JUDAS PRIEST's HALFORD: 'The Longer I Live, The More I Want To Stay Metal'

Frank De Blase of the Rochester City Newspaper recently conducted an interview with vocalist Rob Halford of British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Rochester City Newspaper: How have you maintained your voice and vocal range for 30 years?

Rob Halford: I always say there are no lotions, potions, or incantations. Besides that, I think it's a gift. I'm blessed. The longer I live, the more I want to stay metal, and that means taking care of yourself. I'm a 57-year-old metalhead. I don't do anything. I don't smoke, I don't drink. I've never... well, I used to do a few spliffs here and there in the past, but who hasn't? But physically, the voice is part of your body, so you just try and do what you need to do. Besides that, you have no idea how it's going to work out. You grab the mic and you open your mouth and you pray to the lord that the right things are going to happen.

Rochester City Newspaper: How do you explain JUDAS PRIEST's longevity?

Rob Halford: It's the music, isn't it really? It's all about the songs at the end of the day. I think it's a combination first and foremost of the songs, and then the incredible support that we have with our ongoing fanbase. If the fans weren't there what would be the point going on? The fans drive us. They're the constant inspiration for PRIEST. And here we are in our 30-somethingth year of making metal, and we're still this global act that has to go out on these treks that take almost two years to complete.

Rochester City Newspaper: When did you first become aware of your legendary status and impact?

Rob Halford: When people started saying that... I guess it's just part of our British reserve, but you never think about yourself in that manner until somebody goes "living legends JUDAS PRIEST will be blah, blah, blah." And you go, "What did they call us?" I think it's just a real nice way of recognizing the input and the effort that we've made over the years. We love what we do. We don't really complicate it that much, we just put our heart and soul into it, give our best, and then it's in the lap of the gods.

Rochester City Newspaper: Before it was tagged metal, what was it? Where did it come from?

Rob Halford: In terms of PRIEST, I would say that we were taking the first steps musically into what became known as metal. The progression into the real metal-defining sound and experience came out of the electric progressive blues rock stuff that was going on with bands like Yes and RUSH, you know, the heavier stuff. But then again, you had what was happening with ZEPPELIN. I think [Tony] Iommi nailed it when he made that first BLACK SABBATH album. And PRIEST was already in that territory. Although I think our metal has always been a little bit more diverse and a bit more widespread. It's definitely fair to say PRIEST was there pretty much from day one in what we now know as the heavy metal world.

Rochester City Newspaper: Did the hoopla created by the Parents Music Resource Center actually help spread the metal word?

Rob Halford: Well, I suppose it did, didn't it? Whenever there's controversy about any issue it becomes under the spotlight. So I would imagine that was one of the spin-offs from that very silly, politically motivated attack. Although I've always been a proponent of free speech, First Amendment rights, I love America, I've spent most of my life in the States, I understood the need for information in terms of what ended up being the stickers on CDs, no different than going to the movies, R-rated, PG, or whatever. But the rhetoric about it was mad. It was essentially contesting First Amendment rights. It was all about the language, it wasn't about the music.

Rochester City Newspaper: Was PRIEST's Ripper Owens period still PRIEST, or a band in neutral waiting for your return?

Rob Halford: You could say the same thing when Bruce [Dickinson] was away from IRON MAIDEN, or Vince [Neil] was away from MÖTLEY CRÜE; it was still the band, it just didn't have all the wheels on the vehicle. That's not insulting, that's just... I would never want this misconstrued as a bitch-slap, because Tim [Owens] is a great friend of mine, and he did wonderful things for PRIEST. PRIEST was still PRIEST. PRIEST was still going ahead. Thankfully it's all roaring on eight cylinders now.

Read the entire interview from Rochester City Newspaper.


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