Fozzy’s Rich “The Duke” Ward Discusses the Band’s New Album, ‘Judas’
Fozzy has always been a band focused on two things: a heavy groove and a good time. And when you have two high-energy performers like Rich “The Duke of Metal” Ward and Chris Jericho in the band, those grooves and good times come easy.
Ward is known for being one of the most prolific and underrated guitarists in rock and metal today. He’s created his own signature style of heavy riffs, melodic choruses and what’s become known as The Duke groove.
Fozzy’s new album, Judas—set for an October 13 release—is the follow-up to 2014’s Do You Wanna Start a War and reinforces the idea that the band is hitting its stride. Songs like the title track showcase Jericho’s enaging vocal delivery along with the infectiously familiar, in the pocket groove of Ward and drummer, Frank Fontsere.
Tracks like “Weight of My World” and the groovy “Drinkin With Jesus” follow a similar pattern, highlighted by the band’s inspiration and self-reflection.
I recently spoke with Rich Ward about the new Fozzy album, songwriting, gear and more.
How would you describe Judas in terms of its sound and how it relates to some of the band’s previous work?
I think the majority of people who hear it will see this as a big rock record with big guitar riffs and catchy melodies. The one strength about Fozzy is that we’re always able to stay relevant. We have an eclectic set of influences that make this band unique.
What was the writing process like?
We usually start with a blank sheet of paper and then Jericho starts sending us song title ideas followed by sheets of lyrics. I practice every day for a few hours and if I find something that seems interesting, I’ll record and catalog it based on something that would be influentially relevant to the sound I’m coming up with.
So, if Jericho sends me lyrics that have a dark, moody vibe I’ll go into my catalog to see if I can in a nice companion for it. Other times, it will be just us all in a room coming up with ideas collectively. A lot of stuff on this record was a real collaboration with our producer, Johnny Andrews.
We worked with him on a few songs on our last album. One of our goals going in was to have someone who was more involved in the process. Not just in creating sounds but also having a creative seat at the table. Johnny was the MVP of the studio.
Let’s discuss a few songs from the new album, starting with the title-track, “Judas”
That song has a great riff. As soon as I recorded it we all looked at ourselves and said if this comes off as good as it is right now, it will be the single of the record. It has such a classic, head banging groove and for us, that’s where we’re at our strongest. Our drummer, Frank Fontsere and I are at our best when we’re laying down pocket and that song plays right into the sweet spot.
Jericho really connected with the lyric in telling the story. The songs that stand the test of time are the ones where you hear an emotional connection in the delivery of a lyric. “Judas” is that song.
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