British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST are continuing to work on material for the band's follow-up to "Firepower" album. Released in March 2018, "Firepower" was the second LP to feature Richie Faulkner, who was selected to fill the void left by founding guitarist K.K. Downing following his exit in 2011.
PRIEST singer Rob Halford spoke about the band's next LP in the latest episode of Revolver's "The Last Show", a video series for road crew relief. He said (see video below): "I've got another great bunch of ideas from Richie the other day. He and I are always in touch. He sent me a bunch of riffs and songs — some completed, some half completed. We go back and forth.
"It's a strange way of doing it," he continued. "This is how you utilize technology. Richie is over in Nashville; I'm here in Phoenix right now. And that's the way we go back and forth.
"All songs start with an idea — just a very simple, basic idea. Sometimes it's a complete idea. It will start at the beginning. And we've had a lot of fun — Richie and I — putting together some of these vibes. And then we generally go back over to England and we hook up with Glenn [Tipton, guitar] and with Ian [Hill, bass], and Scott [Travis, drums] comes over, and Andy [Sneap, producer and touring guitarist] is there, of course, in the mix. And hopefully we'll get Tom Allom back in production. In fact, I'm pretty sure that'll happen as we make the next PRIEST album; we'll have Tom there. Those guys did a great job with the 'Firepower' record, and so we're gonna dive in and get that work completed as soon as we possibly can. That's what we do. PRIEST make records."
Halford also talked about how PRIEST's touring plans for 2020 have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic which has been sweeping the globe. He said: "We were planning to get this tour running, weren't we? Like so many bands, we had festivals lined up and our own shows to do. It's all been put on hold. We'll get to them eventually. I don't know what shape or form they're gonna take, how we're gonna rethink this. We need that vaccine, don't we? It's just inconceivable to think of putting 80,000 people at [the] Wacken [Open Air festival] in Germany shoulder to shoulder. We've all gotta keep safe. Life is a precious, precious gift, not just for ourselves but for each other, especially in what we call our heavy metal community.
"As far as PRIEST is going, we're looking at [rescheduling] everything for 2021," he revealed. "[Our management] is working with Live Nation and all the other promoters to try and reshuffle everything, much like all the other bands are going with their people that work for 'em — the management and so forth, agents."
According to Rob, PRIEST's "50 Heavy Metal Years Tour" celebrating the band's 50th anniversary will "be a great show; it's gonna be an amazing show. We've been working on production for over a year, putting together this incredible show for our PRIEST family and for anybody that wants to come and check out the PRIEST on our 50th anniversary… PRIEST has been working hard, as I say, for quite a while now, putting together a really, really spectacular 50th-anniversary show that we hope will give some kind of justice — if justice is the right word — to the legacy of PRIEST as we hurtle on."
JUDAS PRIEST's spring/summer 2020 European tour was scheduled to kick off on May 30 in Helsinki, Finland and conclude on July 28 in Tilburg, the Netherlands. The band was also slated to headline the U.K's Bloodstock Open Air festival on August 9 at Catton Park, Derbyshire.
The U.S. leg of the "50 Heavy Metal Years" tour was due to launch September 9 in Oxon Hill, Maryland and wrap up on October 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
"Firepower" entered the Billboard 200 chart at position No. 5, making it PRIEST's highest-charting album ever. "Redeemer Of Souls" debuted and peaked at No. 6, while 2008's "Nostradamus" landed at No. 11 and 2005's "Angel Of Retribution" came in at No. 13.
"Firepower" moved 49,000 equivalent album units in first week of release. Of that sum, 48,000 were in traditional album sales, just shy of the 54,000 copies sold by "Angel Of Retribution" in that album's first week. The "Firepower" chart position was bolstered by sales generated from a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer in association with the band's spring 2018 North American tour.
Across the pond, "Firepower" landed at position No. 5 on the U.K. album chart. It marked the band's highest ranking, and first time in the Top 10, since "British Steel" reached No. 4 in 1980. Elsewhere, "Firepower" also became PRIEST's first-ever No. 1 in Sweden.