ROB HALFORD On JUDAS PRIEST's Longevity: 'We've Never Slacked Off'

January 29, 2018

JUDAS PRIEST vocalist Rob Halford was recently interviewed by "The Rockside Chronicles With Shawn Sixx". The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):

On whether he feels he's still "living the dream":

Rob: "Yeah, absolutely. It's just a glorious journey that PRIEST has been on for almost 50 years. JUDAS PRIEST was born in 1969, and that just seems inconceivable. You wake up one day and you go, 'Wow, this band is still able to make great records, make great songs and on the cusp of going out on another big, massive world tour to see our glorious fans again that have literally given us the life. I never, never lose reference of your fans, because without your fans, you've got nothing. Yeah, you are living the dream — that's a great way to put it — and the dream is still going on."

On the difference between today's music scene and the climate in which JUDAS PRIEST formed:

Rob: "I cherish the fact that as a musician, I came from a whole different time of music. The people that inspired me really kind of set the tone and the template for me as a musician. But then you can fast-forward over four decades, and I meet bands all the time, and young metal bands reference bands like PRIEST — 'I heard that song when I was at school, and I picked up a guitar,' or, 'I grabbed a mic,' so we're all kind of passing the torch, so to speak. But then you get into this area of the way, not all people, but portions of society listen to music coming out of the cloud, and now things are on playlists, and you have to accept that this is the way certain parts of your fanbase will listen to your music. The acceptance that you have to try and make this far on is a lot broader than it was when you first began. It's all relevant. Everything is relevant to the moment that you're in and where you're from and what you're trying to be and do as a band. I never knew that PRIEST was going to be around this long. It's very much in the lap of the gods. However, a lot of the results are based purely on the amount of effort and work and commitment and dedication that you make as a musician. I think if you're in any band, the last thing that you should do — well, it's nice to go in the dream, 'Where are we going to be ten years from now?' Who knows, guys, girls? Who knows? Let's just have the best moment that we can where we're at with the music that we're making and see what happens next. Because your fans control everything. Your fans will take you to places you never dreamed of. There's a lot of miracles there, but a lot of them are based on sheer work – the blood, sweat and tears syndrome."

On the motivation behind the group's new album, "Firepower":

Rob: "A lot of it is instinctive. You know who you are; you know what you represent, because of all the things that you've achieved. The great thing about PRIEST is that we've never slacked off. We've never taken anything for granted. We've never shortchanged ourselves or our fans. We've always had this in-built work ethic — [perhaps because of] where we're from, The Midlands, the U.K., which has a real hard-grind, working-class embodiment of people still now. It's pride; it's pride in the music that you make. 'OK, we're about to go out on tour playing songs that we wrote thirty years ago, but check this out that's being released right now. It's hot, fresh metal, which we feel has all of the same ingredients of a great piece of music as what we were doing back in the day.' Did PRIEST need to make the eighteenth studio album? Absolutely not, but we wanted to, because we love what JUDAS PRIEST is about in the biggest sense of the picture. We love making new metal. It's a constant, never-ending thrill, an addiction of what can we do next. It's not that we need — or, maybe we do need to do it, because we're a working band. We're a working metal band, and by all accounts now that our good friends BLACK SABBATH are taking a hiatus, we hope, we are the longest surviving metal band in the world. I don't wake up and think about that, but sometimes it crosses my mind, and that is an incredible feeling of joy, and the thrill and the honor that has been given to you by your beloved fan base that enables [you] to keep doing these great things in metal. In terms of its place, just from my perspective within the band, it's got this real kind of youthful element. When I listen to it, and I try and switch my JUDAS PRIEST hat off, which is difficult, I go, 'God, this sounds like some new metal band that's just come on the scene.' The sheer exuberance and vitality and the essence of the music that's coming out of the speakers, it's really an uplifting kind of vibe. You really feel elevated, and I think that's a great achievement just talking in reference to the great power, the positive power of music. This album is full of that."

On the vocal range he displays on "Firepower":

Rob: "I was pushed. I was definitely pushed. 'I think you can do one more, Robbo.' You have to crack the whip with me. I know what I've got to do when I get behind the mic, but because I still have a bit of an insecure streak, I still don't feel that I'm doing the best that I can possibly do. I need somebody to keep pushing me, to get to the place where I have to let go, and if you say, 'We've got it,' we've got it. I have to give all credit to the great production team and everybody in the band. We all really push each other; we all make each other really work. There's absolutely no 'that'll do' vibe. It is a genuine, instinctively, look at these things that are trailing behind us — 'British Steel', 'Screaming For Vengeance', 'Defenders Of The Faith', 'Sin After Sin' – you've got all that looming in the background. Come on, guys – we've got work to do."

On touring:

Rob: "It's still a thrill. When you're in a band, when it all starts, it's a bunch of people in a room making some music and feeling great about that experience. Then you have these fabulous fans that go, 'Yeah, that's the music I want to hear,' and to know that you're going to make that exchange again and again and again, it's the purpose. When you go back to Japan or Mexico or Texas or Seattle or L.A. or Paris or Moscow, all of these places are really important, because this is the place you're going to. I'm going to leave the house, turn the key and not come back for about eighteen months, but I want to do that, because I want to go and see you. I want to come and sing for you. We've come all this way because this is how much we love what you've given to us. It is a very sentimentally emotional exchange. When you're standing on that stage and you're looking at the expression and the emotions of your fans, how glorious is that? If that's not living the dream, I don't know what is. The stage is the stage, no matter where you are in the world, and I just hope I don't fall off the edge [laughs], or the bike flips over. Those are the things I'm worried about — can I get this costume change done in, like, 30 seconds? But road work doesn't really change that much. You might not be staying in the roach motel anymore, but the elements of road work are still the same. This far on, it is quite challenging. I just turned 66, but once the day starts, what a joy. What a blessing. Best feeling in the world, man. You can't say enough about the absolute joy that you're experiencing and that you're sharing with so many people."

"Firepower" will be released on March 9 via Epic. The follow-up to 2014's "Redeemer Of Souls" was recorded by British producer Andy Sneap, the band's longtime collaborator Tom Allom and engineer Mike Exeter (BLACK SABBATH). The cover artwork for "Firepower" was created by the Chilean/Italian digital artist and photographer Claudio Bergamin.

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