Nico from California

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You’ve Got Another T-shirt Comin’

Name: Nico Saavedra

Age: 28

Location: Orange County, California (Originally from Santiago, Chile)

Occupation:
I’m a musician. I’ve been playing drums for 16 years and now I do it profesionally. I have my bands, I play shows, tour a bit, do session drumming here and there and also give lessons a bit, too. Aside from that, I work as an excecutive & production assistant for a company where we do events and festivals in Los Angeles (marketing, promoting and a lot more). And, I’m a math tutor but I haven’t taught any math it in the last couple of years, hehe.

My ultimate dream in life would be to have the chance of attending a Judas Priest sound check before a show and play a song on drums with the band or at least with KK & Glenn. They could just call any song and I’ll play it and do a great job at it. Yeah, it’s true!! I’m not lying!! 🙂

When did you first start listening to Judas Priest?

From a very early age I noticed that I liked hard rock and heavy metal music. I remember when I was like 4 yrs old and some of my dad’s brothers would watch music shows on TV (in Chile, where I’m from) with heavy metal music. I remember staring at the TV with them and really enjoying that kind of music. Since then, I remember listening to radio while playing with toys and friends at home. I used to have this cassette tape that an uncle of mine gave me that had a bunch of hard rock songs, so I used to listen to it all the time non-stop.

When I was 8 years old (around 1988), I was looking through some video tapes that my dad had at home. One of those video tapes used to belong to one of his brothers and and it had all these heavy metal videos in it. I still remember that moment clearly, believe or not. It started with some videos from Van Halen and Scorpions and right after that “Free Wheel Burning” starts playing and on the bottom of the screen it said “Judas Priest”. I remember just staring at the TV screen as if I was watching something from some other planet, being captured in every single possible way as a human being. The music, the look, the way they moved and headbanged, the way they were delivering, uuffff.

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Of course, being so young I didn’t know what was happening to me or what I was really feeling. Now, I can look back at that first moment and describe the feelings that I got from watching and listening to Priest the very first time. Right after that video, another clip pops up (live) and it was Priest playing “Hell Bent For Leather”  and I said in my head “that’s the same band I just watched”. From there the feeling just got more intense and I was just loving it. I was getting an excitement in my body that kids at that age just don’t feel. My imagination was going to all kinds of places and I was saying “what’s this, who are they, I want more, I want more”. Then, after some other videos, “Electric Eye” starts playing and you can probably imagine what happen to me at that point.

…so after that there was no return?

Yes, I started to watch that video tape on a daily basis for probably a year and a half, imagining what else was out there from Priest. Because of that video tape, my parents noticed how much I got into the band and when I was 10 years old they gave me “Priest… Live!” on video tape as a christmas present. I was the happiest kid on the planet!!!!. It was like “MORE JUDAS PRIEST, more music from the band!!!!!”. I was watching the video non-stop for a really long time. I used to grab a tennis racket (as a guitar), put on some shades (the same as KK in the Priest… Live video) and start jumping on my bed, imitating KK and Glenn on my bed with my door closed while watching the video. This went on for a couple of years. I started adding a whammy bar to the tennis raquet (with a pen) and knobs and stuff to make it look like KKs, haha.

From there, being a kid, I started to frequent music stores in Santiago, Chile looking for Priest cassettes. As soon as I’d find a Priest cassette I’d ask my parents or my grandma for money! And like that I got my first 2 cassette tapes which were “Screaming” and “Ram it Down”. As you can imagine, I listened to those tapes non-stop every day! and I started to get more. “British Steel” and “Unleashed” were next. I used to have this great feeling of excitement by counting how many Priest tapes I had through time. This kept going on for the years to come in the same manner and with the same kind of feeling (that feeling just kept growing bigger and bigger). By the time I was 14 years old, I had completed all the Priest albums on cassette tapes. Opening my night stand drawer at night looking at all my Priest tapes was always a happy moment.
At that age (around 1994) and specially being in Chile and with no existence of the internet back then, the only way to know about the happenings of the band and music was by buying magazines at stores or kiosks. That’s how I knew that Rob had recently left Priest. From the age of 14 to 16, I remember coming back from school every day and listening to Priest thinking “I’m never gonna see my favourite band live with my own eyes”. At that time, bands didn’t use to go to Chile to play that often and, also, the band was separated, so sometimes I would get really sad thinking that my dream of seeing the band would never come true for me, ever.

Have you ever seen Judas Priest live?

When I was 15 I came to California on vacation and I was taken to the Namm show in Anaheim. Rob Halford was there and I got to meet him. I couldn’t believe it. It was a very weird experience because it was so unexpected. It was like unreal to me that it really happened. I came back to Chile telling everybody about it and showing my autograph. However, when I’d tell metalheads and people about it at music stores they didn’t believe me and told me I was full of shit. Haha.

Then, back in Chile when I was 17, the internet started to get over there and I found a Priest site that had pictures with Ripper and announcements about the band coming back. I was so happy!!! Finally a chance of having my dream come true. “Jugulator” and “Live Meltdown” came out and I remember being so happy and excited. It was so awesome to think that they were back and maybe I’d get to see them one day!!!.

Then, when I was 18 years old in 1999, me and my family moved to California. After 3 years of living here the dream started to come true, Priest was coming on Tour with “Demolition”. What I thought would never happen was going to become reality. That first show was unbelievable. When the lights went out and the intro for “Metal Gods” came on I closed my eyes and said “I have never seen the band with my own eyes. When I open my eyes I’m never gonna be able to say that I haven’t seen the band before anymore. And when I open them they will be in front of me”. I was nervous. I opened my eyes and there they were, KK, Glenn, Ian, Scott & Ripper. I was insanely happy screaming my lungs out singing the songs. The feeling was so intense that tears were coming out of my eyes in that first song. The BEST experience EVER!!!!!!!!.

I saw the band 4 times in that tour in California. Then, they reunited with Rob and I saw them at Ozzfest. Then, they released “Angel” and listening to the album for the first time was like when I used to buy the Priest albums as a kid and listen to them for the first time ever. So beautiful. Then, I saw them 3 times on the Retribution Tour. The next year, I traveled to Las Vegas to see them for the Vh1 Rock Honors. Now, I’ve seen them a total of 9 times. I’ve gone to every single show they’ve had in Southern California since I moved here.

Which of those concerts has been the best experience?

To tell you the truth, every show I’ve seen has felt like the first time to me. When growing up, I spent so much time dreaming of watching the band play in front of me that every time I get to see them it feels like I never did! Which makes it an incredible unique/special experience every time. The very first show I ever saw was a huge an event for me. On the rest, I’ve also had the same excitement running through my body. It’s a very special experience for me to get to see them perform and listen to all the songs I’ve been listening to since I was a small kid.

The most special moments at the Priest shows for me have been KK and Glenn giving me the actual picks they played with (not the ones with signatures and Priest logo) which has happened 2 times with KK and Glenn at different shows Also, meeting them a couple of times outside the venues. I’ve been living the dream in that sense!

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What does the music of Judas Priest mean to you?

Love, happiness, release, fun, determination, persistence with that you want to achieve, dedication, hard work and so many other things. Music is very powerful, man!

My passion for their music led me to want to become a musician you could say. Not trying to be them, but they served as the main example and influence, to find myself and what I wanted to do in music.

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You have a very nice and unique Judas Priest shirt collection. When did you start collecting them?

I started in 2004.  I remember looking at video footages from metal fans in the 80s wearing all these colorful band shirts. I thought that those shirts had a lot more character than the ones made now and I’m one of those heavy metal fans that got tired of all the black band shirts. I always wanted to have some of the original old shirts the band used to sell at their shows back in the 70s and 80s so I started researching on the internet for them. Once I started finding some I would feel like “I have to have them”. Aside from just seeing a shirt I saw a piece of history of the band in them. Those shirts were part of the old Priest tours and I know that a lot of them probably were on tour with the band from city to city. I was never able to be present and experience any of those Priest tours because of my age and distance (being in Chile) but those shirts did.

The first one I ever got was an original vintage jersey from the Screaming For Vengeance tour on gray with black sleeves. I was so happy with it that then I just wanted to get more and more, so I started to look for more and found more. I became really good at knowing which shirts were original or re-makes or bootlegs and I started to know more about which shirts were available at every tour Priest had back in the day and the ones from the official merchandise in the fan club. Also, I became good at knowing how to buy them and make sure I’ll get them. So, with all that fundation and knowledge I started to build my collection with the help of my girlfriend.

Some of them have been really difficult to find and have cost me A LOT of money but I’ve been lucky too when getting some of them for a cheap price. I could spend more than a month wearing a different original vintage Priest shirt every day, hehe.  I never thought I could ever achieve such a collection, specially of this magnitude. It makes me very happy 🙂

Do you still actively expand your collection, and are there some that you consider ‘gems of the collection’?

Yes, I’m always on the search for shirts I still don’t have. I know I already own most of them but I know which ones I’m missing, hehe. There hasn’t been a week since 2004 when I don’t do my research of shirts to see if I can find something I don’t have. That’s how I’ve basically gotten all my shirts; with dedication, determination and persistence. I always say to people: ” Maybe this week I might find that one shirt” and actually, that has happened a lot, hehe.

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I have all the original Priest tour programs as well (from Stained Class to Painkiller; including Japanese programs and European) and other stuff, but probably my favourite item is the original jersey from 1979 “Unleashed in the East” which had never been worn or washed since it was made in 1979. That’s one shirt I don’t wear at all and it already has Rob’s autograph on it. This August I will have the rest of the band sign it since I got my Priest VIP ticket for the concert and I’ll get to meet them. KK, watch out….. you’ll love this shirt!!
Your favourite Priest album and song?

Uffff… that’s a big one. My favourite song has always been “Hell Bent For Leather” and it always will be. You don’t even know what that song does to me, hehe.

I’ve never had a favourite Priest album. All of them are my favourites. Every Priest album captures a time in music, their growing as a band and what they wanted to do or try at the time to bring something good and fresh. Every album is just so different from the rest which makes Priest the perfect heavy metal band because they did everything you could think you could do with heavy metal music.

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…and the last one: your message to K.K. and the Steel Mill staff?

Ever since the website got started, I’ve been checking it. It has all kinds of cool features and sections for Priest fans like me to look at and have fun with. I love the Fuel of the Furnace with KK talking about the old songs and his solos, Scrapbook section and Downing Street. I always had wondered what the deal with KK wearing glasses on the Priest… Live video was! Haha so thanks for that one 🙂

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You guys have done a great job with this site. It’s a very unique space. I’m truly honored to be featured in the fan section and I’m so happy you guys, especially Kimmo, gave me the chance of sharing my story and collection with you, fans around the world and specially KK. I never thought KK would know of me or my collection. This is just too awesome for me 😀

To KK,

Thank you SO MUCH for giving this music to me and so many others. Your hard work and music have given me direction, dedication and determination towards what lies in my heart and what I want to do in life.
I’m very thankful for getting the happiness I get from your music. Priest was next to me on every stage while growing up until this day. It has always been a positive energy and message.

Hope you enjoy the pics of my collection and I’m so looking foward to meeting you (again) and watching you play on August 30th in San Bernardino, CA. I can’t believe you will be playing “Hell Patrol” and “Dissident Aggressor”. Those are actually the 2 songs I always wished to see live!! 😀

blog.myspace.com/nicopriest

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One of my super unique shirts. Made for 2 shows only in Washington DC on June 16th & 17th, 1984 Defenders Of The Faith tour. The Metallian destroying the White House up front and Rob as the statue of Lincoln on the back. How cool is that??? This shirt was very difficult to get and the coolest thing is that it fits me perfectly! 🙂

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Another super rare shirt from the Defenders Tour. This one was also made for one show only at Madison Square Garden in New Yor on June 18th, 1984. This one features the Metallian about to destroy Madison Square Garden on the front and on the back you see what was left of the Statue of Liberty after the sold out show.
I met Rob Halford a couple of months ago wearing this shirt. When I approached him, instead of saying ‘Hi’ he said ‘ IS THAT AN ORIGINAL????

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This one is a strange one since it’s from the British Steel tour in 1980 but doesn’t feature the razor blade in it. Also, instead of black or red sleeves (as most of the BS 1980 tour jerseys) it has green sleeves. I’ve only seen this one 2 times in my life. The second time I saw it was when I got it. This one is way more difficult to find than any of the other 1980 official British Steel shirts. You can beat the “Heavy Metal Masters” statement on the shirt. Just a great unique shirt in my collection!

JP-Unleashed

This one is one of my precious ones. Aside from the fact that is so hard to find in any type of condition, I got this one in MINT condition. It was never worn or washed since 1979. Just kept in a drawer for 26 years by an ex-Priest roadie who gave it to the person I bought it from, incredible ah???. The colors are just amazing. The Priest logo is a super shiny gray. There’s nothing cooler than the cover of Unleashed in the East as an old school drawing. A great piece of history. You just don’t see any shirts that old in this condition. This design was also available with blue sleeves and as a t-shirt in black. This shirt now has Rob’sautograph on it 🙂

Nico

 

 

 

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