MetalTalk.net recently conducted an interview with bassist Ian Hill of British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
MetalTalk.net: Before I start asking about the [forthcoming album, can you tell us what you thought about your surprise appearance to 30 million unsuspecting Americans on “American Idol”?
Ian Hill: It was a whirlwind! The lad James [Durbin] — 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 [Tipton, guitar] will do a lot of the work. We produced “Nostradamus” ourselves with the help of a great engineer in Attie [Bauw].
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: And is your son still in the band HOSTILE?
Ian Hill: Yep, my son’s 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 anymore. 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 marvelous 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 U.S. 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 on the night the interview was conducted) supporting — possibly REO SPEEDWAGON, if I remember correctly. And some shows with LED ZEPPELIN.
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.
Read the entire interview from MetalTalk.net.