In a brand new interview with Revolver, Rob Halford spoke about the experience of making JUDAS PRIEST's upcoming album, "Firepower", with guitarist Richie Faulkner, who joined the band in 2011 as the replacement for K.K. Downing.
"When [Richie] came in like he did, it was like stepping into some big boots and he will always acknowledge his respect and admiration for what K.K. still means to certain songs of PRIEST," the singer said. "He came in on the 'Epitaph' tour. He was just flung into the thick of it, went out there night after night and people are going, 'Who's this new guy?' And by the end of every show, he paid his dues. 'Look up there. That's Richie Faulkner. He's in JUDAS PRIEST.' We get to know each other. We're in each other's company, 20 hours a day in the bus, on the stage, backstage, so all of that is important. And Richie's really shone through on this album and his writing contributions. He said in the 'Redeemer Of Souls' writing sessions, 'I don't want to do too much. I've got all these ideas.' I go, 'Let's hear the ideas. Richie, you're not the hired gun. You're in this band.' And so by the time we went into the 'Firepower' writing, he just felt more settled, more cemented into being in PRIEST and that's showing itself with his skill on 'Firepower'."
Halford admitted that "there was some kickback" to Faulkner coming in after Downing, just like "there was kickback when I was away and [Tim] Ripper [Owens] was holding the mic, you know. It's just there in front of your face if you want to turn the computer on and see what people are saying, thinking or feeling, can't you?" he said. "But I will say, on that side of this social platform music scene, we are treated really nice. I have friends in bands that recently are doing really, really well. And they just get tore apart on Blabbermouth or this site or that site. It's very sad, but PRIEST has been really well looked after. We've never gone for controversy. We've never done a stunt. It's always just been the music. The music's there first, so whenever those changes came around, they were for a specific important reason. Our fans understood and so it has been with the way Richie's been embraced, as he should have been."
Faulkner was once the guitarist in the backing group for Lauren Harris, daughter of IRON MAIDEN bassist Steve Harris.
Earlier this week, PRIEST announced that guitarist Glenn Tipton will sit out the band's touring activities in support of "Firepower" as a result of his battle with Parkinson's disease, with which he was diagnosed a decade ago.
Tipton, who is now 70 and has performed on every PRIEST album since the band's 1974's debut set, "Rocka Rolla", is not quitting the band, but simply cannot handle the rigorous challenges of performing live. Joining PRIEST for its upcoming dates will be the band's co-producer and HELL/ex-SABBAT guitarist Andy Sneap.
"Firepower" will be released on March 9 via Epic. The disc was recorded by Sneap, the band's longtime collaborator Tom Allom and engineer Mike Exeter (BLACK SABBATH). The cover artwork for "Firepower" was created by the Chilean/Italian digital artist and photographer Claudio Bergamin.
The North American leg of the "Firepower" tour will kick off on March 13 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and will wrap on May 1 in San Antonio, Texas. Support on the trek will come from SAXON and BLACK STAR RIDERS.