“It’s important for you to feel valuable” and “no one person is more important than the other” are great sentiments to hear when you get a new job. So, Richie Faulkner was pretty stoked when he started a new gig and was told that by the members of his new team.

It just so happens that that “team” is legendary metal band Judas Priest, and Faulkner had landed a role as half of one of the genre’s most iconic guitar teams. After K.K. Downing left the group in 2011, Faulkner got the job as the other half of their six-string duo, along with Glenn Tipton.

While other musicians joining a new band have had rough experiences, frontman Rob Halford tells Radio.com that, “We made that perfectly clear to Richie, this is your moment, you’re in the band.”

He wasn’t only welcomed by the band — the fans have also greeted the guitarist warmly. Exhibit A: In the group’s new live DVD/BluRay, Epitaph, due out May 28, longtime fans can see how well he gels with the group; nneophytes may not even realize that he’s “the new guy.”

Faulkner was born in 1980, six years after the band debuted with 1974′s Rocka Rolla, but he stresses to Radio.com that he has been preparing for this role his entire life.

“I grew up with bands like Priest – you work out your poses in front of the mirror, with a guitar… or with air guitar,” he said. “It was kind of natural to kind of fit into that environment. I’d been working in front of the mirror for decades!”

Halford explained that the Epitaph Tour, which ended in May of 2012 with the final show being documented on new live DVD, was a big next step in the band’s evolution.

“It was a tremendously exciting thing to experience,” Halford said. “Watching the crowds really accepting Richie, for me it was a mixture of relief and exhilaration that we were able to continue as a band, and to not disappoint the fans and to put the band into a new dimension. He’s been really embraced, and it was a wonderful world tour.”

When the band said that their 2011 world tour would be their final global trek, some fans mistook that for a retirement notice from the band, which they later clarified. They’re not breaking up, they just aren’t going to do any more world tours. Of course, calling it Epitaphdidn’t help either.

“We weren’t feeling a finality, we were feeling reflective and retrospective,” Halford explained. “We thought that this is an epitaph…. but just for this moment. Not for what’s coming next! It’s just a time to take a deep breath and to look and listen at everything Priest has done.”

As for what’s coming next, Halford reports that the band is planning their new album now, though he can’t say much about it.

“Well, we’re making a new record, which we can’t talk about because we’ve been verboten by the label and management,” he says. “But the exciting thing is that we are making a new record. As Andy Warhol said, the most exciting part about any event is the anticipation and the waiting for it.” 

Epitaph is out May 28; for more information on the film’s theatrical screenings, head over to Judas Priest’s website.


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