JUDAS PRIEST's TIPTON On Reunion With HALFORD: 'If We Don't Do It Now, Maybe We Never Will'

JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Glenn Tipton has spoken to Billboard.com about the group's decision to reteam with estranged lead singer Rob Halford for a new album and tour in 2004, marking the veteran British heavy metal band's 30th anniversary.

"We all agreed that we feel the time is right," Tipton said. "Everything just seems to have locked into place, and we just felt like we wanted to do it now, and maybe if we don't do it now, we never will."

Even though the rumors of a reunion have circulated for the last several years, Tipton insists that the band made the decision only last week. "We've been bonding our friendship again with Rob over the last two years or so, and we've had a lot of offers to reunite, but we've all been doing our own things," he said. "We've only just come to a point where we felt everything's right.

"Obviously when we split there was a lot of animosity and we didn't speak for a number of years," Tipton continued. "I saw [Halford] for the first time in years about two years ago, and it was very emotional. Anything that was said or done was all forgotten. We've been together for 30 years and we've been through a lot together in this band. It just needed time really. We all did our own thing, and it ran its course. It's all about timing."

Halford's return to the group will mark the departure of his replacement in the band, Tim "Ripper" Owens. The former singer of the JUDAS PRIEST tribute band BRITISH STEEL was featured on the group's last two studio albums, 1997's "Jugulator" (CMC) and 2001's "Demolition" (Atlantic), plus the concert set "98 Live Meltdown" (CMC).

"There is no one who could have stepped into Rob's shoes except Ripper," Tipton enthused. "He's been fantastic. We told him last week, and basically, he said, 'Look, I've got to agree with you.' He's a big PRIEST fan. And he's been a real gentleman about it."

With regards to the prospect of a new JUDAS PRIEST album, Glenn said, "Rob is a great lyricist. And it's the old team back together, it's the three of us [Halford, Tipton and Downing] writing and it's exciting because that is the team that's written PRIEST classics for the last 30 years. There's just some magic about it and we shall just proceed and start where we left off, really. I'm sure the floodgates will open. It's been a long time and we're quite eager to get going, so that's when you usually write your best material."

JUDAS PRIEST expect to begin work on new material in September and will embark on a lengthy world tour to promote their next CD, due in late 2004.

Also in the works is a JUDAS PRIEST box set, described by Tipton as "a retro-album, right from the old record days right through to the Ripper years. There are lots of things in the pipeline and lots of things we'll be working on."

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