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INTERVIEW: CHRIS JERICHO from KUARANTINE – July 2020

 

According to a recent press release: “The new rock “supergroup” Kuarantine, featuring Fozzy frontman and multi-hyphenate superstar Chris Jericho, has released their latest KISS cover “Heart of Chrome,” the follow-up to their May debut “No No No.” The new single, available via Madison Records with distribution by The Orchard, features former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick as a special guest joining Jericho (vocals), drummer Kent Slucher (Luke Bryan), guitarist Joe McGinness (KLASSIK ’78) and bassist PJ Farley (Trixter).” We were able to grab some phone time with Chris to discuss new music and more…

Toddstar: Chris Jericho, I appreciate you taking out time for us.

Chris Jericho: Thank you, sir.

Toddstar: Well, let’s talk about something super exciting right now in your world, Kuarantine. What can you tell us about this project? When you read the press release, everybody’s locked up right now and you’re looking for something, you’re looking for that outlet. What made this project the right thing for you right now?

Chris Jericho: Once again, you got a bunch of musicians and creative people that are stuck at home with no tours to do, and no shows to play. So, musicians like playing with other musicians. And I think that’s how it all started when we had four guys who all have fans that were all kind of stuck at home, but we also all love 80’s era KISS. And it just kind of focused on that. And it’s the modern way to start a band in that I’ve never even met Joe McGinness, the guitar player. We’ve never met face to face. Here we are in a band together and in videos together and doing press together and all that sort of stuff. Obviously, that never would have happened had there been no pandemic. So it’s almost like there are a few bright sides to all the turmoil that 2020 has brought us, but that’s something that I was really proud to be a part of because we were able to stay creative. And I think that’s the best thing to do when you’re shut in like this.

Toddstar: You hit a good point with just needing that outlet. You don’t have any of your outlets right now but to be able to jump into this, when it came to doing this and picking songs, was it something where you threw ideas out there or was the first song predetermined as “No, No, No?” You guys have “Heart of Chrome” dropping which has a special guest. Did you guys all say, “Let’s do No, No, No?” Did you all throw names of songs in a hat and just start drawing? How’d that process go about?

Chris Jericho: It all started with the drummer, Kent Slucher, who plays for Luke Bryan. He just sent me a drum track and he didn’t say anything. And I said, “Oh, that’s “No, No, No.” It’s great. What are you doing?” He said, “We’re just putting together, doing a fun “No, No, No” version just for ourselves.” And I said, “Well, do you need a singer?” And he said, “Absolutely.” And I said, “Well, let’s not do it for ourselves. Let’s make it a thing. Let’s make it something special.” I never think small. I was trying to think as big as I possibly can. And I didn’t want this to be something that you just put up on your Instagram page and it comes and goes and it’s done. I thought if we did it properly, we could do videos for YouTube, and we could do streams on Spotify with the songs that we had chosen. So, “No, No, No” was the first one, and then we all got together for “Heart of Chrome.” And the brilliant thing about playing songs from this era of KISS is there’s a whole wealth of material that a lot of people don’t know, they don’t know that era. And there’s so many great songs that we’re almost playing originals. I don’t know how many people know “No, No, No” that aren’t from that era. So it was really cool to find these songs and to play them and record them, and to get the feedback that we’ve received, and knowing there’s a whole wealth of other tunes that we can do to keep the ball rolling.

Toddstar: How different do you approach the tracks, Chris? You have “No, No, No,” which was originally a Gene track and “Heart of Chrome,” that was a Paul vocal; they both definitely bring something different to the table. How did you approach that differently?

Chris Jericho: I’m a huge Paul Stanley fan, big influence on me as a vocalist, but I’d never really done Gene songs before, so to sing “No, No, No,” you realize that, holy smokes, Gene’s range is very high as well. And I don’t think he gets the credit that he deserves for being such a great singer and a great musician. “No, No, No” is almost proggy at times, the way it stops and starts. And it’s a really well done song, and I never really got into it much over the last 30 odd years until we decided to record it, and then I realized just how killer of a tune it is. And that’s what’s, yeah, even for me as a huge KISS fan, there’s songs that I never really loved that when we started talking about playing them, when you really listen to it and you start dissecting it, it’s like, holy shit, this song is a challenge. And that makes it even more fun.

Toddstar: Between the drumming and the vocals, I’d love to hear you guys rip apart “King of the Mountain” from Asylum.

Chris Jericho: Yeah, that’s a great choice. That’s definitely one of the one that we’ve been discussing. There’s a whole bunch of them, though man. There’s about six or seven that we’re like, “Oh, I want to do this one. I want to do that one. I want to do this one.” And that’s the beauty of Kuarantine, we can go for as long as we want, because the material’s all there. We could do 40 songs if we wanted to.

Toddstar: Sure, sure. What is it about this project that differentiates from something like Fozzy? For you personally, what’s the difference?

Chris Jericho: It’s actually a great vocal exercise. In Fozzy I’m not belting out as high as I can throughout the song. “Heart of Chrome” is such a difficult song to sing, the range on that is ridiculous. But it was a lot of fun to get in there, into the studio, and challenge myself, and keep my pipes on their toes, so to speak. And once again, I wouldn’t have had the chance to do that had we not had this pandemic, so when we’re going to do these types of songs, I like to be challenged. If we’re just going to do Fozzy type songs, that’s cool too, but these are so far out of the box of what I’m usually singing that it’s a great exercise, it’s a challenge for me, and most importantly, it’s a lot of fun.

Toddstar: We keep talking about the pandemic, and obviously its truncated everybody’s life as far as touring and everything else. What about touring do you miss the most so far?

Chris Jericho: I think just being out on the road, you know what I mean? And there’s a certain vibe that you get playing live, that instant gratification. You can’t beat it, and you realize how important it is to have an audience. I know that from AEW – we don’t have a lot of crowd right now, there’s a few people standing around, but it really takes a lot out of being an entertainer when you don’t get that audience reaction. And it’s the old Cinderella song, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).” I never would have imagined it, but not having crowds and not being able to go on the road, I mean, it’s been on a standstill, and who knows how much longer it’s going to last. So it is pretty tough.

Toddstar: Is Kuarantine something you could see taking out on the road at some point, once the world kind of opened up or do you think this is just a special moment in time and this will be it?

Chris Jericho: I don’t know if we’d play live, but I can totally see us continuing on doing these songs. If we had enough material, and obviously it’s all in the rehearsal time, I would definitely love to sing these songs live and those guys are all amazing professionals, so I think we could bang it out and have a lot of fun with it.

Toddstar: If memory serves, you actually played on one of the KISS Kruises.

Chris Jericho: Yeah, we did, yeah.

Toddstar: Have you gotten any feedback from Paul and Gene on these two covers?

Chris Jericho: Yeah, I sent “No, No, No” to Gene. And he’s a man of few words, he gave me the emoji thumbs up. The thing that was really cool is he sent it to Bruce Kulick, which is cool, it tells you that he liked it. And then when I told Paul I was going to do this, he said that if you can sing this song in its original key, with the original melody, then you’re doing something special. And I was like, “Okay, check it out.” And he’s like, “Dude, that’s great. You did a great job.” So whenever you hear that feedback, it’s extra cool as well. Especially from Paul, because I know he’s thinking, “Heart of Chrome, are you sure? You think you’re good?” And that’s kind of what happened. It took me a lot of guts to send it to those guys. I’m like, what if they hate it or what if they don’t like it? But when you get that kind of feedback, it was pretty cool.

Toddstar: It had to be really cool for you being a fan of 80’s KISS, to get Bruce Kulick to play on “Heart of Chrome.”

Chris Jericho: Bruce has been a friend of mine for years. He kind of knows all the guys in the bands, and we just said, “Fuck it, let’s just ask him and see.” And then he had to set up his home rig and had to figure that out, which he did. And then we asked them to do a video. He really played along a little bit, but I think he really dug it, and I think he was surprised at my vocal. Because he said, “I know you’re a good singer, but I didn’t think you sang like this.” So once again, only in a pandemic could you form an 80’s KISS cover band with a guitar player from KISS, right?

Toddstar: The way you actually tackled the range of “Heart of Chrome,” how much did you have to put yourself through to train your pipes to do that? Like you said, this is a different vibe and sound and presentation than Fozzy, so how much did you have to push yourself to be able to hit some of those notes and hit them correctly and with power?

Chris Jericho: Well just so you know, and not to sound braggadocios, but I’ve been singing that song since 1992. I know that song, I love that song, and that’s why I wanted to do it, it was my choice to get the guys to play that one. But of course, when you go in the studio and sing it, it’s always different. But I’ll be honest with you, I sang “Heart of Chrome” quicker than I did “No, No, No.” I think, for whatever reason, because I didn’t know “No, No, No” as well, it took me longer to record it. Whereas “Heart of Chrome,” a lot of those vocals that you’re hearing are one takes. I remember when I did the first line, “You better listen up, since you screwed me you’ve been on my mind,” I just sang that line, and I looked at my engineer, we started laughing like, “Holy shit, that’s a take, let’s move on.” Like holy smokes, that’s really good. So I think anytime, when you’re a singer, the more you’re familiar with the song, the easier it is to sing. And that’s why “Heart of Chrome” was a much quicker process for me then “No, No, No” was.

Toddstar: What’s the song you’ve thrown out there as a possibility that the rest of the band has said, “No chance?”

Chris Jericho: There’s really nothing because kind of our loose rules is it has to be Bruce Kulick era, and it can’t be a video or a single. So we’re trying to stay away from the “Crazy Nights” and the “Turn On the Night”, and those types of things. But there really hasn’t been any that we’ve been banding about that someone was opposed, because all the songs are great. So I think that that’s why we can continue to do this for a long time, because, like I said earlier, there’s such a wealth of material here that there’s no reason for us to not continue.

Toddstar: You’re a spectacle in and out of music; you’ve always kind of liked the spotlight from your wrestling days to your music days. What turning point in your life do you remember being the moment where you thought, “Yes, I want to be in the public eye.”

Chris Jericho: I think just when I was a kid, man, I was always in high school plays, I was in a high school band, and we used to make our own movies and perform at the lip sync contests. I just think I always wanted to be in show business, shall we say. When I was a kid I wanted to be a wrestler and I wanted to be in a band, and that it is why I’m doing both now, that’s why I pursued that in the first place, especially when you didn’t really know how to do that back in those days. How do you get into a band? How do you become a wrestler? But it really hit home for me when I was going to college before I could go to wrestling school, because I wasn’t old enough, and I was a journalism major, and I was writing stories about all these different things. And I was like, “You know what? I would much rather be the guy that’s having the story written about him, than writing the story about somebody else.” And that’s how it all clicked in for me. And I haven’t looked back since.

Toddstar: You’ve done recording with Fozzy and with Kuarantine, so you’re used to the studio. But being on the other side of the coin, if you could go back to an album that has influenced you enough, what album would you pick that you would have wanted to be a part of?

Chris Jericho: KISS Alive! is probably my favorite record, and Master of Puppets and Iron Maiden’s Power Slave. Those are the three best records for me. And those are all like you wish you could have played on it in some way, shape, or fashion, but I still go back and listen to those records in their entirety. In this day and age, you don’t listen to a lot of albums in their entirety. But I still do a good Power Slave run through at least once every four or five months. And same thing with KISS Alive! and Master of Puppets.

Toddstar: Being from Detroit, KISS Alive! is definitely near and dear to my heart. That said, anything in your music professional world that you’d like another crack at, Chris? Have you done anything that you think was maybe a misstep, that even if it didn’t change the end result, you’d just like another run at it?

Chris Jericho: Yeah. If you look at the first Fozzy record, there’s a song called “Riding on the Wind,” it’s a Judas Priest cover. It’s the first song I ever sang in a studio, which is really weird. I listen back to it now and it’s like, “Oh, that’s a tough listen, to go through that.” So there’s a couple songs in the first Fozzy record where I’m like, “I’d like to redo those if I could,” but that’s just experience. I’m sure it’s the same with James Hetfield, listening to “Metal Militia” from Kill ‘Em All. It’s like oh my god, it’s nothing like what he sounds like now. So I think it’s all part of your process to learn how to be a professional and learn what your wheelhouse is and learn how to perform in the studio, which is not easy to do.

Toddstar: Chris, I cannot thank you enough. I myself am a huge KISS fan and enjoy seeing somebody tackling these gems… like I said, I can’t wait till you guys do “King of the Mountain,” hint, hint, wink, wink. I really appreciate it, and I really hope that the world does open up soon and that you guys can get back on the road as Fozzy, because again, up here in Michigan, we miss you up in Flint, we’d love to see you back on stage at The Machine Shop. You’ve been there before and we know you’ll come back again.

Chris Jericho: Thank you, man, I really appreciate that. Looking forward to it.

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Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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