Q&A: Judas Priest on New DVD, Album Sessions and Aging Metalhead Injuries
Richie Faulkner and Rob Halford of Judas Priest perform in Dusseldorf, Germany.
British metal greats Judas Priest have released quite a few live home videos and DVDs over the years. But from a track list standpoint, their latest, Epitaph (released May 28th), is their most extensive, with at least one cut from all of the Priest albums that Rob Halford sang on. As a result, obscurities ("Never Satisfied," "Starbreaker") do battle with classics such as "Breaking the Law" and "Electric Eye."
With the band also at work on an all-new studio album, Halford and new guitarist Richie Faulkner sat down with Rolling Stone inside the cozy confines of a Central Park hotel room to discuss these projects, as well as Priest's touring future and the health hazards of heavy metal.
When did the idea come up to document the Epitaph tour with a DVD?
Rob Halford: Pretty much when we were in rehearsals, before the big world tour kicked off, the rehearsals . . . it was different. It was different musically, because we were going through the decades of Priest metal. And along with the production, all these great things that were being shown to us that we wanted to include, and to some extent, carry on the experience we had with some of the Nostradamus moments. We thought, "The time is right again to put this all down on film." It just felt like a natural idea to follow up the British Steel DVD.
So as soon as we talked it through, we started to put things into motion and waited until the end, which when you think about it now, we waited until the very last show – it was kind of a ballsy thing to do, because there could have been a technical breakdown, and then, "What are we going to do now?" But thankfully everything ran like clockwork, and it was just great to have that experience captured. It's a defining moment. It's a very unusual thing for Priest to do, in that everything we tried to do has had an original attitude to it. And most certainly, the Epitaph tour carried that significance.
The show was filmed at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo in London.
Halford: It's like, British band, British metal – let's put it in a British venue. And there you've got that world-famous Hammersmith Odeon, which has that rich, incredible heritage of every conceivable musical act. Even now, American bands are like, "Oh, we're going to play the Hammy Odeon!" So it's got some magic in the name. And it's not a massive venue. It's pretty intimate – maybe a couple thousand and change. Packed to the rafters. Just a great place to do something like that.
How would you say this DVD differs from previous Priest DVDs?
Halford: Just in the musical side of it, as well as the great production all these wonderfully talented people committed to getting for us, to go through pretty much four decades of metal is exceptional for Priest. We've never done anything like that before. To go from Rock Rolla all the way through to Nostradamus, to make that kind of statement was, again, an exciting experience for us. You could feel it as you were playing. The musical jump from a song that was written in the Seventies to something that was written in 2008 . . . that's a jump. And you can hear the music developing through the decades. "Turbo Lover" is separate from "Painkiller," as "Painkiller" is from "Breaking the Law," or as "Victim of Changes." For metal aficionados, it's a real treat. And that definitely was the most unusual aspect of this whole project.