It's all a bag of Bones - Rich Ward speaks out!
When you think of 'Fozzy' you think of American Wrestling and Chris Jericho comes to mind, having said that some you of will think of 'Stuck Mojo' Rich Ward's old band. Either way you can't deny the fact that Fozzy are a band making a name for themselves. I managed to catch up with old long time friend Rich Ward to talk about the days with Stuck Mojo and the new album 'Sin & Bones' released through Century Media. Here is what he had to say, enjoy metal heads!!
Yeah Rich it's so fucking cool to meet you again, it's been too long man. We've known each other since the Stuck Mojo Day's, that's going back to time ago now. How you been brother? I'd like to start the interview by asking you about the days with Mojo. What recollections do you have with the band? Also do you see anything of either Bonz or Corey?
"Yeah Jason, fuck dude we have known each other for 15yrs since the mid 90's, how's it going brother? Well I would have to say the highlights with Mojo would have to be playing Dynamo Festival in Holland, playing both of them and I would say 96 Dynamo and also supporting Pantera in 98. I saw Corey about 3 months ago and he has a band who is touring the States right now called 'I Empire' which is groovy and sounds like Stereo Mud, it's good Rock music and he has his know signature to it. I saw Bonz every now and then."
Which is your favourite album you recorded with Stuck Mojo and why?
"Well I would have to say either 'Declaration of the Head Hunter' or 'Southern Born Killers', and I still love 'Rising' and 'Pig Walk', but there is something cool about those albums 'Declaration..' and 'Southern...' as there is more melody which had to good cross over of Rap and Metal vocals. (Ed is that when you realized you found the true identity of the bands music in 'Declaration & Southern..' albums?) No not at all, I think we found the identity of the band much earlier than that but if you are asking me which albums I like it would have to be those 2 albums because of the balance of the Rap and Metal vocals. The early albums were more Rap Metal and as we started to evolve we started to inject more melody into our music which I like. (Ed: For me it's 'Pigwalk' because you mentioned me on that album cheers Rich!) That's a brilliant record man!!"
Moving on now to Fozzy, didn't the 1st album come out of SPV, which contained mainly cover songs by the likes of Accept, Judas Priest, WASP ect... did you ever think of doing another album in the future of yet another cover's album like a part 2?
"Well yes the debut album was a cover's album you are correct. We did think about doing another covers album in later years but because we have good chemistry and memento on the original records I think if we will do it, it has to be down the road. When we did the covers it was like Steel Panther before they were doing it with the costumes and stuff. So if we did that we needed to get away from that generation to make that sort of comeback. (Ed: Maybe you should go on tour with Steel Panther?) No no (laughing) it could be fun"
How many albums did you do with SPV?
"Well they were released through Megaforce, Johnny Z's label in the States and then licensed to SPV and I think we did 2 records with the label."
Who did you sign with after the release of the first 2 albums with SPV?
"Well I think the next album 'All that Remains' was through a label called 'Ash' and then 'Riot Entertainment' for 'Chasing the Grail' and now Century Media."
How do you see the bands music progress over the years?
"It has definitely got better with each release as we have better chemistry and more refined and that was important because Fozzy was a part time band for many years and we didn't tour full time because of Chris's career and when a band gets in a van and tours for 10 month it develops quickly and when a band only plays 20 shows a year like we were doing in the early days it just took a longer time for us to grow together as a band. For that reason I think the band just got better as time went on and the more you do something together as a band the better the band become."
So where is the band mainly based? Are you still in Georgia (Atlanta) and Chris in Florida what about the rest of the band?
"Yes I am still in Georgia, Paul our bass player lives in New Jersey and the rest of us live in Atlanta. It is easy for us to jam we just fly Paul down, it's not a problem."
Moving Rich lets talk about the new album 'Sin & Bones', which was produced by yourself with also featured guest guitarist Phil Campbell from Motorhead, how did that come about?
"Yeah Phil played guitar solo on 'She's my Addiction' and also M Shadows from the band 'Avenge Sevenfold' did a guest vocal on it for the song 'Sandpaper'. The record is really good and it sounds great and we were able to do this record a little better because on the album 'Chasing the Grail' was done as a self produced album and I was producing the album and writing and a lot of tracking was been done at my house and we were finally getting a formula down. So 'Chasing...' was a great prototype for 'Sin & Bones' because we had done it the same way an album earlier. We were just getting better as we were finding what was working and what was not working for the band. (Ed: Using Andy Sneap in the past must of helped you as a producer right?) Yeah for sure, I learnt everything from Andy and he is the best metal producer out there. The only reason I don't use him is because the record companies are not what they use to be and he is not cheap to use and he should not be and I will not ask him for favours and he is brilliant!! We are good friend but when it comes to business I will not ask him to cut me a cheap deal and I shouldn't. We record music in Atlanta and Chris lives in Tampa and then we fly to Tampa work with Chris and then come back... Our records are done within 2-3 months. We record the old fashion way and we record at a studio called 'Metal Heart' after the great Accept record. So in the end it just makes sense for us to do it ourselves. Phil is good friends with Chris so when you do guest spots on records you just want to use friends who you know, he is a great player. Same thing goes with Shadow's he is also friends with Chris."
So is the the 1st record you have been in total control of?
"Yeah pretty much, I was not in panic mode at any time and calling Andy for suggestions and advice and I think I am getting it right now but I still have a lot to learn just like anybody has. This is the 1st record I have done were I have felt confident with it. The rest of the band are totally happy with my productions."
So was the album done as a team effort musically and lyrically?
I write the music and Chris does the lyrics but Billy our other guitar player & Paul did some tributes & Frank. When it comes to it we all but a bit into the song writing but in the end it is a Fozzy record and it is not a Chris and Rich project. I met Chris and he is a big metal head and we became friends and we decided to put a fun side band together which we had no idea would become as big as we have done over the last 13 years.
So what are you favourite songs on the new album if you have any at all?
Well if I had to say any I think it would be the ones we play in the set list and we always pick the best ones like 'Sand Paper', 'Spider in my Mouth', 'Sin & Bones', and I also love the song 'Inside my Head'. I would say 1 song that we don't play in the set and I love is 'A Past Life', but it is a more of a prog style epic which is 8 minutes long so it is not a song we can really play live when you are co-headling a tour.
Talking of Prog Metal, you have just brought the band 'Adrenaline Mob' to my attention, which features Mike Portnoy ex Dream Theater and Russell Allan (Symphony X), how did you hook up with those guys and why didn't you stay with the band as a side project?
I didn't stay as it wasn't a perfect fit for me, I enjoyed it and the guys are all awesome and playing with them was an honor but for me to stay in the band would of meant that I would of had to quit Fozzy and this is my baby with Chris. Because this is my baby it is a good fit for me whereas that material I was not a writer in it (Ed: Well Mojo was more you style and I guess Fozzy is the next level) Yeah you are right Jason, Fozzy is the next level for Mojo and I am not saying I would not play in other bands and I would love to have the opportunity to jam with other people. If I did that and sacrificed my time away from Fozzy it would have to be because it was a good fit. Chris still does his wrestling and he does things in Hollywood and if he takes time out of Fozzy it has to be a good fit for him too.
How well has the press been looking after the band with reviews from the new album?
I think we have been getting awesome reviews, thanks for yours Jason it was cool!! The only criticism that people have is that it sounds too good, it sounds to polished with big harmonies and too produced and some people like it when some things are stripped down. We like a production that is big sounds with all the trimmings.
Has the band done or will be doing a promo video? If so for which song and will you also be doing a live DVD?
Well we have nothing in the works for a live DVD but I am sure we will do it. We did the song 'Sandpaper' for a video.
What was your reaction when you found out you were playing Bloodstock in 2013? Do you think you will fit the bill?
Yeah we are very excited about playing because we have played Download, Sonisphere and the other big one is Bloodstock. So now we can say we have played the big 3 in the UK and so many people have told us that Bloodstock is such a special festival a family based festival so we are very excited about it. I don't care if there are 4 people there for 4000 it's just a dream come true.
Well it's always a pleasure meeting you even though it's been like 10yrs or so haha. Do you have anything to say before we finish the interview off? All the best and see you at Bloodstock.
Yeah thanks to our fans for their support over the years and to you I love you Jason, you're my hero and we have known each other for a lot of years and it's always a pleasure speaking to you - Peace!!
Thanks to Sarah at Century Media & Luke Bell.