Judas Priest have “at least an album or two of new material”, according to bassist Ian Hill.
“The big problem has been Covid over the last year,” he says. “We haven't been able to get together, you know? Some of the guys live in the states and a couple of others live in Britain, so we can't really get together to rehearse. It's just opening up now, just easing a bit now, which is a bonus.”
The bassist also shares insight into the band's creative process. “[Guitarists Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton] formulate new songs out of a pool of ideas,” he says. And when they sort of have a rough working track, myself and Scott [Travis, drums] get a copy of that and we'll put our basslines and drum patterns down and we'll go from there.”
“But that's what we haven't been able to do,” he continues. “You can send them backwards and forward, but it's such a messy process. It's much easier to be there in the room with everybody and them tell you to your face, ‘That's a load of crap, start again.’
“Or, ‘We love it, don't touch a note.’ It's much easier and it's more real doing it that was, as well. You pick up off everybody's vibe anyway. So it's preferable to do it face-to-face, when we're all together.”
Judas Priest are currently gearing up to embark on their 50th anniversary tour, which commences September 8 at the Santander Arena in Reading, PA, hitting almost 40 stops across the US and Canada, before heading over to Europe in the new year.
Guitarist Andy Sneap is set to once again replace Glenn Tipton on the tour, who recently stepped back from the band following his Parkinson's diagnosis.
As Hill explains, the tour is “going to be a celebration of surviving for 50 years in the music industry”.
“It's something that very few artists, well, up until now, have been able to do,” he says. “All those years ago, when we first started in the late '60s, early '70s, the concept of popular music and still doing it in their 70s just didn't exist.
“I mean, when we started out, the rock 'n' rollers, the Elvises, they were still in their 40s and even the old crooners, they were only in their early 60s. And we looked upon those as being old people! Now we're in our 70s and still relevant, which is reason to be cheerful if nothing else.
Both Hill and frontman Rob Halford turned 70 earlier this year, guitarists Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner are 73 and 41, respectively, and drummer Scott Travis is 59.
“None of us is stupid,” Hill continues. “We all know how old we are and you still groan when you get out of a chair and stuff like that. You know the end date is looking at your right in the face.
“I think the yardstick is, as long as we can put on a good quality show and make quality music, we’ll continue, you know? But if standards start to drop a little bit, well, there’s no real point in doing that sort of stuff.”
Last month, Judas Priest took to the stage for the first time in over two years with a performance at the UK's Bloodstock Open Air Festival.
“Everybody was worried about how rusty we were going to be,” Hill recalls regarding the set. “But we did do a lot of rehearsing beforehand, and we got up there on stage and everything sort of clicked back into place and everybody had a good show. So as long as we can do the same kind of shows we put on at Bloodstock, we’re in fine health.”