Could you tell us how you met guitarist Chris Johnson and your collaboration on "Holy Rage"? Who else joins you on Holy Rage?
Al > I first met Chris at an Aunt's funeral, he came over and introduced himself to me asking if I remembered his late Uncle Nicky Bowbanks who was Rob Halford's partner in the early 70's who unfortunatly got killed in a car crash. At the time i didn't know Chris was a guitarist but a year later when I was putting a live band together I was introduced to him again and we hit it off straight away and he's been with me ever since. The "HOLY RAGE" line up has changed over the years and the current line up now is Vince O'regan (guitar), Chris Johnson (guitar), Steve Mercy (bass) Mick Hales (drums) and myself (vocals).
Who did most of the writing on this one?
Al > Vince O'regan and myself co wrote nearly all the songs except for two "Give Them Hell" and "Waste Away" Which are both mine.
Will you be going on tour?
Al > Hopefully, we were offered a USA tour with "Diamond Head" in August but sorry to say had to turn it down due to some band members' work commitments.
Could you tell us about your vocal work on Lyraka, an opera? What attracted you to this project?
Al > Who wouldn't be attracted to sing alongside great vocalists like Liz Vandall, Graham Bonnet and Mark Boals. Andy Digelsomina the writer, guitarist and brains behind the idea asked if i would be interested in singing one of the tracks and I said a definate yes after listening to the first album they had put together. I will be singing the part of the evil Simmonet on one song and also doing a trio with Liz and Graham on a song called "Father".
Some of the "HOLY RAGE" tracks are about the nature of war - how does this subject inspire you to write and record music? what other themes interest you or inspire you? Is this the same inspiration that you felt on your other albums - "Heavy Thoughts" and "Sin Sessions"?
Al > When Chris and myself put the band together I said I would write a topical song that would catch everyones attention and wrote the war song "Give Them Hell", we then sent it off to recording companies and radio stations Worlwide for a reaction and "bingo" radio stations everywhere started playing it and wanted interviews with Chris and myself. We did a lot of the big Metal Stations in USA and also "Soldiers Speak Radio" Ohio and a live one in Iraq. We signed eventually to "Z Rock Records" UK . I decided to write another war song on the album called "Victory" which is my favourite track but that's it "NO MORE WAR SONGS"!!!....when you sit down to write a song you have to be inspired by something, I'm not much good with love songs, I wrote a sad love track on my HEAVY THOUGHTS album called "The Deepest Blue" and one on our new album called "Love at War"..... but that's as close as it gets.
What do you do when not writing music and recording?
Al > I mainly spend time with my family and two Labrador dogs.
You wrote Dreamer Deceiver and Victim of Changes, what inspired these classic tracks?
Al > I co/wrote all the songs in the early JUDAS PRIEST days some featured on their first albums, songs like WINTER, CAVIAR AND METHS, NEVER SATISFIED, DREAMER DECEIVER and VICTIM of CHANGES. The lyrics on Dreamer Deceiver were written by Rob Halford and only a section of the music was mine..... Victim of Changes started out has a song of mine called WHISKEY WOMAN about a fallen lady and when Rob joined after I left he bought with him another song about a fallen lady called "RED LIGHT LADY" and the band joined them together and retitled the whole thing "VICTIM of CHANGES".
what were those early years like for Judas Priest?
Al > We played a hell of a lot of gigs in the four years I was with them but never made a lot of money, it was hard !! and don't forget we had no computors, no mobile phones and no satnavs to guide us around, we struggled to get a good record deal, we were offered a few by small labels but I turned them down. Tony Iommi managed us and we started to play alongside some name bands like Budgie, Slade, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy and Black Sabbath to name a few and we ended up playing over 150 gigs in the year. I was the only one married with a small child to feed and with so little money in the end I quit. Rob took my place and after another year of hard touring they signed with small label "Gull Records" but only if they took on another guitarist and in stepped Glenn Tipton.
What lies in the future for you?
Al > I have just finished an album with Christian metal guitarist/songwriter Paul May called "SERPENTS KISS" and we are now looking for a record company to take it on... I have also been asked by "Z Rock Records" to record a "BEST OF" album so that might happen soon. One thing about the music game is you never know what's round the corner??
What has kept you active on the metal scene for all of these years?
Al > I just love what I do and will continue has long as I can, I'm a bit deaf in my left ear and a little crazy which you have to be in the music business but I still get a buzz from playing live and music is my creative outlet in life.