By: Derek Signore, Sound Magazine
For four decades Judas Priest have been at the forefront of Heavy Metal inspiring a genre that at times was only embraced by the hard core. Following 2012’s Epitaph tour it appeared that run was coming to an end, a forty year journey come to completion. As with many things though, time, and a new sense of purpose have rejuvenated the band as they look to tour a new album and ‘Redeem’ their throne. We had a chance to sit down with new guitarist Richie Faulkner to discuss what the future holds not only for Judas Priest fans, but for the band itself.
STEAM: The common perception after the Epitaph tour was that it was the bands swan song. KK Downing quits the band and you come on as his replacement. Was there ever a time early on when it looked like the band was done for good?
JP: When I joined the band it was kind of the beginning of the end, they were planning on starting to wrap things up. You have to realize that this isn’t a bunch of young guys, they had been doing this for forty years. The feeling we all had was that this is the beginning of the end, the last stretch of the band. There was certain areas where we turned it back and touring was one of those areas as we decided to keep the tour stateside. I think the band has a new lease on life with the new material we released. It’s inspired us to go out and play the new songs. We’re going to try and push on as far as we can but for sure Epitaph was the last world tour.
STEAM: As the newest and youngest member did you ever feel you had to leash your talents to pay tribute to the classic look and sound of the band?
JP: Since the day I’ve joined the band it’s been rather inclusive down to assisting the design of the leather and stud outfits that we all wear on stage. I knew inherently musically what to do so they sought after my input on the material. It also helped that the new material was familiar with the tone of what had been done before so that helped lift any personal restrictions I might have put on myself.
STEAM: What are the challenges in playing with another guitarist on stage?
JP: I think I was always turned onto twin guitar bands like Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden so it felt natural for me. There are always different dynamics based on the character of the other player and style of the band but as I was a lifelong Judas Priest fan it was all engrained into me already. I’ve almost been playing with them since I’ve been playing guitar if that makes any sense.
STEAM: Redeemer of Souls comes off as a very live sounding album most notable with less sound effects applied to the vocals. Was this the plan originally, to give fans a live album akin to your awesome live shows?
JP: I think the band needed to take a step back with this album. The one before was a concept album with massive production and here, this time around, we wanted to strip it down and let the music do the talking. No concept, just honesty. It was a lot of fun to make so much so that I wouldn’t write off another Judas Priest album in the future as well.
STEAM: Limiting the show dates of this tour must have been tough, especially with the band wondering how the new material would sound at some of the great overseas venues.
JP: These things have a tendency to evolve as well. So while we aren’t touring abroad just yet we’re just figuring things out as we go. We won’t tour Texas for six weeks like in the past, so it’s not that kind of schedule, but we’re thinking about different locations to perform outside the current makeup.
STEAM: While some genres of music go in and out of popularity, Heavy Metal unfortunately always seemed to have a bad connotation surrounding it, that it poorly influenced the youth listening to it. With music so easily accessible in this digital age where music fans can easily discern there tastes with the click of a button, is this the best time to be making Heavy Metal music?
JP: Some people see file sharing as damaging music while others see it as creating a fully accessible environment. To be honest I think it is a good time to be making metal. In the 90’s some bands shied away from the tag because it wasn’t favorable but from the point of view of creating music it’s great. For the first time it creates a level playing field where the tools to market the band are at your disposal and it falls on you to be successful. Not only do millions of people have access to your music but now they have the conduit to put out there music as well. You still have to be different, to set yourself apart from the rest, but that always separated the best from the herd.
STEAM: Has your youth come into play to assist the band become more vocal throughout the social networks at their disposal as you grew up through the era of their launch?
JP: I think so. I think that the band saw the value of social media and my youth and use of such definitely helped but we also wanted to make sure not everything made its way online. It’s important for the band to keep some sense of mystique. We know we have to keep people involved and interested but leave them wanting more. We recognize the value and I think it reflects in what we post.