The Metal Crusade Continues
CoC talks to Scott Travis of Judas Priest
by: Adrian Bromley
There are a lot of Judas Priest fans and music critics out there who had a hard time digesting the new album _Demolition_ when it was released last year. Many found the album to be a bland metal offering, a far cry from the explosive _Jugulator_ (1997) (featuring then new singer "Ripper" Owens) and the classic metal sound that the band has been known to deliver since the late '70s. So what happened? Sophomore jinx?

During the busy North American tour this winter (a tour postponed a few months because of the September 11th terrorist attack in New York City), Judas Priest drummer Scott Travis talked to Chronicles of Chaos about _Demolition_, the band's legacy and what he really thinks about touring.

"I can't criticize people's opinions about the record. I mean, everyone has them and is entitled to their own one", starts Travis. "The only thing we do when we write a record is look forward and try to write songs on what we like, and try to create music that sounds good and the fans will like. We [the band is rounded out by dueling guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton and bassist Ian Hill -- Adrian] don't try to sound like a certain era of Judas Priest, we just write what we feel. People are going to criticize what we do no matter what. If we put out a record that sounded like it was from 1983, a lot of people would be annoyed and say it sounds dated, while another set of fans would be so excited that we are playing a record that sounds right out of 1983. It is a catch 22, really. You can't please everybody with a new album."

"The band really doesn't give any thought to that. We just write songs to correspond to the mood or vibe we are in and just hope that the fans like it. For a band like Priest, who has been around for thirty years, it is hard to please fans who fall into many different eras of the band."

On the new record, he comments, "I like the new sound of _Demolition_. I think it sounds very refreshing. I am glad it doesn't sound like something from the 1980s, to be honest. I think this album has lot of energy and modern sounds to it."

So, what songs are the band doing live off the new record?

"We are doing two songs live: "One on One" and "Hell Is Home". I think both of those songs are great live songs and work well into our already huge set list of material. "Hell Is Home" is a really heavy Judas Priest song and it sounds great. When you are a band with this sort of history, we have to play so many songs from many eras. We do a lot of songs, but we make sure not to grab material that sounds alike, hence why we play "Hell Is Home". It is a song that sounds unlike a lot of Priest's material that we do live. It is a tough situation to be in, choosing set list songs, but it allows us to really comb through some great classic numbers and add them into the set."

And Travis' favourite era of Judas Priest?

"Oh man, the early '80s is a great era for the band", he says enthusiastically. "I wasn't in the band back then; I was playing in bar bands back then in Virginia, where I'm from, and was so into what Judas Priest was doing. Back in the '80s was a cool time for this music. I think back then people appreciated rock music more. I would have loved to have been in the band back then. I hear some great stories from the band about that period. <laughs> Oh well, I'm in the band now and couldn't be happier."

The topic turns to the recording experience of Judas Priest and the second studio effort with "Ripper" Owens at the helm. What was the recording experience like this time compared to the work on _Jugulator_?

"This record took a long time to do, almost three years, and it was a lot of work but a great experience", Travis answers. "Both "Ripper" and I live in the United States and we had to fly over every couple of months to England to work on material and do our parts. Glenn wrote most of the album. He did a lot of work in his home studio, and worked at his own pace, so that might have been a factor in why it took so long. But we are happy with the results for sure."

"Nothing was really different this time around. With _Jugulator_ the band had material already written when "Ripper" finally joined, and this time around it was a very collaborative album", he reveals. "It feels great to have him in the band. It all worked out well for him joining the band as the singer. I know it sounds cliche, but he really is a natural, fantastic vocalist. He has always fit in personally and musically from day one. Onstage he totally kicks ass."

About touring, Travis says, "This has been a really good experience for us on the road with this album. I am noticing, especially on this tour more so than the last album's touring, that a lot of younger fans are coming to the shows. We still get the die-hard older fans showing up, but a lot of younger fans are making their way to see us on tour with _Demolition_, and that is really cool for us to see. It has been refreshing to see so many fans into metal and coming to the shows. I had heard over the last five years that "Metal is coming back!", and I didn't believe it for the last three years or so, but since we have been out on the road with Anthrax, and we are playing great shows, I can honestly say that I think there is truth to those comments about metal returning."

"Playing live is a great thing. Playing in the studio is okay, but you need to do that to get the product out. But once you play live and you get beyond the stage and see the faces of the fans and people singing along and having a good time, that right there is what it is all about. That is why I still do this. It is a party, man!"

He continues on, "I love touring. It is every musician's dream to go out and tour. When you start playing your instrument and after you get good, you want other people to see you do this. You want to go out on the road. If any musician complains about traveling, that is like wanting to become a doctor and not wanting to see any sick patients. It is idiotic to think like that. It is great to be back on the road again. We haven't been to North America or Canada in like three years. This tour is going great so far."

But during the fall of 2001, the tour took a serious setback. "It was something that was totally awful and nothing that we could control", says the drummer about the events of September 11th that affected the North American leg of the world tour for _Demolition_. "We had just finished playing a show in Mexico City and I was packing the next morning and had the TV on when I saw on CNN what was happening. Needless to say, we didn't get on the plane to Los Angeles that day and had to stay in Mexico another five days. By the time we were able to get out, shows in California were scrapped and we decided to cancel the rest of the tour and just take some time off before going to Europe."

"There is no positive spin that you can give to what went on or to those who lost lives", he finishes off, "but the fact is that Judas Priest is back on the road again in North America and trying to let all their fans have a good time and try to forget what went on."

(article submitted 12/4/2002)


ALBUMS
10/8/2008 A Lineker 5.5 Judas Priest - Nostradamus
1/16/1999 P Schwarz 9 Judas Priest - '98 Live Meltdown
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