Since joining Judas Priest in 2010, Richie Faulkner has been no stranger to the big stage.
He made his live debut with the band on American Idol, played countless shows on Priest’s Epitaph tour and witnessed the debut of Priest’s Epitaph concert film on the big screen. Along the way, the guitarist has earned the respect and support of the band's loyal fan base.
I recently spoke to Faulkner about the band's new Epitaph DVD/Blu-ray, which will be released May 28.
GUITAR WORLD: Judas Priest have a new DVD/Blu-ray, Epitaph, which is the entire 220-minute set from the last night of the Epitaph tour. For the release, you guys did a premier in theaters. Was it surreal to see yourself on that big of a screen?
Absolutely! You see yourself on YouTube in little bits and pieces, and that’s always amazing to see. I don’t think Priest has done a live show in this format in movie theaters. It’s exciting, not only to see myself but to see myself with Priest for the first time on the screen. There are no other words to describe it.
For a lot of people, this is going to be their first opportunity to see you with the band. You rose to the occasion with great playing on this DVD. Did that factor into your nerves going into that night?
I didn’t let myself become nervous. I was excited and I was confident I could do the job. I was respectful of the position I was taking on the stage. Sometimes if you let nerves into the equation they can trip you up. I knew there was no point in being nervous. I did have a point to prove to the fans — that I was capable of being there. I think that was a healthy position to be in. Because the fans are so loyal and passionate and they paid their money to come down to the show, they gave me a chance, and I can only thank them for that. Within about a minute, they had their hands in the air singing along with me. It was a great testament to the fans.
The DVD shows the final night of the tour, correct?
This was the absolute last date of the Epitaph tour. We filmed it in London, and we didn’t have any backup plans.
I was going to ask you about that. If you flub a song you don’t get a do-over!
Exactly. We were joking about it. If we’d thought about it we would have come up with a different plan. If the electrics had gone down or had any technical issues, we were in trouble. Everyone was going home the next day. There was no plan B if anything went wrong. Luckily it went off without a hitch. It was a great homecoming show for Priest to finish the tour in England in the Hammersmith. That venue has had countless, iconic live recordings done there. What better way to wrap up the tour?
You can really feel the love from the fans in the video. They are singing along to not only the classics but even to the deep tracks. You expect to hear the crowd to sing “Livin’ After Midnight,” but they are right there with you on the everything.
You can feel the comradery in the room and the fans getting swept up, even if they aren’t familiar with a song. Half-way through, they are singing along.
Every kid that ever picked up a guitar fantasizes about stepping on stage with a favorite band. Doing the tour, did you ever find yourself sort of looking around, being a fan?
You never think that that is going to happen. You don’t think you are going to get that call. You aspire to be that good. You think, “That’s what I want to do." When you are on the stage you’re focused on your role in band and your parts, but every now and then you can sit back and take it in. Like in “Diamonds & Rust,” during the acoustic guitar parts, I can look around a bit. I can watch Glenn and the sea of passionate heavy metal fans. You pinch yourself every night. It’s incredible to be up there with these guys in all these amazing places every night.
You are exclusively a Gibson man. Where did you love of them come from?
I started actually on a Stratocaster because of Jimi Hendrix. That was the dream guitar or the Holy Grail. It was more of a functional reason I went to a Les Paul. It wasn’t a calculated move. I just felt right. I liked the sound you get from the humbuckers and the weight of the wood. What I was doing and the time and since it fit what I want to do. I’ve been played them since. I am still happy with my strats though.
Do you handle your own effects on stage?
I do 99 percent of it. I don’t have a lot of effects going. I use a chorus, wah and Rotovibe and do those myself. My tech, Brian, will do a channel change when I’m out on stage. For the benefit of the show, he has the cues. I don’t have to go back to the pedal board. Just to help the continuity.
What are you using behind the scenes on tour as far as amps?
I’m using Engl Powerball II’s. I started using them right at the beginning of the tour. They have been fantastic. We did a test six months in with the spare heads. Night after night we play this amp on 11 and we compared the output to the fresh heads and they were exactly the same. They are top notch quality.
Are you actively writing a new record?
There is one in the works. It is all written. Rob, Glenn and I wrote for two months last year. It’s being tracked at the moment. I can’t really say much more than that at this point. It is sounding great, very “Judas Priest." We are happy with the way it is turning out.
Is it correct that Priest won’t do as grand of a tour but will continue to tour on a smaller scale?
I think there was confusion about the Epitaph tour. Literally it was the last world tour but it wasn’t the last tour. The band will be out again. We’ll just take it as it goes right now.
Judas Priest’s Epitaph is available on May 28 on DVD and Blu-ray from Sony Legacy. You can find more information on the band’s official website.
Photo: John Katic
John Katic is a writer and podcaster who founded the Iron City Rocks Podcast in 2009. It features interviews with countless rock, hard rock, metal and blues artists. In 2013, he started Heavy Metal Bookclub, a podcast and website devoted to hard rock and metal books.