A guitarist in Judas Priest since 2011, Richie Faulkner has made a habit of rubbing shoulders with heavy metal royalty. But after an on-stage heart aneurysm in 2021 – and with a warning from fellow Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton that Priest won’t be around forever – Faulkner has assembled Elegant Weapons, his own all-star post-Priest retirement plan.
Their debut album Horns For A Halo is a blast of triumphant, classic-style heavy metal, but the way Faulkner sees it they’re carrying the torch for the next generation.
Was your on-stage aneurysm in 2021 a kick up the arse to get something going outside of Priest, as well as telling you to look after yourself?
It definitely put things in focus! I can be a lazy bugger, so it gave me focus to finish all these melodies and riffs I’d got lying around. Now I look at it as, if you’ve got something you want to accomplish, there’s no time like today. I’ve got a young daughter, so I want to be around as much as I can, but I don’t want to leave unfinished business.
In Elegant Weapons you’ve got an all-star cast with Priest drummer Scott Travis, Pantera bassist Rex Brown and Rainbow singer Ronnie Romero. How do they all fit into the group?
I got Scott and Rex involved after the material was already written. I’d always promised Scott that if I ever did anything outside of Priest he’d be my number-one choice, and Rex and I have been good friends for years. Then Ronnie is the head of the class when it comes to the new breed of classic singers. We’ve already started working on the next record. Ultimately we want to use everyone’s input and creativity, as that will offer a deeper creative energy. I’m really excited to see how this band will evolve over time and create roots of our own.
In addition to the obvious Priest DNA, there are shades of Dio and Scorpions on Horns For A Halo. Was it a conscious thing to call back to metal’s glory years?
Well, I was born on the first day of 1980 and grew up in the eighties, so that’s part of who I am. I couldn’t shy away from that. If I were to do something more modern just to fit in with what’s happening now, it wouldn’t feel organic.
Which track on Horns For A Halo do you think most demonstrates what Elegant Weapons are all about?
White Horse has all these twists and turnsthat, to me at least, remind me of [Ozzy’s] Diary Of A Madman. It changes vibe in a few areas and I really like that dynamic. There’s something to be said for a song that can take you on a journey through beauty and ugliness, and White Horse is that.
Does it help to be working with other musicians who also joined legendary bands in their later years?
There’s a sense that we need to carry on the legacy, definitely. We’ve been accepted into these behemoth bands – Priest, Rainbow… There’s a sense of responsibility to carry on when these bands retire. We’re going to do what we can to carry the torch to the next generation of musicians who can take it somewhere completely different. Even if we don’t, we’ll have a damn good time doing it!
Horns For A Halo is out now.