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Burning The Flesh - An Interview with Glenn Tipton

BURNING THE FLESH -  AN INTERVIEW WITH GLENN TIPTON

(extract from Neil Daniel's new Book 'Rock'n'Roll Mercenaries')

Interview by Neil Daniels


After Rob Halford’s sudden departure from Judas Priest in the early nineties and before Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens’ entry into the band in May 1996, the four remaining members of the legendary Birmingham heavy metal band were left with nothing to do. It must have come as quite a shock to the system especially after two decades of exhaustive activity that was spent building up to such a momentous album as 1990’s ‘Painkiller.’
Glenn Tipton has talent and he wanted to use it. He released a solo album in 1997 called ‘Baptizm Of Fire’ but his original recordings for his debut solo album were surprisingly never released. Rhino Records has now remastered and reissued ‘Baptizm Of Fire’ with two bonus tracks and the Tipton, Entwistle & Powell album ‘Edge Of The World’ is finally seeing the light of day for the first time.
In a phone conversation on 15th March 2006, Glenn speaks about his solo material and the recent success of the Judas Priest reunion with its most famous singer.
Words: Neil Daniels

To begin, ‘Baptizm Of Fire’ was initially released in 1997 but ‘Edge Of The World’ is only getting a release in 2006. Can you give me a brief history of the recording of both albums?

A brief history Neil is that back in 1994/95 there was no Judas Priest as such and it didn’t look as though there was going to be. I just started to write a bunch of songs, roped Cozy (Powell) in who I’d known for ages and we discussed bass players and John’s (Entwistle) name came up. So I got in touch with John and asked if he’d like to be involved and he did. And we went down to a little studio in Wales and started to work a batch of songs. It was magical to work with Cozy and John. When I played the songs to Atlantic, they loved the songs but they wanted to mix and match them with some young musicians who would be more “marketable.” I had little choice so I went across to the States and worked with Billy Sheehan and Brooks Wackerman and a lot of young guys and from that was born ‘Baptizm Of Fire.’ The original idea to blend the songs together didn’t work because they were two different things. ‘Baptizm...’ was more of a solo album while the Tipton, Entwistle & Powell songs was more of a band album, if you like. Anyway, ‘Baptizm Of Fire’ was born and in all honesty it was a good album and that’s what was released. But it left the first batch of songs on the shelve and it was only recently when Rhino approached me to re-release ‘Baptizm…’ and they heard the original batch of tracks and felt that they should be released and so did I. I was proud to be part of it.

‘Baptizm Of Fire’ was recorded in the U.S. and ‘Edge Of The World’ in Wales. As a consequence of where the albums were made, do you think there is a different sound?

Actually, that was sort of deliberate in the sense that what I think Atlantic was saying was that they liked the first batch of songs - they’re classic rock - but the mood of metal’s changed, everything’ getting a bit darker and we really need you to work with some younger guys and we want the feel of the album to be a bit more modern. So with that in mind I set pen to paper and started to write the next batch of songs and the musicians added a lot of character to the second batch of songs. I’d say neither is better or worse, they are just two different animals as such.

A bunch of rock musicians like Billy Sheehan, Shannon Larkin and Rob Trujillo were brought in to work on ‘Baptizm…’ How did you react to working with them?

It was great! I mean in the case of Brooks Wackerman he was eighteen and Shannon Larkin was only a young drummer. They kept me on my toes and there was a lot of mutual respect. They were great sessions and a lot came out of it. There was a lot of high energy there and enthusiasm. So it was great to work with them.

So Atlantic wanted you to move with the times, if you like. Having already created an album did it annoy you that you had to basically scrap it and start all over again?

I was undoubtedly disappointed at that point in time that they felt the line-up was a bit old school. I was annoyed but in a sense when I look back upon it, a good thing happen really because I made two albums and worked with some great musicians. Finally, they’ve both been released so in a way I can take the point. They obviously wanted the album to be successful. They felt that although the songs were good, maybe the line-up would go against it at that point in time. It was pretty harsh out there at the time Neil so, you know, they had a point and ‘Baptizm…’ came out of it, which wasn’t a bad thing.

Okay, lets talk about the late Cozy Powell, a legend in the genre who has worked with anyone and everyone from Rainbow to Black Sabbath to Brian May. What was it like to work with him?

The two all time greatest drummers for me are Cozy Powell and John Bonham. Cozy was juts unbelievable. He was so talented, he worked with a lot of bands because he could, and he could turn his hand to anything. If you wanted a fill from Cozy, you’d get a fill from Cozy. There was nobody like him – he was versatile, he was talented. He could play anything on the drums and it easy very easy to him. A lot of the time he worked well within his limit. A lot of the time I did actually push Cozy, there’d be a few moments of sulking you know. He’d tend to fall back on what he wanted to play and I tried to get more out of him. I actually did get more out of him but he’d always come up and say, “you know chap, you were right about that” in his Devon accent.

He died far too young didn’t he?

He did. I just find it so difficult to believe he’s still not around. He was as great person and a great drummer.

Cozy was known as quite a character. Can you recall any particular moment during your working collaboration with him that was typical of his character?

Oh, I’ve seen him set fire to a few tables in Indian restaurants while he’s drinking Sambucca’s (laughs.)

What was it like working with John Entwistle?

I never realised how good a bass player John was until he came down to Wales. He could play anything, he brought about six to ten bass’s down and he could turn his hand to anything. The thing that struck me and Cozy was when he first struck up and we started to kick a song called ‘Give Blood’ around off the ‘Edge …’ album - he blew us away. Because the sound and style was so unique, it couldn’t have been any other bass player than John. To go from there, he just proved to be a master of the bass guitar in every way. He was so in touch with his equipment and his techniques. He could play any sort of bass playing; he just blew me away really. I wasn’t ready for the amount of talent he had.

He made an indelible mark as a bass player, which is a difficult accomplishment when it’s usually the singer or lead guitarist who takes much of the glory. He made a big impression in the rock world didn’t he?

He did. He had the ability to play quite busily but the track never suffered because of it. He’d solely enhance the track and that’s a very difficult thing to do.

Let’s talk briefly about your two solo albums. On ‘Baptizm Of Fire’ there is a heavy metal cover of the Rolling Stones classic ‘Paint It Black.’ Is that a favourite song of yours?

I’m a big fan of the early Stones, you know the ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and ‘Brown Sugar’ days. I’ve never really warmed much to the latter stuff they’ve done. I was always a big fan of ‘Paint It Black’ and I decided to attempt a version of it and you’ve got to be very careful with a classic song like that. So I decided to really change it and make it more fearful and just see if it worked. I think it did work. It certainly wouldn’t have gone on the album if I didn’t think I had done the song justice. So again it was all about playing with these great musicians and they turned the song into a good interpretation of it.

Do you have any favourite songs on either album?

I do love ‘Paint It Black’ on the ‘Baptizm…’ album and I do like the title track. I like ‘The Healer,’ which was one of Cozy’s and John’s. It was the only song that I took from the first batch of songs. On the new reissue and remastered version of ‘Baptizm…’ I like ‘New Breed.’ It means quite a lot to me because I wrote it for my daughter and my son actually plays drums on it. Out of the Tipton, Entwistle & Powell album I love ‘The Holy Man’ and I like the first track, which is ‘Unknown Soldier’ because the bass playing and drumming is fantastic. And one of my other favourites is ‘Give Blood’ because that’s the song that we first started to kick around and I knew at that moment there was magical little combination there. I also think ‘Resolution’ is a good song.

I read somewhere that the song ‘Never Say Die’ on ‘Edge…’ was originally called ‘Ships In The Night.’ What is the story behind the making of the song?

Well it was one of John’s songs and when we were rehearsing he presented it to us and said could we have a go at this. and I took hold of it and changed the lyrics and slightly rearranged it. But it was basically John’s idea and I think you’ll see that when you first listen to it because I think there’s definitely undertones of The Who in there.

Obviously you’re pleased that both albums are now available to fans. Do you have any plans to get a band together and go out on the road?

Absolutely. Well originally back in 1994/5 when there was no Priest I intended to go out as a three piece and unfortunately as it is, fate took our hand and Cozy and John are not with us anymore. While Priest is in operation Neil, I would never ever contemplate going out on a solo level. I don’t think Priest fans would want that, you know. Solo albums are funny things, you’ve gotta do them for the right or wrong reasons. I did mine at a time when there was no Judas Priest but in the future if there is a big loll in Priest activities or if we retire I would love to go out with guys like Rob Trujillo and Shannon Larkin and play stuff off ‘Baptizm…’ Stuff like ‘Voodoo Brother’ and that, I think it would be appropriate to maybe do some of the Tipton, Entwistle & Powell songs as well. But I mean I always hasten to add, and I can’t make the point stronger, that my first love is Judas Priest. I’m proud to be in Priest and very lucky to be in the band. While Priest is active it’s always got my full attention and I’m sure the fans would want that.

Briefly onto Priest. Are you currently recording a new album?

We start next Monday actually. Yeah we’ve got a band meeting tomorrow, Rob’s over in England now. We shall start writing Monday.

What should fans expect from the next Priest album?

Well we’ve got a plan but it’s top secret at the moment. But obviosuly over the next two or three weeks it will take shape.

Are you able to divulge anything? Will there be anymore epic tracks like, say, ‘Loch Ness’ or ‘Touch Of Evil?’

Not at the moment, my lips are sealed. I’ll get into serious trouble if I say anything.

Priest got some major press exposure in 2004/5. Magazines like Rolling Stone, which are not exactly heavy metal friendly, were praising a revitalised Judas Priest. Were you surprised by the enormous and very eager reception the reunion received?

Yeah, we were very grateful actually. I mean having been apart for fourteen years we didn’t really know what to expect. I anticipated that it would all go well and everything but you never know until you actually go out there and it couldn’t have been better Neil. The audience reaction was overwhelming; people welcomed the band back with open arms. The reviews were great and it all helped us, it gave us renewed energy and it helped us play better. The whole thing was far better than we could have ever hoped.

I went to the gigs in London and Manchester and it was obvious that the whole band really enjoyed playing the new stuff from ‘Angel Of Retribution.’ Those songs worked well alongside classic Judas Priest songs.

In the same breath as well, we genuinely love what we do. We’re not out there for the bucks or for the wrong reasons. We’re proud to play heavy metal and we always have been. We’re proud to play Judas Priest music. You know the kids are not stupid, they know when you are doing something genuinely or when you’re just out there for the wrong reason. When we go on stage it’s not Priest on stage, it’s us and the audience and everybody sings along to the choruses and lead breaks now. It’s just a wonderful occasion every night.

Priest is playing just one gig in 2006 and that’s at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 31st March. It’s in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. It’s the band’s first time playing at the Royal Albert Hall isn’t it?

That’s right. It’s the first time yeah so that should be a great occasion. It’s a great charity. In fact, the proceeds from the Tipton, Entwistle & Powell album are going to the same charity.

It’s also in memory of the late broadcaster Tommy Vance who meant a lot to the genre. What did he mean to Judas Priest?

Tommy was always a really good friend and really supportive of Judas Priest and he helped so many other bands in his career. He didn’t want anything for it, some disc jockeys latch onto a band because the disc jockey can get as much from it as the band can. But in Tommy’s case he use to get a lot of bands under his wing, he use to help them, launch them and he was responsible for a lot of bands success. He was just a great character.

The Royal Albert Hall was not built for heavy metal; do you think its stable enough for a bill that includes Judas Priest, Scorpions and Ian Gillan?

I think old Albert will be turning in his grave on the night (laughs.)

Finally, there has been a recent DVD concert release (recorded at the Budakan Hall in Tokyo) from last 2005’s world tour; can fans expect a live album release from the same tour?

Well possibly, I can’t really answer that. We did record several shows during that tour. There’s been a lot of live stuff released from Priest at the moment and we don’t want there to be a glut or overdo it. So we have no actual plans at the moment whether that will emerge eventually is another argument but at the moment we feel the most important thing is to get another studio album together.

The expanded and remastered version of ‘Baptizm Of Fire’ and Tipton, Entwistle And Powell’s ‘Edge Of The World’ are both available on Rhino Records.


ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MERCENARIES

INTERVIEWS WITH ROCK STARS: VOLUME I

Celebrating almost a decade of rock writing, author Neil Daniels has compiled a selection of interviews with some of the world’s most famous rock and heavy metal artists. Amongst the thirty plus interviews includes Dio talking about his solo career and Heaven & Hell, Nikki Sixx on his controversial book The Heroin Diaries, Magnum vocalist Bob Catley on his fantastic solo work, Thunder on their post-reunion albums, Judas Priest’s Glenn Tipton on his solo endeavours, Doro on her role as one of metal’s leading ladies and Foreigner on their success in the noughties. Rock ‘N’ Roll Mercenaries not only supports the big names but up and coming bands too, including the British metal band Nex, the Swedish AOR group Work Of Art and the Canadian melodic rock outfit Sonic X.

Interviews compiled: Al Atkins, Annihilator, Beyond Fear, Bob Catley, Broken Teeth, Bumblefoot, Dio, Doro, Foreigner, Funeral For A Friend, Glenn Tipton,
Heaven’s Basement, Honeymoon Suite, Iced Earth, Jimi Jamison, Journey, K.K. Downing, Krokus, Nex, Nikki Sixx, Powerwolf, Primal Fear, Queensrÿche, Rose Hill Drive, Sammy Hagar, Saxon, Scorpions, Sonic X, Stone Gods, Terrarosa,
Thunder, Work Of Art and Young Heart Attack.

Visit www.neildaniels.com

Available from Amazon.

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MERCENARIES - INTERVIEWS WITH ROCK STARS: VOLUME I
By Neil Daniels
Published by Authors Online (www.authorsonline.co.uk)
Available to buy from most online book stores, including Amazon
Book Size (Paperback editions): 5 x 8" (203 x 127mm) Perfect Bound
ISBN (Paperback editions):
ISBN-13 (Paperback editions):
Approx Number of Words: 85,000
Pages:
Black and White: 148
Colour: None
Total: 148

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