Judas Priest Bassist Ian Hill on Heavy Metal, New Music + More – Interview

2019-05-24

Judas Priest – Story by Anne Erickson, photo Travis Shin

Judas Priest bass player Ian Hill speaks with Anne Erickson about the band’s current tour, a new album and more in this exclusive interview

Judas Priest is one of the forefathers of heavy metal music. From the band’s debut in the mid-’70s to their latest record, 2018’s “Firepower,” the British metal outfit has showed a relentless amount of power and passion over the years, and they still have plenty of life ahead.

Bass player Ian Hill was there from the beginning. Hill is one of the original members of Judas Priest and has spent decades bringing the band’s heavy metal to the masses.

Judas Priest is back in North American, touring behind their celebrated “Firepower” record, and the trek stretches through the end of June. The band is touring with Uriah Heep on this run.

“All of us just love it, and I can’t see any reason to stop doing it just yet,” Hill tells Audio Ink Radio of performing live. “As long as we can keep putting on quality performances and churn out quality music and fans still want us, we’ll still be there.”

Hill spoke with Anne Erickson from Audio Ink about the band’s current tour, the importance of the live show to Judas Priest, the prospect of new music and much more. Read the interview below, and listen via the YouTube player. Find Judas Priest online at JudasPriest.com. Subscribe to the Audio Ink podcast for more interviews here.

Anne Erickson: Thanks so much for making the time to do this interview, Ian. Judas Priest is back in North America on your “Firepower” tour. What has the energy been like at these shows?

Ian Hill: The energy is tremendous. We get a lot of applause from the crowd and the reaction we get– the crowds have been great so far. They really have. We’re very lucky in that respect to have that kind of audience. There’s loads of energy there.

Judas Priest– you guys are road warriors. You’re constantly touring. How important has the live show been to Judas Priest’s success?

It’s been crucial. We’ve always worked on the road. We’ve never been, sort of, studio kings. We’ve always liked to get on the road and go play our music to people in person rather than sit around doing albums. We’ve always felt the need to go out. We love it, which is why we still do it after all these years. I don’t think the band would be near as successful if we hadn’t done that. It’s not just playing the music, either. It’s everything that goes with it– the people that you meet, the sites that you see. It’s all part of this wonderful package.

Congratulations on all of the success of “Firepower.” What’s the status of the next Judas Priest record?

Well, the creative juices are still flowing. We always try to take a step forward with each album. That’s what’s kept us current. So, as long as we can improve on “Firepower,” or improve on it as far as we’re concerned, we’ll give it a go. There are some great ideas that weren’t used off the last record. Probably another five, six songs, and we can probably make an album. So, there’s no reason not to give it a go. We plan to do so as soon as we’re given the chance and the tour schedule slows down.

Do you find that touring together, you’re coming up with ideas on the road?

Occasionally, yes! Richie (Faulkner) mainly. He’s always in the dressing rooms, the little rehearsal rooms we have, so occasionally ideas do come along on the road.

You’ve been playing with Richie Faulkner for a while now. What has Richie brought to Judas Priest, both live and in the studio?

Richie is one of these wonderful people who is incredibly talented and he’s also got his head firmly set on his shoulders. (Laughs) Richie was a great find for us. He really was. He’s a great human being and a wonderful talent. When Ken retied, if we hadn’t found someone of Richie’s caliber, there was a big question mark whether we’d still be doing it or not. But Richie brought not just youth but also boundless enthusiasm and he sort of rubbed off on the other members, and he breathed a new life into the band, and for that, we’re grateful.

Judas Priest has toured the U.S. so much over the decades. We’re going through a rough political time right now, and a lot of Americans are divided. Do you sense a difference when you come play shows here, or does it seem business as usual?

It’s pretty much business as usual. We’re apolitical, really. We don’t make our political beliefs known one way or another. I don’t think it’s very fair for anyone in a privileged position like we are to influence people politically. It’s got nothing to do with us, really, how people feel politically. I think we agree that people throughout the world just want to get on with their lives and be as successful as they possibly can and put a roof over their heads, feed and clothe their families and enjoy it as much as they can.

A few of your metal colleagues are doing farewell tours – Ozzy, Kiss, Slayer. What do you think of all these major acts calling it quits?

It will come– eventually there will come a time when maybe you aren’t able to perform to your optimum or high standards anyway, and you have to admit to yourself that you’ve got to do other things. There will come a time, but for us, it’s not yet. I can see the reasons why they’re doing it, but we’re enjoying it too much at the moment to consider quitting!

Are there any artists or bands out there that you think Judas Priest would like to collaborate with one day in the studio or maybe tour with?

That’s a good question. There’s always the big question of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. That would be really interesting if we could get that together before some of us die. It’d be great! (Laughs) There are a lot of other bands we’ve played with. We’ve got Uriah Heep, specials guests on this tour. I was a fan of Uriah Heep way back in the day. They go back at least as long as we do, if not a bit further. You run into these people over the years. We’ve played with quite a few of them, but we’ve got to get together with Iron Maiden.

Would you ever consider doing a solo album with guest musicians?

It’s something that I’ve thought about, but not until this band’s finished, Judas Priest. It might be something for my retirement. Nothing serious that is going to take me away from home for months and moths at end, so just as a project and see where it goes. I don’t know what– maybe blues and go back to my roots.

What are your thoughts on the state of heavy metal music? When you are touring and playing shows, do you get the sense that heavy metal is alive and well?

I think it is. There’s been a lot of talk about heavy metal dying, and I’ve seen no evidence of that anywhere. What are you going to replace it with? It’s one of those things that there’s always been different genres of music, and throughout history there’s always been different genres. Basically, they’re still there. The instruments and basic sound has changed, but you take heavy metal away, and there’s a hole which will just be filled with something, which will probably be new heavy metal! No– there’s no sign of its demise. Not that I’ve seen.

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