Toby Cook of The Quietus recently spoke to JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford about the newly released “Screaming For Vengeance – Special 30th Anniversary Edition”. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
The Quietus: Coming at the time, off the back of “Point Of Entry” which — without being rude — perhaps wasn’t as well received as it might have been, what are your memories of the “Screaming For Vengeance” period?
Rob Halford: Well, I think it’s fair to say that every time we’ve written songs for a new record, we haven’t really thought about it too much in terms of an attack plan. And I think that’s good really, because as a musician once you start thinking things through too much, or putting an agenda behind anything, that interferes with the way that you write music. You start to put unnecessary pressure on yourself, and the pressure is already there when you start to become successful because you’re getting it from everybody. You get it from the label, from agents and promoters, and if you’re not very careful that can be quite destructive. All I can really remember about “Screaming For Vengeance” was that we were all really up for going back to Ibiza; I mean, who wouldn’t be? We just wanted to get on with making another record that we were under contract — and under some time restraint — to deliver to the record company, and that’s what we did. But it’s interesting really, you’re not the first person to mention the way that “Point Of Entry” went for us, but when you talk about records that are more successful than others, I think that it can be kind of dangerous to go too deep into it, I think it just makes you human. I think it just shows the human side of you as a musician, because if you look at all bands that have had a long life in metal or rock and roll, there are points where some records are more appealing or more successful; more people buy them than others; and you can’t really put your finger on why. But certainly after “British Steel”, which was a very, very successful record for PRIEST here in the U.K. and elsewhere, following it up with “Point Of Entry” as we did, I think we just did the best we could at that time. So I don’t think it was like, “C’mon lads, we’ve got to try harder’ on “Screaming”, which has been one thing that has been suggested. I think it’s just the way that bands go in terms of growth and development, you’re just always trying to do the best that you can at the time that you’re doing it. It turns out that “Screaming For Vengeance” just happened to get all the right bits connected and became a very successful record for the band.
The Quietus: How much did PRIEST‘s increased fame by this point affect the recording?
Rob Halford: Well, I think this is a very important thing that bands need to consider. When you’re sleeping in the back of a van, and we’ve all done that, you’re obviously feeling and behaving differently. Like when we were all sleeping in the van doing “Rocka Rolla”, that’s not the same as being in a beautiful studio in Ibiza. But once you close the studio doors you could be anywhere in the world, you’ve just got to remember who you are and what you’re trying to do and, again, just do the best job you can. I don’t think you slack off when you become successful — if you do then you’re an idiot, because people don’t buy shit! That’s the bottom line; if you make a crap record, it’s of no use or value to anybody and I don’t think PRIEST has ever been in that world — we’ve always done the best we possibly can, whatever distraction might occur.
The Quietus: And of course this was also the record that broke PRIEST in America. What was it about “Screaming” that helped you succeed there better than you had done before?
Rob Halford: Just the connection with rock and roll radio, which is still vital for any band in America. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you want to break it in the States you’ve got to have something that gets played on the radio, even in the world of the Internet. If you haven’t got a radio connection in the States, you might as well forget it! For us, it was all about this song, “Another Thing Comin'” — which we buried, we put it towards the end of the record because it was one of the last songs we wrote in the studio sessions in Ibiza — that suddenly that got picked up by some stations in the States, unbeknownst to the record company; they were pushing “Take These Chains Off”, which was written by Bob Halligan Jr. So, as a result, of that we quickly put that video together with Julien Temple and shipped it over to MTV. So the two important components that were going on in the early Eighties in America — the video and the radio side, that was really what propelled the record to such success in the States.
Read the entire interview from The Quietus.