FOZZY's RICH WARD: 'Broken People Make For Great Artists'

April 4, 2024

In a new interview with Scott Bowling of Good Company With Bowling, FOZZY and STUCK MOJO guitarist Rich Ward, who turned 55 in January, spoke about the physical challenges of the touring lifestyle and knowing exactly the right time to retire. He said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I know that RUSH, when they said it was time [to call it quits], it's 'cause two of the members in the band said it was time. [Actually] it was one guy, because [RUSH drummer] Neil Peart goes to the guys and says 'it's time', and [RUSH guitarist] Alex Lifeson says 'one more tour'. And, of course, [RUSH frontman] Geddy's [Lee] sitting on the sidelines saying, 'I never wanna stop.' But when you're a band, you have to figure out when that time is for the band, and then you figure out what time it is for you as individuals to wrap it up. "

He continued: "I still feel fantastic. I have all those things that every person over 50 who plays an instrument deals with. I've got low back pain. I've got some arthritis in the hands, the same thing at George Lynch and Corey Taylor and everybody else who's ever done this, Phil Anselmo. We all do that because none of us are gonna go out there and stand there and stare at our shoes. Every day is the Super Bowl, every show is the Super Bowl, and we're all so lucky to do it that we would never punish the fans who are there that night by phoning it in. They deserve 100 percent of everything that we have, so you suck it up. You take four Advil, you drink some green tea and you go out there and you pretend like there's nothing going on. And when the show's over, you put some ice on your back.

"The main thing is that my focus has been no Oxycontin, no painkillers," Ward added. "I've never taken them and I won't, because I see what's happened to other musicians who have had back pain, other athletes who have had back pain and they start chasing that dragon. For me, the thing that saved my life has been that DDPYoga, which I do every day. I'm very light. I don't lift weights anymore. I weigh 145 pounds. I used to weigh 205 when I was in STUCK MOJO. I was muscular and I realized that my frame can't sustain that kind of weight. And so I eat lean, I train every day. I don't do it for vanity reasons, although I lifted weights in the '90s for vanity reasons, 'cause I wanted to be jacked like all my heroes. I wanted to look like Henry Rollins. I wanted to look like Glenn Danzig. These dudes, when I saw them on stage, it was like, 'Oh.' They looked as powerful as their music sounded. And I always thought that was incredible. When we toured with TYPE O NEGATIVE and Pete Steele would roll up the back of the truck and get in there and pump iron every day. I wanted to be just like Pete Steele, because I realized he looked the way he sounded. It reinforced the power of the music. Now, if I was in DREAM THEATER, it doesn't need to be that because DREAM THEATER is beautiful. It's a different approach. But STUCK MOJO was a jackhammer and it was something that was just rhythmically punishing you and I wanted to look that part, which is why I trained the way that I did. And luckily for me, [frontman Chris] Jericho is always gonna be the biggest guy in FOZZY, so I don't need to compete with him. I can be his skinny little partner. He can be the Skipper, and I can be Gilligan, and we can have a great relationship."

Referencing the confidence, the swagger and just a hint of arrogance that all the best frontmen possess, Ward said: "I'm lucky. I've been very lucky in my career. [STUCK MOJO's] Bonz was one of the best frontmen in all of crossover, nu metal, whatever you wanna call it. He was by far one of the best. And part of the reason was because it was real. He was never trying to pretend to be anything. He was just that guy. And the crazy thing about is I never really understood it when I was younger. I was constantly worried about all the chaos that was created by that energy, not realizing that if you took it away, all the magic that was Bonz would have gone away too, in the same way that nobody wants to see a Boy Scout with a perfectly intact family and went to private school, they don't wanna see them be the frontman of a heavy metal band because there's no pain and struggle and stories to tell. Broken people make for great artists. And I don't wish that upon anybody.

"My dad was never around," Rich revealed. "I never thought it was abnormal 'cause it was my life. My stepbrother and I had bunk beds in my room. We didn't have air conditioning when I was growing up. We would just crack the windows and put a fan in the window. It just seemed normal to me. If you're a kid, you don't think you're poor because you share a room with your stepbrother. I watched the 'Brady Bunch'. They didn't seem poor. There was a crap ton of kids living in a couple of rooms in their house. And I just thought it was normal. But if you grow up comfortable and wealthy, and then all of a sudden you have to sleep on the floor of somebody you met that night at the venue, 'cause your band doesn't have enough money to pay for a hotel, life sucks. If you grew up in Canada in the winters, and then, all of a sudden, you come down to Atlanta and during the winter you don't have a jacket, it doesn't bother you. I've felt worse. I know what cold weather feels like.

"I think part of the reason why a lot of musicians who succeed in this business, why this business is populated by broken people, it's just because the business is tough, but these people have already experienced tough; they've had tough lives," Rich explained. "They've dealt with abuse and worse. I didn't deal with abuse, but I did live what I now would, if you looked at it through the prism of today, I lived in a fairly lower middle-class household. But I didn't think of it at the time, if that makes sense. I had friends that were rich, but I just thought they were rich. I didn't think that that meant that I was poor. So I think that's a good thing, that people who grow up with stories to tell and not ideal childhoods, they make for interesting artists. And it doesn't matter who it is — look at all of them. They're all a little broken, or the clocks don't exactly run on time. And I'm a proud part of that community. I'm glad music was there for me. It saved my life."

FOZZY's latest standalone single, "Spotlight", was released last October via Madison Records/The Orchard. The track was helmed by FOZZY's longtime producer Johnny Andrews (THREE DAYS GRACE, ALL THAT REMAINS, HALESTORM) and sonically refined by mixer Jacob Hanson (VOLBEAT, AMARANTHE, ARCH ENEMY).

FOZZY's latest album, "Boombox", came out in May 2022 and featured "I Still Burn", which is closing in on three million views on YouTube. It also included the Top 10 singles "Nowhere To Run" and "Sane".

As previously reported, FOZZY will embark on a 25th-anniversary tour this fall. The trek will start October 3 at Madlife Studios in Woodstock, Georgia and run through October 21 in Cleveland, Ohio. Support on the tour will come from THE NOCTURNAL AFFAIR and CLOZURE.

In the spring of 2023, FOZZY spent time on the road with UGLY KID JOE as part of the latter band's first tour of the United States in 27 years.

In January 2022, FOZZY parted ways with longtime drummer Frank Fontsere and replaced him with Grant Brooks (THROUGH FIRE).

Fontsere was a founding member of FOZZY, having formed the group in 1999 with Jericho and Ward.

When FOZZY announced Fontsere's departure, the band said that he was "stepping down to focus on his family and other projects."

FOZZY is Jericho, Ward, Brooks, Billy Grey (guitar) and P.J. Farley (bass).

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