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  JONATHAN CHURCHILL: DEFENDING OUR ISLAND
JUDAS PRIEST'S IAN HILL TALKS TO MetalTalk.net

22nd July 2011

jonathan churchill

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Judas Priest bassist Ian Hill talks to MetalTalk.net's Jonathan Churchill about American Idol, producing Priest's next studio album, and the music industry today.

This has been a year of headlines for Judas Priest. Initially with the announcement of their final ever world tour, then the retirement of founder-member KK Downing, and finally the exciting revelation that the band will be delivering the goods on a new studio album in 2012.

I've come to the Manchester Apollo on a Saturday night to speak to Ian Hill before Priest hit the stage for the latest show in their current UK tour. Ushered into the backstage area past some excited fans hovering by the security doors hoping to meet Halford or Glenn, I'm taken up to wait outside the band's dressing room.

Article continues below...

 
 


I'm delighted to see that in one of the many tour crates stamped with the Judas Priest logo, is the Judas Priest tumble-dryer! In a wonderfully surreal moment, I'm then shooed into the Metal God's dressing room as it's the only available space to speak with Ian. The room is full of studded leather clothing.

Ian is totally relaxed, friendly and really interesting to talk with. He's exceptionally modest about his achievements and still retains his Black Country accent and down-to-earth attitude. There's no hint of egotistical rock star, but as an original member of Judas Priest and a constant on every single Judas Priest album and tour, I'm sure there's a lot more to him than meets the eye!

MetalTalk.net: Before I start asking about the new album, can you tell us what you thought about your surprise appearance to 40 million unsuspecting Americans on American Idol?

Ian Hill: "It was a whirlwind! The lad James – we owe him a debt of gratitude for bringing Heavy Metal to the mass media. For that reason it was something we couldn't turn down. We weren't just representing Judas Priest but the whole Heavy Metal family, if you like.

Because we'd had a couple of hits in the 80s in the states, people know the band name well. We're a well-known brand. They may not necessarily associate it directly with the music but everyone knew the name so it wasn't a cold audience. It was fun; we had a great reception!"

MetalTalk.net: Moving onto the new album, you have already publicly stated that it's due next year and will be classic Priest. Who will produce the album?

Ian Hill: "It's still at a very early stage but it will probably be mainly the band. Glenn will do a lot of the work. We produced 'Nostradamus' ourselves with the help of a great engineer in Attie (Attie Bauw)."

MetalTalk.net: In light of Accept and Megadeth's work with Andy Sneap and Rick Rubin's work with Slayer and Slipknot, would you consider an outside 'super producer'?

Ian Hill: "We like to work on production ourselves, as we don't want too much outside influence. I remember in the 80s, Stock, Aitken And Waterman approached us to do some tracks and it just didn't work."

MetalTalk.net: Did you actually write any songs with them or create any demos?

Ian Hill: "We may have laid out a couple of very rough ideas but it would have changed the character of the band too much if we'd gone down that route. We've had a long, successful career doing things our own way and so that's how we'll continue!"

MetalTalk.net: You did have outside influence on the 'Defenders Of The Faith' and 'Screaming For Vengeance' albums, via songwriter Bob Halligan Jr. Why was that?

Ian Hill: "We'd already done a couple of non-Priest tracks in 'Diamonds And Rust' and 'The Green Manalishi', which had worked well. It's really something the record company pushed us to do, to get a commercial track on the radio. It's funny because by the time we'd finish with the track it's too heavy to release and we ended up going with one of our own! Bob Halligan's a good songwriter but our versions were just too Heavy Metal to release!"

MetalTalk.net: You've produced some music in your time – including the band: 'The New Blacks', back in 2006. How did that come about?

Ian Hill: "Yes – something I did very cheaply for some friends I helped out. It's a shame it didn't work out for them. I helped with the guitar sound and pointed them in a few directions – was fun doing it. I helped out another band too – Mindfeed."

MetalTalk.net: And is your son still in the band Hostile?

Ian Hill: "Yep, my sons still in Hostile. It's so difficult to get on now – it's practically impossible unless you're on X-Factor or American Idol. The infrastructure's not there. It took us ten years to make any money, although we did build our name. Even when we started to earn money it all went back into the band – better equipment, better van...

"The infrastructure's not there any more. Record companies aren't spending money on new acts. It's as simple as that. Not unless you're already famous. My lad's band's a great band and twenty years ago they'd have got on. But record companies aren't investing money they won't get back. As soon as a record goes on a shelf some idiot is giving it away for nothing online! That's the problem with the internet. Because potentially it's a marvellous channel – totally global – anyone with a computer can access it and release their music to a wide audience. But with no record company money, bands can't make high quality recordings. They're reduced to making records in their garage or bedroom! And even if a band gets on a tour the record company won't put money into it because they still traditionally get money from record sales."

MetalTalk.net: What does Sony Music get out of Judas Priest these days?

Ian Hill: "Well as I mentioned, we are a global brand. We do still sell. But now all over the world, so now if we sell as many records globally as we used to do in America alone, that's working for us. In the past though you went on tour and could break even or make a small loss – because record sales covered it. Now you make a record in order to promote your tour. This why everybody's coming out of the woodwork! People we haven't heard of for years are out on the road as their back catalogue's drying up! It's ok for us because this is what we've always done."

MetalTalk.net: Was breaking the US critical in making Priest a global brand then?

Ian Hill: "We did concentrate on America - we admit it. Management and the record company wanted us to do this. But it worked. We're a band that can tour worldwide. But we started doing what 'Rival Sons' are doing now, (opening the show as we recorded this) supporting – possibly REO Speedwagon, if I remember correctly. And some shows with Led Zeppelin."

MetalTalk.net: What's it like opening to a disinterested crowd and only getting twenty minutes?

Ian Hill: "It's frustrating only playing six songs because you want to play more. But you get your name on the poster and it builds your name and you're thankful for it. We were so pleased to be there in a foreign country playing in front of thousands of people. We were really thankful and you hope if you play well you'll get an extra song – an extra spotlight – anything really!"

MetalTalk.net: Moving on to your musical contribution to Judas Priest; as a bass player when you were creating innovative fast tracks like 'Exciter' in the 1970s, (from the 'Stained Class' album) with drummer Les Binks, who specialised in double-kick work – did you have to adapt your style?

Ian Hill: "No. I just played quicker – it's as simple as that!"

MetalTalk.net: But did you realise your songs would have such an impact after more than thirty years?

Ian Hill: "Well we've always done fast songs. One of the magical things about Heavy Metal – there's fast, slow, heavy, light and commercial stuff. Music that will make you weep, or stuff that will make you shit yourself! So Priest always did fast songs – we just played quicker and it was a gradual build up to songs like 'Painkiller'."

MetalTalk.net: On which albums do you feel you had most influence?

Ian Hill: "Hmmm... let me think... Probably the first two albums – they have lots of bass work on them. And 'Jugulator', that's got some busy bass! Because we have two lead guitarists with distorted sounds, the bass has to remain clear so I don't use any effects. I use a pick to help me play quicker and heavier but it remains a foundation. I haven't changed my style much over the years. The basic Judas Priest sound is just a good foundation of bass and drums and we build on top of that.

MetalTalk.net: Are there any bands influencing you at present?

Ian Hill: "To be honest not a great deal. We never try to deliberately pick up on outside influences. You do pick up a great deal subconsciously but we wouldn't just go down the record store and see what's selling! I don't tend to listen to much on the tour-bus – by the time I've played a two hour Judas Priest set, I spend the next 22 hours recovering!

MetalTalk.net: Ian Hill – thank you very much!

Watching Ian Hill on stage that evening, nearly impossible to photograph because he won't stand still, it strikes me how the UK press have largely ignored the exceptional worldwide achievements of Judas Priest, whose world tour will take two years to complete, playing to crowds of metal maniacs across Europe, the US, South America and Asia. It's a staggering achievement by any standards.

But, as the recent Home Of Metal exhibition in Birmingham showcases their huge influence on music, along with 1.6million Facebook 'likes', an appearance on the final of American Idol and, at long last, a Grammy, despite this being the last world tour, the future's still bright for Judas Priest.

Judas Priest headline London's High Voltage festival on Saturday 23 July. In between you can catch them play a homecoming show at Wolverhampton Civic Hall on 21 June and Bournemouth BIC on 24 June.

Read MetalTalk.net's review of Judas Priest at Manchester Apollo by clicking here.

For details of the fantastic UK singles box-set 'Single Cuts – The Complete CBS/Colombia singles', only available from Judas Priest direct, and for the full US tour dates, see www.judaspriest.com.

Ian Hill's son plays in the UK band Hostile. Listen to them by clicking here.

Jonathan Churchill. MetalTalk.net


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toseland THREE MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM TOSELAND
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attila ATTILA PREMIERE VIDEO FOR 'HATE ME'
In this hilarious and unforgettable video clip, Attila trade their microphones and instruments for handcuffs, nightsticks, and cop uniforms...

if all else fails ROCK STARS DEDICATE GET WELL SOON VIDEO TO MONTROSE MUSICIAN
A host of British and American Metal stars combine to wish their comrade Lewis Paton a speedy recovery...

download festival ANOTHER BATCH OF BANDS ADDED TO DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL BILL INCLUDING THUNDER AND EVIL SCARECROW
This year's Download Festival line-up is shaping up nicely with another 24 new acts added to the bill...

steak number eight STEAK NUMBER EIGHT TO EMBARK ON EUROPEAN TOUR WITH PRONG AND HARK
Belgium's post/sludge Metal act Steak Number Eight have announced the dates of their 2015 European tour...

beth hart BETH HART TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM 'BETTER THAN HOME' ON 13th APRIL 2015
Some artists choose to sing the blues and some artists find that they have to live them as well...

asomvel ASOMVEL ANNOUNCE UK TOUR FOR MARCH 2015
With the new line-up powering the band to bigger heights, Asomvel are heading out on tour...

dr living dead DR. LIVING DEAD! LAUNCH BRAND NEW VIDEO
'TEAMxDEADx' is an example of the quality Thrash Metal displayed on the upcoming third album...

mabel greers toyshop MABEL GREER'S TOYSHOP RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOOTAGE FOR 'ELECTRIC FUNERAL'
The band which grew into Yes have reunited and will release a new album in March...

paradise lost PARADISE LOST ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM TITLE AND RELEASE DATE
"We have written a very dark, yet melodic album, but this time many songs definitely have a death Metal edge, which is something we haven't done for a long long time ..."

ensiferum ENSIFERUM ADD MORE EUROPEAN TOUR DATES
We're really looking forward to the new Ensiferum album, 'One Man Army', here at MetalTalk...

airbourne AIRBOURNE SIGN WITH SPINEFARM RECORDS
"We're pumped up to have signed on the dotted line to the world's toughest and truest hard rock label..."

vader VADER BRING BLITZ! OVER EUROPE TOUR TO THE UK AND IRELAND IN MARCH
"We come together with our dudes from Hate. We can't wait to bring Hellfire to you soon..."

thy art is murder THY ART IS MURDER ANNOUNCE UK SHOWS SUPPORTING EMMURE
Tickets are on sale now for what promises to be the heaviest tour of the year...

horror holocaust CROSSOVER DEATH SUPERGROUP DENIAL FIEND RE-ISSUE 'HORROR HOLOCAUST' ON VINYL AND IN EUROPE FOR THE FIRST TIME
Ten tales of blood curdling horror that are anvil heavy thrashing death...

wacken EUROPE AND DREAM THEATER ANNOUNCED FOR WACKEN
The sold out legendary German festival announces more details of the mouth-watering bill...

camden rocks CAMDEN ROCKS 2015 ANNOUNCE THE FIRST ACTS
The bands include Trail of Dead, Funeral For a Friend, Heavens Basement, The Dictators, Black Spiders and more...

all that remains ALL THAT REMAINS LAUNCH #thisprobablywontendwell PICTURE COMPETITION
This unique competition marks the release of new studio album 'The Order Of Things' out on Feb 23rd...

titanfest TITANFEST ANNOUNCED FOR MAY IN LONDON - FIRST BANDS REVEALED
Titanfest now sees some of the most respected and time-hardened Metal musicians working side by side with the next generation of the emerging UK Metal scene...

joe lynn turner JOE LYNN TURNER ANNOUNCES UK AND NORTHERN IRELAND DATES THIS SPRING
Legendary rock and roll singer Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow and Deep Purple fame is pleased to confirm details of his intimate acoustic 'An Evening With...' tour...

wildfire festival EXCLUSIVE: WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2015 ANNOUNCES FIFTY BAND LINE-UP
Wildfire is known for bringing the best in Scottish talent to Wiston Lodge, and there is one name everyone at Wildfire HQ agreed should be on the bill...

kiss KISS GET ANIMATED IN COLLABORATION WITH J-POP IDOLS MOMOIRO CLOVER Z!
Just when you thought the Metal world had gone insane enough with Babymetal...

ronnie james dio RONNIE JAMES DIO FIFTH ANNIVERSARY MEMORIAL EVENTS ANNOUNCED
The weekend will include a public memorial service, a celebrity bowling tournament and the inaugural Ride For Ronnie motorcycle ride and BBQ...

walkway WALKWAY RELEASE SINGLE AND VIDEO FOR 'STREETWISE'
The single is the first release from their second studio album. Walkway will support Status Quo in June 2015...

motley crue MOTLEY CRUE REVEAL DATE OF FINAL SHOW AND FINAL TOUR LAST LEG DETAILS: NEW SINGLE AND VIDEO OUT NOW
Motley Crue are also in the process of putting together the ultimate collector's album package...

art of anarchy PRESENTING ART OF ANARCHY FEATURING SCOTT WEILAND, BUMBLEFOOT, JOHN MOYER OF DISTURBED AND JON AND VINCE VOTTA
Poised to become one of the biggest new bands of 2015, Art Of Anarchy is redefining the rock supergroup...

jettblack JETTBLACK RETURN WITH A BRAND NEW SINGLE AND VIDEO
Jettblack get serious in 2015, kicking things off with a headline tour and new single in February...

dead kennedys DEAD KENNEDYS FANS PERFORM PUBLIC SEX ACT LIVE ON STAGE
"This was something definitely different to see at a punk concert..."

evil scarecrow EVIL SCARECROW'S MISSING TRACK FINALLY RELEASED! A MESSAGE FROM DR HELL!
Evil Scarecrow have just released a new, old version of 'Robototron', which they feel is the definitive version of their most popular track...

eddie and the hot rods BREAKING NEWS: ORIGINAL EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS LINE-UP REFORM FOR 40th ANNIVERSARY
This will be the first time all original members have played a full show together for over thirty years...

carthagods CARTHAGODS TO RELEASE DEBUT ALBUM WITH SPECIAL GUESTS INCLUDING TIM "RIPPER" OWENS, RON THAL AND MARK JANSEN
"It's been a long time that we look for this occasion to finally satisfy our fans..."

paddy goes to holyhead EXCLUSIVE: PADDY GOES TO HOLYHEAD ANNOUNCE FINAL CONCERT FOR ST PATRICK'S NIGHT
Sadly it's the end of an era as Paddy Goes To Holyhead have announced that they are to play their final gig...

grateful dead BREAKING NEWS: GRATEFUL DEAD TO RE-UNITE FOR 50th ANNIVERSARY FAREWELL CONCERTS
The reunion, billed "Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead", will feature the band's surviving members...

nazareth BREAKING NEWS: VOCALIST LINTON OSBOURNE LEAVES NAZARETH
"I am no longer a member of Nazareth. It didn't work out, for me, or for the band..."

lordi LORDI ANNOUNCE UK DATES FOR TOUR FORCE ONE
Lordi bring 'Scare Force One' to the UK for ten dates in the Spring...

nightwish NIGHTWISH REVEAL TRACKLIST & FORMATS OF 'ENDLESS FORMS MOST BEAUTIFUL'
The new studio album, released on 30th March, is available in several tasty formats...

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN LEADER STEVE HARRIS' MANSION BACK ON THE MARKET AT KNOCKDOWN PRICE
The mansion boasts its own pub called the Horse and Cart as well as an indoor swimming pool...

pete way EXCLUSIVE: ALL PARTIES IN BATTLE BETWEEN FIN MUIR AND PETE WAY OF WAYSTED GIVE A RESPONSE
"I can confirm that this appalling defamation is completely without foundation..."

death angel DEATH ANGEL ANNOUNCE UK HEADLINE SHOW AND DATES WITH QUEENSRYCHE AND ARMORED SAINT
Los Angeles Heavy Metal legends Armored Saint will join both acts for a special London show at the Electric Ballroom...

udo dirkschneider U.D.O. TO PLAY ENGLAND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DONKEY'S YEARS
Germany's favourite rock god Udo Dirkschneider has announced three exclusive shows for the UK...

california breed CALIFORNIA BREED HAS GONE THE WAY OF BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION
After a great first album, the departure of a superstar drummer, and very little touring, California Breed is extinct...

kamelot KAMELOT SIGNS TO NAPALM RECORDS; NEW ALBUM AND TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED
In support of this highly anticipated release, Kamelot will hit the road for select UK shows, followed by a massive North America Tour...

the gentle storm ARJEN LUCASSEN AND ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN'S NEW BAND THE GENTLE STORM REVEAL TOUR DATES AND ALBUM DETAILS
"We'll perform some Ayreon classics together and premiere a couple of songs that will be on our upcoming album..."

jimmy page JIMMY PAGE IN FIGHT WITH ROBBIE WILLIAMS OVER HOUSE RENOVATION
The pair are neighbours and have fallen out over Williams' plans to revamp his multi-million pound mansion...

hard rock hell SAXON ANNOUNCED FOR HARD ROCK HELL 9 WITH ROCK GODDESS, PIG IRON AND MORE
Hard Rock Hell, aptly titled 'House of Horrors', are pleased to welcome Heavy Metal Titans Saxon back into their realm...

dark funeral DARK FUNERAL TO RELEASE 7INCH & DIGITAL SINGLE 'NAIL THEM TO THE CROSS' IN FEBRUARY
The single is available as a hand-numbered 7inch limited edition of which 500 copies are on black vinyl and 500 on blue vinyl...

santa cruz SANTA CRUZ TO RELEASE BRAND NEW SELF-TITLED ALBUM ON MARCH 9th VIA SPINEFARM RECORDS
Santa Cruz will also play five UK dates as main support to Amaranthe...

tygers of pan tang TYGERS OF PAN TANG TO HEADLINE GARAGE DAYZ RE-VISITED ALL DAYER IN LONDON
A mouth watering bill not only from bands that were a huge influence to bands like Metallica and Megadeth....

truffle TRUFFLE TO PLAY SPECIAL SOUTH COAST GIG WITH SIEGE, TOLEDO STEEL AND KODIAK JACK
Tickets are priced at only $7.50 for a night that promises to be full of faces from the area past and present....

ensiferum ENSIFERUM UNLEASH TWO NEW VIDEOS ON EVE OF LAUNCH ON NEW ALBUM
Today Ensiferum unveils the official new video for 'One Man Army''s title track as well as an in-depth "making of" clip...

autograph AUTOGRAPH RELEASE FIRST NEW SONG IN OVER 25 YEARS
Simply put, a reunion was both inevitable and essential...

steve hackett STEVE HACKETT ANNOUNCES NEW SOLO STUDIO ALBUM 'WOLFLIGHT' OUT ON 30th MARCH
The ten tracks take the listener through a journey in space and time looking at the different faces of the endless fight for freedom...

adrian smith IRON MAIDEN'S ADRIAN SMITH ROCKS UP IN CHISWICK WITH DOOGIE WHITE, ANDY BARNETT AND DAVE 'BUCKET' COLWELL
MetalTalk's first Gig Of The Week for 2015 turned up two major surprises as a great night was had by all...

sabaton SABATON ANNOUNCE "SABATON OPEN AIR" WITH POWERWOLF AND CIVIL WAR
Tickets are on sale now for this special event in Germany in July...

pig iron PIG IRON ANNOUNCE RELEASE DATE FOR FIFTH STUDIO ALBUM
'Sermons From The Church Of Blues Restitution' will be released worldwide via OYR on 2nd March and will be preceded by a high value four track EP...

sonata arctica SONATA ARCTICA ANNOUNCE EXCLUSIVE LONDON SHOW FOR 'ECLIPTICA OVER EUROPE TOUR 2015'
"On these shows we'll perform 'Ecliptica' in its entirety as well as assorted hits from our catalog..."

skalmold SKALMOLD UNVEIL NEW SPRING TOUR DATES WITH ELUVEITIE AND WIND ROSE
For those who didn't catch the Viking/Pagan Metallers live on tour, here's another chance...

tony iommi BLACK SABBATH LEGEND TONY IOMMI TELLS ALL ABOUT HIS CANCER BATTLE
"In the good old days there was cocaine everywhere. This time we had tea and coffee and health drinks..."

def con one DEF CON ONE ANNOUNCE CRUSHING HEADS TOUR
British Metallers Def Con One can be seen across the UK in 2015...

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