Tell us about your history as a Judas Priest fan? How did it start?
I discovered Heavy Metal in the year 1985, even though in Czechoslovakia this genre was not accessible, and that was true for every part of the western culture. But even the regime didn’t stop people from sharing music, through MC recording it from one tape recorder to another through a cable. The quality was pretty bad, I’d say, compared to what we have now, it was awful! But to us, it was everything. It was absolutely amazing!
My Metal adventure started with Saxon, Van Halen, Dio, Iron Maiden and I even had a recording of Judas Priest’s Stained Class! I absolutely loved all of these bands, but the people around me only kept talking about Judas Priest and Rob Halford! I was absolutely mesmerized by the name “Judas Priest” and the logo they used. When I first saw pictures of Judas Priest, I thought I would faint. Back then, we had a magazine for young people, “BRAVO”, and they only published bands like AC/DC or KISS. Other than that, it was all just pop music, and that was never anything I got into. Sometime during the end of 1985, my friend came to me and told me that he had something special from Yugoslavia! Back then people used to buy such amazing stuff from there, they even used to run away from the awful regime to Yugoslavia. He had an original MC of Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance. When I first listened to it, I knew that this band was going to be the band of my life. All the other bands I listened to until then were just moved a bit to the side, and I totally fell in love with Judas Priest!
My whole world was Judas Priest. I was always trying my best to get a hold of pictures, posters, other albums, which I could get through the few chosen ones, who were able to get them from Yugoslavia or Hungary. All my money always went to Judas Priest and my family supported me, because as a teenager, I didn’t spend my money on alcohol, cigarettes, or God forbid drugs. Only when my dad walked into my room and saw all the posters on the walls, he exclaimed: “When the State Security sees this, we’re all going to prison for the imperialistic propaganda!”
That’s an interesting story! How was the heavy metal scene in Czechoslovakia? Obviously there was a strong underground culture there at that time?
In Czechoslovakia, it was mainly bands like Citron and Titanic that represented the heavy metal scene. We did have heavy metal bands, of course, but after every live performance we went to, the cops were giving us hell for it. From taking our belts and bracelets, to literally cutting off someone’s hair, just because on their ID their hair was short, and in real life, it was long! But that made the fanbase stronger – It made us, metalheads, proud to be different and unique!
How hard was it to get stuff from Yugoslavia or Hungary?
Very difficult. I personally was from working class and we didn’t really get a chance to go to a foreign country for financial reasons. Since I couldn’t go, I got stuff from my older friends, who could afford to go, and then they resold the merch. Some people even traded the items for items of other bands, for example I traded other bands to get Judas Priest merch. What was your first original Judas Priest album, and how long did it take to collect the whole Priest catalogue?
My first original album was an MC – Screaming for Vengeance. My first CD was Stained Class. My first vinyl LP was British Steel. Around 1995, I was able to collect the whole basic discography of Judas Priest, as CDs. But I collect everything – Vinyls, Mcs, boxsets, everything that has to do with Judas Priest. And that’s basically what I’m collecting to this day, so I might have a lot of things missing.
Nowadays you’ve got a nice Priest collection. Tell us something about it?
Thank you! I really love my figures I have from the collection of Rock Icons – Rob, K.K. and Glenn, but probably my biggest treasures are the silver and gold album awards given to Dave Holland. Since I live with the rest of my family in a family home, I have one room dedicated to my collection – All of the items I have collected thourought the years are in that one room. I use that room to listen to Judas Priest and I even watch Priest videos there. I also keep track of all the items in my collection on my fanblog, judaspriest-slovakia!
Besides Priest, are there any other bands you collect?
I wouldn’t say I collect any other bands besides Judas Priest, because Priest is what I’m focusing on. But, I do buy albums from other bands too, for example Saxon, Rob Rock, Impellitteri. Recently, from the newer bands, I started getting into Ghost – Which I fully support!
What was your first Judas Priest concert?
The first time I saw Judas Priest live was in 1998 in Slovakia’s Žilina, during the Jugulator tour. It was surreal! If someone had told me that in 1987, “Oh, you’d be in the first row, right in front of Glenn Tipton, K.K.Downing and Ian Hill!”, I wouldn’t have believed them. It was the truth though, and I was crying like a little child.
Never say never, and if you truly love something, dreams do come true – I stand by that. Then I was able to see them 10 more times, and even got to meet my gods personally, and I am very grateful for that.
The first time I saw them in person, was in Prague 2004, and it was K.K.Downing and Ian Hill, who stopped in their Mercedes right next to me, as I was walking down the road behind the hall. They opened the door of the car and K.K. And Ian asked me to come closer. I was so shocked! Their signed my ticket and I still remember to this day, as I was sitting next to them in the car, I was touching K.K.’s leg. This beautiful moment lasted until mass of fans came to the car and the manager, or whoever that person was, told everyone that it was time to stop.
In my opinion, it’s amazing and a very honest confession of a genial musician. He wasn’t afraid to mention things from his private life, and I was interested to read about his younger years and childhood, since I am also from a poor family. It’s amazing how much he achieved, and he really is a very honest and kind person. I recommend his autobiography to every real fan of Judas Priest.
What does the Priest’s music mean to you?
Their music is absolutely everything to me. My religion. I think it has such a deep meaning to me, it’s almost impossible to describe it with words. It’s a part of my family. Maybe thanks to Judas Priest, I’m the person that I am now.
What is your favourite album and song?
My favourite album is Screaming for Vengeance, thanks to the amazing sound and very powerful tracks. With that album, Priest got me and I became a dedicated fan. What comes to my favourite songs, I definitely have a lot of them. It’s difficult to say, since I like absolutely everything. But if I had to choose, it would be The Helion/Electric Eye, Another Thing Coming, Jawbreaker, Metal Gods, Turbo Lover and if I had to continue, I’d probably end up writing an essay.
Your message to K.K. and the Millworkers?
I definitely want to wish a lot of good health to K.K., and the best of luck. I would love for K.K.Downing to come back to Judas Priest. I know, Glenn Tipton is ill, but with Richie Faulkner, it would still be good. I guess this is going to be my next dream. I’m getting more and more afraid of the inevitable, and that is Judas Priest ending. I’m afraid of that, because a big part of me would die, and it wouldn’t be “the me” anymore.
…and now it’s your change to ask K.K. a question…
Okay, my question is – Where is the robot from the Fuel for Life Tour? I think his name was Hellion. Was he thrown away, or is he kept somewhere like some sort of oversized Judas Priest memorabilia?
K.K.: Hi Jozef! I’m not certain, but I think he was dismantled a long time ago…