AL ATKINS on Rock Overdose: "It was great to see something I had been involved with making it to the top"
For those who are not familiar with the early years of legendary Judas Priest, the band was named after vocalist's Al Atkins previous prog rock band when he met Ian Hill and KK Downing at a rehearsal room and asked to play together. Al Atkins contributed in songwriting for the first two albums and toured heavily, while hitting a deal with Tony Iommi's management agency, before he left the band short before debut album Rocka Rolla was released. Unable to stay away from the metal path, Al formed heavy metal band Lion while the following decades saw him releasing several solo albums for the sake of his fans. His latest album 'Valley of Shadows' with fellow guitarist Paul May was released in the beginning of November 2012 and as Al revealed to Rock Overdose, 2013 is going to be a very hot year for him!
Rockoverdose.gr: Hello Al, we are more than happy to welcome you to Rock Overdose! Our readers appreciated a lot your wishes, thanks! So second album released recently with guitarist Paul May, looks like the project is running well?
(a) Yes it has been received really well by the worldwide press so far.... when it was released in November it was voted 'album of the month' in a metal magazine in Denmark so it was off to a good start.
Rockoverdose.gr: Great! What are your feelings on this album?
(a) It has to be one of the very best recordings I have ever been involved with. Our first offering 'Serpents Kiss' took us by surprise how well it was received and they were just a bunch of really good random songs that Paul had written but this time Paul wrote all the material with me and my vocal style in mind so I was more comfortable singing 'Valley of Shadows'. From the heavy opener 'Welcome to the Nightmare' the album weaves its way through classic British metal, heavy blues rock and even progressive metal songs so there's something for everyone on this album.
Rockoverdose.gr: Is there an option for the Atkins / May project to go live?
(a) We would really like to put a band on the road and would have a great set list with songs from Atkins/May and old songs that I have written from Judas Priest and from my solo catalogue too. We will be looking at finding a good promoter to put this thing together soon and we have already been asked to play far off places like the West Coast of USA and even India so who knows? We would like to come over to Greece too so if you know of a promoter out there point him in our direction??
Rockoverdose.gr: Sure I think you 'll get proposals soon. Your experience from Lyraka Vol.2? Fellow Greek musician drummer George Kollias from Nile is part of the billing too!
(a) Yes he is and it's a fantastic line up of musicians that the writer/composer Andy Digelsomina has put together. I play the part of the evil Semonett and I sing one song on my own and another dueting with Liz Vandal and Marc Boals.It's a very exciting metal opera double album which will be released June 2013.
Rockoverdose.gr: What was your reaction when KK Downing left Judas Priest?
(a) I was shocked like everyone else but he is 60 years old and if he feels it's time for him to retire that's up to him. I thought he may return to record another album and play the odd festival in a 6 piece line up like Iron Maiden did but that's not to be, so I have been told.
Rockoverdose.gr: Back in the day, would you foresee this huge success when you overheard the Freight trio rehearsing at Holly Joe 's?
(a) No way... All musicians dream of their band becoming the next big thing but most of them fall by the wayside. In my first four years with J.P we got through the same ammount of drummers but through sheer hard work a few more personal changes and a bit of luck they eventually broke through.....
Rockoverdose.gr: Were there any fans at the start that mixed you with your previous prog rock band and what was the feedback of the first Judas Priest heavy songs from the audience of that early time?
(a) I honestly can't remember but we had a great feedback where ever we played. In '72 we played over 150 gigs up and down the UK alongside some great bands like Slade, Budgie, Thin Lizzy and Black Sabbath to name a few. I think it was just a matter of time before they got on to the ladder of success and Tony Iommi was looking after us too so that helped.
Rockoverdose.gr: Having known that you wouldn't last at your day job after you quit Judas Priest, do you regret that decision?
(a) At the time 'no', I had formed a great rock band called Lion with Bruno Stapenhill on bass from the first Priest line up and Pete Boot from Budgie and we were having a great time back on the road which lasted about 4 years. All this time I could see J.P climbing that ladder and it was great to see something I had been involved with making it to the top and they deserved it.
Rockoverdose.gr: Do you find the appropriate credit was given to you, having written songs on the first two albums, but also having offered that legendary band-name nowadays?
(a) Yes and no would be my answer... I think credit was given to me but I wished that they would have put my name as a past member on their official web site.. It wouldn't have done them any harm but I bear no grudge against them after all it could be their management who stops a lot of things happening. I'm still in touch with some of the band and went to Ian's house for a New Year Party last week.
Rockoverdose.gr: Are you considering moving on with Holy Rage, or a new solo album? What are your plans for 2013?
(a)Holy Rage has been put on the back burner for now and yes I will be recording another solo album this year but it will be re-recordings of all my old favorite songs I have written since my time with J.P up until now, 'Never Satisfied' and 'Winter' will be the only two J.P songs but I have a surprise guest on one of those tracks and other guests will also be performing too. There will also be a never seen before classic photograph of J.P and me from '73 in the inlay so looking forward to that. I have also been asked to work with Stevie Young ,Angus's nephew on some new material so we will see where that goes?? In the meantime I must concentrate on Atkins/May/ Project videos that we will be filming in the coming months ahead.....
Rockoverdose.gr: Looking forward to all that! Finally, would you like to say anything to your Greek fans? Thank you very much for this lovely interview!
I would like to wish everyone a great ''New Year'' and keep the fires burning for metal music and hopefully I will come out to Greece this year and meet up with you guys.