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Halford Interview

A Conversation with Vocalist Rob Halford

By

Rob Halford

Rob Halford

Metal God Entertainment
After a holiday album last year, Halford returns with Made Of Metal. Halford was part of this year's Ozzfest, and will be touring with Ozzy in the U.S. this fall and winter. It's always a pleasure speaking with the metal god, and we talked about the album and tour, the timetable for the next Judas Priest album, the rash of recent suicides of gay teenagers and other topics.

Chad Bowar: You released a holiday album last year. Were the songs on Made Of Metal part of that session, or were they written later?
Rob Halford: It was a completely different session. Just to quickly give the back story on Winter Songs, I love that time of the year. I always loved the music, and wondered what it would feel like to do it myself. That was the simple idea behind it. Some of my fans probably thought I lost my mind (laughs), but it was just a personal gesture.

Moving ahead to the spring of this year, the opportunity was afforded the Halford band to be back out live on the road. That encouraged me to write new songs. When you go and see a band you want to hear the songs you know, but it's also exciting when you can experience some new music. So knowing we were going to do some live shows was the touchstone. That put me into writing mode, and I had a surge of creative energy. The writing came really quickly. It was one of those magic moments. Well over 90 percent of the music is brand new.

Did the songs change much from the demos to the final recorded versions?
My demos are mostly kindergarten level. I yell ideas into my iPhone. But it works. I do some pre-production with Roy Z, my producer, but the band is brought in almost immediately. The thing about demos is, when you come to the real thing you can lose a lot of things you first capture. Roy is very good at making sure that everything you start recording can be used in the final production. It's never as good the second time around.

Would you say Made Of Metal is the most diverse record you've done?
I wouldn't say it was the most diverse. The overall texture is one of a classic metal experience, and I suppose it's my old metal head, always writing from the heart and not thinking about it too much. I think that's an important thing when you're creating. You can kill the spirit if you overthink it. It's where I am now as a writer and a metal musician, just an example of a bunch of hopefully good metal songs.

Was the title track your first experience using Auto Tune?
Yes it was. I already had the supersonic silver flying machine in my head. I was driving to the studio, and flipping through the channels on Sirius/XM. It landed on an R&B station, which I don't usually listen to. I heard the Auto Tune thing and got to wondering if there was a way to put that into a song. Part of me said don't be crazy, and the other side said go for it, just experiment. So that's what we did. It turned out pretty good, in terms of the dramatic effect it was intended to create.

It sounds like you had the concept for the animated video in your head for quite a while as well.
The lyrics were in a slightly different world before they were massaged. When we started to think more about a supersonic silver flying machine, we decided to take it to four wheels instead of two. It grew and developed. We had the story of this crazy, mythical beast that comes out of space and lands on a racetrack, beats the competition and soars off back into the universe. A lot of things in sports run parallel with metal. That's why I did “Undisputed Heavyweight Champion Of The World,” which to me is metal music, the undisputed champion of the world. But if you look at MMA or UFC, it has the same spirit, power, energy and determination.

Does the song “25 Years” have the most personal meaning to you, since it commemorates a quarter century of sobriety?
Yes. 25 years ago I was going through some very difficult times in my life. I brought up the idea with Roy, and he said to talk about the things I want to talk about, that have meaning and importance. I still need to be encouraged in that respect. My private life is my private life. The only reason I did that was because I know for a fact that good things happen when you say certain things in songs. Apart from it being a cathartic moment for me, hopefully if anyone that's listening to that song is having difficulties, they can understand there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Even after 25 years being sober, so you still deal with daily temptation?
Yes. Not as severe as it was, but that's how asinine you can be, the whole addiction. You think you've got it licked, but you haven't. Everyone can change their personal behavior, but it's all triggered by the brain, so it's a constant trade off getting through each day. Some people have it way more difficult than me. My compulsive, addictive side is now directed 100 percent to my music and all my creativity. If I didn't have those outlets, like getting on stage and doing all those things, I think it would be a much bigger problem.

With Priest, Halford and your businesses you seem to be constantly busy.
I love it. Life is a gift, and it's precious, and it's a very short ride. I've always felt you have to get as much out of it as you can.

Through Metal God Entertainment you've re-released a lot of the Halford and Fight back catalog, along with some new material. Anything else coming up in that area?
It was important to get this record out this year before Priest roars back in the next couple of years. We've pretty much covered everything in the back catalog. It was time to make something fresh with Made Of Metal, and that's pretty much where we'll be going from this point on. And the doors are open now for other talent to come in and submit their demos.

How was Ozzfest this year?
It's always a lot of fun to do. You're around people you're familiar with. It's a fun event, and the overriding thing for me is that Ozzy and Sharon are still staying true to the idea they had, which is to put a festival together to give new bands an opportunity to play to a lot of people and grow and develop.

Do you ride out on the Harley for Halford shows, or is that for Priest only?
Just for Priest. The cover of Resurrection has me on a Harley, and that's before I returned to Priest. A lot of people say that was the bridge back to my true metal life. The Harley is exclusively Priest.

On your upcoming tour with Ozzy you'll be playing songs from several of your projects.
Yes, we'll play a couple of Priest songs, or else the fans would bop me off the stage. It's difficult to figure out what songs you're going to do. We're obviously going to be pushing the new release, but supporting the setlist with a lot of variety, a really good cross section of what I do in my solo endeavors.

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