JUDAS PRIEST frontman Rob Halford recently spoke to the Asbury Park Press about the group's latest album, "Angel of Retribution", and his return, after 12 years, to one of the pioneering bands in the heavy metal genre. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
On the band's reunion:
"There was obviously some emotional stuff that we had to kind of sit down and confront.
"Although, we never really went into anything in great depth, which is so British. The day that we decided to reunite was very kind of typically British. 'Do you want to do it?' 'Yeah, I'll do it if you're up for it.' 'Well, I'm totally up for it.' 'Well, let's do it, then.'
"There wasn't a thing of, 'Well, before we start this, let's figure out what went wrong and who was to blame.' "
"It could have been a lot more emotional and complicated, but I think because so much time had passed and we'd all done a lot of thinking — and we were all 10 years older — that we just said '(Expletive). Let's just get back to work.' "
On patching things up with his former bandmates:
"We didn't really have axes to bury, because it wasn't a breakup when you think about it," he says. "The band was still together. The band carried on. The fact that I wandered off and did my solo work didn't interfere with the life of JUDAS PRIEST. Although, some people argue against that, the emphasis being that JUDAS PRIEST is JUDAS PRIEST as you see it today, and that we all feel — the fans all feel — that's the way JUDAS PRIEST should be."
On "Angel of Retribution":
"Getting back into the studio was a joy. The writing team of Tipton, Halford and Downing again has such strength. It's just about the chemistry. What brings these players together? Fate? Destiny? I don't know. But it's this combination of these three musical heads that are able to connect in this unique way. When we were back as a trio writing after a decade apart, it was really bizarre, because it didn't feel as if any time had gone missing. We just let the writing flood out of us.
"I think that's synonymous to rock 'n' roll. Rock 'n' roll isn't really governed by time. You're just carrying on doing something you're experienced with, and you know that good things come from."
On embracing the recording technology that wasn't dreamed of when they were in their 20s:
"That's something that we run to. We're fully aware that because of the world we live in today, if you don't look at these things that are available, then you might be missing out.
"That's, of course, something we did with 'Angel of Retribution'. It reinforces the band's attitude of still being hungry. We still want to go out and do great things. We're not kind of sitting back on our laurels of success, having sold millions and millions of records and thousands of shows. We're still full of the energy and the excitement and the passion that you need, especially to take out live.
"So that when people see you from all these different generations — like we had at the Ozzfest — a 15-year-old and a 50-year-old can look at it and go, '(Expletive), man, that's great. I love it.' "
On attributing PRIEST's appeal to the band's humble beginnings:
"We're working-class men. I think that's part of our ethic. We weren't born with a silver spoon in our mouths. We had to go to work and work really hard. Some people that work in a coal mine or work in the car industry might argue and say, 'These guys haven't worked a day in their lives.' That's not true. To be in a band — to be in a world-wide, successful band — is incredibly hard work. It's both physically and mentally demanding."
It's a Birmingham thing, Halford believes.
"Maybe if we'd have come from somewhere else, it would have been different. But Birmingham has got that Pittsburgh feeling, that Detroit feeling, I dare say that New Jersey feeling. It's tough, working-class people who are trying to get ahead in life. You find something that you love and are passionate about. And you stick to it."