Interviu: Judas Priest

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It was a hot afternoon when I had the chance of speaking on the phone with a rock and roll legend: Ian Hill, bass player and founding member of the british rock band Judas Priest. I was one of the many anxious to hear Priest live for the first time in Romania, so the chance of an interview seemed not only appealing, but also rewarding. It proved to be an interesting conversation and here it is, in its entirety.

If I know well, you decided, along with Al Atkins and K.K. Downing, to name the band after a Bob Dylan song, called "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest". Was there any influence of the folk music in what you did as a musician?

Originally, yes, we named the band from the Dylan song. The main influence for me back then was a fellow called Jack Bruce, performing along with Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton in a band called Cream. I suppose my father, also a bass player, influenced me back then in the way i used to play, bun now there is no influence left, it's all our own input.

You covered a song from Joan Baez
, "Diamonds and Rust"...

Yes, that's right. Originally, we did it, a rock version, with Rob on vocals, way back in the times of the album "Sin after sin" (the song appeared also on the album "Hero, hero", in 1979, n.r.). Then, we did a slower, much more acoustic version of the song with Tim "Ripper" Owen (the best of the versions is hailed to be the one recorded in 2002, live in London, n.r.).

full band

This brings me to another questions: are there any plans for an unplugged Judas Priest disc?

You never know, it's something that has been suggested. I think there's room for that, there's potential, it would be very interesting to hear those songs played acoustically.

How did you feel to perform at Live Aid?


Ah! Live Aid was tremendous, It was a great gig. Everybody had only about 20 minutes, but it was a great atmosphere, everybody was doing something useful for the benefit of people in Ethiopia, but it was also a lot of fun.

Did Judas Priest accepted any involvement in charity acts after Live Aid?


We've done several things over the years. Just recently we did something here for a teenage cancer trust here in England. There was a concert in Royal Albert Hall for that benefit.

band full public

Do you remember a concert that you specially enjoyed?


We've done so many in the past, we really have, so...I don't know!  There are different locations where we play: we do the large auditoriums, the big outdoor festivals which are great, and then we do the small shows, in clubs, with around a thousand fans sweating in front of the small stage...These are the shows I would probably prefer, if you ask me, but i don't know...i might choose the Rio festival in...'83 or '84 or Live Aid, but it's very difficult to choose.

You are working again with Rob Halford after a time he went off from the band. Was it ever a time after the reunion when you felt the trust in him was...lost?

No, it's all gone in the past now. It got a little bit out of hand back then, a lot of things were said that weren't really meant but it's all behind us now, we're friends again.

band with hill

What can you tell us of the new album just recently released, called "Nostradamus"?


The original idea came from our manager, Bill Curbishly, who came to visit us at the end of the last tour. We were discussing our directions and he suggested that maybe we should do a concept album about the life of Nostradamus, you know? A concept album is something that we have discussed over the years in several occasions but for one reason or another we never got to do it, so we set out to do it, we were instantly interested.

A conceptual album is a lot of work, you know...The album is orchestrated and it has choral parts too. It took the best part of the last two years to write and record the songs. A lot of the guitar artwork was recorded in our home studios, but the drums, the bass and most of the vocals were put down in the Old Smithee studio in Worcestershire. Finally, the album was mixed in a studio in Amsterdam.

Who wrote the lyrics?

Rob did them, Rob Halford.

hill 2
all pictures courtesy of the Judas Priest official site.

On this last album you worked with Deep Purple keyboardist Don Airey. How was it to work with him? You come from different sides of rock music...

We've known Don for some time, he did some work with us in the past on one album or another: little bits and pieces, a few samples, string sections here and there..I think it's been almost 20 years now. It's always a pleasure to work with him, he's a good musician and a fine character, always a pleasure working with Don.

Ok, now about your visit in Romania. Can you give us some snippets on what you intend to do at B'estfest?


We're bringing the whole show with us, the full production including the lights and the bike. The setlist contains two of the new songs, "Prophecy" and "Death", but we also intend to play some old songs that we rarely or never performed live so far, so you will hear some 10 new songs in the set. The concert will last something between one hour and forty five minutes and two hours.

We don't know very much of Romania apart from what we see in the news programs. We're really looking forward to come and play there, it's always exciting when you get to play a new country for the first time. I'm sure it's gonna be great.




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