Rob Halford of British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST was interviewed on this past weekend’s (November 4-6) edition of Full Metal Jackie‘s nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below. A few excerpts from the question-and-answer session follow.
Full Metal Jackie: There’s obviously a new member in the band. What has surprised you most so far about the way people have reacted to Richie Faulkner?
Halford: Well, everybody’s embraced him, and we want to say thank you to everyone, all the PRIEST fans around the world that have taken Richie so strongly. You know, firstly he’s a PRIEST metal maniac and he couldn’t believe the day he was brought up to the Midlands to meet the band. [Laughs] He thought it was a bit of a joke, actually. He kept putting the phone down when people were saying, “Hey, Rob and Glenn [Tipton, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist] want to see you.” “Yeah, right. Whatever” But he finally understood that this was the real deal. We’d been looking high and low for a guitar player to stand in that part of the stage and Richie‘s this fantastic talent. He’s an awesome player and has so much charisma and personality onstage. You know, he’s fearless, he’s absolutely fearless when he walks out there, and everybody’s loving him to death, so all things are going great for Richie and for PRIEST.
Full Metal Jackie: We’re talking about the “Epitaph” tour, which has brought back songs which haven’t been part of the live set in a long time if ever. When discussing what to play, what did you really want to do that didn’t make the cut?
Halford: Well, as always, we all pitch in our wish list, and it’s really difficult because you’ve got hundreds and hundreds of songs. Obviously, there are tracks that we genuinely look forward to playing over and over again — be it “Breaking The Law” or “Painkiller” — but to actually bring out a song like “Never Satisfied” with that great big storming riff all the way from Birmingham, the home of heavy metal, it feels great night after night. And a big epic track like “Blood Red Skies” really works wonders. It just shows you’re the breadth of metal music that we’ve tried to make over the years. So it’s a very interesting and entertaining setlist.
Full Metal Jackie: “The Chosen Few” compilation is a cool way of putting together a greatest hits, having other musicians choose the tracks. Was that the band’s idea or something the label came up with?
Halford: Yeah, we’re always talking about things. We have a wonderful family at Sony we’ve been with forever; they really look after our music and getting it to all of the PRIEST fans around the world, so this is like a new idea. You know, you think what does Ozzy [Osbourne] listen to when he’s his jet flyin’ around? Or what does Slash check out? Or Steve Vai? All of these people are friends of the band. They’re good friends, they’re peers, they’re legends in rock ‘n’ roll and metal, so we just sent everybody the list and here it comes back that Joe [Elliott] from DEF LEPPARD picks “Diamonds And Rust” and Steve picks “Dissident Aggressor” and Lars [Ulrich of METALLICA] picks “Beyond The Realms Of Death”, and on and on. It’s just a very unusual and different and very exciting way of listening to PRIEST through the heads of the metal rock legends that are out there and are good friends of ours.
Full Metal Jackie: Such a cool idea, really cool approach.
Halford: Yeah, it is. And, you know, this is kind of another collection to add to your PRIEST treasures and to prepare yourselves for the next big moment from PRIEST, which is the brand new collection of PRIEST music that we’re trying to get out in 2012, next year.
Full Metal Jackie: Talking about new music for PRIEST, 12 to 14 new songs have been written for the next PRIEST album; four are already recorded. The last record, “Nostradamus”, was a bit of a departure. How has that album affected the direction of the new one?
Halford: Well, we look at every piece of studio recording as a separate entity; we don’t really look at our past recordings. We just go into the studio with a very fresh, open mind and we really just do play the riffs and the ideas come from the heart, so to speak, whereas “Nostradamus” was almost laid out for us because we could actually channel the music through this man’s life. This new record is just a case of, “Let’s sit down, break out the amps and the guitars and jam and see what metal comes out.” And so these are the new songs from JUDAS PRIEST, brand new tracks that really cover, I suppose, the essence of what JUDAS PRIEST is about. That’s to say we have the screaming metal tracks that you love, like “Screaming For Vengeance”, and then the vibe a bit of “Stained Class”, a bit of “British Steel”. It’s just that metal that we keep inside us — it’s like metal blood in the veins, almost. We just let the metal speak for itself with these new songs. It’s going to be a great record, it really is; it’s a classic British heavy metal album from the band that you love — JUDAS PRIEST.