Rob Halford: Judas Priest’s Rock Hall Nomination Is Important for Heavy Metal [Interview]
Judas Priest's Rob Halford was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The Metal God discussed the band's first nomination for induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the overall significance this has for metal, along with how the band found out about the honor. Halford also discussed Priest's 2018 tour, the personality behind his Instagram page and more. Check out the chat below.
The Metal God, the one and only Rob Halford! How are you?
Hey Jackie. Hi everybody, It’s great to be with you again. It’s good to catch up on all things metal and so forth.
Of course, obviously let's start by saying congratulations on Judas Priest's first ever Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination. You have to tell me how this went down. Did you find out in an email, online? How did it work?
Yeah, we found out a little bit before the news broke which I think is generally the case in terms of nominations. It’s just to give you a little bit of heads up, but I don’t know. When we heard, especially from my perspective, I’ve spent most of my life in America these days and being so aware all these great moments that can happen to you for the first time ever. I mean I was walking on air. It was just so super fantastic. What a thrill, what a buzz. And then of course when the news broke and went public everything just exploded for the band and for heavy metal community, the fans, everyone at our management, the label, and family and friends. It was just a really exciting and funny, fun 48-hour burst of metal, power and energy.
Metal fans feel a lot of contention towards the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame about the oversight of its nominating and voting history. What does Judas Priest being nominated for the first time mean to you?
Well again just because everything that Priest have done in the four decades that we’ve been together, we’ve always taken this perspective that whatever we’ve done in metal obviously begins within the band itself and that’s obviously vital to everything. But running alongside that is this fantastic really truly established loving relationship that we have with not only Priest fans, but I’m sure with metal fans around the globe. So, we’ve kind of run side by side in terms of looking out for each other and supporting each other through everything related to the metal scene.
In this respect towards some [of the] metal community, to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time, I don’t think it should be looked at too lightly. It is important for lots of reasons but primarily to have the opportunity — firstly to be nominated is a thrill, but just simply seeing metal being talked about globally because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame denotes an American institution that has global reach. So it’s a great ceremony celebrating those two words, heavy metal, was fantastic when the announcement was made. It made everyone kind of lift their heads up and think about not only Priest but metal in the broadest sense of the word.
Priest deserves to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame for a lot of reasons. What's the most important reason to you, why Priest should be inducted?
Well, I think if you really understand what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame stands for, it really is the quality of your work, the substance of what makes you a band. And so, as I know now and I must admit, it wasn’t until just recently that I really got to grasp and grip what this represents. Which is that, your music and body of work is really scrutinized. Everything is scrutinized. It's not just the one album or one song or one tour or whatever. They look at absolutely everything. They look at your heritage, your pedigree, roots and tradition. Whatever it might be. They really investigate everything about you as a band or solo artist.
So, that makes it more of a deeper and meaningful moment for that reason alone. They look at all of your music for 25 years + and with Priest that's from Rocka Rolla up to wherever we were 25 years later. It's easy to get lost, you know, when you've written so many songs and you've done so many things. You lose track yourself as a musician being in a band that's been — had a great long life in metal. I played Rocka Rolla a few days ago and it was listening to the track "Dying to Meet You / Hero, Hero" and "Run of the Mill" and I'm going, yeah these are good songs than more recently in recent times. They do go really deep so that adds into the dimension to I think the whole Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
Rob, you've been touring for most of your life. What changes in terms of the things you appreciate and enjoy about touring through different stages of your life?
I think it's wherever you're at in a given moment of being in a band. I'm sure that if you asked this question to a lot of bands, it's all about what's happening on the night. It's all about living in the moment. But wherever you are onstage, it doesn't matter what size the venue is, or how many people are there, it's living in the moment. It's giving the best thing that you can give, together as a band and reach every single fan that you can.
So really, that hasn't changed in all the years Priest has been together. We still treat every show with a great reverence. We just have to look at each other before we walk on stage and we know what we've got to do. I will say, probably, at this point now we might be under the microscope a little more just because we have done so much work, thousands of shows probably. People are looking at us probably a little bit more intensely, which is great. That makes us work even harder. I know for me as a singer, I try harder than ever to give the best that I can and the voice is holding up thank goodness. Not really a lot has changed, some of it has, but the core of being in any band is to go out and do your best work as possible for each other and mostly for the fans that are giving you the right.
Judas Priest have already been in the planning stages of a tour to support the new album next year. What aspects of the inner workings of preparing for a tour would surprise people the most?
Just to give you a little bit of a different look on it, visually, we always work hard and spend money to put on a show in terms of what you'll see as opposed to what you'll hear. I mean, obviously, the setlist is vitally important. We can't wait to play some of the new material from the new album, obviously. So there will be that of course as we go out next year. We're already underway, constant discussions on how we want to put things together for our fans and make sure like most bands, you want to give your fans something to remember visually as well as what you hear. A lot of that's been done.
How many lights do you need? How many flames do you need to go off? How many screens do you need to have? You have to be careful here in my perspective, because at the end of the day when the fans come and see Priest they just want to see the band. So no matter how many millions of lights you surround us with it doesn't really change it that much, does it? Your fans have put the money down, their hard earned money down, to come and see you and then hear the songs that they love.
Having said that, I think we've all tried really hard to put on a show that is visually exciting and gives you a buzz. It always has to, in Priest's world, it has to really correlate with the songs and the music. So we have different set pieces in terms of lights and any screen visuals that we use we marry those up to the songs. So it is really well thought out you know, and this next one is gonna be great. It's something that we hope to do in everything under the Judas Priest flag.
You're pretty prolific when it comes to posting on Instagram, not to mention pretty hilarious. What do you enjoy most about staging and posting amusing photos?
Not as many as I'd like to put on, [laughs]. Well here's the thing. You know, Jackie, you and I know personally there's two sides to make. I'm not one of these people that really want to cause controversy or attract attention. That's now what I'm about. I think when you think of the possibilities of social media, particularly Instagram, you can use it for lots of different reasons.
I like to use it to just maybe call the fans away from some of the other stuff that's going on in the world. The horrible thing that happened in Vegas. I mean, I wish now that I had have acknowledged that, I should have put something up... or did I? Yes I did. What am I talking about. I did put something up because you have to recognize in that situation it's relative to the community. When we lost Chris [Cornell] more recently and Lemmy [Kilmister] and Ronnie [James Dio] — I apologize for missing Chester [Bennington] — what I'm saying is, in terms of whatever pictures you put up, you like to give people a bit of a boost or a lift, a smile or whatever and make them laugh. Get a bit of interaction.
I just put some pictures up of me holding three Lemmy t-shirts. Pick your favorite, it's really gone on. I've got thousands of fans say, "Oh this one is good, that one. I like that one better, I've got all three." So in terms of communication, it's really cool and it's on a personal level because I do it all myself. I haven't got some person in the background posting, I do it all myself. So it's a real personal connection and I love to do it. You never know what's going to happen on the Rob Halford Legacy Instagram.
We spoke earlier about the Rock Hall nomination and you guys said you had heard about it, obviously a little bit before it got announced. What was it like when you guys communicated with each other to share in the excitement? Is there a Judas Priest group text and are there a lot of emojis?
Yeah me and Richie [Faulkner] are text fiends. Richie and me are just mental for anything texting, sending me little snippets or ideas for songs and whatever it might be. Crazy, goofy stuff, but me and Richie are the ones for that. But we're all in touch immediately via email. Yeah we were buzzing. Still can't deny that it's - whenever this comes in your career it's special but just thinking back to what I was saying a few minutes ago because this is really representing all of the substance of the band musically, it is extra special.
Very excited about the nomination. Wishing you the best. I want you to win, I want you guys to be there and you deserve it. So excited. Looking forward to catching up.
Brilliant, thank you so much Jackie I've said it before, what you do for the fans in metal with your show is so important. It's a great way to connect and communicate and keep everyone in the metal community close and together on the Full Metal Jackie show. Thank you, thank you everybody, for listening. Hey, let's keep the metal alive. You can vote for Judas Priest every day if you want to, up until Dec. 9 to get us in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Those of you that have voted and those of you that are considering, thank you so much. We give you our metal love and we'll see you soon.
Thanks to Rob Halford for the interview. Look for 'Firepower' out next year and catch Judas Priest on the road supporting the disc starting March 13 with a list of stops found here. Follow the band on Facebook to stay up to date on everything they're doing and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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