And when you’re talking Rock Gods it’s difficult to look beyond Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton and co. – so we won’t.
In the latest of our RUSHONROCK ROCK GODS features we chew the fat with Tipton and talk post-KK Downing Priest. Look out for more big names from the worlds of rock and metal later this month! rushonrock: With another UK arena tour coming up what can fans expect from Judas Priest in 2011?
Glenn Tipton: It’s a typical show really. We’re doing all the old favourites. We’re doing a track from every album and going all the way back to Rocka Roller in order to depict every era of the band. There are even some songs we haven’t played before and certainly some we haven’t played for some time. We’re playing Blood Red Skies which will be great. And we’re playing some of the Judas Priest classics from the last world tour. There are a lot of songs that people want to hear and via our website we’re in touch with those wishes. We’re looking at playing for just over two hours so there’s room for just about everything!
rushonrock: It’s a great undercard with Queensryche and Rival Sons – are you excited by the quality of the support acts?
GT: It’s a great bill. We’ve played with Queensryche many times over the years and Rival Sons are a real up and coming band. Throw those two into the mix and add in the lasers, the props and the full Priest experience and the fans will love it.
rushonrock: This tour has been billed as a farewell tour – are you treating it as such?
GT: It’s obviously difficult to say never again. We’ve played a few shows already on the world tour and the fans have been incredible. It’s just been fantastic. I’m stood there every night thinking ‘can I give this up?’. But this is definitely our last world tour. Doing these things takes a chunk out of your life. And we need to give the younger bands a chance! We’re not doing another major world tour so this is the farewell world tour. But we have a new album that we’ve written and we need to find the time to finish that off. We need to get back into the studio to wrap it up and already time is very limited this side of Christmas.
rushonrock: For so many years KK Downing has been your wingman – how are you adjusting to life without him by your side?
GT: It’s been weird. But KK decided to retire and we have to respect his decision. He told us last December but we didn’t say anything and gave him some time – probably hoping he’d change his mind. But he didn’t. He’s had some problems with his wrist and I think he looked at another world tour and didn’t think he could pull it off again. It’s a daunting prospect for all of us. Ken must have thought seriously about his decision and we wondered if he would change his mind.
rushonrock: When it became clear he was sticking to his guns what was the band’s reaction?
GT: Honestly, we thought it was the end of the band. I thought to myself ‘this is it. This is the end’. Ken had been with us for a long time and we knew his were difficult shoes to fill. But Rich [Faulkner] has been incredible in terms of the way he’s approached the band. He’s captured the essence of Priest and given us another chance.
rushonrock: You could have plumped for a big name replacement but you put your faith in Rich – a homegrown hero. Was that the idea?
GT: In the end the fact that he’s British was important to the band. And all credit to him he’s come in and been brilliant. We know there’s a lot of guys who would have loved to have played on the final Priest world tour. And we’re talking about a lot of experienced and well known guys. But we just didn’t think it was right to go down that road. It’s nice that Rich is British because we’re a very British band. And he’s enjoyed his time with us from the word go. He’s got so much confidence – he said ‘bring it on’. I said to him at the start ‘if there are any tricky parts and you need me to show you how to play them then I’m here’. After an hour or two he was showing me stuff!
rushonrock: Will the new album be another concept or a more familiar Priest record?
GT: It’ll be more in the mould of classic Priest. The songs are definitely along those lines. There are a couple of real anthems. There’s a song called Never Forget which is quite sentimental for anyone who’s stayed loyal to the band. Rob’s lyrics are right on the mark – they bring a tear to your eye.
rushonrock: With Nostradamus do you feel you have unfinished business?
GT: We always intended to play the full album live. It might be a project for the future. But since it’s been released we’ve been busy with so many other things. A double concept album doesn’t look like the smartest thing to do when you get to our age. It’s expensive, time consuming and a commercial gamble. But it sold well and we’re very proud of it. Listen to it in its entirety and you capture the mood of what is a great record.