JUDAS PRIEST bassist Ian Hill recently spoke to KNAC.com about the group's reunion with Rob Halford, the upcoming studio album, and the band's decision to take part in this year's Ozzfest. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
KNAC.com: Do you remember the first song JUDAS PRIEST performed with Rob after he came back?
Ian Hill: "It was either 'Livin' After Midnight' or 'Green Manalishi' — I can't remember which. In fact, I think it might have been 'Green Manalishi'."
KNAC.com: So it wasn't just like you had just played it with him yesterday?
Ian Hill: "It was… we were all just really a bit rusty after having been in the studio concentrating on new material for the past seven or eight months. Then, we just fired it up and the first song we did was 'Green Manalishi'. We hadn’t played together in about thirteen years. It was a magic moment."
KNAC.com: How did that feel for you? It had to be just a rush of emotion.
Ian Hill: "Speaking for myself, I believe I felt apprehensive to start with. Even though we had just been living with the guy and working on the new album, I was still really apprehensive going back to the old stuff and wondering how it was going to sound. After about the third bar, I was thinking this was pretty fucking great, you know? It was brilliant after that. Then, we just went through this prospective set list that we had put together, and then after that we just played through the whole thing from start to finish and everybody just kind of fell back into the routine. It was marvelous. I really enjoyed it."
KNAC.com: Was it hard for you personally to put aside many of the negative statements that have been said over the years? Or did you find that it just all fell away when you started playing?
Ian Hill: "It did all kind of just go away although there had been a lot of mudslinging at the start. There was a lot of mudslinging and bitterness, but Rob attempted to rebuild the bridges awhile back with his mother's golden wedding anniversary — I think that's what it was. Since I used to be married to Rob's sister, they wanted me to come. Then, Rob being the diplomatic guy that he is, invited the whole band. It started just that way. Even then, when he walked through the door, it just sort of all just fell away. That really was probably the start of the comeback. It was the start of the reunion."
KNAC.com: It's amazing that something that simple was enough to break the ice.
Ian Hill: "Yeah, just being able to break the ice was the start. The timing was absolutely perfect as well. Beforehand, we had opportunities to do it even though that isn't to say we weren’t determined to make it in our own right with Ripper, just like Rob was determined to make it with his band. Even though that was the case, whenever it seemed like it would be possible, it always seemed like Rob was just finishing something or we were just starting something. This time around, we were just coming out with a box set, 'Metalogy', and we met at Rob's house to discuss it and the packaging. That just put us all back together again which turned out to be bloody great. It just went on from there."
KNAC.com: Does it seem ridiculous to you that the thirteen year separation ever took place if all it took to get you guys back together was a CD cover and a family celebration?
Ian Hill: "I don't know. We knew that getting back together was always going to happen someplace. It was just inevitable. We were all doing things on our own, and we were all truckin' along. In the end, people just wanted to hear JUDAS PRIEST with Rob Halford. I think Ripper always realized that, and in the end, I think it did him a perverse favor. As long as he was in this band and playing all these older songs, Ripper was always just going to be filling someone else's shoes regardless of how good he was, and he was darn good. He is just a phenomenal vocalist and a great guy, and I'm convinced that he has a bright future ahead of him. Now he can go off and make it in his own right, with his own band, with his own lyrics, and do it himself rather than hitching a ride on the back of us."
Read Ian Hill's entire interview with KNAC.com at this location.