ROB HALFORD Says All The Music Is 'Ready' For His Debut Blues Solo Album

March 22, 2024

In a new interview with Germany's Rock Antenne, Rob Halford spoke about the status of his long-in-the-works debut blues solo album. The JUDAS PRIEST singer is collaborating with the same team that assisted him during the making of his 2019 Christmas LP "Celestial", including his brother Nigel and his nephew Alex (son of PRIEST bassist Ian Hill).

Rob said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "You may have heard occasionally here and there that I've had this ambition at least to make a blues album. Because metal, all rock and roll comes from the blues; everything in music comes from the blues to a great extent. And so, because I'm a blues fan, I've always wanted to explore that territory. And so, going back a few years, my brother and my nephew Alex, Ian Hill's son on bass, and a friend of ours, we did the 'Celestial' Christmas album together. And then, towards the end of those sessions, I said to the guys, 'Why don't we just make a blues album?' Okay, that's a simple idea, isn't it? So we have the music ready, we have all of these songs ready to go, and it's just about timing. Timing and planning is so important in our world, in music. So that's one thing I would really like to do, and when I get the time to do it, I shall do it."

Two years ago, Rob explained the inspiration for his blues album, telling Joe Rock of Long Island, New York's 102.3 WBAB radio station: "I love the blues. Without the blues, we wouldn't have rock and roll. The blues was born here in the United States and then slowly mutated into all these incredible styles and different dynamics and variations. Man, I think back to those originators, like Little Richard, Bill Haley, the anchor of the blues like Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith, all these great people. So I was listening to those great performers as I was growing up as a kid. I love the blues, man. And I think most metal musicians would acknowledge the blues for playing such an important role."

Halford continued: "So, here's the deal. I made a Christmas album with my brother and my nephew and some friends recently called 'Celestial', and while we were there, I was saying to the guys, 'I've got this thing about knocking around some blues ideas.' And that's all the guys needed. So they went away while I've been busy with PRIEST and we put together a substantial amount of material. And when I find time, we're gonna bang it out. I'd love us to play in a room live together, 'cause they're really talented. My brother is a drummer. My nephew is a bass player; he's the son of the great bass god, Ian Hill [of JUDAS PRIEST]. And then we've got J.B. [Jon Blakey] on guitar, who was with us on 'Celestial'. So we're gonna keep it simple. But I'm excited. I've got all the stuff on my phone, like we do — that's a danger — and I listen to it, and I get stoked about the possibility. So it'll happen eventually, I'm sure."

In May 2021, Halford told Kyle Meredith that he already had "enough material to make a [blues] record." He added: "The only thing that I threw at the guys was do what you feel you wanna do in terms of ideas. I did give 'em a list of some of my favorite blues styles and blues performers as a little bit of a template for the guys to bounce off of."

Rob reiterated that his upcoming blues album will be a varied effort covering a host of different styles and sounds. "You could go into one specific area and stay in that place and focus [on that and make] little subtle changes here and there, but much like the 'Celestial' album, I think this effort should just be a little texture of every taste of all these different blues flavors," he explained to Kyle Meredith.

As for how his lyrical approach will be different for his blues album compared to the songs he writes for PRIEST, Halford said: "The blues is the blues. We all feel the blues, but you can have the happy blues as well as the sad blues, and you can have all of these characters in blues. The opportunities for stories for some of them, similar to the PRIEST inventions of fantasy, like the Sentinel or the Painkiller or any of those great characters that were created. You can throw your lyrics wherever you wanna throw them if they're connecting with the music.

"Messages in music are vital, 'cause we like to hear stories that we can relate to or attach ourselves to, in reality or in fantasy," he continued. "So that's gonna be an adventure for me. I love to sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper, 'cause that's how I do it, and just think. I have an idea, and I just throw some bullet words down instantly, and that's how the seeds start to grow."

A few years ago, Rob stated about his interest in making a blues record: "When I first became a musician in my late teens, I started to hear the extraordinary roots of the blues — Bessie Smith, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters. They gave me the buzz… 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."

Back in 2015, Halford told that he was interested in recording a blues album and pursuing other non-heavy metal projects because he wanted to find out what his voice can do. He said: "I've always felt that [the blues is] very much a part of my background and musical roots. I don't know what kind of blues album I could do because there are so many different facets [to explore]. Maybe I'll just mix it up. As far as stuff out of the metal world, I'm a fan of people like Michael Bublé and Michael Feinstein. I've always been a fan of [Frank] Sinatra and Tony Bennett and Elvis [Presley]. I'd love to hear what my voice would sound like in that kind of musical mix, with wind instruments, trumpets and sax, piano, just that big-band sound."

Halford credited his vocal versatility and ability to take his voice in "different directions" as the main reason he was "so interested in trying these other opportunities." He said: I think if I had a voice that was different to what it is and was a little more in one focus, maybe I wouldn't be as adventurous about my ideas. But because my voice is able to do those different things, it's instinctive and natural to see what else I can do."

Halford released his autobiography, "Confess", in September 2020 via Hachette Books.

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