In Conversation with Richie Faulkner
Interview by Dillon Collins
One of the undisputed pioneers of heavy metal, Judas Priest have lit the world ablaze with their crushing 18th studio album Firepower, the long-awaited follow up to their 2014 release Redeemer of Souls.
Guitarist Richie Faulkner caught up with Metalheads Forever Magazine to discuss his joining of the iconic band in 2011, chemistry surrounding the new album, and the shocking revelation that founding member Glenn Tipton has bowed out of touring to battle Parkinson’s disease.
Firepower, to myself and many fans, is one of the best Priest records in decades. Reception has been overwhelmingly positive. What is the band saying, and feeling, about this record?
I think it is a classic take but in a modern voice. I think it is definitely Judas Priest and in the character of Priest that we all know and love, but it is definitely a forward thinking, contemporary and new Priest album. It’s letting fans know that we’re still here, we’re still as strong as ever, and hopefully give other bands a run for their money.
Second Priest record after joining the band in 2011. For yourself, how did you feel of the recording and creative process this time around? There certainly must have been an extra level of This is yourcomfort following some lengthy tours and another successful album under your belt.
Richie Faulkner: Our personal relationships are more cemented, we’re closer as people, and now we have that big creative process. When you go through those big world tours, you can’t help but bond with each other. You’re living with each other on airplanes, buses and wherever it may be, and you spend a lot of time on stage building those relationships and getting more comfortable. This is an extension of that. I think what it is is the trust, and the respect and the love that everyone has for each other that grows. From that comes a kind of freedom of what you can create. You’re not scared to put opinions forward, you’re not going to get laughed at. You’ve bonded with these people so much more that it has helped the creative process, and I think that has a lot to do with it.
On a personal level, take me back to that moment when you joined Priest. This is one of the defining heavy metal groups of all time. I can only imagine this was a dream for you.
Richie Faulkner: When that opportunity came up, it was almost instinctual what it meant to me and the people around the world, and what it meant to music. They are, arguably, one of the forefathers and creators of heavy metal. Heavy metal was kind of taking shape and taking form, and when the actual idea of it was coming forward, it was Priest and Sabbath. I know what that meant. I played Priest songs in cover bands around London. I knew what Priest meant in terms of ethos and mindset – it’s that stand up for what you believe in and do everything to a thousand percent. It’s statements like You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ and social statements like Breaking The Law. That sort of stuff is what Priest meant to me and millions. I knew instinctively that when you get selected for an opportunity to join these legends, you stand up and you carry that responsibility into the audition and you do what you do a thousand percent, which was what they taught me over the years. I think that was the right approach.
Of course this is surely a difficult time for the band, with the recent announcement of Glenn Tipton’s Parkinson’s diagnosis, which will keep him off the road. As best you can, can you take us through the mindset of Judas Priest right now? All the heavy metal community is really rallying behind Glenn and the band.
Richie Faulkner: It’s a very emotional time on many different levels. First and foremost it’s emotional on a personal level. Health and Glenn as a brother, with music aside, and the album aside and the tour aside, the priority is Glenn. Glenn’s priority is the band. It’s funny, Glenn’s priority is the band and the band moving on and what’s best for the band. We would say what’s best for you is what’s best for us. Looking over and seeing him struggle, personally and music aside, it’s a tough thing to see, someone who has inspired me and continues to inspire me today and gets to the point where the battle is really getting to him, and that’s a tough thing. Glenn has always been a fighter and still is a fighter. He’s still a part of Priest and has by no means left Judas Priest. He’s still going to be involved in some capacity and he will still come out on the road when he can. Obviously we know what Parkinson’s is and what Parkinson’s does – it’s a degenerative disease – but Glenn is a fighter and he’s been dealing with it for ten years. He’s done the Epitaph Tour, the Redeemer tour, he’s done two records. If that’s not a testament to Glenn Tipton’s strength and perseverance, I don’t know what is.
This album, to me, seems like it will translate amazingly live. How excited are you guys to get these songs out there in front of live crowds?
Richie Faulkner: You go to the writing sessions and you have these ideas but you never know what they’re going to come out like. When you go into these sessions you come out with these things like Lightning Strike or Evil Never Dies, you look at each other. The inspiring factor is, ‘can you imagine these parts live.’ I think the music lends itself to being played live. There’s definitely some intensity on the record, and I think fans are picking up on that.
MHF Magazine/Dillon Collins