my ass off to make it happen. Nothing was ever handed to me, but now I’m in this position I’ll gladly accept it, ’cause it is pretty fucking cool when you think about it.”
Since his first match 25 years ago, Chris has wrestled across the globe for WWE, WCW, ECW and NJPW. His nickname, Y2J, given at the turn of the millennium, still sticks to this day…
Chris says: “October 3, 1990, was my first ever match in Ponoka, Alberta, Canada, at the Moose Hall. October 3, 2015 was at Madison Square Garden [for WWE]. That’s a great arc.
“The pinnacle of my career was 2008 and 2009, when I was the most-hated guy in the business. That heel run with the Shawn Michaels story [a long-running, bloody feud] and the Rey Mysterio story [in which Chris tried to take Rey’s sacred lucha mask] was the peak for me. Yes, winning the Undisputed Championship [to unify the WWF and WCW championships in 2001, by defeating The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin in the same night] was amazing. Yes, having the best match at WrestleMania 19 [in 2003] against Shawn Michaels was amazing. But in that period, I was the best in the world at what I do. On certain nights, I was the best sports entertainer in the entire world.
“I’ll never be a full-time wrestler again, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love doing it. As long as I can still wrestle at the standards I’ve set myself, then I’ll continue. At 44 years old, I still have the best match on the show, and that’s my watermark of whether I keep doing it or not. I think any show with Chris Jericho on it is better than any show where I’m not on it.”
*After leaving WWE 10 years ago, Chris has featured in a number of movies and TV shows including The Asylum, cult sequel Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, horror film Albino Farm, and fictionalised reality show* But I’m Chris Jericho…
Chris says: “In 2005, I left WWE and moved to LA to study acting – I wanted to study the craft and kind of give it a go. A lot of the things that happened in But I’m Chris Jericho [a 2013 web series starring Chris as a fictionalised version of himself] actually happened in real life. The pirate audition comes to mind, where I’m doing a serious audition, but all I could hear was a pirate audition screaming next door.
“I did Sharknado 3 and that’s one of the most publicised things I’ve done in the past year. When you do stuff like that, you get a whole new fanbase, which is the most important thing you can do in this day and age. You work on the brand, you work on being Chris Jericho, and if you can do that people will follow you if you do stuff of quality.
“When they said, ’Do you wanna be in Sharknado?’ I said, ’Hell yeah!’ Next thing you know, it’s the biggest thing I’ve done in 10 years. Take everything as it’s offered to you, and if you think it’s something you can really make your mark on, then you do it.”
*He’s presented competition reality show WWE Tough Enough and SyFy series Robot Combat League, as well as our very own Metal Hammer Golden Gods and this year’s Classic Rock Roll Of Honour awards…*
Chris says: “When you watch The Oscars, the good hosts know when to come to the forefront, when to hang back, when to wrap something up – you’ve got to keep the flow going, especially with something like the Metal Hammer Golden Gods. People are unruly, they’re drunk, they want to be entertained.
“It’s not just a guy reading lines, standing there handing out trophies. I have no problems with guys in the crowd who throw a catcall if they’re not into it; I don’t fucking care, I make a living getting catcalled.
“I accepted Iron Maiden’s award last year [for Best UK Band] and I told Rod Smallwood afterwards that I had the trophy. They had to have an internal meeting to make sure it was OK if I kept the award. They took it very seriously. It’s a very serious honour in their eyes and my eyes that I keep it. It was a pretty cool moment.”
*Since 2013, Chris has been making his own podcast Talk Is Jericho (a riff on the Raw Is Jericho catchphrase from his WWE days), and has achieved over 100 million downloads by interviewing the likes of Bruce Dickinson, Gene Simmons and Lemmy…*
Chris says: “I just like talking to people. I love talking to my friends and people that I want to be friends with. How often do you get the chance to sit in a room with your best mates and talk for an hour? If I go to a festival and see Paul Stanley backstage, he’ll have five minutes to talk before he or I have gotta do something. And that’s why my podcast works. I get to sit down with Corey Taylor for an hour before his show and just shoot the breeze.
“I’m a very curious person, and I know what it’s like to be asked the same questions over and over again, and it drives you fucking crazy. Nothing takes you out of an interview more than that. When I spoke to Slash, we talked about dinosaurs for the first half an hour – he loves dinosaurs, I love dinosaurs.
“Whether it’s William Shatner, or Kevin Smith, or Triple H, you’re talking about some of the biggest names in the world talking about whatever I want to – why wouldn’t I want that?”
*Chris is a New York Times bestselling author with three autobiographies to his name, covering his time in wrestling and music. He recently tweeted that he’s working on a new book deal…*
Chris says: “I went to college for journalism and I just always liked to write, and nobody asked me [to write about myself] when WWE was doing a lot of autobiographies – they never brought my name up, which was for the best, as my story is more than a one-book story. I didn’t want to gloss over anything – not address things that needed to be addressed. If I wrote one book, it would be War And Peace, and that’s not cool – the idea was always to make it a kind of trilogy.
“I’ve always had a pretty good memory. I can’t remember to bring home milk and bread for my wife, but I can remember who I wrestled in 1991 or when Fozzy’s fifth gig was.”
*The wrestler and musician turned reality TV contestant on the 12th season of Dancing With The Stars in 2011, and was fifth to be eliminated with his dancing partner Cheryl Burke.*
Chris says: “I was asked to be on Dancing With The Stars three times before I actually did it, because I just wasn’t feeling it. Then when I decided to go for it, it was great. It was really hard, but a lot of fun, and I was actually pretty good at it. Because if you look at wrestling, you’ve got to remember choreography, you’ve got to be light on your feet, and as a musician you’ve got to understand the syncopation of a beat – all that stuff came into play.
“I’ve never danced since. I danced with Cheryl Burke who was my partner and that was it – other than that, I don’t know anything about dancing.”
Chris lives in Tampa, Florida, with his wife Jessica Lockhart and their three children…
Chris says: “Even though I’m away quite a bit, I’m also home a lot. When I’m home, I’m dad. I get up at 6:30am, make breakfast, take the kids to school, help them with their homework, take them to football… even if I get home at 4am, I’m up at 6am to be with my kids. You have to have that balance to keep things in check.
“I have three kids – twin girls and a boy. My kids don’t give a shit about the guy on TV. I’m just dad to them. Which I understand – when I was a kid, my dad played for the New York Rangers in the NHL, and everyone thought it was so cool my dad was a hockey player, but to me he was just my dad.”
Fozzy tour the UK from Nov 24. Their sixth album, Do You Wanna Start a War, is out now via Century Media