Interview: Judas Priest
Mon, 09 Jun 2008 11:48:58
Few bands can last for more than a decade. The rock n' roll lifestyle takes its steady toll on your body, mind, soul, heart, liver, tolerance, relationships and many other assorted things in your life. These factors are enough to shorten the lifespan of any band. But most bands aren't Judas Priest, the British Gods of Metal who've been making a glorious racket for several decades now. But make no mistake, Priest have had their share of genre-defining ups and foundation-rattling downs. They endured (and defeated) a lawsuit, when a family claimed that the band's supposed subliminal messages in their music led to their son committing suicide. They lost their singer for a handful of years, and they replaced him with a superfan whose life was somewhat chronicled in the big screen Mark Wahlberg vehicle, Rock Star. But despite these issues, the band still churned out guitar-driven classic heavy metal with soaring vocals. In 2005, Priest welcomed leather-clad prodigal son and former singer Rob Halford back into the fold.
Today, Priest are armed with their first concept album, Nostradamus, based on the life of the ancient prognosticator, and are headlining a major summer tour with Motorhead in tow. We sat down with guitarist Glenn Tipton, who is one half of the band's six-string assault, and talked about the past, the present and the future of his band.
Enlighten us a bit about the concept behind Nostradamus. Why do a concept album at this point in your career, having never done one previously?
With our last album, we weren't sure what direction to go in, so we kicked around the idea of a concept album. Our manager suggested using the story of Nostradamus and once we looked into his life story, it was not so much his predictions, but his story that inspired us. He was an interesting guy, and he foresaw the plague. He was outspoken about what he saw, but the church came after him and his family. So he had to go out and find new beginnings. Whether you believe in his predictions or not, his name is still around 500 years later. The darkness and the mysticism made him a very interesting person who left his mark on history.
Specifically, how does Nostradamus influence the music on the album? It shows that heavy metal is an intelligent genre, which isn't always how it's perceived.
His life, how he lead it and what he accomplished inspired us to put music together around that. It helped the music to flow and for us to tell the story. We touch on the prophecies, of the four horsemen who brought the visions to him. There was plenty of inspiration to create the music. It seemed to inspire us to write. It all fell into place.
This is the second album since Rob Halford's return to the fold. How are things working out?
Oh, it's great. As soon as Rob came back, I said to myself, "We're lucky!" Myself, Rob and [guitarist] KK [Downing] write so well together. It was like he had never been away and we never know what we're going to come up with. It never went away. It just works. We are lucky in Priest, because we are a combination of musicians with a strength of character.
This "Metal Masters" summer tour with Motorhead and Testament is a true metallic tour. What was the impetus for launching such an aggressive, old school tour?
I think that today, a lot of bills and package tours are thrown together with varied acts, with promoters looking to get all sorts of different fans in the building. We are after a classic metal line up, so the audience is in unison with the bands. It's important to have that consistency for us.
Why would newer and younger heavy music fans gravitate towards the new album?
keep reading »
1 | 2