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Interview: GLENN TIPTON (Judas Priest)

Rock Stars...

In 1997, Judas Priest co guitarist and co songwriter Glenn Tipton released his first excellent solo album ‘Baptizm Of Fire' through Atlantic. It was widely known he'd recorded at least two albums' worth of material had been recorded, using several well known musicians, including Billy Sheehan, Cozy Powell and John Entwistle.

Now, to coincide with it's reissue (featuring 2 extra tracks), he also releases Edge Of The World, credited to Glenn Tipton, John Entwistle and Cozy Powell, the last two legendary musicians sadly no longer with us.

Glenn phoned me from New York to discuss the project (which is, as Glenn admits, superior to the original release), and more.

GLENN: Baptizm is more Nuevo metal and the other more classic metal. If I had to differentiate, I'd say one is more modern metal and the other more traditional rock metal.

Basically I'd been encouraged to go to LA, because of Billy Sheehan and these younger guys, and Atlantic (the then label) had the idea to blend the old and the new together which is what we did. In all honesty Baptizm Of Fire emerged and it was a good album, I was very proud of that, but it left these songs unused, this batch of songs that I always though should see the light of day, I was always really fond of them. In a way the songs were as good if not better than Baptizm Of Fire. Baptizm was poignant at the time.

So recently when Warners wanted to re-release Baptizm and when they heard the original tapes they thought, like me, that it was a crying shame they didn't see the light of day and so finally I mixed them and then released them as Edge Of The World.

This is actually the first batch of tracks I did, that's the reason they've come out second.

Judas Priest

Photo © Judas Priest website

JOE: How much more material is there?

GLENN: There's only about 2 or 3 more songs and they probably won't see the light of day. They're quite good songs but they're not really appropriate. You know at the time Joe I was experimenting, there was no Judas Priest when these songs were written so in a sense the album was done for the right reasons. You know a lot of solo albums are done for the wrong reasons, like “Listen to me Look at me see what I can play”, that wasn't the point at the time, the point was there was no future for Priest, we hadn't even got Ripper (Tim ‘Ripper' Owens) in the band.

I got itchy fingers and I wanted to create, so I started to write not really knowing what direction to go in, certainly not wanting to sound like Judas Priest. There's no way in the world could compete with Priest, who are arguably one of the best metal bands in the world.

I think when you do solo albums you have to stray into musical areas and lyrical areas you couldn't do with the band that you're part of, in my case Judas Priest, I think that's very important. And so I started to write, not really knowing what direction I was going in.

When I got a batch of songs I approached John and Cozy first. After a lengthy debate we approached John and he was very interested in doing it. That's the way these songs came about really. Obviously as well with me singing the material I had to get used to the strengths in my voice, which are few and far between, and the weaknesses, but in actual fact I've got the luxury of being able to write the songs round my limited range and so I can get away with it and I think at the end of the day, I use my voice like another instrument anyway, so it took me a long time to find the character and direction I was comfortable with, at the vocal level. I'm just a million light years away from Rob Halford and when you've worked with a guy like that for 30 years you know your limitations obviously.

JOE: Do you think it is a fitting tribute to John and Cozy?

GLENN: It is a tribute and although I don't make a big deal out of it the proceeds of the album are going to the teenage cancer trust. I never thought of Edge Of The World as a solo album, it's not a solo album, it's about three musicians, me John and Cozy. It is a tribute to them .You know the amount of people they've inspired, they're both legends. I'm was proud to work with them and people should be able to hear that and it's all for a good cause as well.

JOE: I remember Cozy saying at the time what fun it was to do.

GLENN: We had some fantastic times Joe, we did a lot of it down in a little studio in Wales, down in a valley, we had a river running along side it, we had many nights out in the villages drinking in the Welsh pubs, eating some curries and then John came down with his 5 video machines and about 18 basses and a crate of brandy. It was magical times and I always remember, I've said it many times, the day John came down and he struck up bass and kicking this song round called “Give Blood”. It could have been no other bass player in the world and I just looked at Cozy and we got a big grins on our faces. It was fantastic memories.

JOE: Any more plans for solo work?

GLENN: Not at the moment Joe, we're focussing totally on Judas Priest. As you know we're now in the United States, I'm very lucky to be part of Judas Priest, I'm very proud to be part of Judas Priest, Rob's in there, we've got more energy and enthusiasm than ever. Neither me or the fans I think would want me to neglect that side of things, it's the most important thing musically in my life. If a point comes when we hang our hat up I'm sure then I'll maybe turn my attention to other musical things. I've wanted to get involved in film scores, writing films, I love the fact that when you have footage and music you get something very special and so there's still a lot of musical aspirations I've still got to fulfil. But at the moment Priest is the focal point and will always be the most important thing to me.

JOE: So things are going well with Priest at the moment?

GLENN: Well we're just about to start writing the new album. We're touring in December, in Russia, we were out for nearly two years. We took a short break, put some ideas down individually and this month saw me Rob and KK get together to put pencil to paper and start to write the next Priest album.

JOE: I saw the Hammersmith gig on the last (Angel Of Retribution) tour, and it was like you'd never been away.

GLENN: Ha ha ha thanks, well in one way we've never been away. We're there in people's minds and in my mind too so yeah.

JOE: Did you see the CD going round with material by The Flying Hat Band (Glenn's pre Priest outfit)?

GLENN: (laugh) I was just talking to someone else about this Joe and you know I have bad dreams when I look back all those years and think of me, because we supported Deep Purple through a tour and when you do like 20,000 seaters, that was really my baptism of fire, guitar and singer, I really was out of my depth but we pulled if off and it made everything seem easier after that.

I haven't heard the tape that's going round, it was some very early demos that we did that should never see the light of day.

JOE: There was a CD come out featuring The Flying Hat Band and some band called Antrobus.

GLENN: Really? Oh well, I hope I don't get to hear it (laughs)

JOE: Any message for your fans?

GLENN: Well just, obviously, it's, after 14 years we're back with Rob, it's been great together, thank you for being patient. This is a new beginning for us. We're going to write the next album, it's going to be very special, the next album. We'll be out next year with a new album and we're also going to put a new setlist together, playing some songs that we really haven't played for years and years. So it's going to keep everybody happy. Just a big thank you to all our fans out there. Fantastic.

JOE: Thank you very much Glenn.

GLENN: Thank you too Joe, it's been a pleasure, speak soon.


Interview © March 2006 Joe Geesin

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