Francisco Zamudio of KNAC.com recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST frontman Rob Halford. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On "Celestial", his forthcoming Christmas album that mixes holiday classics with all-new compositions:
Rob: "The story of the way 'Celestial' was created goes back a little bit further than the actual record itself. My brother Nigel has been playing drums for a long, long time. He's got this really cool band, kind of an indie rock band. They've been together 28 years. I saw him put up a Facebook post of an old picture. 'Oh my God! Your band VOODOO SIOUX has been together for 28 years!' This is a band my brother has been working with for that long and he's been drumming for 28 years. But it's a band that plays local gigs. They all come home from work, get changed, put a little bit of leather on, have some food, go and jam, go to work the next morning at 7 a.m. That is at the heart of the music of 'Celestial'. This is an homage to all of these musicians all over the world that do this. They just do it for the simple, pure joy and love of making music, which I think is just great. It's just the purest form. And when any band gets together, you get together just for that reason. You love the way the music sounds and you love the way the music makes you feel. That was the heart of putting this idea together. About two years ago, I think it was, I was with family back in the U.K. and I was having some food with my brother and I said, 'I would love to find an opportunity where we could play together.' He's, like, 'Oh my god, that would be…' I said 'Let me think about it.' This idea, because it was the holiday season, I thought, 'Maybe we should do this.' Because that would be a great platform for the guys to show off their great skill because they're very talented musicians. At the holidays there's always some music playing in the background or you sing along or whatever it might be, so I said to my brother, 'Here's this idea. What do you think?' He said, 'Yeah, let's go. Let's do it.' That's how the whole essence of the record came into be. So we picked a bunch of songs and I said, 'Look, I'm doing the [JUDAS PRIEST] 'Firepower' tour and the record and everything. This is your album; this is your music. You do what you want. Here's some ideas for songs. If we can get some original material as well, that would be great.' Then I left them to it. The project itself to complete, it was two years, not solidly, but in and out. Because the guys would have to come home from work and run in the studio for an hour, then go home and go to work the next day. It was made in that kind of journey. It's just a beautiful way of making music and really sending out a strong thank-you to musicians like this who just play music for the sheer love and joy of the experience."
On his ongoing sobriety:
Rob: "I wish I could have a drink. I wish I could have a smoke and do a line. I wish I could do all that, but I can't. I've done all that. I've done all that and it nearly killed me. I wish I could do that because when I'm with my friends and they're having a good time and there's this little devil on your shoulder, 'Just have a quick shot. Do a shot of Jack [Daniels].' For those of us that are in recovery and I know there are people listening to us on KNAC that are in recovery, that's the biggest temptation is dealing with the little devil on your shoulder or the monkey on your back. When you are clean and sober, for a musician, particularly for my journey, it's the greatest gift I was given. It was a gift. I can't do this by myself. There's another source helping. That's just a thrill to share with the music at this point."
"Celestial" is due October 18 via Legacy Recordings. A day later, he will be signing CD or LP purchases of the album at FYE Arizona Mills at 2:00 p.m in Tempe, Arizona.
"Celestial" sees Halford joined by a supporting cast of those very close to him — his brother (Nigel) on drums, his nephew on bass (Alex, son of PRIEST bassist Ian Hill), has sister (Sue) on bells, and twin guitar tandem of Robert Jones and Jon Blakey.