Last week I was lucky and privileged to share some time with Richie Faulkner, one of the best guitarists we have now.
His new band Elegant Weapons has just released their first LP "Horns For A Halo" and the day we did the interview in Berlin (June 12) it was their second live concert. The first was the day before in Prague. Luckily I was able to enjoy both.
A great album with top-class musicians and a tremendous live show.
Do not miss them this summer if you have the opportunity.
I am already looking forward to seeing them in action again.
Here is the interview:
Yesterday was your first show in Prague. How was the feeling with the audience?
Richie: It was great because you never know what to expect. It's been a long time since the album was created and the band was put together and we've been rehearsing and everything like that. But you never know how the reaction is going to be, how the crowd are going to react, if it's going to be positive or if it's going to be negative. So it was great. The crowd was receptive. They seemed to enjoy it. I mean, obviously everyone's there to see Pantera, so it's different for me, normally with Priests. Everyone's there to see priests.
But playing with Pantera fits.
Richie: I think it was a good match. It's different from Pantera, but it's kind of similar enough that people might like it. So I think it was a good bill. I was a little nervous. I don't get nervous often. And I was nervous because you never know.
And it’s amazing to start to play in a place like O2 in Prague or tonight in Verti Music Hall in Berlin.
Richie: Yeah. But we were very fortunate. We've got a good team of people. We know people through Priest and everything. Of course, we've got a great agent, so we had a great opportunity to play with Pantera. But yeah, I was nervous, but it's good nerves because I care. I want it to be good. So it was a great first show. So I'm looking forward to tonight as well.
Your album came out on May 26, how was the reaction of the people?
Richie: Again, it was positive, I think. People know my background, they know the people on the record and they'd heard we'd released a couple of songs before that. Obviously some people like it, some people don't like it. That's the nature of all things. If everyone liked the same stuff, it'll be a boring world. That's just the nature of it. So all I can ask for is it's a great thing when people take time and they listen to your stuff and they like it or they don't, but they take time and they listen. It's been really positive. So I'm really grateful for that.
But the album was recorded in 2021, right? With Scott Travis and Rex Brown. What is the plan for the next? You are working on new music, I guess.
Richie: We've actually started the next one. I think the guys are over. I live outside of Nashville, so the guys came over, I think in March. We had some rehearsals, we did some other live sessions and stuff and at the same time we got in the studio with Christopher. So we played together, but we recorded the drums for the next record. We've got the songs written, so we've recorded drums already. I've recorded guitars, we've got bass and vocals to do, so we started it. I mean, the first one has just come out.
Remember back in the day, bands like Priest and Maiden, they used to release the records every year.
But right now it's so much going on, it's impossible.
Richie: It's true, you're right. But I mean, the ideas were there, we had the songs and why not record them and then maybe next year, at least the year after that. But we've got them, so we're working on that. And it's a priority for me, really, to be in a band that grows. It's not just a one record thing.
Yeah, you want to make it big.
Richie: Exactly. We want to grow and evolve live in the studio. So it's an important thing for me.
At the moment we play most of the record and we haven't got any more songs.
We got to start from the beginning and build it up. So I'm looking forward to that.
You will stay with Nuclear Blast or what's the plan?
Richie: We have a deal with Nuclear Blast so we're staying with them for the foreseeable future. Hopefully we keep making good albums and they stick with us. And that's the way it works.
Our motivation is to make the best albums we can, the best music we can. And if we do that, I think they will always give us support. But if we start making shitty albums, then maybe not so much.
I don't think you're ever going to make any shitty album.
Richie: Not on purpose. Sometimes shitty albums have been good ideas at the time.
But we always do our best anyway. But yeah, they've been great. Right from the early stages, like demo stages, Nuclear Blast were interested and then we finished a record and they were still interested. So that was when we knew they were the guys to go with.
Like we talked before; now with Pantera, big festivals this summer...
Richie: We've got a good network of people that we know. And it's like anything, it's the relationships with people that makes this work. I know our agent very well. I've got a great relationship with him and we work well together. We've been very fortunate to get, I mean, we were talking this year in 2023, there's Metallica, Pantera and Iron Maiden. They're probably the biggest metal tours of the year. So there's a few massive metal tours and we're on one of them for a few shows. That's a massive opportunity for us. So it's up to us to get out and hopefully reach the fans.
Even this one is more special, because many people like me, we didn’t have the chance to see Pantera in the past, so it’s a really emotional thing.
Richie: That's an amazing thing. And obviously the link with Rex as well, being on the record is a link there. There's a story. So we're just happy to be here. And festivals as well. European festivals are magic. European crowds are great, so we're happy to be here. We're fortunate. We know that.
So what do you think, maybe a headlining tour after the second album, will you try to do it?
Richie: That's usually the way things evolve.
Someone you would like to play with? If you could choose what could be?
Richie: I don't know, playing with us. I mean, I'd love to play with bands. I'd love to play with Metallica or Alice In Chains.
Yeah, but then you will open for them.
Richie: I don't mind. It's great.
Nice, but if you are the headliner?
Richie: I don't know, that's difficult. I always think about who we could because we're a new band, I always think about who we could play underneath.
I don't know. I haven't really thought about it. I always think the other way because we're starting as well. It's hard sometimes, but I always think, who I'd like to go out and steal some of their fans, you know, that's the way I normally do just because we're starting off.
But maybe you're right. Maybe I should think the other way around.
For example right now there are so many bands and making a name and start touring from the beginning is something really hard.
Richie: I wouldn't know how to do it.
Luckily, you have contacts and you have a name.
Richie: And everything. So I'm lucky. I think you've got to have a story. You've got to have some sort of aside from the music, but I think that's always been the same. And there's so much out there now that you've got to be better than the rest. You've got to strive, stand out.
Money could help too.
Richie: Even now I don't think that helps you too much. You can have all the money in the world. You've still got to have songs that connect with people.
So you can go out and spend a load of money and do a big tour, but no one's going to be there. So you've still got to build up a relationship with people, I think, from the songs that you create. Again. Luckily, I've been with the Priests for twelve years and I've got a couple of stories to tell. So that's why people might be interested to at least listen and then they might like the music and we go from there. But I know a lot of people don't. Starting off must be tough.
And right now looks like everyone has a band.
Richie: Yeah, it's true. But it's always been the same.
Like I said; it's up to us in the bands to make sure we're cut above the rest. We stand out musically. There's nothing wrong with that.
I guess you have achieved all your dreams in life, since you play in one of the biggest bands on the planet: Judas Priest. Do you have anything else to achieve?
Richie: This is the main thing. I do this every day. You know what I mean? I have a family, so that's important. Obviously, music is important, and at the moment, no, this is it, really.
So you get everything you want for life?
Richie: Pretty much at the moment. Things change.
I have hobbies like everyone else does. But music is like the main driving force and I think always will be. I think it is with a lot of people. Like we said, there's a lot of bands, a lot of people making music. And I always will, whether it's professionally or just not. Maybe one day it won't be. I'll just do it for fun. I'll be in a cover band again doing it for fun. But no, that's my main thing, it really is.
Any band you discovered lately that blew your mind?
Richie: I don't really listen to much, I hate to say. I'm always playing, I'm always making stuff, so I don't listen to much. I’m trying to think. Not really. I'm an old guy, so I listen to, like, Metallica, Sabbath, UFO. I don't like new stuff. No, not really. I'm stuck in the past.
And what is the best and worst part of being on tour for you?
Richie: Being away from family is always tough. That's no new revelation. Everyone knows that. The best part is obviously playing. I love playing. I love the guitar. I love to play. It's like a family on the road. So the camaraderie on the road, you got friends on the road. I've known Dave in the band for 25 years. We grew up playing bars in London. We go out for dinners and have fun and have drinks and that's great, but obviously playing, that's why we all do it. So that's the best part. But the hardest part is definitely family. Missing family. I have a three year old little girl. She doesn't quite understand, so she's always like, when are you coming home?
I remember when I was a teenager, for example, that going so early to shows to try to meet the bands was kind of easy. But right now all this stuff with the VIP packs. What do you think about this?
Richie: Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, we don't do it with Priest.
I was not sure, but that's good to know.
Richie: We don't do it. I think they did it before I joined, for a short while.
Richie: I think so. But then they didn't do it. They've never done it since I've been in the band. Some bands do. Some bands earn a lot of money doing it.
Kiss, for example.
Richie: Yeah, Kiss do. Well, I think if people have an option, they don't have to pay for that experience. If they want to, they can do it. If they don't want to, they have an option.
Smaller bands, like us now, you'll see us in there later, so no one gives a fuck about it. But I think the bigger you get, you have to introduce those kinds of experiences.
If Paul Stanley walks in a fucking bar or something, it's going to be pandemonium. Whereas I walk in there and no one gives a fuck. Again, it's a choice. So if people want that experience, they can pay for it or not.
And what about the venues taking money from the merch?
Richie: Well I think people are finding ways around that too.
People started selling outside and stuff like this.
Richie: Exactly, yeah, because people I mean, I understand it, I understand to a point, but then people get greedy and people look for other ways of not paying those commissions.
For a small band that you get just from merchandising, this is terrible.
Richie: It's a lot. So people finds a way, like the Jurassic Park thing, life finds a way. If it gets too much, people find other ways of doing it and that's just the way it is. Like the meet and greet things, I think if you get a T-shirt via a meet and greet, you can do it directly instead of doing it by the venue because the venue takes a percentage. It's crazy. People always find a way around that stuff. If it gets too stupid, people find a way around it.
Yeah, at the end they will lost more for doing stupidity.
Richie: Exactly, it's true.
And finally, any funny anecdotes about the tour that you want to share?
Richie: Not yet. We've only been on tour for a day.
From your life? I mean.
Richie: There're always funny stories but I wouldn't want to get anyone in trouble. There was one, I don't know if you've heard, I've told it before, but there was one we were taken off of. I don't know if you've heard this one, but we were taken off out of New York.
Have you heard this one with the UFO? Yeah, I was reading about this.
Richie: Yeah, it was a silver ball. Rob filmed it and he filmed it on his phone, then he deleted it.
But there's tons of funny stories and it's funny because they're Priests anyway, they're so down to earth and sometimes they do things that are so like me and you being stupid because you imagine them to be like gods and they are but sometimes they do just normal things like me.
At the end they are humans too, haha.
Richie: Yeah, and it's just funny for that reason but it's been a blast for the last twelve years. We're going out again next year. We've got some dates in the UK and Europe.
Yes, and I’ll try my best to be there.
Richie: Cool. But there's always funny stories with those guys. They're funny guys. Beautiful.
Amazing. So see you later on the stage! Thanks a lot for the interview!