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Judas Priest Guitarist Richie Faulkner Talks ‘Redeemer of Souls’ + More

Judas Priest Richie Faulkner
Theo Wargo, Getty Images

Judas Priest‘s Richie Faulkner was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show. The guitarist spoke with Jackie about his transition into the group, working on the ‘Redeemer of Souls‘ album and the camaraderie he built by going on tour with the band first. Check out Full Metal Jackie’s chat with Judas Priest’s Richie Faulkner below:

On the show with us tonight, Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest. How are you?

I’m very well, Jackie. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Happy to have you. Richie, you joined the band and toured first rather than writing and releasing an album. How did having that touring cycle under your belt benefit the whole ‘Redeemer of Souls’ writing and recording process?

I think it was a real valuable experience, really. Because, as you know when you’re on tour with 5-6 guys and a crew you get to learn people’s characters pretty quickly. It’s quite a condensed way of living for an extended period of time. You get to build trust and listen to other’s opinions and build a real sense of camaraderie over a short space of time. So when you go into the studio on a creative level all opinions and stuff he’s listened to and accepted. If you’ve got an idea or you don’t like something or you’re pushing for a certain idea you really believe in, you’ve already built up that camaraderie and that trust that you can put your ideas forward and be comfortable with the fact that they’re going to be listened to and appreciated.

Richie, creatively Judas Priest worked as a songwriting collaborative between Rob, Glenn and KK. Was there a consciousness on your part about maintaining an established style? Or was your input just a pure flow of creativity?

I’ve been brought up on a healthy diet of Priest, Maiden and UFO, Thin Lizzy, bands like that. When I was learning how to write songs and create different parts, textures, musically, those were the guys I looked to for inspiration and how to do it. I had a masterclass on how to write metal songs, if you’d like, from the masters. So when we got in the studio environment, it was very much organic and natural. I didn’t have to put on a different hat or write in a different way. I was brought up on these guys so it just came out of me. Also, we were all — me and Glenn particularly, and Ken, we’re rooted in the blues like Hendrix and Rory Gallagher. So, we come from the same background to some degree. Then they went off on their metal path and I caught onto that as well. Again, it was a very natural process. We didn’t have to really think too much about it, just let the creativity flow.

Richie, is there an even greater rush of excitement when you know your creative ideas will be brought to life by a band the caliber of Judas Priest?

You can always hope that the ideas that you bring to the table will make the record or will even be considered for the record. But, that moment when you’ve got some guide tracks down and the skeleton of the track there, it might need some refining. But the actual nucleus of the song is there. You might have had the riff for six or seven months, you may have come up with it in your kitchen or your living room, and that moment where you’ve got Rob Halford coming up with vocal ideas for it, sitting there thinking, this riff that I just had a few months ago is now becoming something much more than just an idea.

It’s almost like a painting with sound, especially when Halford gets on it and gets his stamp on there. So there is a genuine feeling of excitement. I’ve got a few recordings on my phone, while we were in the writing sessions. I just couldn’t believe some of the stuff that Rob was coming up with. It’s kind of distorted and really bad sounding, but you can hear those songs being born. Some of it ended up on the record, idea wise. Some of it didn’t, or we changed them. Just that instant spark on a crude recording device is just a really exciting thing for me and a great feeling when you’re actually in there.

Richie, what surprised you the most about the way this band goes about writing and recording music?

Right from the beginning, after 40 years they’re still listening to the new guy. Everyone listens to everyone. It could be a situation in some circumstances where it’s a bit of a dictatorship. It’s one or two guys that call the shots, this is what we’re doing or this is how it’s going to be. But from day one in the early rehearsals, before rehearsals even, when we were going through stage clothes. It was like, what input do you have into your stage clothes. What design do you want it to be? In rehearsals, it’s how can we change the songs? How can we interpret, and put our own stamp on them to make them exciting? What setlist? Even on our live scenario, how can we make this more exciting?

Right up until the studio recording, that kind of mentality just transpired into that environment and it was very inclusive. When all your opinions and all your ideas are listened to and you’re asked for them, and they’re heeded and considered it can only benefit the whole. Whatever industry, whether it’s the creative industry or whatever job you’re doing, you’re part of a group, listen to everyone. It can only benefit the good of the whole. That was a big lesson to learn. It wasn’t, “I’m Rob Halford and this is how it’s going to be.” It’s like, “What do you think?” That’s a big lesson I learned and it’s a great thing to take from that experience into the future.

Richie, you mentioned earlier that sometimes you guys just start, we’re rolling or recording during while you guys were writing. I noticed on Instagram, you were so good about capturing what happens. You have to have some pretty amazing Rob stories from your time.

Absolutely. The great thing is, I’m involved in the whole promotion for the upcoming ‘Redeemer of Souls’ record. Because I was involved in the writing and creative side of the record, I’m out with Glenn, Rob promoting. A lot of the time they’re talking about stories from before that I haven’t heard. So for me it’s like an exclusive interview session with two of my heroes. I’ve got some great stories, just listening to them and obviously being with them for the last few years. They’re great guys. They’re characters. They’re normal people. But in other ways, they’re gods. They’re rightly where they are in the scheme of things. It’s great to see that they are who they are because of who they are deep down and that’s just like me, you and everyone else on the planet really. We’re normal people with good values and great creative minds.

The band recently announced a U.S. tour for the fall. Richie, it’s been two years since the final date of the Epitaph tour. What do you miss the most since then, about being onstage and playing these classic songs?

I speak for everyone when I say we do it for the live scenario. Priest has always been a live band. We love getting out there as individuals and playing and as a group playing. Especially, from my point of view, playing these classic songs is just a dream come true. I miss the traveling and seeing different countries around the world and meeting different people from different walks of life in different countries. Obviously it’s getting up every night and putting those, doing justice to those songs the best you can.

And now, with the tour coming up in the fall for ‘Redeemer of Souls,’ we can’t wait to get out there again and put these new songs out there to the metal fraternity. Hopefully in 20-30 years they’ll still be out there and as big as ‘Another Thing Coming’ or anything like that. When we write these songs and they take shape in the studio, and again, they might still be the skeleton of the song but they’re instantly recognizable as, oh my god we’ve got to play these songs live. We can’t wait to play ‘March of the Damned.’ Priest is a live band, when we write these songs it’s instant that we have to play them live so we’re really excited to get out into the U.S. and beyond. I hasten to add we haven’t put the plan together yet but we will be branching out obviously into 2015.

Thank you so much, Richie. Congrats.

Thanks, Jackie!

Our thanks to Judas Priest’s Richie Faulkner for the interview. Be sure to pick up Judas Priest’s ‘Redeemer of Souls’ at iTunes or Amazon. You can also look for them on the road at these locations. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.

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