JUDAS PRIEST frontman Rob Halford, who recently rejoined the group after more than 12 years apart, revealed during an online chat Saturday (August 16) that the songwriting process for PRIEST's next studio album has already begun. "We are writing now, slowly bit by bit putting the pieces together," he said. "All I can see is the bar is higher and we will sail over it! It's all ready to go — my work room is awash in paper! All I can say is that all the things you have come to expect from PRIEST will be in the new songs... It's been cool getting the same feelings for songs like I did before. I thought that might be over — it's not."

When asked if he would be willing to sing, on PRIEST's upcoming tour, any of the songs written and recorded during the years when the band were fronted by Halford's replacement, Tim "Ripper" Owens, Rob said, "I will sing any song by PRIEST [including those from the Ripper era], period."

In a separate chat with Halford manager John Baxter, also conducted on Saturday, Baxter once again discussed the reasons for the relatively poor commercial performance of HALFORD's last studio offering, "Crucible", and the lack of touring in support of it.

"Sanctuary [Records, HALFORD's label] were not there for the band," John said. "They were more focused on breaking the band up and trying to reunite JUDAS PRIEST. [HALFORD's 2000 album] 'Resurrection' and the tour went very well. I worked to make sure of it. When I took over last fall, the label decided it would dump the band at the curb. That was the difference. They frustrated every move they could. That's why I stepped in when Rob threatened to retire in the summer of 2002. 'Crucible' had everything we needed promotion-wise, but again, folks were more into breaking the band up in the summer of 2002.

" 'Crucible' is a masterpiece," Baxter continued. "All the HALFORD records are masterpieces. The band members, Pat [Lachman] and Ray [Riendeau] included, will always be proud of the work we did that last four years... 'Crucible' tested very high at radio, etc. We knew we had a great release. The label [Metal-Is, a division of Sanctuary] didn't know what they had. They'd only been in business for two to three years. Fact is, the band needed money and love from a label for it to really have a chance."

With regards to Rob's reunion with JUDAS PRIEST, Baxter said, "It's all Rob wanted. It was tough to park the HALFORD band, but in this biz you always do what your artist seriously wants. Rob wanted to be back in JUDAS PRIEST. We could have produced another great HALFORD recording this or next year, but Rob wanted to return to PRIESTJUDAS PRIEST was more important to Rob. [Repairing the relationships in the band was] what took them the most time to sort through. It's between four brothers and no one else. He loves his solo band, but at this point in his life he wanted to be a part of JUDAS PRIEST. I don't live in his body or mind, but that is what he desperately wanted."

During the same chat, Baxter revealed plans for HALFORD to release two DVDs in 2004, with both the "Resurrection" and "Crucible" eras of the groups extensively represented.

"The first DVD will encompass the making of 'Resurrection', 'Live Insurrection' and the 2000/2001 tour, with 'Rock in Rio III' being the main performance footage," he said. "The second video will encompass the making of 'Crucible', interviews, live performances from Europe, Japan and the Anaheim June 2003 performance."

With regards to the possibility of releasing a DVD containing videos from Halford's FIGHT and TWO years, Baxter said, "Rob and I have been talking that through. There is no reason to mix the HALFORD and FIGHT material/footage. We'll create a separate package for the FIGHT years. I feel the FIGHT material warrants some attention. There isn't much TWO material. That was a very experimental move by Rob."


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