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Arts and Entertainment

Judas Priest still rocking out after 40 years

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By EMN Updated: Oct 26, 2014 11:12 pm
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Judas Priest is one of heavy metal’s most enduring names.
Thanks to relentlessly rocking hits like “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and “Breaking the Law,” Judas Priest has shredded eardrums and influenced younger bands for more than four decades.
Its latest album, “Redeemer of Souls,” is classic, hard-driving Judas Priest, with dark imagery and high-decibel riffs, and the tour, which comes to Charter Spectrum Amphitheatre on Sunday, mixes old-school Priest with some newer material.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the band’s debut album, but for bassist Ian Hill, it’s not hard to keep the rock ‘n’ roll fire burning after all this time.
“It’s the love of it, I think, above all else,” said Hill, chatting from a tour stop in New York. “The other thing is trying to stay current. Each tour, we try to do something a little bit different. … We’re not afraid to try any new recording technique or any new gizmos that are on the market. We’ll give them a go.”
Hill, one of the founders and the last remaining original member, acknowledged that Judas Priest’s sound has evolved greatly since its blues-influenced early years.
Judas Priest’s first album, “Rocka Rolla,” was released in 1974. But its trademark sound really began to gel with 1980’s “British Steel,” which spawned two of the band’s biggest hits, “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight,” Hill said.
That album “is where the music became defined, the image became defined,” Hill said. “We had our roots in blues and blues-rock, and even a bit of jazz. And like I say, heavy metal didn’t happen overnight. It’s something that evolved. Originally you start to get heavier. You get heavy blues, heavy rock, and then I suppose you get a bit angrier, and then you get yourself heavy metal.”
While the blues connection might not be evident from the Judas Priest sound, the attitude remains, Hill said.
“It’s the soul in blues, nothing too happy, for want of a better phrase,” Hill said with a laugh. “We’ve never sung about the birds and the bees, and ‘Isn’t life wonderful.’”
While many rock bands have a well-earned reputation for wild offstage behavior — trashing hotel rooms, crashing cars, ingesting too many illicit substances — Judas Priest isn’t synonymous with rock-star excess.
The members have always focused on the music, but there’s a more practical reason as well, Hill said.
“I think we learned at an early stage that if you throw a TV out of a window, you end up paying for it,” he said. “A bit of a dead end, really. And really, we’re not that stupid. We’ve had our moments, we’ve had our wild nights and what have you, but we’ve never been quite as destructive as that. I couldn’t see the point.”
Hill has a passion for the music, of course, but he also enjoys being on the road, seeing new places and meeting fans, he said.
“When I look back over 40 years, I do so with a great sense of gratitude, really, and privilege to have done that over all of these years and be successful,” he said. “And to have been able to earn your coin from it, it’s been a brilliant, brilliant, very privileged sort of way of making a living.”
The current tour is slated to continue into 2015. There are no concrete plans for the band after the tour ends, but Hill said he can’t see himself strolling into the sunset of retirement.
“We all still love it, and we’re are still able to do it. … What else are we going to do? Sit around gardening and stuff like that? That’s not for old rock ‘n’ rollers. We want to be out there and doing what we love.”

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By EMN Updated: Oct 26, 2014 11:12:43 pm