By Andrew Catania
An axeman with a command on the pen and chords alike, Richie Faulkner has brilliantly consumed this dual virtuosity to pave his way ahead in a short span of time.
Born in London on January 1st, 1980, Richard Ian Faulkner, aka Richie Faulkner, was naturally drawn to music since a very young age. His inborn music-philia compelled him to learn the intricacies of different genres as well as equipment aside from his schooling and formal education. Having tested his fingers on a variety of instruments, Richie Faulkner eventually came to terms with the guitar. Now that the playing flair of his fingers was focused on the chords, there was no looking back for Richie Faulkner. Since then, Richie has embarked on a never-ending journey to rock and ace his forte and leave his mark on the heavy metal and hard rock genres.
Richie Faulkner formally debuted and started his professional music career by joining Dirty Deeds in 2001 at the young age of 21. Playing as the lead guitarist for the band and also helping with the lyrics and vocals, the band released an album titled ‘Blown’ in 2002. Later next year, Richie ventured into a joint feat with bassist Tony Newton and co-founded Voodoo Six, a British rhythmic heavy metal band, in 2003.
After a couple of underground performances and side appearances, it took around three years for Voodoo Six to release their first album titled ‘Feed My Soul’ in 2006. After that, the restless Richie bid farewell to his brainchild and partnered with Lauren Harris, an acclaimed British rock singer and the daughter of Steve Harris of Iron Maiden.
The Richie-Lauren collaboration released Lauren’s debut album titled ‘Calm Before the Sun’ in 2008. Meanwhile, Richie expanded his domain of partnerships and associations and signed with Ace Mafia and Parramon. This added two more releases to his portfolio, including ‘Vicious Circle’ with Ace Mafia, and ‘Dead People’ withParramon, in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
By this time, Richie had gained a sound recognition in the music sphere. His spark lit up Judas Priest, the 2nd best band of all time, reigniting its fiery thrill after they offered Richie to join the band as the lead guitarist, replacing K. K. Downing in the process. Richie embraced the opportunity, something that was more of a challenge and could have turned out either way. However, after long and regular jamming hours, Richie finally had to face the limelight at the band’s platform on American Idol in 2011, facing millions of national and global audiences.
The electric performance enthralled the masses, endorsing Judas Priest’s choice of taking Richie on board. The immense success of Judas Priest’s next album, ‘Redeemer of Souls’, in 2014, ‘Battle Cry Live’ in 2016, and Firepower in 2018 brought a global prominence to Richie’s name.
Aside from his permanent and full-time association with Judas Priest, Richie Faulkner has composed music for Christopher Lee’s ‘Charlemagne: The Omens of Death’ and has made a special appearance in Primitai’s ‘Rise Again’ in 2013.
The man of immense talent, Richie Faulkner would surely have made it big even without Judas Priest. But the association turned out to be symbiotic as Richie instilled a fresh breath of air in Judas Priest while the band provided him a clear shortcut to the global limelight.
How’s the tour going?
RF: It’s going great with the priest family again around this run of North America and Canada. We’re now in Minnesota, and It’s bloody cold. We seem to be following, or the snow appears to be following us around the country, so we’ve yet to get into warm weather. We have a great setlist and great fans out there.
How’s it going playing with Andy Sneap?
RF: It’s going great. Andy’s holding it down. It’s a tough position to fill, especially, um, when Glenn still around, you know, so you’re doing it in the right way. He’s doing it respectfully. Um, he knows, you know, he doesn’t want to be the new guitar player and priest, he knows Glen is still in the band, and that is respectful of that. So he’s playing, he’s playing the part where he did a great job in, uh, it’s good to write about that.
Are you and Andy meshing well performing live?
RF: Absolutely. Yeah. It’s nice and tight on stage in, and I’m taking the majority of the load a solo wise, you know, some of Glenn Solos I’m playing as well as my own. Andy plays a few solos as well. We’re synching up and laying it down. It’s heavy, tight and sounds like Judas Priest.
With you doing a majority of the solo’s, are you improvising on Glen’s parts?
RF: That’s a good question, Andrew. I think less improvisation than the KK Downing’s solos. I usually have a bit of improvising some, and KK did too. I think he was that kind of player and so was I. So there’s always a room for a bit of improvisation there, but Glen is usually are a bit more locked in. He always played the same solo. I think you must be respectful of that and you can move a few things here and there. You have to stay true to what Glenn did. Those solos are constructed in such a way where you have to play them note for note. Little musical creations in themselves.
How was the creative process with Firepower divided up amongst you guys?
RF: I, Rob and Glen wrote the whole thing. It was the same as Redeemer of Souls. We get into a room together, the three of us and we put our ideas together that we’ve put down separately and then work on them as a trio. Building on those initial ideas and adding new ones. We’re finding the songs. Right until the very last; you know until we hit the record button. Scott and Ian came into the sessions, and we set up the drum kit, guitar amps, and the bass. We rehearse the songs together. We play them together. We got a feel for the push and pull that music takes on naturally and the spontaneous things here and there that came into the song.
As far as my involvement, it was the same as before. It’s the three of us that chiseled out some great stuff that’s Firepower.
What the difference between your studio and live rig?
RF: It’s different to the one in the studio. In the studio, you have a lot of opportunities to experiment with different things and different sounds, different effects and you’re coming up with new solutions. The music has to be appropriate for those new songs. For Firepower, It was my guitar and some delay and reverbs. On stage. I’ve got a load of different effects. Live is great fun when it comes to a lot of effects and replicating those songs, from 1974 right up until present date as a lot of opportunities for fun when it comes to employing effects. It’s a blast.
Take me back to when they chose you as a successor to KK. Downing. Can you describe that feeling
RF: It goes through different stages naturally. First of all, there’s the phone call which is a bit surreal. It’s cliché, but you think one of your friends is playing a prank on you. It’s one of those things that don’t happen, As you progress, it becomes more and more real. You go down and meet the guys, meet the management and you talk about what they want, or they don’t want. They asked me what I wanted, didn’t want, it was very kind of a two-sided, and we went from there. They gave me the gig about a week after I first met them. We announced it about a month after that. I had to be quiet and keep my mouth shut, and I only told a few select people.
When the news broke, it was like reliving that excitement all over again. You know, wake me up, the pinch-me moments where you think, is this happening? Almost eight years into my tenure with the band now, so it becomes more and more to be the best you can for the fans and the band.
Do you have any pre-show drills?
RF: Not really. We put on the studs and leather. I’ll usually go up on the stage a bit early just to soak in the atmosphere of the room. The sights and the smells of an arena before a metal show. It’s exciting. The only thing we do at the moment religiously is every time before we open the show, we put on Black Sabbath Warpigs over the PA every time. Just to let fans know that the show’s about to start and kick off with our intro.
Is there any talk of this being the last Judas priest album or is that really haven’t been up for discussion?
RF: We’re all getting older myself included. It’s not really a focus of our attention at the moment if it’s going to be the last one. What we’re doing is focusing on the Firepower tour. It’s the fans, it staying healthy on the road and delivering the goods around the world. This is the first leg of the Firepower World Tour. After this, we go to Europe and we have more tour dates we haven’t announced. So for now, we’re enjoying this and it’s great.
For more info on Richie Faulker please visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/richie.faulkner1/
For more info on Judas Priest including tour dates please visit https://www.facebook.com/OfficialJudasPriest/