Rocksins covering Fozzy is like an English Premier League football fixture, you know it’ll happen at some point in the calendar. So what better way to help kick off 2013 than an exclusive interview with Fozzy’s man from behind the kit, the drum machine that is Frank Fontsere. Frank chatted to Jamie before Fozzy’s show at the Electric Ballroom last month on their co-headline UK tour with Soil (read a review of their Electric Ballroom show here) and talked about touring Australia, the bands plans for the future and Download as well as many other things. Please read on for the exclusive:
Jamie: Standard question to kick things off, how’s the tour been so far?
Frank: It’s been great, the crowds have been great, we’re co-headlining with Soil who are a great band. We get along with them very well. Probably half of the shows have sold out and the other half have come close. Aside from the English weather it’s been great! *laughs*
Jamie: Did you guys get hit with the snow wherever you were first thing this morning?
Frank: No, that’s the lucky thing, we haven’t had any snow or even a lot of rain or anything like that, it’s just been really cold. Knock-on-wood we won’t have to deal with anything like that while we’re here. Other than the fact it’s cold the tour has been great.
Jamie: How was performing at Hard Rock Hell for the first time?
Frank: It was fantastic! It was a great show, really strange venue…
Jamie: The holiday camp?
Frank: Yeah, it’s in Wales and it’s at a holiday camp and it’s so weird to see this place on the water where it’s trying to be a beach resort but when its cloudy and rainy and freezing cold. So it was an odd juxstaposition you could say. The venue was a good venue but it was weird to see a Burger King in the back of the venue while you’re playing! It was strange but it was a packed house, great crowd, nice stage with good PA. Buckcherry headlined the festival. It’s really odd playing an indoor festival, when it’s a festival you’re so used to it being open air.
Jamie: I guess the indoor festival is more common in the US isn’t it?
Frank: Yeah, so it was more just like a really, really big club gig. But it was fun, it was a really good thing for us to do and we had a great time.
Jamie: Speaking of US festivals, how was the Uproar Festival? (Touring US festival)
Frank: Oh man, that was just….Uproar was a dream come true really. We had a great slot everyday, we had a great bus and a great crew. It was one of those tours where everything just fell into place. It went SO well you started to feel like “when is the other shoe going to drop?” you know? There was literally not one bad thing about it, there was not one wrinkle.
Frank: Truly. All the crowds were great, all the shows were great, all the bands got along great. If I could do Uproar like ten months out of the year and take two months off I would.
Jamie: How did this co-headlining tour with Soil come about? I know Chris has said when I interviewed him a couple of years ago back then he wasn’t keen to do support tours or anything like that at that point.
Frank: I know we have the same booking agent and I think they suggested it. To be honest with you that’s one of those business decisions that I don’t have too much to do with so it’s hard for me to answer that accurately. But we know they’re a great band and we draw kinda the same audience and I think it was just one of those things somebody suggested and they laid it all out and it looked right so we said we’ll do it.
Jamie: You guys returned to Download this Summer after seven years, how was that?
Frank: That was amazing. We played on the second stage, we were the first band on…luckily we didn’t play on the Friday, with all the flooding on the Friday we probably wouldn’t have been able to play at all..
Jamie: Yeah they pulled the first couple of bands off of every stage on the Friday.
Frank: Yeah, and even though we were officially the first band on on the Saturday there was a band before us so if that had happened on the Friday we might not have gotten to play at all. But yeah, Download did a lot for us! Everybody told me that they’d never seen so many people there that early.
Jamie: It was absolutely rammed.
Frank: It was jam packed man, I dunno maybe 20,000 people?! We got a great reception, we played really well, we got a great write up in Kerrang for that. It was a great experience and doing Download did a lot for us. It’s still paying dividends now. I dunno if bands get to do Download two years in a row, I know we’re doing Bloodstock this year which is another great festival. I hope they have us back to Download in 2013, I don’t know if we’ll get to it or not. But we’ll just keep doing as many things as we can.
Jamie: Sin & Bones has been out for a little while now and the reaction seems to have been very good. You got good press for Chasing The Grail (previous album) but it seems to have gone up another level with Sin & Bones and you guys must be thrilled?!
Frank: Yeah, I mean all you want to do is keep moving forward and moving up. You don’t want to lose any ground and we’re really grateful that people have responded to this record in the way they have. We certainly feel like it’s the best thing we’ve done. All of us are immensely proud of it and I think it’s really the first time…the band has had some membership changes over the years and it’s the first time that a lineup went out and toured, and then recorded a record…
Jamie: And the same lineup is now out touring the new record?
Frank: Exactly. So it feels like “a band album” more than the others have. Paul and Billy weren’t involved in Chasing The Grail and came on afterwards but we toured with them and wrote the new record with them..Rich predominently writes the music but he had input from both Billy and Paul. Paul wrote all of his bass lines so it feels much more of a band album than a project that someone put together and then a band tours behind it. I think the song writing is better and the production is better. Every band always says “Oh this is the best thing we’ve ever done” but in all honesty I still listen to this record just for my own enjoyment.
Jamie: Well that’s a good sign!
Frank: When I got the first cut of an advanced copy when it was mixed and mastered a few months before the release I couldn’t stop listening to it. I’m a fan of the album as much as anybody else. We’re already starting to think about the next record so we’re just going to try to top it and keep trying to top it. we’re never going to stop trying to better it.
Jamie: You and Rich have worked together now for a number of years across a number of different bands. What do you think it is about your relationship that has made it so successful and allowed you to do so many different things together?
Frank: There’s a lot of luck involved just in the way we approach playing and the way we approach our instruments that we just have a chemistry together. Being a drummer I think rhythmically, obviously and as a guitar player he thinks very rhythmically. It’s all about the foundation of how things fit together because you can take two amazing players and put them together and it doesn’t always work. His guitar playing and my drumming just work together. We’ve played together and we’ve played in different projects away from each other. I’ve been in the band and out of the band and it just always came down to the fact that we are a rhythm section together. Especially now with Paul in the band who’s every bit a machine on the bass as Rich is on the guitar, the rhythm section is more solid than it’s ever been. It’s actually kinda scary how well the three of us can play together.
Jamie: Fozzy are going to Australia at the start of 2013 for the Soundwave Festival, is that the first time you will have been to Australia?
Frank: No this will be the third time. We went once in 2005 and did an Australian tour in 2005 and we did another Australian tour in late 2010. We’ve been invited to Soundwave which is amazing because Metallica are headlining and it’s a big festival tour just like Uproar is. We’re not quite sure what to expect because we’ve never done it before but everybody tells us it’s amazing so we’re really looking forward to that one.
Jamie: I’ve spoken to a lot of bands who say it is one of their most favourite things to do and they always want to go back and would do it every year if they could.
Frank: We’re very fortunate to have been invited to go do that. We’ve had two great tours of the country and we have fantastic fans in Australia and there’s been a lot of good buzz on the web about us coming to do Soundwave so I’m really looking forward to it. I think we’ve got about ten weeks after this tour to get ready for it. We’ve got time off for Christmas after this tour and then we were supposed to have a tour in January but that’s fallen through and it’s a bit late to put anything together to replace it now so Soundwave in late February will be the beginning of the Fozzy year. So we’ve got ten weeks and I’m just looking forward in that time to preparing and being ready to be the band that everyone talks about. That was our goal with Uproar, we wanted to be “the buzz band” or the band that everyone was talking about and I think we went a long way to making that happen. We sold a lot of merchandise and I think we were in the top four of all the bands on the festival in terms of merch sellers including the big guys on the big stages. We had tons of people coming to get autographs every day and I think we really opened peoples eyes as to who we were and we really want to do that again with Soundwave.
Jamie: You guys have been here a lot of times, particularly on Chasing The Grail you were here three or four times, do you have any one tour or even one show that you’d pick out as a favourite or anything that stands out for you?
Frank: Well Download for sure! That was massive, that was the biggest show we’ve played over here and we got a response of almost like a headlining band. The two times we’ve played Download have been amazing. England is like our second home and we’ve really been embraced here so every time we play here even if it’s a tiny place it’s always packed with great receptions from the fans. So aside from playing the big outdoor shows like Download it’s hard to pick a favourite. I’m really looking forward to tonight because I’ve never played this venue and It’s a really nice venue.
Jamie: It’s definiely one of London’s nicest venues before you get up to the big ones.
Frank: It’s the perfect place for us to play. But I think overall last time for Download would have to be the big highlight because it was a dream come true.
Jamie: Fantastic. Is there anything in the Fozzy diary besides Soundwave and Bloodstock for 2013 yet?
Frank: Those are the only things that I know of that are confirmed. We’ve got a lot of things that we’re working on. We’re trying to make 2013 a very busy, active year for us and I hope it is because I want to keep active. I know that there’s a lot of stuff in the pipeline as you say and being worked on but the only things confirmed as of now are Soundwave and Bloodstock, but that will change because there’s a lot being worked on.
Jamie: Has Chris set 2013 as a “Fozzy year” to prioritise the band over his other commitments?
Frank: I believe so. He has another thing, this television show that he’s been working on. I know what it’s about but I can’t remember the actual name of it but I think he’s just got a little bit more filming to do on that when we get home and then he’s done. It’ll air sometime in 2013 but we should be spending most of that time on the road and starting to spend time on the next record. We’re not gonna let five years go before the next record, it will not be 2017 before we put out another record I can promise you that.
Jamie: Do you think maybe early 2014?
Frank: I think that’s a good thing to shoot for, maybe even late 2013. I know we want to get something out there quickly so I can’t imagine it would be any later than say February 2014 at the latest i would think.
Jamie: Just one last question, as we ask this to everybody, are you a fan of The Simpsons?
Frank: Do I like The Simpsons? Yeah! I’m not like a fanboy like I haven’t watched all of the episodes and collected the DVDs but I’m a fan.
Jamie: Do you have a favourite character?
Frank: Probably Homer because I can relate to Homer *laughs*
Jamie: I think a lot of us can!
Frank: I’ve ended up having to say “D’oh!” a lot of times in my life, so I’d probably say Homer because I can relate to him.
Jamie: Awesome, thanks very much man.
As stated, Fozzy will be hitting Australia next month for the 2013 Soundwave Festival headlined by Metallica. Since this interview was conducted Fozzy have announced a co-headlining tour of the UK with Drowning Pool, the details of which can be read here. Their next festival appearance in the UK is at the Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2013 in Derbyshire in August which is headlined by Lamb of God, Slayer and King Diamond. As always the latest news from Fozzy as well as interviews with rock & metal’s finest musicians will be available here at Rocksins.com so please keep checking in with us.