ROB HALFORD Discusses FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH Collaboration, Upcoming JUDAS PRIEST Album

Singer Rob Halford of British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST was interviewed on this past Friday's (May 10) edition of Eddie Trunk's "Friday Night Rocks" radio show on New York's Q104.3 FM. A transcript of the chat follows below.

Eddie Trunk: I saw you get up and do [JUDAS PRIEST's "Rapid Fire"] with METALLICA [on May 2 at Revolver Golden Gods in Los Angeles].

Rob Halford: Yeah, was another great night. Let me quickly bring everybody up to speed about that. Out of the blue, I get this really cool e-mail from the guys from FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, and much like you do in metal, you know, you just throw things out there and see what happens. And they said they had this cool song ["Lift Me Up"] and they wondered whether there was a chance of me jumping in and doing some singing on the track. And I asked them to send it to me, and, man, as soon as I heard it, I just lit up. I said, "I want to be a part of this." So a few days later, I was in Las Vegas recording it. First time I met the band in person — really, really cool guys. Great metal. Great musicians. We became instant friends. And, so shortly after that, I got another follow-up call saying, "Hey, we're doing the Golden Gods. Any chance of you coming and jamming?" Which, of course, "Yeah, let's do it man." You know, let's give this song the kick that it deserves. And then, of course, soon as my good buddy Lars [Ulrich of METALLICA] found out that I was in the building, "Man, we've got to get out there and do 'Rapid Fire' again." So we did the usual and ran through it one time in the jam room. And so I went out on stage and did "Rapid Fire" for the second time in not too many months as you know. I was there for the thirtieth[-anniversary] METALLICA bash in San Francisco... So it was a crazy night… I was hanging out with Lemmy. You know, I was with Lemmy in the dressing room with Lars and James [Hetfield] and Phil [Anselmo] and, you know, the rock and roll stories start. You know what he's like, Lemmy. I mean, that's a show in and of itself, you know… Phil Anselmo — I hadn't seen Phil for ages. It was a bittersweet moment hanging out with Kerry [King of SLAYER]. I mean, I heard you just say some beautiful things about [late SLAYER guitarist] Jeff [Hanneman] and, you know, from PRIEST's world, we send our love and sympathy to, you know, to the rest of the [SLAYER] band and the family and friends. But, as we said on numerous occasions, when we lost our dear friend Ronnie [James Dio], we just have to reflect on the great gift of music that all these incredible metal musicians have left with us and that's how we continue to celebrate their lives.

Eddie Trunk: The one thing about the Golden Gods that some people had asked me about, too, is — because it was televised on TV and a lot of people saw it and you had a cane. Was that for — did you injure yourself or was that just a look you were going for?

Rob Halford: Yeah, I've got an injury which I'm gonna be taking care of soon back in the U.K. It's just one of these rigors of rock and roll, you know. I mean, I've been doing what I've been loving to do for so many decades, and it's just wear and tear, you know. You put all those heavy metal clothing on your back and you're stomping around the stage with your big metal boots. So I've got a little bit of a kink going on and I need to get it fixed and I'm hoping to get that taken care of shortly.

Eddie Trunk: Yeah, you know I had Jason Newsted [ex-METALLICA bassist] on my — on the new season of "That Metal Show" coming up, and, you know, Jason, who's doing his own band now, went through a hell of a time where he did so much damage to his neck and his back from headbanging with METALLICA that he actually couldn't even put the weight of a bass around his neck until just recently.

Rob Halford: Man, I don't know how they do it. I was talking to Rob [Trujillo] from METALLICA as well and he's got a little bit of something going on, and he has a guy — you know, all that band is treated as they should be treated. They've got masseuse guys there. They've got chiropractor people doing what you need to do. But I don't know how guitar players, bass players do it. They've got that big chunk of, you know, wood and steel around their neck for two hours at a go. And, you know, it's just one of these things that catches up with you in life, unfortunately. Ironically enough, I was having a chat with Phil and, as you know, Phil Anselmo, he had major, major back surgery many, many years ago… You know, Maynard [Keenan] from TOOL. You just work through it. It's just one of those unfortunate things but thank goodness there are wonderful ways to take care of these things these days and I'm looking forward to be back in fighting fit shape.

Eddie Trunk: The reason why Rob is calling in for a few minutes with us is to discuss something I've had a chance to take an advanced look at and it is really, really special. And that is "Epitaph", a DVD and Blu-ray that is coming out that documents that tour for JUDAS PRIEST. And Rob, it really is phenomenal for people who didn't see the "Epitaph" tour. Give them in a nutshell what it was because you featured a song from every album in PRIEST history, which was amazing.

Rob Halford: Yeah, that's what we try and do for our PRIEST fans all over the world — is put a new angle on the big world tours that we go out on. And, of course, this was no different to all the other wonderful times we've shared together. But, yeah, we set ourselves the task of listening to everything that we'd ever recorded and threw in everybody's ideas and suggestions to put together this wonderful "Epitaph" show which, as you said, Eddie, features one song from every recording that we made from "Rocka Rolla" in the Seventies all the way through to "Nostradamus". And then we didn't play it chronologically because, as you know, the show — you've got to have a tempo, the emotion and all that kind of thing working and coordination with production. But it turned out great, so one minute we were doing "Never Satisfied", then we're doing "Painkiller" and then we're doing "Blood Red Skies". It was just a real kind of living history, you know, Metal 101, almost, checking out the PRIEST and that type of setup. And we brought the cameras in for the last show at famous Hammersmith Apollo in London, and over the past months everybody's been working hard behind the scenes to edit it and getting it looking and sounding right. And it's just about ready to hit the streets.

Eddie Trunk: For you, Rob, what was the most fun song that you hadn't done in a long time to revisit and to do again on that tour?

Rob Halford: Well, I mentioned "Never Satisfied", of course. I don't think PRIEST had ever played that live for as long as I could remember. At least not going back, you know, in the last ten, 15 years or so. I love that song just because it's got this groove. It's got that bluesy feel about it. It really carries some of the, you know, the early reference points of heavy metal music. And that, I think, is another great treat. Even if you're not a PRIEST fan, it's really cool to listen to all of these songs and check out how metal has changed and, you know, in many, many ways over the decades. And you get metal coming at you in this two-and-a-half hour video live performance.

Eddie Trunk: The other thing about the "Epitaph" tour — two interesting things, Rob. One is that originally the tour was more or less considered to be a farewell tour, which kind of changed gears a little bit somewhat through it. And so where you started out kind of saying it may be somewhat of a farewell, it actually — the band actually backed off on that a little bit as you guys got out there, right?

Rob Halford: Yeah. I think there was some misinformation purely on our part. What we were trying to say to everyone was this is most certainly not the end of PRIEST. We will be going out again. That's an absolute fact. But where and when we're gonna be doing that — it's just gonna be in a slightly different manner, you know. We love PRIEST as much as everybody else does in the sense that it's a great night out when you see your favorite heavy metal band and we want to keep all the right components in shape so we're able to deliver a thousand percent night after night. So we're making a few adjustments to make sure we can do that. And, you know, the heavy metal fat lady hasn't sang yet, as they say.

Eddie Trunk: And the other thing about the "Epitaph" tour as people will see on this DVD and Blu-ray is that this was the introduction to [new PRIEST guitarist] Richie Faulkner in the band. And I know that in a lot of ways, from what I understand, his breathing new life, if you will, and having a new guy like that in the group was something that actually fueled you guys to say, "Hey, this is pretty fun. We should keep doing this." Right?

Rob Halford: Yeah. I think it's fair to acknowledge that point, Eddie. I mean, you know, God bless [former PRIEST guitarist] K.K. [Downing]. Richie had some big boots to fill but he put them on and he stomped all over that stage night after night delivering the goods and just tearing it up. And that's just a big thing to take on, you know. But he just went out there and laid into that guitar, and man, what a player and a showman. And, you know, the fans immediately took to him and welcomed him into the PRIEST world. And we ended up having one of the best tours that I can recall for many, many different reasons. That's not to diss anything at all on K.K., but we were dealing with reality and I'm sure that, you know, by the end of it, yeah, we were fired up. We thought, "Man, this is too good to completely shift down. We've got to do some more work." And, of course, that's what we're doing right now which will talk about shortly — the fact that we're making a brand new PRIEST record as we speak.

Eddie Trunk: Before we ask you about that, Rob, you mentioned K.K. Have you been — have you spoken to him at all since he left the band? Have you had any communication with him?

Rob Halford: No, nothing at all. And that's just the way it is sometimes. I mean, let's not forget, of course, when I was away from PRIEST, there were many, many years of silence in communication. You know, being in a band it is a peculiar kind of rock and roll animal. You know, the fans see us as we want them to see us on stage. What goes on behind the scenes is a lot of private, personal stuff. And I think when the time is right, you know, there will be some communication. But, as we've just said, right now we're thrilled to be working with Richie and making new metal and the future's looking great.

Eddie Trunk: So get us up to speed on that if you will. What is the immediate future plan for PRIEST? Have you recorded some stuff already or…

Rob Halford: Yeah. Yeah, we have.

Eddie Trunk: Next year — is the target next year to put a record out?

Rob Halford: Well, you know, it's kind of one of these — it'll be ready when it's ready. This is an important record for us obviously after "Nostradamus". I think we all felt after the great event of "Nostradamus" that it would have been not right to leave things at that point musically. So what we want to do is just, you know, bring out another top-notch, first-class, classic heavy metal record. And the writing was completed some time ago. We are tracking right now. Everything is going to the kind of schedule that we hope it would be. And, you know, we'll keep you posted, Eddie, as we move along the timeline and we've got something important to share with the Gods to potential finishing of recording and releasing the record. We'll let you know right away.

Eddie Trunk: So no live shows I would imagine until the record's done then, right?

Rob Halford: No, not between now and then. Much like any band, you go out to celebrate for different reasons and essentially it's to promote new material. Which, of course, we've got with the "Epitaph" DVD. We hope our fans will run to that and enjoy reliving the "Epitaph" tour that we sent around the world a couple of times. And that should prep everybody for the next big PRIEST moment.

Video below: FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and Rob Halford performing "Lift Me Up" at Revolver Golden Gods:

Video below: METALLICA and Rob Halford performing "Rapid Fire" at Revolver Golden Gods:

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