Greg Prato, the Long Island, New York-based journalist whose writing has appeared in All Music Guide, Classic Rock and Goldmine magazines, conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford on September 30, 2009 in New York City. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
Q: How did the new holiday CD, "Halford III - Winter Songs", come about?
Halford: I just love that part of the season. I'm a Brit, you know — I spend a lot of my time in America, but I think it's the same no matter where you in the world, the season. I think that on a faith-based level, it's very important to me. Having said that, no matter what your faith might be, that time of the year is important to a lot of people on the planet. It was just a personal thing that I've wanted to do forever, and it's blossomed into bringing into an opportunity of a full release. I've been like little things on the side for family and friends for a long, long time. And they were always like, "What about a full CD?" I'm like [makes a face], because you think, "Oh, 'Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer'," and I'm like, "I don't think so, I'm a metal god!" So we looked at hundreds and hundreds of possibilities and we wanted to try as best we could to go into some of the traditional songs that are not that "at the forefront" of the season, and then give them beautiful arrangements and strong production value. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised. It's very strong in its attitude. The first single came out today, "Get into the Spirit" [hear audio below], which is a real ball-crusher. Having said that, there are things that are completely in the opposite dimension, which is just typical of what I do as a musician, anyway, and mix it up. I want to take it to different emotions — from the full-intense speed stuff to the very lucid moments, the ballad-esque things. It's what I do and what's expected of me. But it's like anything in music — how do you describe it? You have to listen to it yourself. It is a very unusual recording — very different in terms of the overall production. Roy Z, my producer, did a fantastic job.
Q: Planning on playing live shows in support of "Winter Songs"?
Halford: If time permits, yes. I'd like to. It's just finding the opportunity to do that. My solo career is still important to me because, again, it enables me to say and do things that I normally couldn't do elsewhere. PRIEST has always been my main band and always will be, but like other artists that step away to do solo endeavors, it's because you're able to accomplish something musically and emotionally at that place that you couldn't somewhere else. So that's another reason — this is the first HALFORD release in about seven years, and I just wanted to reinforce that the band is still there.
Q: Future projects?
Halford: There's something that I was involved with Jack Black for the Brütal Legend videogame that is coming out October the 16th, that was a lot of fun to do. I liked that experience — doing the voiceover work. I'm an absolute fanatic of "The Family Guy" — I think it's the funniest thing on TV. I've seen what Seth [MacFarlane, "The Family Guy" creator] and the rest of the team do off camera, and it's just basically the same thing as what I did in Brütal Legend. But that's not a "bitchslap" to Seth, because he's a genius. But I've been in that world and would love to experiment more in that world — because I love that element of make believe. Making a character with your voice and then putting it visual, like the two characters I do in Brütal Legend — the Baron and General Lionwhyte. When you see that, it's crazy. I love that type of reaction.
Q: So you're interested in doing further animation work...
Halford: I'd love that opportunity. I'm just throwing the idea out — I don't know if anything will come of it. But I certainly enjoyed working with Tim Schafer, the guy that made Brütal Legend. He encouraged me and it taught me a lot of things. A very clever man in terms of how to get the performance out of the artist. I had a lot of fun doing that.
Q: Are you in talks with the people from "The Family Guy"?
Halford: No, I'm just whoring myself on the internet! And Seth might go, "Really, he's a fan?!" I just love that show, because firstly, I'm a liberal — you've got to be in rock n' roll. And it pulls the reins on certain factions gives them a shock — "What does that feel like?" But I love to see how the talent uses the voice, and the voice gets interpreted into all these different characters. Maybe that's something on the horizon — I don't know.
Read the entire interview at this location.
Check out photos by clicking here (courtesy of Kurt Christensen).
"Get into the Spirit" audio stream:
"We Three Kings" audio stream: