Brian Orlando of Long Island radio station 94.3 The Shark recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner. You can listen to the entire chat via the SoundCloud widget below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On how the band’s new studio album, “Firepower”, will affect their stage show and setlist:
Richie: “Well, we’ve just come out of production rehearsals and I’ve literally been physically in the world of ‘Firepower’, standing on stage, on the stage, with the setlist, with all the accruements that we put on the stage and stuff and it’s great. It’s pretty mind-blowing, embodying everything that ‘Firepower’ is about. We’ve got new parts of the stage show, we’ve got classic parts of the stage show, we’ve got great songs, we’ve got new songs, classic songs, it’s going to be a rip-roaring ride of some fearsome JUDAS PRIEST-style heavy metal.”
On whether PRIEST still approaches albums as a cohesive bunch of songs meant to be listened to in its entirety, or, just a collection of songs where people can pick and choose what to listen to:
Richie: “As long as I’ve been with PRIEST, we’ve never made a record that we didn’t want to be listened to or didn’t feel shouldn’t be listened to as an entire record. There’s ebbs and flows on a record. If you listen to ‘A Day At The Races’ or ‘Innuendo’ by QUEEN, there’s this ebb and flow from start to finish and there’s a middle with peaks and troughs on the record that we think is important as a piece of music. ‘Firepower’ is no different. If you listen to ‘No Surrender’ from the record on its own and you listen to ‘No Surrender’ as a part of the record, the context kind of changes how you feel about the song. I think it’s an important thing. With the resurgence of vinyl, I think that sort of experience seems to be coming back. It’s a great thing. We make a record to make a record, not to make singles on a record, if you know what I mean.”
On whether there was a transition from him simply playing old PRIEST songs into actively being involved in the band’s songwriting process:
Richie: “For me personally, that’s a continual journey. What am I going to say? In my own bands before or in PRIEST, it’s the same dynamic: What am I going to say as a guitar player? What am I going to say as a songwriter, both lyrically and in terms of the musical textures? Obviously, I’m stepping into big shoes with K.K. Downing in 2011. I grew up with PRIEST. I grew up with PRIEST‘s style of music, the twin-guitars, the heavy guitars, the operatic vocals, it was a part of my musical makeup, so I didn’t have to change who I was as a guitar player or a musician. I just had to be aware…again, it’s paying respect to what went before while honoring and respecting yourself moving forward and I think that’s what PRIEST stands for, respecting yourself and doing what you do a thousand percent and moving forward, but obviously, not ignoring the legacy of what went before. That’s what I’ve tried to do and it seems to be the right approach to take. As I said, we’re still blazing through new music and a new tour in 2018 and the journey continues creatively for me as a guitar player, without a doubt.”
On whether he’s had to take on more of Glenn Tipton‘s guitar parts in light of Tipton deciding to retire from touring while he’s dealing with Parkinson’s disease:
Richie: “Everyone in this band has a role to play and with Glenn taking a step back, I think everyone shifted into a different mode. I can’t say specifically what those modes are, but I think everyone has a heightened sense of responsibility now that Glenn isn’t there. From a guitar playing point of view, we’ve got [‘Firepower’ producer] Andy Sneap filling in live and anything that can make Andy more comfortable, I’ll take off his shoulders guitar-wise. Whatever makes Andy more comfortable. Glenn‘s by no means leaving the band. He’s still in JUDAS PRIEST. He’s still going to come out when he can, health permitting, to join us onstage for a few numbers. It will be unannounced and it will be a surprise for the fans and it will be a celebration of how heroic Glenn Tipton is and how much he loves this band and how much he loves the fans. Glenn will be back onstage at some stage.”
On which songs from “Firepower” stand out for him:
Richie: “They are all standout tracks. There were none that weren’t standout tracks and if they were, they wouldn’t have made the record. For me, every song had a character, it had something to say, something unique and had an experience that should be included on the record. I love songs like ‘Evil Never Dies’ and the title track, ‘Firepower’, ‘Traitors Gate’ is one of my favorites, ‘Sea Of Red’. They’re like your children. You love them for different reasons in equal measure. There are some that push out in front like, maybe some of our kids, but we love them equally for different reasons. It’s just a great collection and I think, a great representation of where JUDAS PRIEST is in 2018.”
“Firepower” was released on March 9 via Epic.
The North American leg of the “Firepower” tour will wrap on May 1 in San Antonio, Texas.