Press Conference   

Judas Priest: five more years of music and press conferences?

Actually, the opportunity presented itself. Since we were at Colmar last Sunday for the Foire aux Vins festival, and Judas Priest held a press conference before their show, we took our Smartphones and started filming. Obviously, the sound isn’t great, so we transcribed the whole 11 minutes of the bands conference – well… more of Rob Halford (vocals) and Glenn Tipton (guitars) who speak a lot more than the others.

Usually in a press conference, the media gets a whole bunch of clichés and commonplaces from the artists and don’t have much to work with in the end. In this particular case, it’s worth noting that Glenn Tipton claims (with a smile, but still…) to want to keep on making music with Judas Priest for five years. The band does seem to be pretty far from bringing a final halt to its career. Consequently, since this press conference given during the Epitaph Tour is worth it, we’ve decided to share it with you in both video and written format.

The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal arose about twenty (note: thirteen to be precise) years ago, and you were at the heart of it. What do you have to say about it nowadays?

Rob Halford (vocals): If we want to be precise, we appeared a little bit before that New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Almost forty years later, the Priest is still in the midst of it all. That’s our biggest thrill, we’re glad to just be able to be here. As you know, we’re in the middle of a big world tour. We’re in there with everybody else, everybody is important, everybody’s valuable. But as far as that NWOBHM moment is concerned, it was the leading charge of what eventually became a global phenomenon. It started in the UK, but metal belongs to everybody. It’s surely nice to think that it’s where it came from, because that’s where Priest originated.

You’re currently doing a long tour. Will you be making a live CD or DVD?

Glenn Tipton (guitar): We actually filmed one show. I’m not sure if we’ll film some more. And we record regularly. So there will be an album at some point, I expect, based on the Epitaph tour. We just haven’t made that decision yet, but I’m sure there’ll be an album at some point. It’s more than likely.

You play a lot of old songs, new songs as well. Who decides which songs to play?

Rob Halford: The songs themselves, to a certain extent! We obviously discuss it amongst ourselves. What we’ve tried to do for this Epitaph tour is to make an interesting setlist. It’s a very diverse, comprehensive list of songs, which we’re always trying to do anyway. Ordinarily, when a band goes out, they support their new release. Probably next year, when our new record comes out, we might do a handful of shows to support the new material. But this is really just like a celebration of all the things that we’ve done with our music. It’s not fair to say: “One song is more important than another”. It’s just that we feel these songs are very significant.

Glenn Tipton: We’re doing a little of each studio album, which is 17 albums in all.

This is a question for Richie. There have been a few changes in the band (note: KK Downing has been substitute by Richie Faulkner), can you explain?

Richie Faulkner (guitar): I’ve no idea what you mean. What changes? There’s no changes! (laughs) Can I explain the changes? The old one left, the new guy came in, really. I think it’s all out there what happened. For the band, it was just a decision to carry on with a new guy rather than not carry on at all. As a fan, it was a big decision I had to make. From my point of view, it’s going well, really. More and more fans see the band now with the new guy, and it’s just getting better and better.

We’ve heard that you will play more than two hours tonight. Will it be exactly the same show as the one at the Graspop, where you replaced Ozzy?

Rob Halford: Pretty much, yeah. If you’ve seen the show, which you can see for free on YouTube, it’s a very complex show, which the music, the lasers… A lot of people worked on that behind the scene. So it’s not really that easy. Having said that, as Ian pointed out, we’re trying to do something from every record, so at this point it might be difficult to coordinate everything.

Scott Travis (drums): (taking his phone out) Wait, wait. I’ve just been told we cannot use lasers tonight in France. It’s not us!

Glenn Tipton: He’s just been told! So no lasers tonight…

Scott Travis: It’s a sort of restriction that France is opposing…

Rob Halford: That’s a shame. So you’ll be seeing a different show.

Scott Travis: But if you’ve got a ticket, you can go to the truck, we’ll turn the lasers on, it will be like a rave party! (laughs)

This is for Richie, but you guys can answer as well. As the youngest guy, how difficult was it to find your place in a band that is so close together and has so much experience?

Richie Faulkner: It’s great to be in a position where you can obviously learn a lot. They’ve got a lot more experience than I have, a lot more years, and it’s great to look out to people like that. As for fitting in with the band… I grew up on that sort of music, I grew up on heavy metal and hard rock and all that, and as I said I was a fan of the band. It wasn’t really hard to fit in, it was something that almost came naturally. As we go along, there’s always new experiences and new stuff to learn. These guys are the best teachers in the world.

You were talking about a new album next year. At which stage of the process are you?

Rob Halford: It’s pretty much complete. I mean, it wouldn’t be God’s honest truth to say it’s definitely coming out next year, but we’re gonna do our best to get it out next year. But most of it has been written.

Glenn Tipton: Yeah, there’s still time. The schedule is heavy, at the moment: we’ll tour till Christmas, then we’ll have a small break and we’ll tour again next year. When you’ve done so much touring, you need a bit of a rest to get your head back together before you’re ready to go in the studio. So we just have to finish touring and get back in the studio. The whole thing has to be done properly. We’ve got to get Scott over, we haven’t settled anything yet with Richie… There are so many options, really, we don’t know which order we’re gonna do them in. But the touring is the thing we’re concentrating on, really, ‘cause it’s a heavy schedule. When we get a chance to go in the studio, we will.

Will it really be your last tour?

Glenn Tipton: It’s our last world tour, that’s what we said. A tour like that takes a year to eighteen months, it’s a heavy schedule. It’s a big chunk out of your life. But we’re not going to rule out doing any more dates. If some dates come along and they make sense, if there’s a string of dates for a good cause, will do that. But it will be the last time we do a complete world tour. This go could on and on and on, we could be doing this for five years! (smiles)

Rob Halford: For us, it’s about the heritage of Judas Priest. It’s knowing when to stop, knowing when to sort of pull back a little bit. Every single show is important to us. We’re master craftsmen at what we’re trying to do. It becomes a part of your thought process as you get older. After tonight’s show, we’re driving to Berlin. I mean, even Richie is feeling the heat! Night after night after night, it’s in our blood. So what we’re trying to do is to preserve something, and I think that by pulling back and doing less shows, we can preserve Judas Priest a lot longer that we could if we were doing what we’ve been doing for the last thirty years. It makes sense to us that we’ll still be doing shows, but on a different schedule.

So which sense are we to give to this word, “Epitaph”?

Rob Halford: It can be pretty obvious in light of what we’re trying to do.

Glenn Tipton: Basically, it’s a final statement. We’ve always said that it’s not the end of Judas Priest. It’s the beginning of the end, and that can take a long time.

Do you have any projects with the Metal God label and the Halford band, your solo project? Dates, an album recording?

Rob Halford: Again, as I’ve always said, Priest leads my life. I have the luxury of being able to do solo activities, all of them very independent, outside of Judas Priest. If I get the chance, I’ll do some more stuff. But Priest is a wonderful metal monster that just consumes everything in its path, and this is where my love and dedication have always been.

Press conference held August 7th 2011 at the Foire Aux Vins festival in Colmar, France.
Transcription: Saff

Judas Priest website: judaspriest.com

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