JUDAS PRIEST bassist Ian Hill was recently interviewed by veteran Japanese rock journalist Masa Itoh. You can now listen to the chat below.
Asked how JUDAS PRIEST came to choose "Firepower" album producer Andy Sneap to step in for guitarist Glenn Tipton on the band's upcoming tour in support of the disc, Ian said: "It probably came from during the recording of the album. Andy is a very good guitarist, an excellent guitarist in his own right, and I think Glenn got to know Andy and got to trust Andy, which is very important. We wanted someone who we knew as well, if at all possible. The last thing you want is somebody coming in with their own baggage, if you know what I mean. And we can trust Andy to do a good job, and I think he'll do justice to the songs. And that was the main thing — I think it was the familiarity with Andy. We had great respect for him — before we met him, we had great respect for him. But with the work he did on the album — I mean, it sounds phenomenal; he did a tremendous job with that. We're doing songs off the new album, which he is totally familiar with, and he knows a lot of the parts anyway from that. And he's also a PRIEST fan — he's been listening to us for years — and he fits the slot perfectly. I think he'll fit in and I think he'll do a tremendous job."
Regarding whether he has ever seen Andy perform before, Ian said: "Yes, funny enough, I went to see him… We had a bit of a break in recording last year, last summer, and Andy's got a band called HELL. And they were playing at Bloodstock festival, which is literally five miles from where I live. I'd never been, [but] I hear it every year — I hear it from my garden. So I was, 'Oh, I'll go see Andy.' And I didn't realize… I'd only heard recordings, but he's a great guitarist, and he's a good performer as well, a great performer on stage. But the thing was, I was walking around backstage and everybody [said to me], 'Oh, you're here to check it out for next year?' [And I said], 'No.' And, of course, not only are we playing Bloodstock this year, we've also got Andy Sneap on stage with us as well. So it's a little bit of a… a bit of karma there maybe. [Laughs] But, yeah, I've seen him play, to answer your question. He's a good performer — a very good performer."
Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 10 years ago, but only recently announced he was going to sit out touring activities in support of "Firepower". The guitarist, who is now 70 and has performed on every PRIEST album since the band's 1974 debut set, "Rocka Rolla", is not quitting the band, but simply cannot handle the rigorous challenges of performing live.
The North American leg of the "Firepower" tour will kick off tonight (Tuesday, March 13) in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and will wrap on May 1 in San Antonio, Texas.