We sit down with Sean Delson of Fozzy to discuss the past and future of the band and ask him about his weapon of choice, the bass guitar.
This interview took place last year prior to a Fozzy gig in Manchester at Moho Live. Since then unfortunately, Delson left the band to resume duties with Agent Cooper (who you should absolutely check out), and has been replaced by Paul Di Leo. If you want to know more about the band check out our Fozzy profile.
On Screen In Stereo: From looking at Twitter, it seems you had a pretty good gig in Nuneaton last night.
Sean Delson: It was amazing; we were blown away by it.
What was it, audience reaction?
Everything, just the turnout, the club was packed, the place was just alive. It was one of those nights, it was our first night over and none of us had ever played that town before. We weren’t really sure what to expect, so we were surprised to say the least, it was awesome. As Twitter has verified.
The VIP tickets to let you meet the band are a really interesting idea, how did that come about?
I’m not sure exactly, so I’m not sure where it originated, who thought it up. It was probably between our manager Marc, Rich or maybe even Chris. Because Chris you know from his wrestling days has seen every gimmick in the book you know what I mean? But it is a unique thing we do, and it does offer fans chance to hang out with us, eat, get to know us as people, just hang out for the day. From what I understand it’s not ever really been done, so we love it you know. We just come out, we ate chicken, it was awesome, we talked about TV shows and where do you live, that kind of thing, so it was kind of cool.
So it’s definitely something that you enjoy doing?
Oh yeah, it’s fun, it’s good. You can get into a good routine but, you can come out and just hang with you good people of the UK, or anywhere is good.
If someone in music or someone in a band tells you “Aww man you can’t do that” I assure you there is someone successful that did that. There is always an exception in music “Aww you can’t do that” I guarantee you someone did.
For those unfamiliar with Fozzy, how would you describe your music?
I know Fozzy is lumped a lot of times into the heavy metal genre, I think we’re drifting into -obviously it’s always going to be metal at the roots – but to me I’m liking the direction it’s almost feeling hard rock. Because there are ballads there, so we’re really opening up the spectrum. I don’t want to be pigeonholed into one style, or this style. We’re a band of pretty competent musicians, if I do say so myself, so we can play anything and I think the last album reflects that. If you compare it to what came before and how the songs are from point A to point B, so I think, what would you think? It’s tough.
It’s a difficult one.
Because you can’t just say it’s one thing.
No, you’re definitely not a band that you can say ‘Oh, they’re this’, because there is definitely influences from many different places.
That’s right, and that’s actually well said, because we draw from so many different decades of music, from the beginning of the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and all the metal that’s followed and just good rock ‘n’ roll. We just put it all together, and that’s Fozzy.
On your bio, you said your favourite bass players are Geddy Lee, Andy West, Jeff Berlin and Dave Benner. What is it about those people that draws you to them?
Well you know, coming up being a bass player, going back many years to say the mid 80’s, when you’re trying to learn something, you want to get good as fast as you can. If you listen to those bass players they are very good. So I really liked Rush because Geddy Lee obviously, it’s a three piece power trio and no one can deny the power of his play. I think with Steve Harris, Maiden was a big influence as well. Jeff Berlin was one of my teachers at the Institute of Music, and Dave Benner also was a student there, who’s a magnificent bassist who showed me a lot of stuff. He’s actually more of a great friend of mine. But I met him in back in the 80’s at the school and he was really good, he had a different approach to the bass, and it kind of helped shape what I’m trying to do these days. I have to keep him in the heart.
So some of them are definitely people that had an influence on your style rather than just an appreciation of their craft?
Yes, yes, Jeff Berlin was a great teacher, and no one’s ever heard of Jeff Berlin. If you’re a bass player, go YouTube some of his old stuff and prepare to feel very bad!
(Directed at photographer, who plays bass) There you go.
Oh I’m telling you, this man will hurt more than your feelings, he’s really good.
On Jeff Berlin, who you studied under, he’s an outspoken advocate of formal music education; having been through that yourself is that something you think everyone would benefit from, or is it more of a person to person basis?
You know, it certainly cannot hurt you in any way. Pat Hicks was the president of the school I went to, and basically I did what I was gonna do and going to school let me, explore and identify what it was I was doing. You know, “Do that cool riff over there”, or in other words, play that G Minor Arpeggio or whatever. I can say, you can explain what it is that you’re playing and it does open up doors, and it’s not going to hurt your playing, it can only help it blossom. Is it necessary to become successful, hell no! Half these guys couldn’t tell you what note they’re playing. But it’s all good, there are no rules in music, that is the first and foremost, most important rule, there are none.
It’s a very good point and I want you to think about this. If someone in music or someone in a band tells you “Aww man you can’t do that” I assure you there is someone successful that did that. There is always an exception in music “Aww you can’t do that” I guarantee you someone did.
Which does lead quite nicely onto the next question. I don’t know if this is something you’ve ever thought about, but there has been a lot of discussion from musicians about the game Guitar Hero, and about it putting people off learning instruments. But you’ve got games now like Rock Band 3 and Rocksmith that actually let you plug in real instruments and play the game with them. Is that something that you think is definitely a good development?
I think it’s a good development for the developers, because they’re all getting rich! (laughs). I wish I’d have thought of it. No I mean it can’t hurt anything. I mean if it’s some kid who might normally not have the chance to learn music, if it helps him pick up a guitar, or the drumsticks or whatever sure, I think it’s a good thing. I tried it once at a friend of mine’s house, it’s alright. Not really something that’s for me but, you know it’s good, I think it’s fun. And plus, if it helps a lot of bands get their music out there further it’s good you know what I mean? These bands like AC/DC or whatever, they’re not only amazing bands, they have been reinvented because of Guitar Hero. It’s good all round.
There is as well with Rock Band, something called the Rock Band Network, which rather than the developers themselves making the songs, anyone can create a track and upload it, so any independent musician can now be seen as technically on the same level as someone like AC/DC.
There you go, how can that be bad? It’s just another way, another avenue in this crazy music business of getting your songs, your music out there. Because you know the whole industry’s just completely changed. If you go back 10 years, fast forward to now, it’s revolutionary what’s happened with the internet. I mean if you remember, cassettes used be the big deal, way back in the day vinyl and then CD and the CD in another few years will be just completely gone. People just aren’t doing what they used to do. So who knows where it’s going. I couldn’t tell you, if I knew that, I’d be rich.
Getting back to Fozzy, you joined in 2004 is that right?
That sounds about right.
Your first record was All That Remains, which was the first all original material. When you joined, had the decision already been made to go all original material, or did you have any influence on that at all?
No, right before I joined Fozzy, I was in Rich’s solo project The Duke, The Duke project the record he did and because of that went on to do Fozzy. And when Rich asked me to do Fozzy he said “Look, we’re not doing the damn wigs, that’s done with, we’re gonna drop the gimmick and move on”, so yeah, crazy story about all that but it’s all worked out.
So how is it that you ended up in Fozzy, is it just because you were in
(interrupts) You want like, the real, true story?
Well, yeah if you’re willing to share it.
It was a real long time ago. The bass player before me, I think his name was Keith, Keith Watson, who I’d met through Rich. And Rich came out and saw my band Agent Cooper play at a music conference, and I think he was looking to see if I was interested in a couple of his solo records, and he came out and watched me play. I’d known him for 10 years prior, we used to work together landscaping and back when Mojo and my old band Salem Ash used to play together, anyway we go way back. So he came up to me after the show and he said listen, I’m looking to do a solo record, and we need a six string bass, and a fretless, and all those things that, hell I went to school for right? He said I wanna do a very personal record, I said of course dude, you have only but to ask. And the other guy got mad, Keith. From what I understand he got “why didn’t you ask me?” And Rich said look it’s nothing to do with Fozzy, or Mojo, don’t feel that way, and he quit. And almost very upset Rich called me and said “Look, we’ve got this gig in Manhattan, in like 48 hours” or something like that, and he says can you do it? And I said, listen. You need me to do it, I will learn these songs, and we will do it, but please be sure, because I’m not learning all this stuff and he’s changed his mind. He called me back, he’d spoke to Chris he said “Look you’re in, can you do it?” I said I’ll learn the songs, and that’s when I played my first Fozzy gig, and that was it.
We draw from so many different decades of music, from the beginning of the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and all the metal that’s followed and just good rock ‘n’ roll. We just put it all together, and that’s Fozzy.
So basically, you started as a stand in essentially, because he’d been left in the lurch?
Pretty much, I mean I played the one gig, and from there we did photos right then and it just took off, and I think Chris, Chris didn’t really know who I was, but once he heard my playing, and he heard my playing on the Duke record. And like you said, perfect timing leading into a new record, we could really open things up again open them up a bunch, so they were gonna get Zak Wilde on the record, Marty Friedman on the record, and Sean Delson.
So it was great timing, and a great fit for everyone involved really.
Yeah, it was fate! How’s that, it was fate.
Fozzy is a band made up of people with other interests, is that difficult for the band to manage at all?
It hasn’t been so far, I mean it’s worked out real well, because we have so many projects, and with a good manager like Marc, he times it all out. We were doing Mojo records in between Fozzy records, and Mojo tours after Fozzy tours, and sometimes actually it was a bonus, because we’d do a 17 day run of the UK, and Chris would have to go back to WWE, and in comes Lord Nelson, “Hey Chris, good to see you”, and then Mojo would take off across Europe for two weeks, and we’d already be here, tickets would already be paid for, so it was basically the same band. And it worked out pretty good actually.
Are there any big differences between Fozzy and Mojo at all? Is it like being in a completely different band, because you share members obviously.
Well, when we’re hanging out as people, no. When we’re hanging out, you know getting something to eat, or hanging out on the tour bus, not really. Musically, it’s different. On the stage it’s very different. Different vibes, and just different energy for each band, they are pretty different, I can say that.
There was quite a gap between All That Remains and Chasing the Grail, but you’ve said you hope to have the new album out early next year, are you going to be going straight into recording after this tour, or is it going to be left for a while?
You know it’s hard to answer that, technically, we should have been recording, it’s just projects have come up and these tours have been going, it’s one of those things, we were supposed be starting on the record this month and up came these great tours, and these festivals, and we’re supposed to go to Japan and Australia, and back here in November and Ireland, so we’ll get it you know it’s just a matter of, it’s not if but when. (Note – The new album, will be called Sin and Bones, and will be released through Century Media Records on August 14th.)
Your bio says that you are the comedian of the band, and at Sonisphere, you are actually playing opposite comedian.
Yeah, I don’t know if you know him, Bill Bailey? He’s a quite famous English comedian.
Oh yeah, I’ve heard of him.
Do you plan to throw in any jokes to try and compete with him?
No I’m going to keep my mouth shut, and my volume turned way up (laughs) and I think I’ll be just fine.
One last question, if you could pick one band, that you aren’t in, that people absolutely have to go out and check out, who would that band be?
A band that I’m not in? They have to absolutely go check out? Well, my mind wants to say Rush, but everybody’s seen Rush haven’t they? Ok, if you’re in a band, and you think you’re a really good musician and you’ve never seen them, you need to go see The Dregs. They were called The Dixie Dregs for a while. Yeah, go see them and then you will realise, how small you really are.