JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford was interviewed on the May 16-18 edition of Full Metal Jackie's nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the Podbean widget below.
To see a full list of stations carrying the program and when it airs, go to FullMetalJackieRadio.com.
Full Metal Jackie: We finally have a chance to get a sample of this new music on the upcoming record, the 17th album from JUDAS PRIEST, "Redeemer Of Souls", coming out on July 15. We had a chance to hear the title track and I've been fortunate enough to get to hear a few more tunes, it's worth the wait. Rob, in terms of the metal genre, PRIEST has literally done it all. What creative goal dominated the overall direction of "Redeemer Of Souls"?
Halford: We've been using the "Nostradamus" experience as a bit of a reference point. That was our first and only concept album, Jackie, and we love that record and there's still more to come with that. It's the type of project, if you wanna call it, that's got a long life, and we have many, many more ideas to bring to the table with "Nostradamus". But as a musical reference, and because it's been six years since "Nostradamus", and three years since we played out live on the road, we were just raring to get back into full-on classic PRIEST mode. Forty years later, we're still making what we feel is some of the best metal of its genre from PRIEST. So, that was where the attention was — to make a record that embodies everything that you love as a PRIEST fan, and everything that you love about classic metal. So, it was that and it was also the word "relentless" — let's keep it relentless, let's not take any steps back. So, from the opening thunder and storm of "Dragonaut" through all the way to the final rallying cry of "Battle Cry", and then the cool-down song, as it's getting to be called, "Beginning Of The End", it's just nonstop. It's roaring, I think it really sends a strong, strong signal that PRIEST is back again.
Full Metal Jackie: In terms of songwriting, PRIEST has been a collaboration between you, Glenn [Tipton] and KK [Downing] — and now Richie [Faulkner, who replaced Downing in 2011]. What is necessary to keep that creative relationship vibrant and flourishing?
Halford: Well, any band is made up of great players, but also the writers and the history of PRIEST we've left this metal trail of songs over 40 years that have come from three guys getting together and banging metal heads and coming up with the riffs and making the metal come alive. And we've always done that with myself and two guitar players, and I think the fact that we've had the two-guitar push in the writing has made the material of PRIEST quite unique. So having Richie on board for the first time in the writing world of JUDAS PRIEST was absolutely magical. He has all the right attitude and belief and love for PRIEST that was needed to pull out all the stops and come up with some incredible contributions. Everything on "Redeemer Of Souls" has come from Tipton, Halford and Faulkner. It was just really exciting to be in the studio while these songs were being born, because that's literally what happens. You go in the studio with nothing, and then, at the end of the day you may have a tune that's going to be around a lot longer than you are. That's the power of metal; metal is eternal. So, Richie was just ready to go. He came onboard with PRIEST just as we did the "Epitaph" tour, and that was our first time to kind of live the life of the road, be in each other's company, learn more about each other on all the different levels that you do when a band gets together and starts tracking from place to place. And he took a little rig out with him, and he was always jamming, you know — that was his genuine enthusiasm. He was always jamming in a room and me and Glenn would hear him next door, and we'd go, "Man, listen to these riffs he's coming up with," and we'd stick our heads around the corner, "Keep writing, Richie. Keep writing." So that was just his infectious energy, and, of course, above and beyond everything about Richie Faulkner, he's a huge PRIEST fan. He'll tell you he grew up listening to PRIEST. He was doing air guitar in front of the mirror to all of those early PRIEST songs. So he was the perfect fit, really. It was just a miracle that we found somebody, not only of his caliber, but of his musical integrity, and the fact that he is a PRIEST fan.
Full Metal Jackie: Rob, what do you think your vocal performance adds to your overall legacy?
Halford: I'd like to feel that, as a metal singer, I've just been giving it 100 percent from day one and that's from my own determination and from the encouragement that I get from my bandmates. And again, I'm always thinking about the fans. So the great thing about metal singers is that, especially if you've got longevity, your voice does tend to change; that's just part of the physical attributes. I've said before, it's not like a drum kit where you can change a skin or change the strings on a guitar. So your voice does tend to sound a bit different in my time of life, with respect to where it was when I first kicked off. Having said that, I'd like to feel that all of the character and strength and all of the delivery and the great fun that I have singing as a metal singer is still intact. I was pushed a lot by Glenn, who was producing this album, along with Mike Exeter. Because we've been family for so long, Glenn knows when to give me a kick [laughs] when it's necessary. And he got some spectacular performances from me for "Redeemer Of Souls". So overall, I'm happy. I mean, you know me well enough, Jackie, I'm always complaining about the fact that I wish I could do more. That's just the way I'm so driven. But the overall consensus is that The Metal God delivered the goods again.
Full Metal Jackie: Rob, how is your role and PRIEST's role important now in keeping the metal flag flying?
Halford: Well, I'm glad you brought that up — the fact that we are still flying the flag of metal 40 years later is something of a standard. And I think we carry some responsibility as well. We'd like to feel that we've consistently delivered what we've felt was the best metal in the classic metal genre. I always say from the stage, "is everybody ready for some JUDAS PRIEST-style heavy metal?" because that's what we feel we're doing. And more than anything, I'd like to feel that the genuine commitment and dedication from PRIEST is as strong as it ever was. I mean, let's face it, we don't need to make another record — we've made sixteen of them, and we've got hundreds of songs — but you can't stop the power of metal. And if you're a writer or a creative person, like we are in PRIEST, collectively, why put the fire out if the fore's roaring? So, if anything, we threw kerosene on it and it just exploded even more for "Redeemer Of Souls". So that's another attribute that I'm proud of in PRIEST, thast we're not taking things easy. We may be out of the scene, physically, for stretches of time, but that's because we're working hard, planning the next attack. So it's been a real labor of love, putting together the "Redeemer Of Souls" album, just to prove to ourselves that we can still do it, and I'm sure our fans wanna see and hear that as well. We love going out and playing all the classics of PRIEST, be it "Breaking The Law", "Living After Midnight", "[You've Got] Another Thing Coming", "Electric Eye", "Beyond The Realms Of Death", all of these and many, many, many more, but we're equally thrilled to know there's an opportunity coming to share some of these new songs as well, as we consider going out on the road one more time.
Full Metal Jackie: You've discussed the idea of not touring again. What do you feel changed your minds?
Halford: It's gotta be the fans. We went out there, in all genuine honesty, saying that this was a farewell tour, but if we could have picked a better word than "farewell," I wish we could have found one. That should have been my job, being the lyricist. But I suppose "farewell" isn't really goodbye, it's like, "See you next time." What we were trying to explain as we moved along was, we will be going out again, but it won't be these two-year treks around the world that naturally become a little bit more challenging when you get to a certain stage in your life. And we never want to compromise ourselves. We wanna be able to go out onstage, wherever it might be on the planet, and give you everything we've got. So if there's a way of, kind of, readjusting the touring scheduling where we can still do that, and go in the ring and give you everything, then that's what we intend to do. And we've just been discussing, while we've been together in New York, the first time we've been together as a band in three years, ironically enough. 'Cause we saw each other in and out of the studio, but we were never all there at the same time. So, for the first time we were together recently, and we discussed about the touring side of it. And we've actually started to put down setlist ideas. So it looks like we'll be going out in the fall, in America. So you'll be getting us towards that time of the year. And we'll be kicking the tires, as they say, and getting the engine revved up and ready to go out and play live to our fans again.
"Redeemer Of Souls" single artwork: