Halford: Particularly with a band like Priest, you become the fabric of people's lives. You hear these phrases "the soundtrack of my life." A good portion of our fans have been with us for as long as the band. Priest can be a time machine for a lot of our fans that takes them back to the '80s or '90s. There are certain songs that mean a lot to you -- the day you got a job, left school, or got a girlfriend or boyfriend. That's the joy of the way music can instill itself into your life. And that's part of this big machine called Judas Priest.
Does that put pressure on you guys for new albums? You have so many classics, songs people cite as their favorites of all time. Does that weigh on you in the studio when working on new stuff?
Scott Travis: Not in a negative way. We feel we have to keep the level of expertise and quality to produce music we think is great. We have the greatest fan base and they stick with us, and they like what we do so far. The longtime Priest fan will enjoy this because they'll hear little bits of older stuff they remember from British Steel to Sin After Sin.
Has the band's writing process changed much over the years? How different is now from the '70s or '80s?
Faulkner: One of the main differences is you can send vocal ideas through the phone. We came off the tour, we go separate ways, and I get a text message from Rob with a voice memo, and it would be a melody or rhythm or phrasing. And that didn't go on in the '70s. We can send ideas to people instantly. So by the time you get into the studio, there's ideas already floating around because of the technology.
Halford: The instant connectivity is the main difference. You utilize it. We come from a time before the Internet, satellite TV and fax machines. There's that side of it in the writing process, but the core of what we do is when the writing team gets together in studio. That's when the real magic starts between Richie and Glenn [Tipton] and myself. Sitting with guitars, bouncing off ideas, taking a riff from maybe two years ago -- everything has its place. It's like a good book or a painting – if it was good 5-10 years ago, it's still good now. And you need direction. We gave ourselves direction that we wanted a really heavy sounding Priest vibe album. Not in a retrospective way, but just to have that as the focus; that was the touchstone. This is what we come back to – make sure it has those qualities. But it's just free, it's loose. Once you start to control it too much you restrict yourself. We've always been very open. A try anything attitude. More than anything it was a real joy to write this record, and in terms of looking at the metal treasure trail behind us – you know you have work to do. You've heard the album. How did you feel by the end of it?
It's a heavy album for sure, but exciting. No filler. "Traitors Gate" left me feeling invigorated.
Halford: We went back and forth on how many tracks to release. We had an enormous amount of material and when we heard the final pieces, before they were thoroughly mixed, I went from my usual thing – which is "it's gonna be a 10 track album" – to "we have to release everything because it's so good." With that in mind, you're faced with the fact that you don't want to give your fans a chore. You don't want them to get halfway through and think "I'm gonna get up and put the kettle on." The hope is that the end of listening to all of it they're like "oh I have to put it on again" not "oh my god that was a struggle."