Judas Priest Producer Tom Allom on K.K. Downing & Glenn Tipton’s Rivalry During ‘Screaming for Vengeance’: “They both were trying to play things that they couldn’t play” – 2022 – Interview

Recording Academy / GRAMMYs: While a variety of musical forces helped launch the metal paradigm that dominated a lot of ‘80s music, Judas Priest spearheaded this shift with Screaming For Vengeance. 🎸 You can read the entire interview @ this location.

On the Hit Single “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”:


They had this idea with the riff and everything, which I think Glenn (Tipton) mostly came up with. “Let’s try and run it through” and I was in the process [of mixing]. It wasn’t the last song [to be done] because I was checking out the drum sound. I had the drums all mic’d up ready to go, and they wanted to run through the track. So, they set the guitars and the bass up in front of the drums and they ran it through without headphones. The guitars were turned down with the overdrive turned on quite high for the crunch.

I recorded this run through, and I said, “Well, you’re not gonna get a better take on that.” And they wanted to redo all the guitars and do the usual stuff and have the big ambient side on the guitars. I think I let Glenn overdub one other rhythm guitar a little. I remember it as clear as daylight. They might remember it differently. Then Rob (Halford) went through two or three lyric changes and melody changes. I have to say, I’m not always right, but I bloody well was on that occasion.

On the Song “Electric Eye”:


I remember when I was writing the lyrics for “Electric Eye.” And, of course, this was before the internet. I was reading about spy satellites and the way that our privacy was going to be more and more difficult to hold on to. That was enough for me to get my brain cells going for a lyric that is so appropriate 40 years later, more so than ever.

And equally with all of the suppression and repression that’s going on in the world today — whether it’s freedom of speech or people invading other people’s countries — there’s the title track, “Screaming For Vengeance.” I feel like I’m not making statements, but obviously I am. It seems like a good conduit for the music. The feeling about writing lyrics that have more to them than just tits and ass has always been a thrill for me. I’ve always enjoyed marrying up the words to these brilliant instrumentational sounds. I just listen to the start of “Riding On The Wind,” for example, and the way that begins with very dramatic percussive work. Equally, the time signatures in the title track are really unusual. So I’m stimulated lyrically by the music, or the way the music is pushing me.

Rob’s vocals change during “Electric Eye” — he’s portraying a sentient spy satellite or camera. It starts off with this cold human voice in the verse, and by the time we get to the chorus he has this maniacal electronic quality.


That was very deliberate. I remember there were three different sections to each verse and chorus. I wanted to treat each one slightly differently. Because it is about an electric eye, I used a harmonized version of a voice in with it…but heavily harmonized. Sort of pitched a third down, mixed in a bit.

Priest previously had dueling guitars and big guitar harmonies in the ‘70s, but this was the first album that they noted who did what solo in the liner notes. And Glenn and K.K.’s signature interplay really gelled here.


I felt like it was a great rivalry between them to outdo each other. They both were trying to play things that they couldn’t play, and they went on working on them until they could. It was that rivalry that made the guitars so bloody brilliant. I can particularly remember Glenn starting to come up with a solo and he was struggling with it. He would work on it for days, if necessary, until he could play it.

Obviously, we were able to punch in mistakes and all that, but these were the analog years. By the time they perfected it, they would go out and play that track live, no trouble at all. That was very good to see.

There’s just something about that interplay that was unique. Sometimes their styles would meld together and mirror each other a bit.


When they were both playing rhythm guitar on a track and they were essentially playing the same thing, because their styles were different it made the sound really big. The intonation was different from each of them, and that difference made it bigger than if one of them was playing the part and then double tracking it. They each created a different vibe off their instrument.

Tom came from a totally different social background than you guys did. What is it about him that you worked with him for a decade? He wasn’t a working-class guy from the Midlands, he was a little more “posh.”


He’s just a beautiful guy. He’s a wizard in the control room. He knows what he’s talking about. He gave us and still gives us confidence when we work together. We will listen to what he has to say, and he was always full of great ideas. He was an accomplished musician himself as far as being able to play the piano and pick up the notes. All of the great things that producers should be able to do.

Do you remember the inspiration for Doug Johnson’s striking cover image of The Hellion? Did you guys have a lot of input into it?


Yeah, I said to Doug, “We have this song called ‘Screaming For Vengeance.'” Just in my mind, I didn’t know what it was. Because I was talking to an American guy and I was thinking about America, I was thinking about the national bird, the bald eagle. And I said, “I just have this vision in my mind of this screaming eagle that’s coming down to attack. It’s full of vengeance. I don’t know what it wants to avenge, but it’s in the mood for some mayhem and vengeance and all of those other emotions.” That was all he needed.

You can read the entire interview @ this location.