Robert Cavuoto of Guitar International recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford and guitarist Richie Faulkner. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Guitar International: Some of the songs performed on your new DVD, “Epitaph”, are 20, 30, and even 40 years old. They really stand the test of time and sound fresh and not dated like so many ’80s bands. What’s your take on that?
Rob Halford: [laughs] You’re right. A pop song from the ’60s sounds like a pop song from the ’60s, as it should. There are subtle differences, like in the production of “Turbo Lover” is different than the production of “Nostradamus”. There are certain rock songs that work well today as they did 20, 30, 40 years ago when you play them live, with the modern guitar and drum sound; there is a fluid connectivity that pulls it altogether and makes it work. Having said that, when you strip a song down to its bare bones, if it’s a good song, it should last.
Guitar International: I think PRIEST is one of those rare bands that can go out and play some of the more obscure tracks and diehard fans will go crazy. Is it tough to pick a list that satisfies everyone?
Rob Halford: It’s difficult. When you have the good luck and fortune to have a long life in rock ‘n’ roll, the longer you’re in the game, the more difficult it is because your material is backing up behind you. You have to get the right balance and there are always a handful of songs that you’ve gotta play, like “Breaking The Law” and “Living After Midnight”. The fans made you famous for those songs. Once you got those set, we look to bring in songs that offer a different texture and dynamic. That’s when you look at the little gems like “Starbreaker”, “Blood Red Skies” and “Never Satisfied”. You listen to them and play them and start to make sense of the show. Every song is given its moment, with its smoke, fire, video, lighting, and costume changes. It lives for three-plus minutes. It’s like you’re watching an opera or a musical. You have to think all of that through. Then you go into rehearsal and try it out and you get a hole in one. You don’t have to make changes. Maybe part of it is instinct and part of is intuitive. We seem to have it right from the get-go.
Guitar International: When we last spoke, you said you were in the infancy of writing new songs for the next PRIEST CD. What is the status and do you have any working titles?
Richie Faulkner: No working titles that we can share as of yet, but we are working on the CD.
Rob Halford: The overarching structure and statement of this record is full of PRIEST tradition and heritage. It will be as unique in its own life as all the other records we have made in the past. It’s the right record we need to make after “Nostradamus”. “Nostradamus” was a wonderful achievement but it had a different emotional texture. We need to get back into the groove of metal, heavy riffs, and screaming vocals — all the classic elements of the band. We are not going retro. We know the type of music we need to play. We didn’t commit to a timetable; the label is really supportive so we have this tremendous respect for each other. They know we are doing our best to make another great metal record for them. It’s coming along great; I think we can optimistically be finished at the end of this year.
Guitar International: Are you writing together in the studio?
Richie Faulkner: Yes, about for two months last year, Rob, Glenn [Tipton, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist] and I got together and share ideas to see what sticks. The creative is not being stifled by three-minute song format. There are no confinements or deadlines. We are trying to experiment with some different things.
Rob Halford: It’s fun and thrilling when the three of us get together to write. We will be in the studio listening to a take, and then in the background we hear Richie noodling on the guitar. I’ll go, “What the fuck is that, Richie? What are you playing?” and he re-creates it. We then send him in to record it. That’s the infectious side of how music works. Whenever I hear somebody else from any of the metal bands, I’m instantly inspired. I hear notes and melodies. It’s like a trigger; that’s what happens in your own world.
Read the entire interview from Guitar International.