eFestivals caught up with Fozzy's guitarist Richard Ward shortly after their appearance at this summer's Download 2014.
How was it playing to the Download crowd?
Amazing. The fact we were on the main stage at noon, high noon. It was like the old west at High noon comes the gun fight, but with guitars and drums instead of guns. It was amazing 50,000 people who wake up early and get out of their tents and got into this. We had a fresh crowd being the second band of the day. The sound was brilliant on stage and I heard the sound was brilliant out front. We had a good time. Sometimes at festivals you have a good gig but you don’t have fun because of technical issues, because there are no sound checks or elaborate getting ready. You just get on and get off.
The only band that get a sound check for 15 or 20 minutes will be the headliners. Everybody else will just show up and play. So any technical problems you may have, will just plague you throughout the set, because you can’t make changes, you roll through it. The more gigs you play and the more experienced you become the more that you can keep it out of your head and you got on with the business of putting on a good show.
All of these people have spent a lot of money to come here, and it’s very expensive to come to these festivals and you want make sure that you don’t let your problems effect your show because you want to respect the fans commitment and their investment in the festival. Lets face it without these fans there is nothing for us bands to do. Its a relationship that we like to honour and take off, that being said today there were zero problems, which was really good. Everyone was just loving life and we had the best time and the crowd was so responsive. It couldn’t have gone better.
Is there more pressure on performing at your own headlining tour than performing at a festival as big as Download?
No, I’ve gotten to the point where, well I’m 45, I’ve made 17 albums and I feel that I’ve gotten to the point now I really feel like that with age comes wisdom hopefully. You learn how to balance pressure, internalise it, and you just learn if you are prepared properly. All the things that it takes, equipment, physically am I sleeping enough on tour, am I taking care of myself, hows my diet, am I exercising, all of the things that the average fan doesn’t think about because they just see you playing on stage.
But obviously being physically fit is important for us to be able to put on a show. Its not for vanity purposes, I don’t care about having a six pack, I just care about being prepared because what happens when you get tired, you get fatigued, what happens when you get fatigued, your hands don’t work as well, you become short of breath and can’t sing as well.
All of these things go into putting on a big rock concert. So I’m prepared, if i go into a show knowing im prepared and i feel good then there is no pressure. Because its like a footballer or formula one racing car driver, if you are prepared then nothing scares you. If I’m training and practising everyday and well rehearsed then there is no pressure. The only pressure comes when you have not prepared well. If you are a younger band and you don’t have a lot of gigs under your belt then maybe you are still nervous even if you are prepared. My point is that i have done enough of these gigs that I know if ive gone through my checklist, how do I feel? Have i eaten breakfast, have i eaten lunch, etc then i know if Im going to have a good gig?
Will you have time to catch any of the other bands at Download this weekend?
I am going to catch Twisted Sister later.
When will your album “Do you Wanna Start a War” be released?
The album will be released on July 22nd and will be available from itunes.
Do you have any advice for any readers thinking about trying to become a successful band?
Do it with pure motives. Don’t do it because you want to be famous. Otherwise just get a job and then play music at the weekends in your local pub and be a local hero. You will never make it unless you love it. The reason is because it is so hard. I was homeless for almost three years because you can’t pay rent or a mortgage and you can’t have a car payment if you have to go and play three hundred shows for free. Think about it, how do you get discovered as a band? You get in the band and you go and play places.
But why would a place pay you? They don’t know who you are. You don’t have an audience, you don’t have a record deal. So you play for free.But you are hoping that next time you come through you will be paid as the people that you won over will want to come back. You network with other bands and hope you can open for someone. The goal is you go and work, and you work because you love it. If you are lucky after two or three years you will get a record deal. Then if you are lucky you will start winning over a larger fan base and then a few years later you will start making some money. So you have to decide early on if you love this. It’s not easy.
Can the UK expect to see you touring soon?
Yes, in October/November.
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