Songfacts: How does the songwriting work in Judas Priest?
Glenn Tipton: It can be anywhere around. What we normally do is go and get our own bunch of ideas together and then we meet up, throw it into the pot and see what comes out. When the room lights up, we’re onto something – we usually end up with a great song.
So it’s very exciting with Judas Priest, because you go to a writing session with nothing and you never know what you’re going to come away with. It can be a riff that sets off somebody else’s train of thought or it can be a vocal line, or a lyric, or title, or it can even be a riff. And suddenly, a song takes shape. It’s amazing the way it does. Like a jigsaw puzzle, it just all falls into place.
Rob Halford: You start the day with nothing and then you end up with something that’s going to be around longer than you are. The most amazing part of being in any band, I think, is the creative process and seeing what you’ve got left.
Some days, you’ve got nothing. Some weeks you’ve got nothing. But in the general sense of the word, when we would get together there’d always be a spark, so that you’d have a reference to go back to the next day or maybe a week later.
You can’t rush writing music, because if you do rush it, it generally just only has that sense. Some songs will come together very, very simply, but generally, the ones that are really well composed do take a lot of thought, especially when you’ve got hundreds and hundreds of songs already in the vault that are established and part of your repertoire. You’re always trying to better yourself in that respect, so it isn’t easy. It’s not easy, especially 40 years later.
Songfacts: I could imagine.
Rob: Yeah. That’s why I’m so proud of this record. It’s not just another Priest record. It’s a very strong classic metal statement from the band.
Songfacts: Let’s discuss the title track of Redeemer of Souls.
Rob: It’s another song of empowerment for me in the lyrical message. It’s got the little bit of the fantasy element, creating a figure, this redeemer of souls.
What is he? He’s not a destructive guy, he’s coming to bring that redemption with metal, and I think that’s a very iconic type of representation for Judas Priest.
The whole song for me is very unique in its sound and what’s coming through the speakers. If you’re a Priest fan, you go, “That’s my band. That’s why I love this kind of music.” And the statement is there in the four minutes that you hear, and this is what I want from Priest in 2014.
Glenn: I just think it typifies Priest. The rhythm of it is very reminiscent of things we’ve done before. We haven’t tried to repeat anything – it’s just what comes naturally from us.
That’s what I like about that song: it’s a very natural Judas Priest song. And I love the high noon reference, as well, which to me typifies that god, half-molten metal, half-human walking down some sort of deserted cowboy town with tumbleweeds and dust and dirt. That’s the picture it conjures up for me.
Rob: I was thinking Cowboys & Aliens [a 2011 film about a spaceship that lands in the Old West]. Everybody thought that movie sucked and I loved it!
Richie: To me, Redeemer of Souls, the title track, it came about very naturally, as the guys have said. It’s instantly Judas Priest as soon as it comes in. It does have elements of earlier Priest, as they order it. It’s the same band. It’s very instant and very direct. It’s simple, but it’s what you’d expect from a Judas Priest song. It was the first song that got put out to the public just to let you know that Priest is back and this is what it’s about, really.
Songfacts: One of my favorite older Judas Priest songs is Dissident Aggressor. How did you come up with that title?
Rob: It’s about the Berlin Wall in 1970 something or other. I couldn’t sleep, so I went out for a walk. I went to the Berlin Wall and I walked up on top of a boxy-looking post thing.
Glenn: A watchtower-type thing.
Rob: Watchtower thing. It was in November, it was freezing cold, and I was looking over from West Berlin, which is all brightly lit up – pubs were up and everything. And the East side was just dead. It was pitch black, no lights were on, and there were these Russian guys looking back at me in binoculars. That was the seed for what that song talks about, about “I know what I am in Berlin.”
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Judas Priest’s new album, Redeemer of Souls, is available for purchase today (July 8th).