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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.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Rich Ward by Clicking Here!

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Adrenaline Mob Rules

August 14th, 2011. I’ve written it down because it’s not often you are privy to the beginning of music history.

You see, I wasn’t even a twinkle in my father’s eye when The Beatles were an up and coming act. And I was just a child and never got to see when guitar greats Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van-Halen and Randy Rhoads began and all took it up a notch.

Alas, I was starting to feel that being part of the beginning of something special just wasn’t in the cards for me. Last night though, I finally got that chance when I saw the very first Adrenaline Mob performance in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Adrenaline Mob is the new project from some of the most talented musicians around. Featuring drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold), lead vocalist Russell Allen (Symphony-X), guitarists Mike Orlando (Sonic Stomp) and Rich Ward (Stuck Mojo/Fozzy) and bassist Paul DiLeo (Nena).

Having never seen an arsenal of musicians of this caliber come together before I didn’t quite know what to expect. But as the band took the stage to the familiar sounds from The Godfather movie and tore into Psychosane, the first song from its debut self-titled EP, any doubt I had as to whether or not they could pull it off was gone.

It truly was a headbangers paradise as the band wooed the audience with songs like Hit The Wall, Believe Me and the Black Sabbath/Dio classic (and very appropriate) Mob Rules.

Mixing in a few songs from their soon to be released full length album, Russell Allen told the audience “This next one’s our ballad” and I found myself wondering if this would be just another gratuitous throw away song. I was pleasantly surprised to find that their “ballad’ was actually on par with all of the other songs and Mr. Allen’s vocals were both smooth and powerful.

I felt like part of a brotherhood listening to Paul DiLeo’s killer bass grooves and sonic euphoria while shaking his head along with the rest of us.

I’ve never seen Mike Orlando perform before and as a guitarist myself I stood there in awe as I watched him shred. He is one of the most phenomenal players around and makes it look so easy. Afterwards I asked him how long he had been playing and he told me “About a week”.  Very down to Earth guy. What I should have asked him was if he was available next week to give me lessons.

Rich Ward played to the crowd showcasing his amazing talent and at one point allowing members of  the audience to play his guitar while he held it over them.  I wished I was down front so I could have also been a member of The Mob for just one night.

As for Mr. Portnoy, well what can be said that hasn’t already? The man is a genius, one of the greatest drummers ever and also one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Just a year out of leaving the mega band Dream Theater, Mike is back with a vengeance.

After a thrilling 75 minute performance, the band exited the stage once again to The Godfather theme along with intentional feedback from Mr. Ward’s guitar.  Indeed, there was no better way to end the beginning.

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend picking up a copy of the Adrenaline Mob EP and seeing this band on their current tour so one day, like me, you’ll be able to say: “I was there when it all began”.

Article first published as Adrenaline Mob Rules on Technorati

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