Matthew Wilkening of Ultimate Classic Rock recently conducted an interview with vocalist Rob Halford of British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ultimate Classic Rock: Is it true you’ve got a bunch of songs done for your next album?
Halford: We do, yeah! Glenn [Tipton, guitar] and I started to write in the early part of January this year. We just went to it from the heart really, there was no specific agenda or idea, as opposed to what we had to do with “Nostradamus”, which was very focused and a real anchor of a project. This one has just been some straight-forward, classic British heavy metal. Some of it feels a bit like “Painkiller”, some of it feels like “Sad Wings Of Destiny”, some like “British Steel”. We didn’t do much research, we didn’t bother checking some of our previous releases, we didn’t do any homework, we just sat down and played, you know? Glenn came up with riffs and I came up with vocal melodies. There was no outside influence or interference in the writing sessions. We just started the day, plugged in some amps, got the mic up and made the metal that way. It’s a very pure record, in that respect.
Ultimate Classic Rock: Were you surprised the response to your “American Idol” appearance was so positive?
Halford: Nothing surprises us now. That’s not to slight the importance of “American Idol”. I think what I’m trying to say, it’s just that, when you’ve been in and seen and done as much as we have in JUDAS PRIEST, and we say that with tremendous gratitude, not with cynicism… you know. It was really special to be invited to that great show — and we call it a great show, because the essence of it is really important — it’s just a nice, big strong way to introduce new vocal talent to America. To be there for James Durbin and to be there for heavy metal, in 30-million-plus American homes that night, was tremendously exciting. Whatever we do, there may have been some people who said, “Aww, why is my PRIEST on that chump show ‘American Idol’?” Well, it ain’t a chump show, it’s a very important music show, and for the first time ever, heavy metal was in the mix.
Ultimate Classic Rock: Hopefully some young, impressionable kids were watching..
Halford: Well, yeah, that’s exactly why we jumped in with both feet! James is spreading the message, James is hardcore metal maniac. This is a great way for a lot of people who didn’t know about metal to see PRIEST and see this new talent James rocking out and delivering the goods.
Ultimate Classic Rock: You recently did a 30th anniversary “British Steel” tour. Any such plans next year for “Screaming For Vengeance”?
Halford: The thing is, of course, there was a period where PRIEST was literally making a brand new record every year — I don’t know how we did that! It was amazing. We’d come off a big world tour, catch our breath and go straight into the studio and keep, you know, making new music, that’s how it was in those days. So now, it seems like anniversary after anniversary is coming up. In all honesty, we would love do it. But (laughs) in practical real world, it’s not possible. That’s not to say we might not do something like that in the future, but “British Steel” was very important for JUDAS PRIEST, and probably for heavy metal, to an extent. There were songs on that record that crossed over and went into people’s lives through rock and roll radio for the first time ever.
Read the entire interview from Ultimate Classic Rock.