Patrick Prince of Powerline A.D. recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Glenn Tipton. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Powerline A.D.: "British Steel" seemed to be the perfect album to usher in the 1980s. It was an exciting time because it felt like something special was happening in hard rock music, especially in the breakthrough of heavy metal. Did you feel the same way?
Glenn Tipton: Yeah, I think "British Steel" is certainly a landmark album in terms of the PRIEST catalog. It's got such a strong character with tracks like "Metal Gods", "Breaking the Law", "Grinder", "Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise"... There's a definite attitude in the album. It will be a great album to perform live from start to finish.
Powerline A.D.: The name "British Steel" was also a perfect representation for a heavy metal band from an industrial town like Birmingham, England.
Glenn Tipton: Yeah, well, I actually used to work for British Steel (the major British steel producer). So I'm very familiar with the the dirt and the grime (laughs) ... I think it sums up the attitude the band's got, you know, particularly from that era anyway, and it's just got a great strength of character.
Powerline A.D.: And "British Steel" is now considered one of the all-time classic heavy metal albums. Did you see yourselves as heavy metal back then? I mean, the term was really in its infancy.
Glenn Tipton: We've always felt that we were a heavy metal band and we've always been proud of that tag. I think a lot of bands dropped it when they thought it wasn't fashionable but we've always been proud to play heavy metal — we always loved to play heavy metal — particularly JUDAS PRIEST-style heavy metal. It's a movement of music that we've been proud to be a part of and we helped to pave the way in many aspects of it.
Powerline A.D.: In the documentary "Heavy: The Story of Metal", Scott Ian of ANTHRAX said that "British Steel" was the album that defined heavy metal at that time. You think it opened up opportunities not just for JUDAS PRIEST but for heavy metal bands in general?
Glenn Tipton: I think in the sense that, you know, not just "British Steel" but a lot of PRIEST albums, really. You've always tried to push the margins wider apart on what people considered to be heavy metal. You don't feel like there have been any rules, or if there are rules, they're rules that can be broken ... you know, to give a greater strength of character to metal and to give everybody more room to maneuver and that's what we've always tried to do — and particularly (with) "British Steel".
Powerline A.D.: You think many memories of the original "British Steel" tour in 1980 will come rushing back as you're playing the album in its entirety now?
Glenn Tipton: Yeah, I think that's the idea, you know. The idea is to recreate the '80s and to go out there and do very nostalgic concerts for everyone to get involved.
Powerline A.D.: Well, as a fan, I've waited a long time just to hear "Dissident Aggressor" live — all through the 80s it was a dream of mine to hear that song live, and out of nowhere you guys just picked it for last tour. So I'm trying to envision some songs like that for this tour as well ..whenever I've seen PRIEST tour, the band always had a strict set list that was played from. Night after night the band never strayed from that set list. Besides the entirety of "British Steel", is the band going to mix up the choice of songs a little on this tour?
Glenn Tipton: We usually stick pretty much to our set because the production size of things, you know. We've been doing this for thirty to forty years, but guys on the crew haven't, so... when you do production of a PRIEST show you got to think about safety ... and there are places you shouldn't be at certain points during the set, and once you start mixing things up it's a recipe for disaster. We've had a few bike accidents in the past so... once we decide on a set, we pretty much tend to keep it the same. With the odd exception. There are nights when we play extra long encores, or we might throw a different song in for a special occasion.
Powerline A.D.: I heard there will be a replica of the "British Steel" stage from the 1980 tour?
Glenn Tipton: It will be very reminiscent of the 80s. That's the whole point. To capture the nostalgia. To just recreate that era. (pause) I got my red trousers back (laughs).
Powerline A.D.: Will you continue to release any solo stuff in the years to come?
Glenn Tipton: I did the solo albums ("Baptizm of Fire" and "Edge of the World") when there was no active JUDAS PRIEST. I mean, it was a great experience. It was fantastic to work with Cozy (Powell) and John (Entwistle),and of course Billy Sheehan and all the guys, all the young guns from the States, were fantastic to work with and so talented. And I never would have gotten to do that if PRIEST hadn't split up so ... And also it's great to do solo stuff, because you get music off your chest that isn't totally appropriate for PRIEST. It turned out for the best in a way, and I'm proud of those albums. And in some point in the future, who knows ... I've got one or two more solo albums in me, I don't know. I'm sure there will be more. But, of course, my priority and first love will always be JUDAS PRIEST.
Read the entire interview from Powerline A.D.