1998 – Interview with Judas Priest

Twenty years ago, on February 14, 1998, I interviewed Judas Priest. It was the first interview for my new born, self-made website, THE SENTINEL SITE. I admit: it is a little embarrassing reading it now, but maybe it will be interesting to some people, for curiousity and nostalgia sake.


I received an aftershow pass at the box office and proceeded to interview Scott Travis, Glenn Tipton, and KK Downing.

Hi, Scott, I’m Vadim, have you received…

Scott: Oh, hi, Vadim! Trey talked to me about you. How are you?

Couldn’t be better even if I wanted to. How’s everything?

Scott: It’s alright.

(At the moment, I was half-deaf from the concert and shocked by the presence of my idol. Plus, Scott is extremely tall, and standing next to him was, well, overwhelming. I must say, however, that he sounded quite friendly. Also, some reporter joined our conversation)

Scott: This guys is a reporter for the World Wide Web. He has a Priest page, where he is writing reviews. Quite hostile, I must add.


Scott: You really ripped on us in Jugulator review, didn’t you?

You mean you have actually read my page?

Scott: Yes, I did, we looked thru it. Ian has a computer, so we looked at it the other night. I want to get myself one too…

Well, yeah, I found the last album a bit disappointing, I’m really sorry.

Scott: No, that’s ok. You got your own opinion, that’s all. By the way, did you say that there wasn’t enough drumming on the album?

(shaking in my shoes) I thought it lacked fills.

Scott: Actually, I thought that if it had any more of drumming, it would have been overfilled, and my drums would kill other instruments.

To me, it just sounded more industrial and, well… somewhat monotonous, as oppose to, say, “Painkiller.”

Scott: Well, that’s my favorite. Maybe, the beat doesn’t change as much throughout the tracks as in Painkiller

Reporter (speaking to me): How come you didn’t like the album?

Just didn’t find it very Priest-ish.

Scott: Oh well. *laugh*

So, will I have a chance to talk to ask you guys a couple of questions?

Scott: Yeah, we’ll have the whole band arranged for you. Just stick around.

Reporter: Nice program!

Oh, yeah, except, I really wish you have played “Between The Hammer & The Anvil.”

Scott: Didn’t you request “The Sentinel”?

How did you…

Scott: That’s a problem with the band that released like 20 albums; you can’t play them all.

Reporter: Scott, talk a little bit about the Racer X years…

Scott: It was a rather local band. We didn’t tour, we didn’t shoot any videos, so I guess it was a local thing… I saw a big controversy on your page over Rob Halford being gay issue… But we’ll talk about it later.

Have you ever tried to sing?

Scott: Nah, I am not very good… I love to sing though! I wish I was a better singer!

Don’t we all…

Reporter: (to me): So, are you gonna put this on your webpage?

I hope so.

Scott: And then will probably tear us apart… just kidding. (common laughter)

We have chatted for about 15 minutes, before Scott left to help with the equipment, but soon Glenn walked up to me and told me to follow him. I walked into a small room with three chairs. The door shut behind me, and I ended up sitting a yard away from Glenn Tipton and Ken Downing. They were both wearing old simple leather jackets (with no spikes, though), and looked a bit tired, but quite alive. Needless to say, my heart jumped somewhere up toward my throat, so I pulled out the notebook and a pen and prepared to ask questions, to cover my blush. The thing went in a different direction, however, and can hardly be called an interview. I’ve never taken one before, but it seemed to me, in a real interview, a reporter is usually asking questions, and a celebrity responds. During this encounter, two metal legends were beating the dust out of me, and I only managed to ask them a few of the things I wanted, and got even fewer answers. In the heat of the argument, I did not write down every word said, because of several things: (1) I can’t write that fast (2) I was still stunned with presence of my idols (3) English is not my native language, and, especially, British (4) most of the remarks were aimed directly at me, and I had to defend myself. So, for the most part, my notebook contains random phrases, and I will try to reconstruct the conversation to the best of my ability. If the other side of this discussion finds any imprecisiveness or mistakes, I’m sorry in advance: I didn’t make them on evil will, so don’t hesitate to correct me. For the most part, there was more than one person speaking, so there really isn’t whole lot of continuity in there. I also want to point out that both Glenn and KK look much better then I had imagined them to look, from both the videos I saw, considering their age, and pictures in the Jugulator booklet. KK has a few wrinkles, but nothing like on the picture.

Glenn: Hello, Vadim. Come in.

Good evening, Glenn and Ken… First of all, let me thank you for the beautiful concert, it’s definitely was among the greatest nights of my life… I’m sure I’m the last person you want to see right now after the concert, but if I could ask you a couple of…

Glenn: I saw that you were a very harsh critic of our later work, “Jugulator”.

You mean, you actually read my page?

KK: Yes, we’ve read your page and…

Glenn: Yes, I’ve fucking studied all of it in detail, and let me tell you this: it’s OK to voice an opinion. It’s OK to dislike our album, you aren’t the first one who does, and OK to dislike Judas Priest…


Glenn: But if you want to be a good critic, you should let other people say things too, and don’t shoot them down!

KK: If you don’t like “Jug”, that’s fine, but you shouldn’t prevent others from liking it as much as possible…

My first fear lessened a bit, and I started regaining both momentum and swagger. Plus, Glenn’s harsh words about me disliking Judas Priest have struck me painfully.

I’m not preventing anyone! I put letters of everybody who writes me out on my page.

Glenn: But then you shoot them down! You just call them names and…

In self-defense! And I can’t believe you are saying that I don’t like Priest! I have all your albums, and I spend quite some time on this page. By the way, have you read any other reviews?

Glenn: I have, and some I didn’t like either. Ken, what was the other one he didn’t like?

KK: “Turbo”.

Have you seen my essay: “Why Is Judas Priest The Best Band In The World”?

Glenn: No, but, Vadim, Vadim! Listen what I gotta tell you. Do you want to be a good critic, Vadim?

Of course!

Glenn: Then, Vadim, you should really let other people speak.

(I am beginning to get angry): But I do! Like I said, I put every single letter on my “Fanspeak” section, and my response to them is just my response!

KK: He does that.

Glenn: But then he fucking shoots them all down! Should I bring a page? I can prove it to you. I think I have it on the bus…

I do not shoot them down! And can I ask you a couple of questions, if you will? How’s the tour been going so far?

Glenn: How do you think it’s been going?

KK: Have you seen all those people out there? It’s been going fucking great! Vadim, you have to understand, we were absolutely devastated by Rob’s departure in 1992, but we really had to come up with another singer. We found Ripper and recorded a new album…

Glenn: So now everybody can see that the Priest is back!

By this time, I, sort of, forgot about my pen & paper, and quote their words with a large degree of approximation.

Glenn: Vadim, you see, we always evolved in our music. There would be no Priest without evolvement. And I see that people are upset with the fact that we didn’t get Rob back but just went and got a new vocalist! They miss 70s Priest and 80s Priest, and all the fucking…

KK: Vadim, let me ask you something. Have you just been out there?

Yes, and…

KK: Let me ask you: do you think Rob Halford could sing out there better than Ripper Owens?

Glenn: Yeah, yeah. Who do you think sings better now, Ripper Owens or Rob Halford?

I haven’t heard Rob live, except for the live albums. But that’s not my point! Yes, I liked Rob a great deal, but I have no problem with another vocalist. Just before Jugulator came out, I said that I would accept Ripper with an open mind, and I did…

Scott(who just walked into the room): Yes, he did say that.

And my main problem is not the vocalist, but the songs themselves!

Glenn: Vadim, tell me: do you really think that “Jugulator” is crap, and there’s absolutely nothing! — Nothing! — on this album that isn’t worth listening to?

I didn’t say that!

Glenn: Do you have your page printout with you?

I don’t but I wish I did. I’ve never said that! I said that I liked “Bullet Train” a lot and…

Glenn: You didn’t like “Death Row”?

KK: You didn’t like “Burn In Hell”?

Glenn: You didn’t like “Cathedral Spires”?

No! At first, I could not believe that it came from the same band that wrote “The Sentinel” and…

Glenn (pounding his fist): Did you see all those fucking kids out there shouting “Burn in hell! Burn in hell!”?

Speaking of which: I think that those “kids” out there don’t give a damn about what they scream and shout, and equally headbang to everything in the world. Besides, to me, to be a “real fan” includes not just liking every song by the favorite band or headbanging to every song by a favorite band, but actual understanding of what the band was trying to say in the song. But that’s beside the conversation.

Yes, I did.

Glenn: I saw a 13 y. o. who wanted to go to a concert but couldn’t because her mom won’t let her… it’s the whole new generation of fans! Yes, we might have turned down some of our old fans, but it has always been like that!

I’m sorry, but I’m also a new fan. I became a Priest fan in 1994, after listening to “Breaking The Law” but I’m not sure had I become one after “Jugulator.”

KK: Priest was always evolving. Can Rob Halford sing those tunes out there? NO!!! Listen here, Vadim: I was auditioning Rob in 1969, I’ve heard him over years, I saw his voice change, and, just trust me, he simply can’t sing those tunes anymore!…

Glenn: Ripper is the best vocalist I have ever heard in my life.

Scott: Yeah, the instruments you just play, and the voice is all (points at his throat) up here. It changes thru time.

You must have misunderstood me. I’ve never said I had a problem with “Jugulator” because of Tim’s vocals.

KK: …When Rob was leaving, he poured mud all over Priest and all over metal. He said that music was over. It’s over… FOR HIM!!.. And, yeah, I’ve read the comments about melody… There really is not melody out there in the world, that’s what “Jugulator” is about.

Glenn: Pantera, for example.

Yes, but why do you have to imitate Pantera?

Al Dutton, the tour manager, walks into the room.

Al: Guys, the bus…

Glenn: Al, shut the door, it’s cold.

KK: …we are going forward, and we will push the boundaries. It’s a different world, and it’s a different band now!.

Glenn: I understand that people want back the Priest of the 70s and Priest of the 80s, with Rob…

Scott: …and the “Stained Class” time.

KK: But we just don’t feel this way anymore! We don’t have the same guitars, and we don’t think Rob fits this band anymore!

Glenn: Vadim, this is your opinion, and that’s fine. But is there really nothing! – Nothing! – on this album you didn’t like? You said that the whole thing just plain fucking sucks…

Glenn, I didn’t say that!

Glenn: Yes, you did!

I didn’t say “the whole thing”! On the contrary, I kept repeating, that “Bullet Train” is a good song!

Scott: That’s right, he said that.

Glenn: Vadim, you gotta understand, that we could have stayed where we were, and played the same music, like, I dunno…

KK: Scorpions.

Glenn: …Scorpions, but people would just call us “old farts” and said that we were just gone, and… We are trying to bring metal back! And we need new fans! Vadim, I could have made up 15 pages on the Internet and write that Vadim is a fucking Russian imbecile, but that would be just an opinion. If you want to be a good critic, you should let others speak their mind…

KK: Rob is out of the way, and what he sings now is not metal.

I dunno, “War Of Words” sounded quite metallic, although I really hated “Small Deadly Space.”

KK: And the whole Fight thing…

Glenn: Vadim, let me ask you something: which album would you rather listen to, “Small Deadly Space” or “Jugulator”?

“Jugulator,” but I would rather listen to “Stained Class”! And I have a question. Do you listen to any other modern metal?

Glenn: Oh yeah. You name it — we have it.

Scott: Vadim, let me ask you something. Do you put every letter on the page? Even those you don’t agree with?

Every single one of them, if they are relevant!

Glenn: But then he just goes and shoots them down.

I do not!

Glenn: Damn it, let me get the page. I think I have one on a fucking bus…

Glenn gets up and leaves the room.

KK: … and now, Rob keeps spitting all this fucking shit out on us. His voice was going down… have you heard him during the Painkiller tour?

No, but so I’ve heard. I want to ask you a serious question. Would you have kicked him out even if he didn’t want to leave?

KK (jumps up): What? Don’t be stupid, Vadim, we…

But you just said that his voice…

KK (shrugs his shoulders): We would’ve made some arrangements, but “what if” is not the point. Now he made this stupid announcement on the MTV…

Scott: Oh yeah. Vadim, I’ve read one letter from some guy named “Vengeance” about him speaking with Jane Andrews about “how many girlfriends did Rob have,” but that’s just bullshit!! She never said that!

So, are you saying he is gay?

Scott: Now, he probably is. But back in the 80s, when I was still with Racer X, I just liked Judas Priest, and I didn’t care what…

That’s exactly what I think. I listen to the band, and I don’t care what the vocalist does behind the curtains. He can be…

KK: I think so too. If I like the band, I don’t give a damn if the guy’s fucking little animals backstage, as long as he’s good on stage.

(Here I must add that I don’t have a problem with that as long as the man’s not singing about animal rights. One thing I can’t stand is the hypocrite musicians. If the guy sings about courage and bravery, he better not try to avoid draft. Jimmy Bakers in music are twice as bad as anywhere else, in my opinion.)

Scott: I wonder what does the “Vengeance” guy say after Rob’s announcement.

Oh, so you don’t know the ending of it. The “Vengeance” guy wrote another letter, saying that now he suffered a terrible blow, and he’s throwing all Priest albums into the trash can.

Scott: And what do you think?

I don’t care. I like Judas Priest, and I will listen to it till the day I die.

KK: In the 80s, being gay was totally anti-metal. Metal community would not want gay on stage. Rob was a hero, a leader. It’s like the army, if you are a soldier, would you want your officer to command (gets up and does a couple of stripper imitation movements) you, “hey, you, come on, let’s go”? Of course, not! And now, it’s OK to wear furs and…

Scott: Have you heard the latest Rob’s project?


Scott: Yes.


KK: Well, in that case, don’t you think this conversation is a little premature?

What does it sound like?

Scott: It’s produced by Trent Reznor, so it sounds very Nine Inch Nailish…

Ken, is there hope for metal?

KK: What do you think? Of course, there is hope for metal, but you know… we are metal’s only hope!

But there are a few bands who didn’t turn to thrash. Helloween, Running Wild. What do you think of the Tribute Album?

KK: There were a few really good songs there, but, listen. Judas Priest needs to be the flagship of metal, to lead it… Yes, Helloween, yes, Running Wild, but we can lead it! By the way, they are all also old bands. Judas Priest needs to make place for the new fans!

Scott: Ken, he is a fan too. You can’t put as much effort into this page and not be a fan.

KK (shrugs his shoulders): Let me ask you something. Do you know why Rob left the band?

Not really.

KK: Well, I don’t know why he left the band either. He didn’t tell why to us, or to the management, or to anyone else!

I really hope, Ken, you don’t think I’m not a fan.

Scott: I’m sure you are, Vadim.

Al (walking in): Sorry, guys, but we really have to go.

Everybody rises, and the rest of the conversation takes place in the corridor and outside.

Thank you very much, Scott and Ken! Good luck on the tour!

KK: Thank you, Vadim.

Scott (shaking my hand): Thank you.

KK (shaking my hand): Friends or enemies, the choice is yours.

Goodbye! Priest rules!

2008 Note: This interview was taken over 10 years ago, but it still made a very big impression on me. In retrospect, I think I was right, probably being one of the first people to tell Glenn and KK that the whole nu-metal thing was not really for them. Later they did get Rob back and they did go back to their own thing on “Angel Of Retribution”. So who’s to say I did not do my share? :))