Jonathan Dick of Noisey recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
Noisey: Obviously your voice is probably one of the most recognizable and distinctive not only in heavy metal but in all of music. Was there a specific moment when you realized you had this powerful voice, or was it a kind of gradual fit for you in the beginning just finding that range?
Halford: That again goes back to those early bands I was in like, I love these names, LORD LUCIFER. [Laughs] I love that. Bands like HIROSHIMA and ABRAXIS and others, but when you stand in a room with a bunch of guys with audio equipment that works, and you're there to make noise together, it's like an embryo — the actual real, true foundations of what you want to do and be in a band — it's happening in a very organic kind of way, really. It's uncluttered. It's very pure. It's very untouched by outside influence, so that's how I learned it. When you give somebody a microphone, and they suddenly sound louder than they really are, anything can happen. [Laughs] You watch people do karaoke, and when you put a mic in somebody's hand, they change. You change. You really do. Something happens, and I can't explain it. But when you actually start screaming and stuff like that into the microphone, and you hear the voice coming out through the speakers, and it's amplified, it's absolutely thrilling. It's thrilling, but it's also kind of inspiring, and it gives you a sense of "What can I try next? What can I do next?" That's really how I learned, and I was already listening to the greats like Janis Joplin, who I loved to death, and who was one of the greatest rock singers ever and, of course, hearing my friend Robert Plant singing the way he was singing the real blues. I like to think I've still got the blues in my voice. I'd absolutely kill to do a blues record. I would kill to do that. It's something I want to do because I want to explore what my voice can do in that wonderful world. That's how I learned to do a lot of that soaring, sweeping, and screeching. And also I discovered that I've got a voice that can go in different octaves, directions, and different kinds of projections. It's a combination of a sense of adventure and just being inspired by those guys, those wonderful singers. It's a mixture of everything but mainly a discovery of what the voice can do.
Noisey: What is it that keeps bringing you back and drawing you in to this music where you're still creating and still just as passionate with "Redeemer Of Souls" as you were with "Rocka Rolla" or "Sad Wings Of Destiny" or any of those early JUDAS PRIEST releases?
Halford: I think that essentially since music was invented, it's basically reached out and touched every single kind of conceivable generation. It's a very difficult kind of thing to describe isn't it, because you can only really sense it when you're listening to it. Whether you're listening to it with other people or in a room by yourself with your headphones on or at a concert, it's a very difficult thing to pin down. But I think the elements of metal with its sense of power and its aggression and its volume and its various textures, and especially the messages, I think metal, and when I say "metal," I'm talking about all kinds of metal, but I think it's always had this very powerful charge behind it of opportunity and of overcoming things in life, which is a message that PRIEST has always embraced. It's a very empowering kind of music, heavy metal is. I'm sure that people would say the same thing about country music or R&B or rap and hip-hop or whatever, but I think it's an absolute fact that if you speak to people coming out of the venue when they've just seen their favorite heavy metal band, they all just feel so alive, and they feel so invigorated. The whole experience is just very emotional and very cathartic, and so all of those different attributes, for me, have been very much intact with heavy metal, and it's just about this human desire. It's a very important ingredient of your personal love for metal. I'm just thrilled that I'm about to be a 63-year-old metalhead. [Laughs] My love for this music is just as strong as a teenage metalhead. We connect with each other without even saying anything because we both feel the same way inside. It's a blessing, metal is. Definitely.
Read the entire interview at Noisey.