The Rockpit from Australia recenty spoke with JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
The Rockpit: I’ve heard you talk many times about the family vibe that you have with the rest of the band. What would you say that looks like now?
Richie: We’re like brothers, really; they’re all like my older brothers. They kind of let you get into trouble sometimes, if you know what I mean. They teach you a little here and there, but then they get into trouble as well. They are kind of authority figures, but at the same time, they’re out getting into the same scrapes as you are, so we have some great times because of it. We see some great things… so it’s just a pleasure, really. So I’d definitely say [we’re like] brothers.
The Rockpit: When you then recorded “Redeemer Of Souls”, how did you ensure your creative presence was felt throughout the process?
Richie: We talked about the education that you can get from these guys. To sort of reference that, it wasn’t the case that I needed my presence to be felt. These guys were open and willing to hear what ideas I had. So that was a big lesson to have. It wasn’t like coming into a dictatorship, and there are one or two guys ruling the show. It was, “This is the way we’ve always written, with two guitar players and a vocalist. What ideas have you got?” And, again, we’d been out on the “Epitaph” tour for the better part of two years prior, so, again, you’ve built that camaraderie, you’ve built the trust, you know that your opinion and everyone’s opinion in the band is going to be asked for and valued. You know it might not be agreed with — fine — but you know that when you put an idea forward, it’s going to be listened to. Going into the studio, that was a great situation to have for creativity: whatever you’ve got, put it on the table and if it sticks… we’ll use it. That was the same for everyone, you know?! I had an idea and Glenn [Tipton, guitar] said, “I have an idea that goes with that.” Or Rob [Halford, vocals] would come in with a vocal melody and ask me if I have anything to go with it. It freed up a lot… It’s not, “You can’t do this,” or, “You can’t do that,” or, “It’s gotta be like this.” It’s, “Let’s just do what comes from the heart.” PRIEST has always been such a strong character band, you know, individually as individual musicians and as a collective, and I think that when you do what comes from the heart, that’s what shines through to JUDAS PRIEST. And luckily, being brought up on JUDAS PRIEST, that’s what came from my heart as well. It was a great combination and a great environment to breed creativity.
The Rockpit: You can definitely see the heart that is in the band as a whole, you can feel it in the music and big fans will listen to it with their heart as well.
Richie: Well, again, I think that PRIEST has always done that; it’s always been about what’s come naturally to them. I think it’s important to have that. There are five guys in the band, and they’ll always have individual characters musically, though when you put them together, they become that individual character that is the JUDAS PRIEST that we all know and love, you know. So it always comes from the heart. So they’ve always done what they wanted to do, and when you do that, you pioneer new paths in music and you don’t follow trends and that’s why you’re a trailblazer. You know, [BLACK] SABBATH, [IRON] MAIDEN, PRIEST… to name but a few. They’re trailblazers, and they don’t follow the grain, they do what comes from the heart, and it was a continuation of that. Again, it was a great lesson for me coming into the fold: do what comes from the heart and don’t try to copy anything else; just do what comes naturally. We went from there, so it was a great lesson and a great experience.
The Rockpit: And the proof of that is in the success of the new album. After 40 years and 17 studio albums, PRIEST scores their highest-charting set. “Redeemer Of Souls” marks the band’s first leader on Top Rock Albums and first Top 10 on The Billboard 200 (No. 6). How do you feel about this accomplishment and how much credit do you give yourself for being part of that?
Richie: Well, most of the credit has to go to the fans, obviously. I mean, we’ve come up with the ideas and we’ve put it down. The guys have been doing this for years and I’ve been in the band for, like, five minutes and been kinda given this opportunity to create and write and perform with these guys and to just get it into a format, to get these 18 songs and put them out to the market. Though it’s the fans who put it to where it gets to; you know, we can’t do that. And it’s just an incredible affirmation of the strength of heavy metal in 2014 and 2015. It was undeniable; I think heavy metal can be kinda undervalued, when it’s in the Top 10 like that in the biggest market in the U.S. It’s up there with country, rap, pop and hip-hop and all those other types of music, and, you know, I’ve got huge respect for every type of music. But to have metal, right there, No. 6 in the top 10, it was undeniable… The fans put us there, and we can’t be thankful enough for that. It just sends a strong message to the rest of the world that metal is alive and well in our time and long may that continue. That’s the way it felt for me, really — apart from being a part of it; just the power of heavy metal around the world, really.
The Rockpit: You’ve been nominated, and rightfully so, by Metal Hammer’s Golden Gods, for the Dimebag Darrell Shredder of 2015, what does this mean to you and what do you think of your competition?
Richie: First of all, being nominated for anything like that is a huge honor, to be in peoples minds enough to be considered for that. But then going on for the Dimebag Darrell award, is just… you know there is a lot of responsibility that comes with that, you know how important that is for people, and then to be put down as a nominee for that, I can’t really put into words really. Just to be nominated, for all the guys in there, there is some stiff competition, there always is and there always should be. There always should be good guitar players out there and I’m glad that there’s stiff competition. I’d be happy with the nomination; every guy that has been nominated for that, I think is a winner. I know it sounds a bit cliche, but it really is, something is important in our community everyone is a winner. We’ll see what happens, may the best man win and I’m really excited to have a shot at the award and we’ll have to see what happens.
Read the entire interview at The Rockpit.