Greg Prato of RollingStone.com recently conducted an interview with vocalist Rob Halford of British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
RollingStone.com: With the group revisiting "British Steel" this summer, where was PRIEST at when you started work on the album?
Halford: It was a very interesting time for us. I've always believed that most times, the best material from any band is their first two releases. PRIEST is a little unusually different in that manner, because this was our sixth studio release. Suddenly, the band seemed to change shape, and you get a very distinctive moment coming from PRIEST, in terms of the way the songs were written and the production. We'd just come off the back of mixing "Unleashed in the East", and we were on a schedule to release a full studio album. We were burning the candle at both ends, because we had some ideas, but we didn't have enough.
So quite a bit of the writing took place at a house that was the former home of John Lennon [Tittenhurst Park, in Ascot, Berkshire, England] — Ringo was living there at the time. There was a lot of stuff going on in the U.K. — socially/politically, it was in turmoil with the Thatcher government and the unions, street fights with coal miners and the police. It was a really volatile bit of a revolution around the late '70s. I think some of that went into my writing as a lyricist. If you listen to the words and messages on "British Steel", it's full of that angst.
RollingStone.com: At what point did you realize you'd come up with such a strong album?
Halford: 30 years later [laughs]. We're so British in that way — we never take anything for granted. It's natural to feel good about what you've created, but you have no control over its fate or destiny. It's up to the masses to figure where it's going to stand. But looking at its value 30 years later, it's an important record for the genre of heavy metal.
RollingStone.com: What were audiences' initial reaction to "Breaking the Law" and "Living After Midnight"?
Halford: It was absolutely immediate. That riff in "Breaking the Law" is like our "Whole Lotta Love" or "Smoke on the Water". More exciting to us was how it was creating things in America, because we had been to America on a few tours. Suddenly, we had music that could be played on American rock radio. "British Steel" has a very strong American connection because of that.
Read the entire interview from RollingStone.com.