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Judas Priest Answer Loudwire Readers’ Questions

Rob Halford
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

We were recently graced by the presence of Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford and bassist Ian Hill for an interview from their hotel room in lovely New York City. During the 30-minute chat, we asked the metal gods questions submitted by Loudwire’s Facebook followers. Halford and Hill responded to the fan questions with much detail and depth, offering a unique look into the minds of the legendary musicians:

Joe from Connecticut asks: In your early work, you can hear a heavy Black Sabbath influence. As your sound developed throughout the ’70s, do you feel that you had any influence on Black Sabbath as they also began to play faster — especially during the Dio years?

Halford: I don’t think so. The fact that we’re both from the same place is probably in some people’s minds a crossover or influence. It’s just the fact that we’re both heavy metal bands is the foundation that connects us. It’s the riffs, isn’t it? The other elements are totally separate. I think Sabbath have as much of a unique sound and style as Priest does. If you put a Sabbath album on you go “That’s Sabbath,” if you put Priest album on, “That’s definitely Priest,” so there is a distinction of difference, it’s just that we both live in the same metal world.

Hill: Of course way back then when everything was very experimental anyway back in the late ’60s and early ’70s metal didn’t even exist — it was called other things like progressive rock or progressive blues or heavy rock. Everything was in a nucleus and everything was sort of similar, but then everything starts to branch out and people get identities and direction. Everybody finds their own niche if you’re talented and you’re good enough.

Halford: You’ve got to be original. Nobody wants a copycat.

Eddie from Alabama asks: Which album was the most enjoyable to make?

Halford: They’re all enjoyable to make, but from my perspective when you make your first records they’re a lot of fun because you’re under no pressure or stress. You have nothing to really achieve other than doing the best you can in the studio. When you become successful the pressure starts turning up, but when you’re making your first releases there are a lot carefree feelings about what you’re doing.

Hill: It’s true because in your first album, generally your entire repertoire goes on that album. [laughs] You’re doing the songs that got you the deal to start with, but later on you’re not. People say the second album is the most important because you’ve got less time to write your stuff, you follow straight on the heels of a tour for the first one.

Aiden from Melbourne asks: What up and coming bands do you think have got the right stuff?

Halford: Ahh the “right stuff.” Now when you say the “right stuff,” do you mean to propel them into the “enormo” area? Because there are some great bands out there, but where is the next Judas Priest? Where is the next Metallica? I’m not being cynical, it’s just the way the rock ‘n’ roll world goes. I was looking at the active rock charts yesterday; Pop Evil were in at No. 10. Staind are No. 1; Staind have been around for a chunk of change now — great band. I check my iTunes top 100 metal bands everyday. You see all these bands like Winds of Plague, August Burns Red and We Came as Romans; all these bands are making great music, but the “right stuff?” I don’t know. We wish them all well because its a f—ing challenging life to be in a band, it really is. It’s even more challenging to be successful.

Hill: Coming back to the “second album syndrome,” you’ve got to have the quality to keep it up.

Halford: You grow up very quickly when you make your official recordings. You have to become very serious and think about stuff that you didn’t think about before if you want to make a life in what you’re doing.

Robert T. asks: Rob, it has been mentioned that you’re one of the most talented vocalists in music. What other singers do you find to be talented?

Halford: Obviously people I know as friends like Robert Plant, David Coverdale and Roger Daltrey. People from my own world growing up in the music business like David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. More recently, Corey [Taylor] from Slipknot has a great voice when he’s not doing the [Halford imitates guttural vocals]  thing. The singer from Staind [Aaron Lewis], Phil [Anselmo] when he sang on ‘Cowboys from Hell’ – great voice. Vocals change don’t they? The guys from Linkin Park.

It’s funny because you hear a lot of good singers now but you’ve usually got two singers or one singer doing the two things. They sing in a very sweet melodic voice and then they go into what we call the “dog vocals” – and thats not derogatory. They sing very melodically and then they go [Halford imitates guttural vocals]. It’s a very unusual style of music thats happening now and a lot of bands are doing it because thats the flavor, that’s the fashion. I like to hear a singer sing. I like to hear what they’re singing about and the melody of the notes, because that’s when your distinctive style and character comes out.”

Next: Judas Priest Answer Loudwire’s Questions

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