Glenn Tipton

Judas Priest

They're many who tried to prove that they're faster, but they didn't last and they died as they tried. That's how it goes in Hell Bent For Leather but it certainly does not represent one of Metal's oldest guitar players, Glenn Tipton, as he seems to have lasted for more than three decades and will surely continue on giving us the best Heavy Metal hymns.

Judas Priest is a Metal monster and Glenn is standing right in the core of its existence, right in the center of its brain. During Rockwave Festival, here in Athens, while I was occupied taking photos of Cradle of Filth's live performance (just after Savatage and just before Megadeth) my cell phone started ringing like mad! I answered it and then I grabbed Manolis and we both started running like hell! We headed backstage, way backstage, full of anxiety and anticipation. After a sort time of getting lost (and found), finally we were there the door cracked open and there he was, sitting on the couch, holding one of his oldest guitars, smiling at us! Glenn Tipton, one of the finest guitar players in Heavy Metal (ever) was ready to give us a quite exclusive Interview!

[Note: Interview taken on July 1st, 2001 at Rockwave Festival in Athens, Greece]
By Orpheus Spiliotopoulos
July 23, 2001
Glenn Tipton (Judas Priest) interview
So how is the Tour going so far?

Very good, excellent!

What's the reaction of the crowd?

It's been fantastic! Playing in front of 20,000 people in different festivals is just great. It's tremendous.

After 30 years of playing live gigs and all these albums, is the energy still the same? I mean, when you go out there, you know, on stage and you face the crowd. Is the energy like it used to be?

To be honest I've got more energy now and more enthusiasm. I don't know why! I don't know why but I think that Ripper's helped a lot because Ripper's a very enthusiastic and young guy and he's like Come on! Let's go do this! so we go with him! [Laughs] We've always had a genuine love for Metal, you know, we don't just make another album. We've genuinely got such a love for Judas Priest and Metal that that's where our energy and enthusiasm comes from! It never ceases to surprise me you know. When I started, if someone said what music would you pick to have a long career, I wouldn't have said Heavy Metal but you know, I'm still here! Still got the energy!

Could you say that Judas Priest draw energy from the fans in order to keep on?

Absolutely! I mean, I think you'll see tonight that the fans are so loyal to the band. We've never been here, we've never been to Greece before which for whatever reason, I don't know why. It's not because we didn't want to come. I don't know why we never came before and we should have come before! But you know the fans are still there. They're still there. So it's just tremendous you know, so we should go and play our hearts out

So I guess it will be one hell of a night tonight!

I'm sure it will! [Laughs]

So you've got the Tour on the way and the Demolition album which is not yet released. Tim told me in our last interview something about heading to the studios right after the tour? Is that true?

No, no. What for?

To start preparing for your next album

Well no, I mean we're gonna be touring till well passed Christmas so we'll take a break.

A short break?

Yeah and then start to write again. For me a break is always good because a break makes me hungry again.

Like the unfortunate break you had the last years.

[Laughs] I think we deserved that! [Pauses for a while] Well actually there have been personal reasons. There comes a point in your life where the band doesn't take president. Sometimes there are things happening in your life that have to take president and that's quite a few thing happened [Glenn is referring to his person life of course].

Yes, I know. Now I'll make a question that's based on what I hear from Metal fans generally. After Painkiller, you changed the guitar sounds, towards heavier and rawer. What do you have to say about this?

Yeah I think it's a fair comment. I think that if you look at all our albums, they're all different characters. You know, British Steel is different to Screaming For Vengeance and Screaming For Vengeance is different to Painkiller, certainly different to Turbo or Point Of Entry. And then you've got Jugulator which is a very angry album, I think, cause that's how we felt.

Very raw, right?

Yes and the new album, it's a really honest representation of how we feel now. We never sit down and say this is how the new album's going to sound, we just write it and then record it.

Don't you think that people have preserved in their minds a standard Judas Priest, kind of Heavy Metal sound?

If they have, I don't know what it is cause there's not two of our albums that have ever been the same. I think the good thing about Judas Priest is you never know what to expect!

You've got another thing coming... [Laughs]

Yeah and I think everybody is a little bit surprised and maybe disappointed of our new albums, not the new album but new albums cause when they come out, they expect them to be one thing and it's something else but then they get used to it and they like it. Same with Jugulator, it was a bit shocking, it was a bit brutal but then they come back and they go I really like it now. They're just gonna live with it. They're gonna live with it for a bit and try and see what we're trying to do, you know, because we've never remained the same, we've always forged ahead. Some people don't like that but it's so difficult with Judas Priest, you can't win really because if we move in too quickly, we disappoint the older fans and then if we try and do an old fashioned album, we disappoint the new fans.

So you can't really win and the last thing we ever need to do is to compromise. Nobody wants to compromise. We just forge ahead and we do an honest album of how we feel at that point in time and we hope that the people, who don't quite get it, will get it if they listen to it more times. It's brave, you know, the things we do are quite brave because it would be easy to keep doing the same Judas Priest albums and we know we could sell 'em but we've always experimented and that's what we like to do.

Are you adapting all the music to Ripper's voice? Because he told that you try to make him do every possible human sound in the studio!

[Laughs] Yes, I do! The good thing about Ripper is when he first came in, people obviously want to hear Judas Priest's singer! But I knew straight away that there were so many areas of his voice that I could use, get out of it. The most amazing thing is, even though we do that now and on this album even more, I managed to find them and get them out and it's still Judas Priest and this is what freaks me out! It's still us and there still many areas of his voice left in there. I'm a bit like the exorcist, I get them out! [All Laugh] Sometimes he frustrates in the studio 'cause I keep making him sing this and that I know you can do different - I can't man but I keep on to him and he comes out. And it's there you know, he's got the most amazing vocals.

So you're that satisfied with his voice?

He's amazing! And there's so much more left in him!

And much more left to do, right?

Yep! As a songwriter and as a producer on this album, I'm excited about the areas of his voice that are still left. Because that always gives us chance to evolve more which is why we've been around for 30 years. We keep looking ahead. We try to create more room for the band to maneuver and also more room for other bands to maneuver! But we do get criticized sometimes, that's a fair comment, but we shall always do it.

Do you think that nowadays Heavy Metal is re-living what it lived back in the 70's and 80's?

I don't think so. I keep hearing people about resurgence and that. I don't think it's actually been away or such! I think the focus of attention's gone off it. You've got a lot of newer bands that have come around, which is a good thing. It's a good thing because Metal needs an injection of new character. It needs new vocal approaches, it needs new identity and its goes through this every now and then. We went through the New Wave era, the Punk era, Death and Thrash Metal era, New Age Metal etc but we've always come out to be stronger because we've always gone with it. I mean it's a foolish person, who doesn't pay attention to what's going on you know.

I listen to all the new bands, my son's turns me into a lot, he's fifteen and I turn him into some as well but I listen to them and I get to understand them. I get to enjoy them and that's the key. You have to understand it enough so that you like it and it's just a great injection of newness to the whole scene. And if it wasn't for that, Metal would die. Metal needs a new age; it needs new things to happen to it. But the intelligent bands, the ones who'd accept they don't know it all, they look around and see what's successful because if a band's successful, there's a demand for it! And those kids are making that demand. And you've got to accept and acknowledge talents you know and characters. It's character I love in a band!

But don't you think that a lot of things nowadays that have to do with bands, mostly have to do with money? I mean, what sells through MTV and stuff like that.

If that is the case, it's still something that keeps like, you know. If they're selling their appearance oppose to the music, kids still find that attracting. Unfortunately there's nothing we can do about their appearance so we have to accept that! [Laughs] But I mean whatever turns the kids on!

You've got to pay attention and just extract a little bit of inspiration from them.

So that means we'll never stick to the good old 80's Heavy Metal forever! [Laughs]

No, I don't think you'd want to! You might think you would but I think that long term it's good for Metal, it goes through these processes and it's only the stronger bands that stay there. And all the bands are like us, they have to try really hard otherwise we know it all. We see bands around us having success, doing new things. It keeps us on our toes, which is a good thing!

Do you think that originality is something hard to find in our days?

Yeah, it is but there are still bands managing to do it you know. I think that when one gets down to it, the very end of the line, it doesn't matter what make-up a band wears, it doesn't matter what outrageous things they do. It's down to the songs! If the songs are good, the band will succeed. And I think that it's always down to the songs. Some people... well, Marilyn Manson, the band writes some good songs, there are some really good songs you know.

So you can't really knock it you know. The only bands I wouldn't ever criticize would be bands that don't write good songs or bands that aren't original because I love originality. I see a band and I go yeah that's good, that's unique!, I respect them because they come up with something new and it is difficult.

Judas Priest exists for some 30 years now. What do you think is to be done next?

From my point of view?


Well, the cycle will continue, we'll do another album and we'll take a break after this tour and just start to write again. Hopefully the new album will be another step forward because that's what I always tried to achieve. To hit new ground if we can, you know, and just write some good songs. You'll see tonight that Priest is a band all about audience involvement. That's what we go on stage for, to involve the audience. So, if we can do that again with the new album, it's successful, from my point of view.

Finally, Glenn, send out a message, now that you're on tour, to all the fans that will read this interview.

Is it worldwide?


Sorry we've been away for 4 years but we're back now and we'll be heading to your town to demolish you shortly, so be patient and we'll be back!

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