Judas Priest Interview (1986)

Posted: August 22, 2012 in Classic Rock - Interviews

This is one of the best interviews from my most active years and it was made in Stockholm back in 1986. I recall having 20 minutes with Glenn Tipton after the show at the actual venue. Since this interview was printed in several editions of Metal Hammer in Europe (may 1987 in the UK – same look as the Dutch version seen here above) I have opted for the easy way out in just giving you that article straight as it was printed. At this point in time, I was starting to sell articles to magazines abroad. Enjoy. MIKE

Ten albums and 13 years of hard work is a lot in any bands career, and not many reach it with a line up of people who the audince has known for years and years. Judas Priest, a band that has been around for a while now, have seen it all. They practically starved during the Seventies – K.K Downing insists they never made any money until around 1980 – they kept the hard rock flag flying high and never craved too much about the more lucrative single-charts. With each album, they actually built up such a strong following that they now can sit back and take a long hard look at their situation; Is it time to settle down, spend some money building up a life outside the band. (I think the text is edited some here). The 1986 “Turbo” album took the band into a new direction, and many claim they actually set a new standard of their kind of music. They knew it could all backfire in their faces and die a death, but the confidence was strong and when I met guitarist Glenn Tipton towards the end of their recent giant world tour (“The Fuel For Life Tour”), he was still full of enthusiasm. But then, he could afford to smile as he has seen Judas Priest finally and once and for all, really cracking the US market wide open. This interview took place after the show in Stockholms Isstadion (in Sweden ofcourse) in a small room in the backstage area, and Glenn openly discussed things like the upcoming live album and life after Judas Priest, if they were ever to break up. So here we go folks!

On your last couple of albums you have used a producer (Tom Allom), is he a permanent fixture now?

– Yeah, he is. We´ve used Tom since the last live album (“Unleashed In The East”, 1979) and we´ve already recorded, I think, nearly eight tracks for the next studio album.

The “Turbo” album has got a fantastic sound. Everybody seems to really like it. You´ve made a major breakthrough here.

– I think you´re right. Actually, we talked quite extensively about it, and then we recorded 18 tracks for a double album, which we wanted “Turbo” to be at the time. Then we picked nine tracks that we thought were a bit different, sat down and rearranged them and really tried to capture a slightly different feel. We wanted a change, but not too much of a change either, we just wanted to do something different. But, of course, when you do that you have to expect a bit of apprehension from people, which we got. But I guess “Turbo” is eventually turning out to be our most successful album to date, so we can ignore them anyway. Also, in retrospect, everybody has come back to us and said that they had been a bit sceptical at first, but now they realise it´s really the way to go. We are proud of the fact that some people look at Judas Priest as frontrunners, really!

The upcoming live album then, do you have any information on this right now?

– Yes, it will be a double album, and it will hopefully be released in may. We are recording gigs everywhere right now, with a few more to be added in Europe and Japan. It´ll be basically a live album, but it will also include songs, Judas Priest songs, the audience have never heard before, because we felt we wanted to give the kids something else, something they haven´t already bought. There will be at least two, three or maybe even four tracks they´ve never heard before.

Are those tracks from the “Turbo” sessions?

– Yeah, but on the US Tour we threw a new song into the set almost every night. Ofcourse, you can´t do too many new songs every night as they´ve never heard it.

Your latest American tour was your most successful ever? Am I right?

– Yes, we are fortunate because as a band we´ve always been on the up, always getting more successful. Sadly, I´ve seen a lot of bands hit that sort of peak and then eventually start supporting again, you know, which we will never do. We always put a lot of thought into the way that we are going to go, and we always change. Each album has got a new sound or direction, and as individuals we change as well, and I think that is what gives us the longetivity as a band. We do think about it a lot, becase if you don´t, people will get fed up with you. Like if every Judas Priest album sounded the same. Then the people would say “Well we bought the last one…”.

Maybe that´s what happened with “Defenders Of The Faith”? Some people considered that one to be too much of a “Screaming For Vengeance Part II”.

– To a certain point I think you are right, yeah.

In studying Judas Priest, one eventually ends up thinking that you are the motor behind this group, am I right?

– (Laughs) Well, I couldn´t really put it like that to the press! I have a lot to do with the writing, and also the production, but it would be wrong of me to say that I´m the most important member of the band, because everybody is important the way I see it. Somebody asked me the other day what I thought about Bad Company reforming, and I said “Is that right, well is Paul Rodgers in the band?” and they said no. I´ll tell you what I think of it, it would be like Judas Priest reforming one day without Rob Halford. So I do believe that everybody has got a key-role in this band, although writing-wise I do have a lot to say.

How do you survive the boring routines of mega-tours and recording after all these years? It must be kind of hard if you have a family…

– Well, we are all in our mid-thirties now, but we actually enjoy performing onstage more than ever, and you can see that. You can´t conceil from the fans falseness. If you´re not enjoying yourself, you can´t really look as if you are. The hardest part is to travel, and to be away from your family. I´m a married man and I´ve got two children, and you have to do sacrifices. But this is what I want to do, and it is what I will continue doing until Judas Priest finishes, which, at the moment, I can´t see that yet. It could be three years or five years, who knows? We still have a lot more to say, a lot mor to give. As long as the kids like what we do, it´s okay by me. There´s a lot of young kids in the audince now, so I can see us being around for quite some time to come. But I do love my family so it´s a big sacrifice.

Do you still live in England?

– I live in England and in Spain. I´m building a house in Spain. I jump between the two. The tax situation does that to you. It used to be less of a problem, because we were out on the road somewhere anyway. Now we can play less, and to more people doing bigger venues in America, so that gives us more time, so I have to live in two places.

So why did you pick up the guitar to play Judas Priest Music to begin with? Did you see bands like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath or what?

– I was actually in a band called The Flying Hat Band, and we toured Europe opening shows for Deep Purple around 1974. Glenn Hughes was in the band then anyway. It was a rock´n´roll band with me, Carl Parlmers brother Steve Palmer, and an old friend of mine called Mars Cowley, who used to play with Pat Travers. A three-piece band, and I was the single guitarist, which I can never quite believe (laughs), and we toured with Deep Purple. It was a scary experience at the time. Shortly after that, we got management problems over in England, and Judas Priest asked me to join. And that was before the first Judas Priest album. We were a bit lost in the studio when we did our first album, but when we recorded “Sad Wings Of Destiny” I think we really started to get off as a triumvirate.

So you are a real heavy rock fan?

– Oh yes, definitely. I used to go out and see bands play. I started out myself rather late you see, I was 18. Most kids start when they are about 10 or 11 and they live that life ever since. I never took a lesson until I was 20, and I´m glad I had those years living the life of a normal person. I don´t consider that time wasted.

So what do you think of the reformed Deep Purple then?

– Well, I haven´t seen them play, but the album “Perfect Strangers” sounds quite representative for Deep Purple. They were always one of my favourite bands anyway. I always considered this version of Purple as the only true Deep Purple. This was the first lineup that first captured all that energy, and of course they did things like “Smoke On The Water”. I´m not a big believer in bands reforming, but as I said, I haven´t seen them play yet, so I can´t give you a genuine opinion.

Have you ever considered doing a solo album?

– When we finish, I probably will. I´m sure if you ask Ken and Rob the same thing, they might say that too, then again, maybe not. I write a lot of stuff, and some of it I don´t even present to Judas Priest. But having said that, my first love is to play Judas Priest music.

What could we expect on a Glenn Tipton album?

– It would be more melodic, I guess. But then, you never know. It really depends on what I want to do at the moment, and I don´t believe in pre meditating what I´m gonna do. At the moment, I´ve no intention of doing a solo album. Until the moment I know Judas Priest is over, I wouldn´t even bother. But then, and not out of boredom, but because as a person who is very energetic and likes to do things, I´ll probably move on doing something. Maybe a solo album, maybe another band project.

Would you actually consider leaving the band if you saw that it was in any way losing ground?

– If it was going downhill, yes, but I can assure you that myself, Rob, Ken, Ian and Dave, if we ever found out that we weren´t giving a good performance, before we reach that point, we´ll know. You will never see Judas Priest go out on a low. When we go out we want to go out in glory. We´re proud of the fact that a lot of younger bands have looked upon us, and when the time comes we want to be able to say “Okay, that´s it, thank you for everything”. We want to leave with the best album and the best tour, but we are talking about the future.

Yeah, right, and I guess you have to be deaf and blind not to see that this outfit is going to be around for years to come, burning rock´n´roll fuel of the most excellent kind.

Michael Eriksson

(This interview may not be quoted without permission)

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  1. […] LORD (1981), MICK UNDERWOOD (1982), JON LORD (1984), BLACK SABBATH (1983), BLACK SABBATH (1986), JUDAS PRIEST (1986), TOTO (1988), GLENN HUGHES & JOHN NORUM (1988), BLACK SABBATH (1987-1989), STEVE LUKATHER […]

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