Andy Sneap says that he will continue to play guitar for JUDAS PRIEST "as long as they want me to."
When Glenn Tipton was forced to retire from full-time touring activities due to his diagnosis with Parkinson's disease, he and his PRIEST bandmates opted to hire Sneap to fill in, having gotten to know the British-born, 50-year-old producer when he helmed the group's latest album, "Firepower".
During an appearance on "Talking Bollocks", the monthly metal podcast hosted by ACID REIGN frontman-turned-stand-up-comedian Howard H. Smith, Sneap stated about his PRIEST gig (hear audio below): "It'd be great if Glenn was up there doing it. That's the thing that really… it's always in the back of my mind; it really is. But it's just nice that he asked me to do it. As long as they want me to help out, I'll help 'em out. That's kind of the way I'm looking at it, really."
Asked if he is slated to play any more PRIEST shows in the near future, following the completion of the 2018 and 2019 legs of the "Firepower" tour, Sneap said: "There's the rescheduled Ozzy [Osbourne] dates, which is happening February-March next year, which were meant to be happening in February-March this year. As far as I know, that's all happening. They've asked me to do it. That's the next thing on the horizon with that. And I'm just looking at [producing and mixing] work. I'm meant to be mixing the [new] TESTAMENT album. I'm meant to be mixing it now, but there's a couple of weeks' delay on that, so I'm gonna be looking at that at the end of the month."
Speaking about the challenges of returning to studio work after spending most of the last year and a half on the road with JUDAS PRIEST, Sneap said: "I just did the KILLSWITCH [ENGAGE] mix before this last run. And we had a band for Earache, THOSE DAMN CROWS, that [producer] Colin [Richardson] was doing in the studio as well. So the studio has been up and running a bit. But it's difficult going from playing and doing something that's taking me out of the studio for this amount of time to sort of getting my head back into a dayjob, so to speak. It's enjoyable, but it's a different approach, really. So, I think it'll be good, because I got to a point where I'd done the PRIEST record, I'd done the ACCEPT record and I'd done the SAXON record all in the same year, and I was feeling very — what's the best way of putting it? Not burnt out, but just a little uninspired in a way. Just 'cause it was all back to back, and you're not getting any breathing space or time to stand away from it. So this coming up when it did, it was a good opportunity just to recharge the batteries, really. And rather than just take time off, it kept me in the public eye, and it kept me out there in the world playing music. It was ideal, really. So it's good if I can fit a couple of albums in now before we do this Ozzy run. It's a great chance just to get back into the studio now."
Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease five years ago — after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier — but didn't announce he was going to sit out touring activities in support of "Firepower" until February 2018. The guitarist, who is now 71 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.
PRIEST bassist Ian Hill recently said that it's up to Sneap to decide if he wants to carry on playing guitar for JUDAS PRIEST after the completion of the "Firepower" tour. "It is something to be discussed, really," he told "Talking Metal". "I mean, Andy is now, these days, first and foremost a producer. Whether he wants to go back and do that full time or not, it'll be a mutual decision when the time comes. Andy will be more than welcome to stay. He's done a tremendous job over the last year or so, really. He's done a great job stepping in for Glenn. It would have been very difficult if he hadn't been there, on such short notice, because we didn't realize that Glenn couldn't handle the intensity of touring anymore until… We were only about three weeks away from starting the tour [laughs], and Andy stepped in and did a great job. He pulled a real rabbit out of the hat in learning a complete setlist of songs in such a short period of time. He pulled it off anyway. And as time's gone on, obviously, his stage presence, he got more comfortable with that, and he's performing great now. So when the time comes… We'll give it to the end of this run and then see what everybody wants to do. As I say, he'll be more than welcome to carry on with us if that's his plan."
As previously reported, JUDAS PRIEST will perform at next year's edition of the Wacken Open Air festival, set to take place July 30, 2020 - August 1, 2020 in Wacken, Germany. The show will be part of the British heavy metal legends' 50th-anniversary tour, which is expected to launch next spring/summer.