Dr. Abner Mality of the Wormwood Chronicles webzine recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST bassist Ian Hill. Several excerpts from the chat follow:
Wormwood Chronicles: I recently tried to list all the bands who got their names from a JUDAS PRIEST song... EXCITER, STEELER, SINNER, BEFORE THE DAWN, GRINDER, HELLION, etc., etc. When you hear this, do you find it amusing, aggravating, humbling?
Ian Hill: "Well, it's humbling and very flattering, you know, to know that you are held so high in somebody's esteem that they would name their band after you and probably play the same kind of music as well. It's very flattering and humbling both."
Wormwood Chronicles: The early albums PRIEST did in the '70s, there was a kind of weird, eclectic vibe to them. I thought that on your new album "Angel of Retribution", you seemed to try and recapture that vibe. Would you agree?
Ian Hill: "Well, we set out to try and cover the different aspects of heavy metal that we've been known for over the years, not just the fast and furious and heavy stuff. We've also got a good catalogue of the more commercial side of things and a catalogue of the more production-oriented side of things. On every album with the exception of 'Painkiller', there's a ballad on there. Over the last 15 years, up-and-coming bands have forgotten that side of metal. They've concentrated on the harder side of heavy metal. We just wanted to remind people that it's not just the fast and the furious and the heavy, it's everything else as well. It is a very versatile style of music."
Wormwood Chronicles: Do you keep any tabs on today's metal scene? It sure seems to have mutated in unimaginable ways since PRIEST first came to the forefront.
Ian Hill: "I think I hit on it earlier when I said it got fragmented. You're either a death band or a speed band or a goth band and that's all you do. Versatility has flown straight out of the window. And of course you are narrowing your fan base down as well to the sort of people who just like that sort of music. Not just like it, but like it all the time! Not that there's anything wrong with those particular styles of music, but too much of anything makes it commonplace, you know. The other side of metal has been forgotten for a while. The mellower side and the happier side of it all."
Wormwood Chronicles: Back in the early '70s, did being in a band seem a lot more fun and inspirational, because today the music business is awfully corporate and computerized?
Ian Hill: "Yeah, it had a rawer edge to it back then. You went out and you made it on your own. We can honestly say that we don't owe anybody anything. The following that we have, we got it from our own merits. We started out playing little bars and clubs in the Midlands, you know, and from them, we wondered if we could really make a go of it. You had to quit your job because you need to be 200 miles away on a Wednesday and things like that...you had to do it, you know! You started to gain your following from just playing live. The first record company we wound up with weren't very good. They did the best they could but they were a tiny company."
Wormwood Chronicles: Was that Gull?
Ian Hill: "Yeah, that was Gull. They did their best but they just didn't have the clout to get us out of the country. We did a few small club tours in Germany and a couple in Norway, believe it or not, but it wasn't actually until we signed to CBS in '75 or '76 that we could afford to get to America. They had the clout, they had the contacts to get it. So on the tail end of REO SPEEDWAGON's tour, we went from there. Even then we were living in hotels and motels and every now and then we could aspire to a Holiday Inn!"
Wormwood Chronicles: It seemed like the possibilities were limitless back then.
Ian Hill: "Yeah, it was! There was no corporate power over heavy metal or heavy rock, as it was known back then. You got on through your own merit, not because somebody was throwing a lot of money at you thinking you were going to be the new SPICE GIRLS or BACKSTREET BOYS or stuff like that. Which unfortunately is all the big record companies seem to be looking at these days! They're looking for a fad. They're not prepared to look at the long term. When they took us on, they knew damn well they weren't going to make a fortune overnight. It might take ten years time and then they'll get a return on us."
Read the entire interview at www.wormwoodchronicles.com.