On Monday, May 5, Eddie Trunk — co-host of the VH1 Classic television program "That Metal Show" — conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST members Glenn Tipton (guitar), Rob Halford (vocals) and Richie Faulkner (guitar) for Eddie's show "Trunk Nation", which airs live Mondays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST on SiriusXM's Hair Nation, XM channel 39 and Sirius channel 39. A few excerpts from the chat follow below (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the amount of time it took to put together JUDAS PRIEST's new studio album, "Redeemer Of Souls":
Halford: "Six years has whizzed by, but in that time, of course, we did not only the 'Nostradamus' tour, but the 'Epitaph' tour as well. Then we got into writing mode and made 'Redeemer Of Souls'. So we ain't been hanging out doing nothing."
Tipton: "It's 18 or 19 tracks — I can never remember — so there's a big chunk of work there. But we enjoyed it. It's returning back to the roots of PRIEST. It's classic PRIEST."
Halford: "When we finished 'Epitaph', we just got so buzzed from the fans and the reaction wherever we went. Just to put the 'Epitaph' tour together, which was we tried to put a song from every record into the show, and we were living in the life of JUDAS PRIEST, all those decades, in one show, night after night on the world trek, and I think that really did something to us internally; as musicians, it should do when you tour. So we realized that this next record really had to be really strong, full of energy, because it's relentless, the tracks are relentless. The energy that you feel off 'Redeemer Of Souls' is replicated in that direction time and time and time again."
On whether they still feel good about "Nostradamus" six years after the album's release:
Tipton: "Yeah. [We're] absolutely proud of the album. Yeah, it was a little bit off the wall, and it wasn't quite a small element of people expected from PRIEST, and maybe they would prefer a more PRIEST classic album. But we've done it now, with 'Redeemer Of Souls', a completely classic PRIEST album, and probably the same element will turn around and say, 'I wish they'd tried something a bit different.' So you can't please all of the people all of the time, or some of the people some of the time, whatever that saying is. But we enjoyed writing ['Nostradamus']… A lot of it was done on keyboards, wasn't it?! We wanted to do a concept album. We've always wanted to do something that was a bit different, and we've never been afraid to experiment and try. You never know how it's gonna turn out, but you've gotta try these things and we're very proud of that album. And the small element, again, that said, 'We want more classic PRIEST,' we listened — you've gotta listen to your fans — and that's what we've done now. And you couldn't have a more classic album than 'Redeemer Of Souls'."
Halford: "If you look at bands of longevity, like PRIEST, you see the trail of music that we've left, I don't think we could have probably made as great a record as we have with 'Redeemer Of Souls' if we didn't have 'Nostradamus' as a reference point. It's a stepping stone to the next place. Every record that we've made, we've tried to give it some distinction, some separate identity. 'British Steel' doesn't sound like 'Stained Class', 'Stained Class' doesn't sound like 'Painkiller', 'Painkiller' doesn't sound like 'Defenders Of The Faith'… So I think everything has its place and has its moments, and we've always fed off these different areas that we've gone into with our metal. So thanks to 'Nostradamus', we've got 'Redeemer Of Souls'."
On how guitarist Richie Faulkner's addition to JUDAS PRIEST has changed the band's outlook on its future following the departure of founding PRIEST axeman K.K. Downing:
Tipton: "Richie came in and energized the band a lot. And when I say that, before anybody reads it wrong, I'm talking about energized me, certainly… I'm getting on a bit now, and we're all from a different generation than Richie comes from, so he came in and really did energize the band. And not only that, his contribution, particularly to the writing, is unbelievable, because he came in and fitted in, slotted in straight away. But that's because he did his homework, and he's always been a PRIEST fan. He listened to PRIEST and he knew what he needed to bring to the table, and he brought exactly the right things to the table, so that we got a new angle at looking at things, but it's still very much JUDAS PRIEST."
On whether they changed their minds about not doing any more tours once they got on the road and saw the overwhelmingly positive reactions to JUDAS PRIEST's new lineup:
Tipton: "In all honesty, we always said — we never really changed our mind — that 'Epitaph' was the last world tour that we were gonna do, that there was a possibility we would always do more dates. So we stuck to our guns. We weren't trying to trick people by saying it was our last tour. It was our last world tour. It can take a chunk out of your life. Just work takes a big part of your life, and when you go out on tour, it takes a chunk out of your life. So I think we're re-energized now with the new album [done]. I think it makes you think twice: 'How could I give this up?' You know? 'How could I possibly give this up?' And that drives you on. And it's driven us on for 40 years. And we're still alive… barely. But we're still alive."
Halford: 'We've said a million times and we'll say it a million times again, it's all down to the fans. The fans constantly motivate us. We've never ignored the fact that without our incredible JUDAS PRIEST fans, we wouldn't have had the life that we've had. So at the end of that 'Epitaph' tour, you go home for the first time in almost two years and you're thinking about all of that great emotion, and it's very difficult to say, 'That's the end of that. That's the end.' So we're refocusing, and we are gonna go out, [but] not as extensively [as before]. We feed on the energy that the fans give us, as we've always said, and they were the inspiration for us to put together 'Redeemer Of Souls'. We were thinking all the time about how the fans would react to this vibe or that vibe. And that's not to say that we were letting somebody else take our musical direction, but it's great to have that understanding, to have a reference point of who put you where you are. When you've been doing it for 40 years, you're thinking a lot more about things that you didn't when you first kicked off. 'Cause at the beginning, you're just very organic and you don't have a big fan base. There's a purity, like we've always said. With a lot of bands, to some extent, some of the best moments happen on the first two or three releases, and then all the other things start to come into play."
On Richie's involvement in the writing process for "Redeemer Of Souls":
Faulkner: "It was an incredible honor to be a part of it. I mean, since Day One, since the band said, 'You're in. You've got the job,' there's been creative input from all sides. It's not a situation where there's maybe two people that run the whole show and everyone else just turns up and plays — it's not like that at all. There was discussions about the setlist or changing songs or input into the set design or the production… You know what I mean?! So right from the word 'go,' it was very inclusive, like a creative family, and that dynamic has kind of spread throughout my three years in PRIEST into the writing included in there. And we were out on tour during the 'Epitaph' tour. I had a recording rig out on the road with me. So I'd go back in the dressing room, spend a few hours putting down riffs. Rob would poke his head around the door and say, 'Oh, what's that? What's that you're putting down? I've got an idea for that.' Or Glenn would come in the room with his guitar and say, 'Oh, I've got this riff. Can you put this down?' So it started very organically. We were out on the road putting down riffs. And when it came to the time to actually sit down, get together, put the ideas in the pot, if you will, for the 'Redeemer Of Souls' record, we had already started. It was an organic process. And it had been inclusive from the beginning."
On why there are five "bonus" tracks that are included on the deluxe version of the album and do not appear on the CD's regular version:
Tipton: "They are all great songs. The reason they are not on the album is because the 13 that we chose are very consistent with what we wanted to do, which was release an undisputable heavy metal album. The others, they are not lightweight by any chance, but they've got a different feel, a different texture. So it's not a case of trying to rip the kids off and trying to get more money for an extra album, it's just a case of, these five tracks seem to deserve to go on their own CD, and that's what we did."
Halford: "We didn't want to drop the energy. From the opening thunder-and-lightning on 'Dragonaut' right up 'till the end of 'Battle Cry', it's just full-on, it's relentless. It's great."
On JUDAS PRIEST's touring plans:
Tipton: "It's all a little bit 'play it by ear.' We're looking at starting some dates in the fall — exactly how many and what size, what capacity, we're not sure. But one thing that we have discussed is PRIEST have got such a wealth now of songs behind us, we probably won't go over the top on production like we've done before; the strength will be in the music. That's our feeling at the moment with this next tour."
Halford: "We wanna go back to basics, to a certain extent."
"Redeemer Of Souls" CD track listing:
02. Redeemer Of Souls
03. Halls Of Valhalla
04. Sword Of Damocles
05. March Of The Damned
06. Down In Flames
07. Hell & Back
08. Cold Blooded
11. Secrets Of The Dead
12. Battle Cry
13. Beginning Of The End
15. Tears Of Blood
17. Bring It On
18. Never Forget
"Redeemer Of Souls" release dates:
Friday, July 11:
Monday, July 14:
Asia (excluding Japan)
Tuesday, July 15:
Wednesday, July 16:
The "Redeemer Of Souls" title track can be streamed in the YouTube clip below. The song was made available for purchase via iTunes and other digital service providers on April 29.
Photo credit: Stephanie Cabral