Q&A with Glenn Tipton
Sheila Rene': Hello darlin'. So good of you to call. I haven't hoisted one with you since the Painkiller tour in Oakland in 1989. I've missed you.
Glenn Tipton: We'll have to fix that next time I see you.
SR: I love this new album. The paperwork says you've been working on this for two years.
GT: It has actually been two and a half years. It wasn't totally straight through. I've recorded with so many different guys all around the world. I've had to wait until we could schedule them all in. Then I've had the Priest commitment. We're nearly finished with that album too.
SR: The new album is called Jugulator. I can't wait.
GT: That's it. It's the best Priest album we've every done. You've heard the whole story about our new singer, "Ripper" Owens? It's as if he has always been in the band. He given us so much energy and renewed enthusiasm. He sings the old Priest songs better than they've ever been sung.
SR: I just got the new Century Media Priest tribute album.
GT: We've always been approached about this kind of thing in the past. Would we condone it? This time we felt it was important. There are some older bands on there but in this instance there are some younger bands. Priest has always liked to help younger bands. In this instance they've all done their own take on our songs. No one can ever do better versions of Priest, Rolling Stone or Zeppelin songs, but if you do your own interpretation of those songs, it's a very valid idea.
SR: Until I got into your website I would have thought that these guys were just around at the right time, but you had everyone in mind.
GT: The way it worked was that my album was done for the right reasons. I have renewed energy. Everything is great now. The new album is what ever Priest fan will want to hear. For several years I just took it easy. We were very devastated when Rob left. Things evolved. We didn't even know if we'd go on after that. I started writing this album with Cozy not knowing if it would be a solo album or a Priest album. I certainly wasn't expecting to sing. Cozy is a good friend and we've always wanted to work together. John Entwistle came into the picture because we have the same management. Then I wanted to work with some older guys, he says respectively, because I'm older now, and with some younger guys. Mark Dodson put me in touch with Robert Trujillo, Bruce Wackerman and Shannon Larkin. I couldn't think of doing an instrumental with anyone other than Billy Sheehan. I got to know C.J. when I was in Los Angeles. I jumped on stage with Ugly Kid Joe and saw Shannon play at Nottingham and I was so impressed because he just played the Priest songs so well. It all just evolved.
SR: How did the actual recording take place?
GT: I did bits in London, U.K., Wales and in Los Angeles. Just when everybody could fit it in. Wherever it was possible we tried to get spontaneous takes and a live feel. There was some forethought in there. What I'm most proud of is that you've got a fairly extreme sort of scale of musicians so it's nice that the album really ended up with a real character. I can't thank these guys enough. They gave me the confidence I needed to dig deep and find out what I've got inside me.
SR: I'm not familiar with two musicians you work with, Brooks Wackerman and C.J. de Villar.
GT: Well, Brooks played with Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves. C.J. is a bass player who was working in the studio as an engineer. He approached me to play on a track, but after hearing him play, I told him he could play on more than one track. He was stunning.
SR: All these songs are new, they're not leftover Priest songs.
GT: Oh, no. The funny thing is that other people have asked me that question. The long and short of it is that it's easily definable which is a Priest song and which is one of my songs. You can tell the difference. Obviously, you'll hear similarities because I'm one of the main writers in Priest. It's my natural instinct to write that way. At first I moved too far away from Priest with a deliberate attempt because I didn't want people to think I was wanting to sound Judas Priest. I'm only one person in that band. I'm not more important than any of the other members. I moved too far away and it wasn't until my instincts pulled me back toward what I naturally write, which is metal, that I found the direction. It was very exciting for me not just to work with all these guys but to see my vocal character and the album's character emerge over a couple of years. My album has its own character. It just grew in front of me. Priest is Priest and I'm me. They should be separate really.
SR: I'm totally shocked at how good the vocals are. Where have you been hiding?
GT: I didn't intend to sing on this album. I just started to put down the vocal approaches of the lyrics and singing, A lot of folks told me that I should do it. The more I sang the better I sounded and the character of my voice appeared. I know I won't win any awards for it, but I have my own identify. I use it as an extra instrument and it was a bit of a shock to me too. It just evolved. This album was done for all the right reasons because I didn't know whether there would be a Priest or not. No delusions of grandeur or to be a solo artist. I got such great encouragement from all the other artists. I can't thank them enough.
SR: I especially love your voice on "Extinct." It's used to great dramatic effect. The solo on "Baptizm Of Fire" is fantastic.
GT: (laughing) Who better to play with than Billy Sheehan and Cozy Powell on an instrumental?
SR: Even though I'm really into the harder bands like Sepultura, Biohazard and Fear Factory, I find myself missing a good solo every once in a while.
GT: You know what I tried to do because lengthy solos aren't in vogue now was to make it very '90s and very contemporary. There's enough lead work on the album for the purist who's followed me for 20 years. They know what I'm doing. I don't have to prove anything. The story is lead guitarist does a solo album. It might be good, but after the third track you're ready to turn it off and go out and have a beer. I put the solo all on one track which left me lots of room to do other things.
SR: What guitars did you use on this album?
GT: Hamer, Gibson and Fenders really. Gibson SGs. They're all mongrelized and been with me a long time. Guitars are working tools and until I get them home and mess with them they don't sound right or play like they should.
SR: You covered "Paint It Black" because...
GT: I've always loved the Stones as songwriters and that song in particular. It was a bit of a challenge to do a punk metal version of that song. Three and a half minutes of power packed fun. I don't know what they'll think about it. Not much probably.
SR: Those guys are coming out with a new album and another tour. They'll be rockin' into their 70s and 80s I hope. I certainly plan to be there.
GT: Just like me.
SR: Mark Dodson an old friend came on board to help with the project.
GT: Yes, that's right. It was great. He was very supportive and helped me recruit some of the musicians. I've known him for years and years and in a sense it's hard to work with complete strangers. He was nice to work with an old friend.
SR: I find it pretty interesting that two vocalists on the Century Media Priest tribute, Warrel Dane of Nevermore and Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad, were auditioned for Priest.
GT: Devin was a strong contender although he wouldn't have dealt with some of the older stuff too well. He has a great voice and lots of enthusiasm. We had over a thousand applicants. We settled on "Ripper" Owens because not one Priest fan will be disappointed.
SR: What was the final quality that made you choose "Ripper."
GT: The story was that we were poised to do the auditions. We had narrowed down to 15 guys. Scott said we had to hear this guy from British Steel, who was a Judas Priest cover band. We put up his video and he was amazing. I couldn't believe it. We phoned him up, you can't be this good. Fly me over and I'll do any Priest song you want me to. We flew him over two days later asked him what he wanted to sing. He said just put up the first song on the reel. We put up "Victims Of Changes" and he sang the first verse. We gave him the job. We went on to play other songs with him including "Ripper." That's why we gave him that name. He's unbelievable. We were really devastated when Rob left in '91. We now feel that it was the best thing that could have happened to the band. We had a break and I found what's inside me. We've written the best Priest album we've ever written because of him. He has given us a new lease on life with all his vigor. He sings the old songs as well as the new stuff. We look over at him and it's like he's always been there. I know there's some apprehension out there. We just want everyone to give it a chance and let us deliver it for them. I guarantee you that it's going to be a dream album and the Priest album every fan wants to hear. It was done for all the right reasons, love not the money.
SR: I suggest that perhaps Rob left the band because he wanted to feel what you're feeling now with your new inspiration. I've supported his first two albums and will probably continue to support him if he'll let me.
GT: For the record, let's get one thing straight here. He left of his own accord. We didn't ask him to leave. Rob was not fired. He has cut himself off from us which is very sad. We were all very close. We went through a lot together in Priest. I wish him well. We only live once and you should always do what makes you happy. His heart wasn't in the band or he wouldn't have left. I'm sad that he's cut himself off from us. It might have been embarrassment. I wish him well in whatever he does. In the cold hard light of day perhaps we had gone as far as we could with Rob. We're all happy. Nobody wishes him any harm. You only get one chance.
SR: Are you still on target for a May release of Jugulator?
GT: We'll turn it in by March. K.K. and I are producing with Sean Lynch who engineered my album.
SR: Tell me about some of the songs.
GT: You won't want to meet this character in a dark alley. He rips spines out. The album goes on from there. It's very '97 and very brutal. It's the heaviest thing we've done in years. Everybody's going to love it.
SR: Who did the new logo? It's great.
GT: It's from Bob Wilkinson. He did the painting. We're really proud of it.
SR: Can you believe Judas Priest is creeping up on 30 years.
GT: Someone early on in my life told me to chose something that had longevity. I would have never picked heavy metal but here we are.
SR: How are the trades looking?
GT: We were #1 most added this week.
SR: Hardradio on the Internet is going to be rolling some of your album soon. We're getting E-mail from all over the world from folks just so happy that there is metal being played somewhere.
GT: You know, Sheila, what makes me sick is that I keep reading in interviews with some of these bands decrying that they're not metal. We're not heavy metal we're grunge/alternative, grunge/trash/death or some other kind of music. It's pathetic. Judas Priest are metal and my album is metal and we're proud of it. You can be heavy metal and be still be contemporary. I don't know why people are denying this fact and turning their back on it. It really embarrasses me. Nobody is going to think that the new Priest album is dated. It'll be inspirational and crazy but it'll be heavy metal. I'm proud to be heavy metal. It really disturbs me that these people are so shallow minded.
SR: Are you an Internet guy?
GT: I'm sort of an Internet guy. Yeah, we've got a page up. You got a lot of fan pages too.
SR: Any chance that all of your albums can be released on CD with special cuts never heard before or acoustic cuts? Castle has done a great job with the Iron Maiden and Motorhead catalogues. Especially if you could put those first albums still owned by Gull on there.
GT: (laughing) We'll put them back on there. One of the reasons we missed the mark there is that they're rehashing them over and over. The reason we mixed them up is that they're exploiting the kids with new covers. But I think we might have to put those albums back on there with a message saying why we don't condone what they're doing. We've got a meeting today with this guy from Japan. He's encouraging us to do totally re-recorded versions of some of our songs and some as instrumentals. We've formed our own label, Priest Music. You may well see some that soon.
SR: The album will be out by May and then it'll be non-stop touring.
GT: You bet. A world tour and for us our second home is on stage. We really have missed the stage. We can't wait. Now with this new guy in the band we're anxious to show him off. We could play anywhere, small clubs, theaters or auditoriums. I really, really think people are ready for some new Priest.
SR: I certainly am. Congrats on a great solo album. As always, your time is appreciated.
GT: We'll hoist one when I get to Austin. Thanks for your interest in my projects.