JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford spoke to Animal House Radio about the progress of the songwriting sessions 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.
Asked if it's getting harder each time for him and his bandmates to top their previous albums, Halford said (see video below): "It's best not to think about it, because then you're just gonna go around and around in circles and you get internal disputes and stuff. I think we're confident enough. Look, we've been doing it for so long. That doesn't mean to say it's easy, or any easier, but I think we understand — each of us understand, especially the writing team of Glenn [Tipton, guitar] and Richie and myself — we understand where we need to go and what we need to do. And I tell you, some of these next ideas, they're just — oh my God. I can't begin to explain.
"I think we carried the spirit and the great power that our fans gave us as we went around the world nearly three times with 'Firepower', I think we carried that with us back to the studio, back to the writing sessions," he continued. "Because some of these songs that I've got here on my phone — believe it or not; everything's on the phone — they're monsters. Even in a very, very rough, primitive stage, they're great — they're really, really good.
"But as we've always said, guys, PRIEST just don't bang a few songs together, make a record and run it out. We are meticulous with absolutely everything that we do, and that's probably why we've been around for so long — the fact that we do take such love and care and attention with the work that we create. 'Cause we've got this long trail behind us as well that's supporting us and giving us kind of feedback — even now. Listening to 'Rocka Rolla', there's stuff in there that really inspires you all these decades later."
Last month, Faulkner told SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk" that the creative process for PRIEST's next LP was halted by the coronavirus outbreak, which disrupted global travel.
"We started on the new record earlier in the year — me, Glenn and Rob — and we all went home for the summer," Richie said. "We were all gonna reconvene later on. 'Cause we really wanna get back together and do it all together — that's the way the magic happened on 'Firepower' — and we just haven't had the chance to be able to do that. But as soon as we can, and as soon as we get back to some sort of normality, we'll get back in the studio and continue with it."
Halford resides in Phoenix, Faulkner in Nashville and Tipton still calls his native United Kingdom his home.
"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.
"Firepower" was recorded by British producer Andy Sneap, the band's longtime collaborator Tom Allom and engineer Mike Exeter (BLACK SABBATH). The cover artwork for "Firepower" was created by the Chilean/Italian artist Claudio Bergamin.