JUDAS PRIEST Guitarist Talks 'British Steel' Anniversary, Ponders The Future

September 5, 2009

Bill Adams of Ground Control magazine recently conducted an interview with guitarist Glenn Tipton of British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

On the band's recently completed U.S. tour:

"This tour has been received so very, very well — better than we ever expected actually. We've been out playing 'British Steel' [JUDAS PRIEST's 1980 album] from start to finish and it's the first time we've ever done that actually — we've never played an album in its entirety before this tour — but it's just fantastic. The reaction has been great and the crowds have been really into it and it's just been a really great way to celebrate thirty years of 'British Steel'.

"The set at the moment is comprised of 'British Steel' and other songs of the time in keeping with that. The priority on the road is to promote 'British Steel' and then we've sort of enhanced it and supplemented it with other numbers like 'The Ripper' or 'Victim Of Changes' and others from that era so it's all retro types of songs and it's quite nostalgic in a sense and very appropriate to perform with 'British Steel'. The mix of fans that have come out is incredibly wide too; we've got a lot of the stalwart fans there and a surprising number of younger kids that got turned on to PRIEST by their parents or discovered us in their own way, in their own time which is a great thing.

"It's always great to see young faces in the audience; it means that, through the years, you've done some things right."

On how "British Steel" was made:

"'British Steel' was one of those albums that came together very quickly. We recorded it at a place called Tittenhurst Park which was originally John Lennon's house — he recorded 'Imagine' there while he was sitting at that piano in that white room so there was a great vibe there.

"It was one of the few albums where we wrote at least fifty per cent of it in the studio while we were recording — which was very unusual for us — so it was a very spontaneous album as such; it wasn't complicated at all and was very straight-forward. Songs like 'Breaking The Law' or 'Living After Midnight' — which are immediate and straight-forward songs — all just sort of clicked and fell into place. Because of that, it's very easy to perform on stage; they're very basic stuff like 'The Rage' or 'Steeler'... it's got a lot of variation, but they're quite simple songs in a sense. It was also a very unique record in the sense that we actually wrote a lot of it while we were in the studio which we had never done before or since at that point.

"It was a very different time, then. We'd do up to a dozen takes of songs in the old days, pick the best one — the one that had the best tempo and the one that captured the right feel — and work with that; mistakes weren't that important because we could always go in and repair those, and then overdub on that and finish it off. Unlike now where you really break things down to the most minute percentage and hammer it flat so it's flawless and pristine, back then we'd just go into a studio, set mikes up and just almost record everything in a live sense; doing takes and picking the best take as opposed to doing each song piece by piece. That's what we used to do in those days; run through the whole song several times and then picked the version of the song that we all liked best."

On what is next for JUDAS PRIEST:

"After we finish up in North America, we're doing some festivals in Japan. I'm not sure what the next step is going to be after that though, but we never do. We always make that decision when the time comes so we'll take a break at the end of Japan, probably through Christmas, and then next year we'll sit down and talk about where we're going to go, whether we're going to do another studio album, whether we're going to perform 'Nostradamus'... We've got various options open to us and, up until now, we haven't made those decisions, as always, but we will when the time comes.

"We've had such great fun on this tour, I almost wonder if a sort of retro-sounding album of new material might be in the cards — that could be the case, you know? We're enjoying playing this album so much and it's going down so well and the crowd's loving it, that maybe that will be the formula for the next album; running along those lines. The beauty of PRIEST is that we don't even know what the future holds and we never do. When we start to write our next album, we don't know which direction it's going to take, it formulates itself so, maybe subconsciously, that will creep into the next writing sessions and maybe the next album will be a sort of a retro album — who knows? I guess we'll see what comes, when it comes.”

Read the entire interview from Ground Control.

Quality video footage of JUDAS PRIEST performing the songs "The Rage" and "Steeler" on Tuesday, July 14 at the Time-Warner Cable Amphitheater in Cleveland, Ohio can be viewed below.

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