FOZZY's RICH WARD: 'I've Had Lots Of Bad Interactions With Famous Musicians Over The Years'

October 4, 2023

During a new appearance on Knotfest's Squared Circle Pit, FOZZY and STUCK MOJO guitarist Rich Ward reflected on FOZZY's September 2019 concert as the opening band for IRON MAIDEN at Banc Of California Stadium in Los Angeles, California. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "That was another one of those things. As a 13-year-old kid, IRON MAIDEN was my favorite band. And I'm opening for IRON MAIDEN — main support. I'm standing on the floor that's got all of the — you know how everything there is all branded and they've got stage props and everything's behind me. But then I'm trying not to get in the moment too much, because I don't wanna go, 'Selfie. Look where I'm at.' I don't wanna be that guy because I wanna keep it in check."

Elaborating on why he makes a conscious effort to stay grounded more than three decades into his career, Ward said: "Let's think about all of the crazy people in the music industry that let that get to them. I've had lots of bad interactions with famous musicians over the years that I was a fan of, and I tried to meet them because I'm a fan. At my core, I'm still that 13-year-old kid standing in front of a mirror playing guitar. I'm still a fanboy. And I've had some bad interactions. And those are always because somebody forgot that they didn't cure cancer. They forgot that this is a privileged life that entertainers, people in our business have. It could all go away, and it has. You look at bands like QUIET RIOT who were the biggest band in the world, and two years later they were playing clubs again. It doesn't last forever. None of this stuff is guaranteed. And those bad experiences with people have taught me, when somebody comes up to me, as much as I may be embarrassed by the moment of someone's really wants to meet me and I wanna tell them, 'It's okay. just play guitar.' But I wanna honor that moment by listening to them and stopping what I'm doing to give them that moment, because for them it is important, because I made a song or I was part of something that they enjoyed. And I don't ever wanna take that away from them. And probably, over the 25 or 30 years, 32 years that I've been doing this, I'm sure that I've had a bad interaction. But I make it a point, when people try to talk to me, that I never blow it off as insignificant or make it trivial."

Rich also recalled one rock-star interaction that left a very positive impression on him. He said: "I opened for [IRON MAIDEN's] Bruce Dickinson solo a couple of times with STUCK MOJO. One time is the Milwaukee Metal Fest in 1997, I think, and we shared a dressing room with Bruce Dickinson, because it was like a festival common-area thing, and he had come up on stage and jammed with STUCK MOJO, like, eight months earlier. We played the Roseland Ballroom [in New York City]. It was us and FEAR FACTORY and BIOHAZARD. It was at CMJ. And Bruce was in town to promote his new album 'Accident Of Birth' that was coming out. And we approached him and said, 'Hey, I know it's not your song per se, but we do a cover of [IRON MAIDEN's] 'Wrathchild', if you'd like to come out and sing it with us.' And he was, like, 'Well, I've got some things going on. Maybe. Maybe.' This was sold-out Roseland Ballroom, 3,500 people or whatever. We weren't the headliner, but we were midway in the pack, probably on at, like, eight or nine o'clock at night. And we went onstage. We were all so nervous. 'Is he gonna show up?' We kept looking. It's the singer for IRON MAIDEN. It's my hero. Okay? I've seen him so many times from the front row. And after the third song, I looked over, and there he was standing on the side of the stage. And then we introduced him, and he came up and he sang 'Wrathchild' with us on stage. And it was the greatest moment of my life up until that moment. I was literally trying to stand next to him as close as I could to him the whole time, as much as he would let me. I was a stalker, grade-A stalker at that point. But when I saw him at the Milwaukee Metal Fest eight months later, and I was backstage, he was, like, 'Hey, Rich. How's it going?' He knew my name. And that meant so much to me that I will never not make those efforts, 'cause there are a lot of young bands that grew up that love STUCK MOJO and FOZZY. Some of 'em are in way bigger bands, but in our world, it doesn't matter."

Back in 2016, Ward told the "Behind The Barricade" podcast that the first time he met ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian, "he was a total dick to me. And the second time I met Scott Ian, he was a total dick to me. It was rough, 'cause I'm a big ANTHRAX and Scott Ian fan, so that was really tough," he said. "Because as a fanboy, even though I was making records and I already had success of my own, I was still a little kid in his presence, 'cause [ANTHRAX's classic album] 'Among The Living' was a big record for me."

He continued: "I just remember: don't be a dick to people, Rich. 'Cause you remember how it felt when he was to you. Now, I don't know what he was going through. Maybe he was having a rough day, or maybe he just hated my face — I don't know — but I'm just gonna try not to do that, 'cause I remember it just sucked the way it made me feel afterwards. And I walked away going, 'Damn, man. That was rough.'"

Ward added: "Do I think Scott Ian is a dick? I don't even know, and it's none of my business to say. I just know that, lesson learned: don't treat people shitty when they come up to you and say, 'Hey, I love [STUCK MOJO's] 'Pigwalk'. That was a cool record.' Make sure to shake their hand and say, 'Thank you.' Because if you're a dick to them, not only does that show little class and a lack of appreciation for a real fan, but, also, it just shows you have no class at all and it means you're just a shitty human. And so all of those kind of bad situations, I just turn them back around on myself as a lesson: don't do that. It looks shitty."

FOZZY singer Chris Jericho recently revealed that the band's new single, "Spotlight", which was originally scheduled to arrive on August 25, will now be made available "in the next month or so."

FOZZY's latest album, "Boombox", came out in May 2022 and featured the song "I Still Burn", which recently eclipsed two and a half million views on YouTube. It also included the Top 10 singles "Nowhere To Run" and "Sane".

This past spring, 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 (guitars) and P.J. Farley (bass).

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