Andy Sneap says that filling in on guitar for an ailing Glenn Tipton on JUDAS PRIEST's current tour has been "a great experience."
Taking his first professional steps into the world of metal during his teen years, the U.K.-based Sneap has spent decades as one of the most respected musicians and music producers in heavy music, having worked with such bands as EXODUS, TESTAMENT, KREATOR, ARCH ENEMY, SAXON, MEGADETH and most recently JUDAS PRIEST, whose acclaimed latest album, "Firepower", was co-produced by Andy.
Asked by ESPGuitars.com what he would have said if someone had told him at age 15 that he would be onstage with one of the most legendary bands in metal, Andy responded: "Even if someone had told me a year ago, I wouldn't have believed it. It's an odd set of circumstances how it's come about, but in terms of just playing and being on tour and onstage, it's good for me. Working with the band in the studio, producing them for most of last year and now playing live with them — the change is nice. A change is as good as a rest, as they say. It's fun to go out and play again. To be able to go back and do something where my heart is, with guitar playing on this level. It's a great experience."
Andy admitted that there was a bit of an intimidation factor when he first began working with JUDAS PRIEST. "It's the highest level, isn't it?" he said. "I'm not usually nervous at all when I meet bands, but it doesn't get any bigger than PRIEST. I'll tell you, it was very surreal. I was sitting there talking to them for the first time, and hearing myself say, 'I think you should do this and that,' or, 'I want to try and get a rougher edge here,' and so on. And in my head, I'm screaming, 'They haven't even employed me yet! Calm down!' But somehow I said the right things, and they got me onboard. They really are some of the easiest-going guys you'll meet in the business."
Asked if he felt there was something specific he could bring with him when walking in to produce "Firepower", Sneap said: "The attitude I had was that of a fan. I grew up with this music. A band can be in a bubble. It's a world they create around them and they can be cut off or not quite aware of what the fans want to hear. So you'll have these thoughts… make it more of a live feel, or that it needs more energy, or whatever. There's that side, and then also the music side, with arrangements and key changes and all that. Mostly what I bring with me now is experience. I've been doing this for 25 years now. You draw from all that experience, and I guess I've reached that point where I have something to offer. It's a lot of fun as well. But I'm still a huge fan of this music."
Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease four years ago — after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier — but only recently announced he was going to sit out touring activities in support of "Firepower". The guitarist, who is now 70 and has performed on every PRIEST record since the band's 1974 debut set, "Rocka Rolla", is not quitting the band, but simply cannot handle the rigorous challenges of performing live.
"Firepower" entered the Billboard 200 chart at position No. 5, making it PRIEST's highest-charting album ever.
JUDAS PRIEST's co-headlining North American tour with DEEP PURPLE launched August 21 in Cincinnati and will conclude September 30 in Wheatland, California.