Rocka Rolla Man from Brazil
Name: Píer Lombardo Braghirolli
Location: São Paulo – Brazil
Occupation: Designer / Artwork developer
When did you first start listening to Judas Priest?
In my highschool times, around 1991, one of my schoolmates gave me a c-cassette with Victim of Changes and The Ripper, both from Unleashed in the East album, but he didn’t give me the names of the songs or the band. When I got home, I put the cassette in my Walkman and was “shocked” with Rob’s unique voice as well as the guitar sounds of the band -very impressive! When I asked my friend who the band was, he said to me: “Man, this is Judas Priest, a Heavy Metal band from England! These songs rock, man!”
I didn’t know much about Heavy Metal at that time. I only used to listen to bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Budgie, but those songs on that cassette intrigued me: I felt something I had never felt before. Since that day, I was so curious about Judas Priest that I started to search for more songs from the band. You can imagine how surprised I was after listening to each of these new discoveries. It was different, I mean, that pure energy in each song! Since that moment, Judas Priest became a part of me.
Do you remember any special moments as a Judas Priest fan?
It’s always hard to find words to describe some moments, but you can imagine how glad I was when I got my Rocka Rolla album, original from Gull Records. I think that was one of the special moments for me because it was hard to find stuff like that in Brazil, and when I found something, the price was usually way too high.
What does the music of Judas Priest mean to you?
It’s funny, but I usually say to my friends “I’m not a Heavy Metal fan… I am a JUDAS PRIEST fan”. But they all say to me “JUDAS PRIEST IS HEAVY METAL, MAN!” A little bit confusing, isn’t’ it? The music of Judas Priest has a special influence on me. I say this because they have different sounds, producing and melodies, especially in the first 5 albums which also are my favorites from the 70s. Those songs speak for themselves; even the order of the songs is perfect. Just look at Rocka Rolla, Sad Wings of Destiny and Sin after Sin for example.
I think music is a kind of art, a way of expressing yourself, something that takes you to another level, something that you are unable to explain with ordinary words, a feeling of great pleasure and energy. This special ‘thing’ I can feel in Judas Priest songs. It hooked me immediately.
Another important point is that I am a bass player, and I really appreciate the bass lines made by Ian Hill. No doubt, I see him like a genius, a perfect bass player, who has created awesome bass lines for Run of the Mill, Dreamer Deceiver, Here Come the Tears, Beyond the Realms of Death, Evening Star… songs that I love! Judas Priest is a perfect band: you can almost ‘feel’ each part of any song, the twin crash guitars, heavy bass, heavy drums and, of course, Rob’s incredible voice. It’s amazing!
I sometimes spend time playing Judas Priest songs, following the original song running in my CD player. I really enjoy playing Dreamer Deceiver, Evening Star, Hot Rockin’ and Don’t Go. I always try to learn new songs. I have a lot of fun every time I play their songs.
You’re also an artist, and have done some really nice Judas Priest themed cartoons. What was the inspiration behind them?
Thank you for your nice words. I really don’t consider myself a proper artist. In my humble point of view, I’d like to have better drawing techniques which would be necessary to make cool future drawings like Roger Dean and Mel Grant do. I keep on trying and I’m happy if people enjoy my cartoons. It means much more to me because it’s connected to Judas Priest.
I was once watching British Steel documentary and noticed how nice all the band members are. They are all polite and dedicated guys, which is really cool. It was a great surprise to me. I was even more confirmed about that when I first saw the Steel Mill questions section with KK replying all the questions from fans around the world! They are never arrogant or aggressive, they are just like us. I remember listening to an interview a couple of weeks ago on the internet radio and laughing at every joke or funny phrase from Glenn, Rob and KK.
Back to British Steel documentary, I decided to create pictures where Priest members would meet certain elements from the album covers. Wow! I wanted to see Glenn ask that banned angel from Sad Wings of Destiny cover for light. I’m not sure if Glenn smokes or not, but smokers, as we know, do everything to get light, even ask Lucifer for it. That was the idea, you know, a member of Judas Priest asking his own creation for light. I think this is one of the best and funniest pictures I’ve ever made.
The idea of associating or joining images is easy for me. I have made different images using the theme from Sin after Sin, but unfortunately they got lost somewhere. So I decided to make another picture using the idea from Point of Entry. I was interested to see the eagle from Screaming for Vengeance alive, so I put it on the desert, exactly in the same spot where KK is playing! He’s shocked because that metal eagle is approaching. For the first time, Judas Priest members and the fans can see the eagle from another angle and position!
Like I said, I do like Rocka Rolla album, but I was wondering where I could find that bottle cap with the Rocka Rolla logo. I asked Ian, of course. I really knew he could help me and he did… And at that moment, Ian Hill was visiting “the other side” of the Judas Priest debut album, opening a Rocka Rolla bottle.
I’ve also always wondered if it really was Rob’s fingers gripping that razor blade in the British Steel cover. I was only able to see that hand so I decided to remove the razor blade from the British Steel cover and put it in Halford’s “The Metal God’s” hands. At that moment, I could see another British Steel cover, the perfect cover… The most influential Heavy Metal album ever.
Scott is a pretty tall guy, so I imagined I could put him to observe the monster rising from the ground in A Touch of Evil design. Scott isn’t afraid of this monster’s fury, because he is much more furious behind his drum kit. So this monster respects Scott’s furious double basses!
As an artist, is there any special album artwork for you?
I think all the first 5 albums have very interesting covers. I really like the alternate Rocka Rolla cover, made by Mel Grant. I have always appreciated science fiction books by Steven Caldwell, and I think Mel has made nice drawings, influenced by his books. Sad Wings of Destiny is one of the most beautiful covers ever, but if I must choose between my heart and my reason, my favourite would be Sin after Sin cover. It’s really technical and has an intense atmosphere. There is the idea of perspective; a temple with a shadowy man rising from the sea, clouds around the moonlight and a sad woman sitting in front of the temple . The back cover has the same theme, but from a distance, with a skull on the front ground. It’s a little bit morbid, you know, a bit unclear, just like Rob says: “The Sinner is near, sensing the fear, and the beast will start movin’ around”.
I think my favorite Judas Priest cover, however, is Stained Class. It reminds me a bit of “Star Wars”, you know, a melting skull, probably female, with a kind of ray going through the skull. A mixture of steel and glass, it’s brilliant! The textures and the colors are perfect. This is real art! It’s so impressive -I believe it was the main inspiration for “Terminator 2” movie. In some parts of the film the android seems so similar.
Of course, Painkiller and Ram it Down covers are great too! Mark Wilkinson is a great and talented artist. I wish I had 10% of his view in drawing lines, but, you know, these covers from the 70s are the most innovating ones. To me, Mel Grant, Roslav Szaibo and Patrick Woodruff are geniuses!
Wow! It’s really hard to separate reason and feeling. I could tell you about all the wonderful Judas Priest covers, but that would take too much time and space. I really appreciate all Priest artworks.
What do you think about the latest Judas Priest artwork, especially the limited edition vinyl box of Nostradamus?
I think the cover is awesome! It reminds me of Sad Wings of Destiny… I’m not sure if it is because of the colors, the light effects or the shadings. Of course, now in the 21st century, we have new techniques of making art. I have listened through the whole album, and I can assure you that the cover does match the music on that album perfectly.
When it comes to the vinyl edition, I have to say that vinyl is magic: it sounds different and the cover artwork is much better, you know, pressed on cardboard where you can see each detail. I’m not a great collector, but I must say this vinylbox is a fantastic piece! I would like to see it as a picture vinyl too… hopefully later.
You also own a small vinyl shop in Sao Paulo. What kind of music do you sell there?
Yes, I have a vinyl and CD shop here in Sao Paulo, but it’s now only online because it’s too difficult to keep a store open, you know, bills are too expensive, especially when selling mainly Heavy Metal, Jazz, Fusion, Hard Rock and Progressive. Of course, I’ve had good times there working with rare vinyls since early 90s, but it is over now, unfortunately. Mp3s are a big problem too: many people prefer to download mp3 songs just to save money. I agree, the internet helps people in many aspects, but mp3s should be totally banned! Anyway, there’s nothing that I can do… I continue my work as a designer as well as in my online shop in “Mercado Livre” (the same as Ebay). I also usually go to the open air market on Saturday morning to sell some vinyls there. It’s a lot of fun!
How many times have you seen Judas Priest play live?
Unfortunately I’ve seen Judas Priest only once, in 2001 with Ripper Owens. He has a strong voice and he did a good job in Priest. It’s hard to say, and I don’t want be unfair, but I really would like to see Priest now with Rob. Some friends told me it might be possible to see them in South America this year, on the Nostradamus tour, so I started to save my money to see all the concerts! I really look forward to that!
What is your favorite album and song?
Well, with all these masterpieces over the years, it is hard to say. Maybe my favorite album is Sad Wings Of Destiny. It represents this “other level” I told about before, you know, it’s a magic piece in all aspects: a wonderful cover, wonderful melodies. I may be a little bit nostalgic now, I can “feel” these songs already by looking at the album. Sometimes it feels like I could “touch” these songs with my fingers!
I often say: “Jesus, look at that! This album is from 1975 and it could’ve been done yesterday. The guitars sound really impressive, and I have no words to describe Rob’s voice. I have a video from that time, you guys probably know: Dreamer Deceiver / Deceiver, recorded from BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test I get never tired of watching it. Still I think Judas Priest is now stronger than ever before!
My favorite song? The Ripper! This song represents Judas Priest to me!
Your message to K.K. and the Millworkers?
My special words to K.K., one of the most principal Heavy Metal figures ever, an example of a great musician: your music and intensity are a great inspiration to many Heavy Metal fans! Because of your powerful solos, like in “Sinner” for instance, you rock! Thank you very much for having me in the 6th Fan Profile in Steel Mill.
My special thanks to Millworkers, especially to Kimmo and Pete. I’m so glad, it’s an honor to be here, among dedicated workers, massive collectors and true die-hard Priest fans! Steel Mill is the place where I want to be: the home for true Judas Priest fans!