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You wrote on The Panopticon that the guitars sound "more so on the epic side of things than, say, grossly metallic." Care to elaborate on that?
“It probably has more to do with space than density. There’s a lot this modern tone – I don’t want to name names – a kind of midrange in the modern sound with smaller guitars that sound big. I’ve tended to go in the other direction with the scooped-Hetfield sound, a lot of low end, a lot of attack. So in trying to find new ways to skin the cat – a bad analogy… ‘bake the apple’?...”
“Skin the cat”? I haven’t heard anybody use that one in years.
“Yeah, I need a new analogy dictionary. [Laughs] I was just on the cover of an animal charity magazine too, holding my two cats – not the best analogy to use. I do love my cats, so I’ve got to be careful... In trying to find a new way to reinvent the wheel for the 19th time – there’s a phrase – Jeff and I have talked a lot about gain structures. What was it about Judas Priest in 1975 that attracts us now that maybe we didn’t get in the ‘80s because we were so obsessed with gain?
“The point being that density has been done, high-gain has been done, and so we’ve regressed to maybe a lesser gain sound, which has really opened up our playing, and so now it’s more about how we play off of each other. I would say that the closest analogy would be that beautiful thing you see between KK Downing and Glenn Tipton, where two lead guitarists with specific styles play together and make a bigger sound.
“Jeff and I, now that we’ve played together for seven years, we’ve figured out how to do that. So unlike a lot of the albums – including Oceania, where a lot of the rhythm tracks might have just been me doubling myself to get the super-tight thing – this one will be old school: Billy on the left, Jeff on the right.”
Do you have a ballpark idea when you want to put the albums out – and how much of a gap will be between them?
“Shooting for a single by October – possibly sooner, but I guess October, November at the latest – and then an album will probably be February. As for the timetable between the two albums, I worked it out contractually that it’d be no more than nine months, so I’m going to try to stick to that. I’m sure [BMG] would be fine if it were longer, but I’d like to keep it short. I’m just really tired from doing this one. We’re obviously trying to get it done, and so the idea of finishing and rolling right into the next record seems like a strange kind of a slow-motion suicide. [Laughs] It’s like being one of the teams in the play-offs – we’ve just gotta win this game first and we’ll get to the other game later.”