Australia’s May The Rock Be With You recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST frontman Rob Halford. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On what a JUDAS PRIEST show circa 2019 looks like:
Rob: “It’s what this band has been doing for pretty much for 50 years now, which is you’re out there working with your latest music. I call ourselves a ‘working metal band’ and what I mean by that is, it’s all relevant to making yourself relevant. For as long as this band has been together, we’ve always gone out on these big worldwide treks supporting our latest music. This is like doing it again what we’ve done since ‘Rocka Rolla’ since 1974. It’s remarkable, isn’t it? It’s absolutely remarkable and it’s a blessing. It really is a blessing. Right now, when you see PRIEST, it’s a bit like an event. If you believe in metal and you believe where it started, Birmingham, the Midlands, two bands, BLACK SABBATH and PRIEST and SABBATH is on a hiatus, we hope. PRIEST is still out there, doing what we do and taking you through the decades of metal. When we play Download [festival] we’ll take you through ‘Sad Wings Of Destiny’ and ‘Firepower’ and everything in between.”
On how he keeps his voice in shape:
Rob: “If I knew, I would be, like, ‘It’s a dollar! Take a sip each night.’ I don’t know what it is; I really don’t know what it is. I think one of the big life-changing moments is when I quit my drinking and my drugs 33 years ago because vocals is a physical performance. You have to get your rest and have all the right components in place to be able to give the performance you can give either in the studio, but primarily, on the road. And the roadwork is grueling, as far as the travel. You notice when you go on a holiday, you take one flight and you’re away from a week and you come home and you go ‘I can’t do that again. I need a year to recover.’ Imagine doing that pretty much every other day for your life in 50-odd years. You do have to acclimatize and make the right adjustments for your physical performance in the voice. It’s technique more than anything else.”
On the touring cycle for their latest studio album, 2018’s “Firepower”:
Rob: “It’s been phenomenal. You never know how a record is going to do. You can put your heart and soul into and it can [bomb]. You don’t know. We believed in the music we were making. We had an incredible production team with Andy [Sneap], Tom [Allom] and Mike [Exeter], who did amazing work. Once your label is making all the preparation for it and the release is looming and the day is coming when it’s going to drop, you really do not know what the reaction is going to be. Turns out to be one of the most successful JUDAS PRIEST records ever. All this incredible acclaim, critical acclaim and from our fans, it’s a boost more than anything else. It gives us the inspiration, the motivation, to keep going into the ‘metal future’ as we call it. We’re very grateful.”
On the one thing that has “stayed the same” for PRIEST during the creation:
Rob: “I would say the dedication and the fact we don’t slack off. We take anything for granted. We understand who we are and what we represent and the things we’ve achieved. When I say that, I mean that in the simple matter-of-fact of life in being in a heavy metal band called JUDAS PRIEST. So, you have to be on your toes. You can’t afford to slack off. There’s nothing worse than seeing a band and being disappointed if things aren’t working right for whatever reason. When you see PRIEST now, it is an event and you’re seeing the band at its top form.”
On what keeps PRIEST going after nearly 50 years:
Rob: “It’s hard to put that into words. It’s definitely something internal — you can’t switch it off. You really can’t switch it off. At the end of a tour, you’re absolutely so dog-tired, you want to go home and sleep in your bed. Two weeks later, you go ‘I can’t wait to be back on the road again. I can’t wait to get back in the studio.’ It’s wonderful to still have that drive and that energy and to not be cynical or bitter or have any resentment or regrets. It’s a great place of privilege to be in a band, especially if you’re at the place as we are in PRIEST. As I said, we never take that for granted. Everything we do is based on this wonderful ‘metal community’ as we call it. The bands, the fans, everybody else looking out for each other. It’s a great thing.”
On what’s next for PRIEST:
Rob: “I would say much of the same. The fact is, PRIEST is on a roll and we’re on fire with this music and the reaction, the support from our fans and everybody is what gives you that thought of, ‘What would happen if we wrote another song? Then another song? Then an album? We might as well go out and tour again.’ It’s a lot of things combined that really still keep us active and keep us to what’s next to be done. Each PRIEST album, if you think about it, is by definition, has its own character and sound. ‘British Steel’ is light years away from ‘Painkiller’, which is light years away from ‘Stained Class’, which is light years away from ‘Sad Wings Of Destiny’ and ‘Sin After Sin’ and on and on and on. That’s part of the intriguing part of PRIEST. We’re always looking for a different kind of tilt to what we’re about as a band in the next project of songs we’re going to release. We’re already thinking about that now. We had a meeting in the U.K. just before we came to Australia about planning the foreseeable future and I would say there’s definitely a new PRIEST album on the way.”
JUDAS PRIEST will return to the United States this spring for a run with fellow classic heavy rockers URIAH HEEP. The 32-date trek will kick off on May 3 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida and wrap on June 29 at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo credit: Mark Weiss