On Tuesday, May 24, at 1:00 p.m. PST, all five members of JUDAS PRIEST — Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill, Scott Travis, and the band’s latest addition, 31-year-old guitarist Richie Faulkner (LAUREN HARRIS, DIRTY DEEDS) — will be on hand at the Renaissance Hotel at Highland and Hollywood in Los Angeles to answer questions about the upcoming “Epitaph” U.S. tour and to formally introduce Faulkner.
Renaissance Hollywood Hotel
1755 North Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028
On May 9, longtime Spanish heavy metal journalist Rafa Basa of RafaBasa.com conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford about the departure of the band’s founding member, Kenneth “K.K.” Downing; the addition of Faulkner; and the group’s upcoming “Epitaph” farewell tour.
When asked why JUDAS PRIEST chose to embark on a farewell tour at this point in the band’s career, Halford said, “I think we’re just being very careful. We wanna be able to still do these big shows and to still give out the same kind of power and energy that we’ve always been able to do. And so, 40 years later, we’re doing that really successfully and we feel that we would like this to be a kind of celebration of many, many things about JUDAS PRIEST and give the fans a really, really great metal show. And then maybe just take things easier next time, you know, because… I wish we were all immortal. [Laughs] Metal is immortal [Laughs], but I don’t feel immortal. It’s a lot of reasons, and it happens to everybody in one way or another. I think metal touring is very, very difficult. I mean, you’ve got all the travelling to do and you don’t get much sleep. And it’s different on your body all these years later. PRIEST is famous for these very big, long grueling tours, and we just wanna still be able to make our shows, but we just wanna be able to kind of enjoy them and put on a great performance. But just kind of kick back a little bit and enjoy the golden metal years and still be with our fans, but just on a different level now.”
Regarding whether the next PRIEST studio album will be similar to the band’s last CD, “Nostradamus” (2008), or if it will be a return to a classic PRIEST album format along the lines of “Angel Of Retribution” (2005), Halford said, “Well, I can tell you that it’s gonna be a very strong, powerful, solid heavy metal album with all of the famous things people love about PRIEST — all the big sledgehammer heavy metal riffs from Birmingham and the screaming vocals. And it’s just a very straightforward record as far as looking at our past and all of the wonderful things that we’ve done in heavy metal — from ‘British Steel’ to ‘Painkiller’ to ‘Sad Wings Of Destiny’. We’ve got this wonderful heritage in our music, so I think we’re just letting our heart lead us on this record. It’s not as complicated or as complex in the arrangements as ‘Nostradamus’ was and I think we always felt that it would have been wrong to finish the recording side of PRIEST with ‘Nostradamus’; we felt it was very important to kind of re-focus and put the metal in its place that we’re most famous for, and I think that’s what we’re gonna do with this new record. It’s coming out next year. It’s almost completed. A lot of the songs have been already written, not fully recorded, but all of the arrangements have been made. That’s the time-consuming part — the actual writing of the songs and then getting the arrangements right and all the pieces into place. And then when you go in the studio, the studio is generally a pretty straightforward operation. But we’re excited, yeah. It’s kind of unusual, isn’t it?! ‘Cause it’s farewell, but it’s full of new things; we have a new show, new costumes, new setlist and that’s we’ve always tried to do for our fans and for ourselves — to make every tour special, and that’s definitely the case with this one.”
On the topic of the future of JUDAS PRIEST after the “Epitaph” tour, Halford said, “It’s a very open set of opportunities, of course. We will still be making shows, we won’t be going out on these long, massive world tours as much. But we’ll still be getting together every now and again and doing a festival here and there. Personally, I don’t see any reason why we need to stop the writing and the recording, because that’s always a great joy and pleasure and it’s not as stressful and difficult, physically and mentally, as a tour. So yeah, the future is not really laid out for certain, but I guess we’ll just be and do what we’ve always tried to do as a metal band, which is, in one way or another, still keep recording and still do some shows.”
When asked about JUDAS PRIEST‘s decision to hire a relatively unknown guitar player to replace K.K. Downing, Halford said, “I think it would have diluted the moment if we would have gone with one of our friends. We know some very famous metal guitar players and I’m sure that they would have said, ‘Yeah, I’ll help you out if you need the help.’ But I think we wanted to give this moment its own special feeling. Obviously, nobody can replace K.K. entirely, so I think we worked really hard to find someone of the same caliber and with the same kind of discipline and guitarmanship as K.K.‘s always displayed, and I think we found that in Richie. Richie‘s been around for awhile; he’s already had a successful career up until this point with his solo activities and some of the other bands that he’s worked with. But this is a big leap for Richie to go into a band like PRIEST. And he’s gonna be the right man for the job, you know. It is gonna be a tremendously exciting moment for Richie as a player. I can only imagine what’s going on in his mind. I suppose it’s the same as when Ripper walked out each night; you just have to go out and do your very best, and that’s what Richie‘s gonna do. I think he’s gonna show the metal world that he’s a very competent, exciting player that’s gonna not only be able to do the parts he needs to play but also inject his own special style and technique. And I think the metal fans are really grateful that Richie‘s there, because if Richie was not in the spot, this tour would have been canceled. So, yeah, it’s gonna be tremendous for Richie to be able to do what’s gotta do and he’s gonna do it really well. And I think the fans are gonna love him.”
Rafa Basa‘s entire 27-minute interview with Rob Halford can be streamed using the audio player below.
JUDAS PRIEST‘s “Epitaph” world tour will kick off on June 7 in Tilburg, Holland.
Downing issued a statement last month regarding his departure from the legendary heavy metal group on the eve of its farewell tour. Downing said, “It is with much regret that I will not be with you this summer. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your concerns about my health. Please rest assured that I am OK. There has been an ongoing breakdown in (the) working relationship between myself, elements of the band, and the band’s management for some time. Therefore I have decided to step down rather than to tour with negative sentiments as I feel that this would be a deception to you, our cherished fans. However, I would urge you to please support the PRIEST as I have no doubt that it will be a show not to be missed.”
Photo credit: Andrew Ogilvy