Ian Hill has shot down rumors that JUDAS PRIEST's current run of dates in support of the "Firepower" album is the band's last extensive world tour. Speaking to The Metal Crypt, the bassist said: "No. It was never intended to be the last tour. We are out supporting a new record. We did try to slow down a couple of tours ago, and that didn't happen. We just miss it too much. We enjoy doing it, as long as we are capable of doing it. I'm not talking about hobbling around in wheelchairs; I'm talking about putting on quality show. As long as we are still capable of doing that, there's no reason not to do it. We've got Richie [Faulkner on guitar] now, who's young as well. He's got a great future beyond JUDAS PRIEST."
He continued: "When the time does come [to retire from touring], it will come inevitably. When that will be — perhaps, two years, three years, five years — who knows? We'll keep it going as long as we can, because we love it so much."
Hill also talked about the possibility of a new JUDAS PRIEST studio album and another run of shows following the completion of the "Firepower" tour.
"I think we all regard ourselves these days to be more of a touring band than an album band," he said. "There's no reason why there shouldn't be another album, but there's no reason why there shouldn't be another tour either. There'll probably be another cycle come along in a few years' time. We'll see where we stand at that time then. We still have 18 months of this to go yet and we'll see where we stand after that."
The "Firepower" trek is PRIEST's first since guitarist Glenn Tipton announced that he was retiring from the road due to his battle with Parkinson's disease. He is being replaced on tour by "Firepower" album producer Andy Sneap, also known for his work as the guitar player in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT.
"Andy was in a good place because we'd just spent months with him doing the new record," Hill told The Metal Crypt. "He was very familiar with the new material, with the structures of the songs and where that'd be going which is important when you're trying to learn anything. If you know the song before you try and learn it, it comes... Well, nothing's easy but it's not too difficult. On top of that, he's been a fan of the band as well, for years. He's been listening to our material, so it came easier to him than it would probably have to somebody else who came in blind. They would have had a tougher time. He pulled a rabbit out of the hat, really. Within two weeks, he got the set together. He's doing a tremendous job at the moment. Now, after the first couple of weeks of the American tour, which started in February, March, he's now more comfortable on stage as well. He's got his own stage persona and what have you. We're working very well with Andy at the moment."
Hill went on to say that he is "sure" Andy was nervous when he first started playing with PRIEST. "He's a professional man and he wouldn't do anything unless he did it properly," he said. "Like I said, he put his mind to it. He's a very talented bloke. Like I said, he got the set together within two weeks. We've been throwing curveballs at him ever since. We've been adding songs and dropping songs, new ones. It's been a bit of a learning curve for all of us in that respect. It's songs on a new record, and obviously, you're familiar with them, but not played them live on stage. He's done well. He's done really, really well."
"Firepower" was released on March 9 via Epic.
The North American leg of the "Firepower" tour kicked off on March 13 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and wrapped on May 1 in San Antonio, Texas.