TheNewsTribune.com recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST frontman Rob Halford. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
Q: I think I read somewhere that you're living in the desert these days, in Arizona.
Rob Halford: "I first went to Arizona in the late '70s when JUDAS PRIEST came out to work there. And it was just sort of an unusual place, coming from the Midlands (in England) where everything is concrete and steel. And I always felt there would be a moment when I would get a second home, which I've had there for some time now. And even though I'm still a U.K. resident, when I do get a chance to chill out and relax you'll find me in the desert. I just find it incredibly calming and inspirational to spend time out there."
Q: I've interviewed a couple of other British bands. And it seems like Brits have a fascination with the desert.
Rob Halford: "It's the allure of the conditions of the desert because it's a strange kind of balance. The desert can be a very vital kind of place. But sadly there are still these horrific stories of these people coming over from Mexico to find a better life and dying in the desert. That's horrible. However, it's also a very beautiful place. It definitely has the air of the great traditions of the Southwest with the western style and lifestyle. And definitely, to me, it has that rock ‘n' roll feel of independence and freedom and wildness."
Q: Not many people can sing that hard for three decades. How do you keep your voice in shape?
Rob Halford: "I don't really do much to look after it quite honestly. It's an instrument much like anything else. The most anyone can ask for is physical rest. It's a set of muscles you have to use, and any kind of muscles that you overuse get burnt out and stressed and tired.
"Beyond that it's just the information and experience of using the instrument that you gain over the years. And I'm blessed, you know, with this god-given gift. I'm very grateful that I've got it and I can use it. It gives me incredible joy every night when I sing, and I can share that with the fans.
"But there are no lotions or satanic incantations or anything like that."
Q: (Laughs.) You're blowing your image.
Rob Halford: "No, I think I've made that quite clear. For the people on the outside that are clueless about JUDAS PRIEST, we'll always be viewed at in a sloppy, skewed manner. For the millions of fans that love us and know as know at the heart of the matter you've got a bunch of working class guys who are determined and work hard and have tremendous passion for what they do … that almost 35 years later has gone on undiminished.
Q: It's hard to not have seen the Michael Jackson verdict. You had your own high profile trial back in 1990. (Subliminal messages were blamed for causing a pair of Nevada teens to commit suicide.)
Rob Halford: "Yes, in Reno, where we'll be going back to in a few days."
Q: Do you empathize with celebrities who are going through that kind of media circus?
Rob Halford: "Obviously, I don't need to point out that there's no connection. But I understand the element of your question of what JUDAS PRIEST had to go through. For us it was incredibly painful because it was an issue that was abhorrent to us. To accuse us of actually killing somebody with our music was … the kind of thing you could count as defamation of character.
"These two boys who lost their lives were hardcore PRIEST fans. They found tremendous solace and relief in JUDAS PRIEST's music. They came from abusive backgrounds within their families. They had absolutely no support system going on there. And they resorted to excessive use of drugs and alcohol. And when you combine all of those exterior issues, away from the music, then you basically have a time bomb waiting to explode.
"It was just, for us, a moment that came into our lives that was very difficult. But we stood up and faced it. We were literally forced to leave our own country … and stand in a courtroom and basically stand up for what we thought was the truth. And we were exonerated."
Q: Is that something you revisit? Especially since, for the past couple of years, there has been that same sort of undercurrent where artists get scapegoated.
Rob Halford: "I don't think it's there as much as it was in the '80s, frankly. I think the politicians and the conservative Christian (activists) have kind of taken a step backward because they know, certainly in a situation like JUDAS PRIEST's case, it was futile. It had no foundation.
"So, you know, you get the occasional uproar for somebody like my mate MARILYN MANSON. You could almost equate MARILYN MANSON with America and apple pie.
"I love rock 'n' roll because it still has to be about shaking things up and rattling cages. … I think that's incredibly important. But I still think there are ways of doing that that are acceptable and at the end of the day give people what they need from rock n' roll music, which is that release, that escapism, that great night out; that refuge in the music that they seek, whether they are listening to Pavarotti or JUDAS PRIEST.
"The human capacity for music is not diminished or sensationalized by whatever artist you listen to. And it can be SLIPKNOT or FRANK SINATRA. It all works."
Read the entire interview at TheNewsTribune.com.