JUDAS PRIEST frontman Rob Halford was interviewed on the September 7-9 edition of Full Metal Jackie‘s nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.
To see a full list of stations carrying the program and when it airs, go to FullMetalJackieRadio.com.
Full Metal Jackie: “Screaming For Vengeance” really holds up as a timeless metal album, so now 30 years later removed from your role as singer and songwriter, what does Rob Halford, the metal fan, love most about the album?
Halford: There’s many things that all of us in PRIEST love about “Screaming for Vengeance”. I think that one of the best moments was particularly from the American side of PRIEST‘s life and world is the track “Another Thing Comin'”, [which] really was the backbone of the success for the “Screaming For Vengeance” album. That’s something that’s very near and dear to us. We never lost sight of the fact that you have to have that wonderful relationship with radio that PRIEST has had forever now, it seems, to make special things happen, and that definitely was the case with that one. But wow there are so many stories attached to “Screaming For Vengeance”, it would be difficult to know to start. When I come back next time, me and you will sit down together and we’ll go through it in depth.
Full Metal Jackie: “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” became PRIEST‘s signature song but it was almost an afterthought at the end of the sessions. What about its last-minute nature can you still here in it now?
Halford: We were over in Ibiza in Spain in a wonderful studio setup — sort of a location deal where it can be very useful if you can put a band under one roof; it’s very stimulating creatively. If you get an idea, you can run to the studio right away and capture it and that’s why we went back after the “Point Of Entry” sessions, which was the first time we went to Ibiza; we went back for “Screaming For Venegance”. We were under a time deadline with our label Sony, to go in it at a date and finish it at a date, and we were frantically trying to come in on time, and when I say frantic, I don’t mean rushing through things, but I think it was a sense of excitement and energy and determination that we had to make a really good record. We found ourselves towards the end of the sessions needing one more track. I believe “Another Thing Comin'” was the final piece of music that we got together, and you compare the complexity say the title track, “Screaming For Vengeance”, or the musical attitude of “Riding On The Wind”, they’re complete separate entities to “Another Thing Comin'”. I don’t think it’s fair to say we’re dismissive of it; we believed in it. We felt that in terms of strength, some of the other material should be placed in the running order sequence a little bit earlier on. As it turned out, of course, “Another Thing Comin'” was the eighth track, in and some people call that burying the song, which we would never do, but it seems the tracks you feel that maybe won’t get the attention you tend to put them past the half mark on the recording — that’s what we did with “Another Thing Comin'”. Who’d guess it that American rock ‘n’ roll radio picked up the track and started to play it as, I believe, without much of a position being taken by the label — so that’s another endearing quality we have about that particular track. “Another Thing Comin'”, for the band in America, it took off in a big way and launched the rest of that record for PRIEST in 1982.
Full Metal Jackie: This is a timeless metal album. At what point during recording the album did you recognize or did that quality only become apparent over time?
Halford: When you go in the studio and you close the door, you can be anywhere in the world and I think you’re so focused on doing the best job you can, musically, that you don’t really think beyond that moment. I think that you may get too cluttered if you start saying, “Oh, this is going to be the big hit,” or “This is going to be this, that and the other.” It’s cool to feel that way — I think that’s just natural energy and excitement and self-belief — but as with nearly everything with PRIEST has done, you’re unaware of how something is going to be taken and reacted by you fans that support you. PRIEST have the best metal fans in the world — in our perception, that’s very true and dear and near to us — but as far as wondering if this is going to be a great moment, if this is going to be a significant moment, it’s like Freddie Mercury‘s “In The Lap Of The Gods”, you just don’t know where it might take you. We seem to hit a nerve. And the other important thing to think about is the start of every decade in music, if you look through rock ‘n’ roll, the first couple of years, it does appear that exciting things happen and I think it’s true to say that was definitely the case with “Screaming For Vengeance”.
Full Metal Jackie: The anniversary edition includes a DVD of your US Festival performance. That look and sound defined what fans came to expect from JUDAS PRIEST. What in we’re hearing and seeing on the DVD most empowered PRIEST for the 30 years that would follow?
Halford: I tell you what, Jackie. When you look at that DVD, it’s just one of the most powerful moments for the band, particularly in America at that time. When those big boom cameras swing out across 375,000 people, it’s just absolutely mindblowing. It was the… I believe it’s still the largest attendance in any kind of festival event ever that took place in America. I hope I’m not making that up, but I’m pretty sure that’s the case — 375,000 metalheads in one spot — and just completely the beginning of a colossal statement of the importance and significance of the American metal scene. Again, we’re talking about those first few years of the ’80s. Collectively, all of those bands that appeared on that show on that one day — PRIEST; I believe Ozzy was there; SCORPIONS — it was just a tremendous situation where we all looked at each other and went, “This is it. This is going to be one of the biggest memorable events in rock ‘n’ roll history in America.” When you look at that DVD, which I believe it’s the first time that it’s ever been released officially, you really are drawn back in time, but you see something that was kind of the metal anvil for California and literally for the rest of the American metal scene at the start of the ’80s.
Full Metal Jackie: It must be an awesome feeling for you to know how important this record it to metal fans and musicians alike that it has inspired over the years.
Halford: It’s become a really special record to PRIEST. Having said that, of course, we recently went through a wonderful time of recognition with “British Steel”. We’re in that decade now, Jackie, where PRIEST was literally making a record every year in the early ’80s. It just seems unbelievably that we were able to accommodate all of those important things, doing a big world tour, never a short break, running into a studio and literally writing and recording on the go, but we did it well. This album, “Screaming For Vengeance”, it just hits our many marks, which is what a classic record should do in terms of having its longevity. When you break it all down, it is down to the songs and that one track, “Another Thing Comin'”, is still a beloved track, especially in the States. Wherever we take it, and other songs — important songs for us, like the opening sequence, “Electric Eye” with “The Hellion”, for example — were all included on this recent “Epitaph” tour, which we actually got down on film at the very last show a few months ago in London at the famous Hammersmith venue. We filmed that show and we’ve got that coming out a little bit later this year to celebrate that moment as well for the band. It’s a record that has got all of the very special, magical elements of metal in the early ’80s captured on “Screaming For Vengeance”.