Rob Halford on His New Album, Touring With Ozzy, and the Future of Judas Priest
Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford is currently doing a solo tour, opening for Ozzy Osbourne. He also recently released his fourth album with solo group Halford, Made of Metal, on his own Metal God record label. Here, he fills us in on the record, the tour, and what’s going on with his other band.
REVOLVER The title track from your new album, Made of Metal, is about NASCAR. Have you ever driven one of those cars?
ROB HALFORD No, I’d love to. I don’t know how they do it. I’d love to sit in the passenger seat. It takes incredible discipline to sit there for hour upon hour, turning left, literally inches, micro centimeters, away from each other at 200 miles an hour. How do they do it? It’s amazing. It’s like a Zen thing. So I have tremendous respect for NASCAR in that respect alone.
What inspired you to write the song?
I love writing lyrics, whatever the idea might be about. The phrase [from “Made of Metal”’s chorus] came first, “supersonic silver flying machine.” Where the fuck did that come from? It just popped into my head. For whatever reason, I just started to think about NASCAR.
Are you a NASCAR fan?
I’m not passionate about it, no. It’d be a lie if I said that. But I do enjoy it; I watch it occasionally. And I’m very impressed by it, I’m interested by it, I’m entertained by it. I’ve invited to many race meetings. I haven’t had the calendar to do it yet, but I am going to do it.
Speaking of Made of Metal, before I even heard the album, I could hear your voice, because of the lyrics “made of metal” in Judas Priest’s “Electric Eye.” Was that on purprose?
I suppose I just couldn’t lay claim to that, because those are my lyrics. And I would never do anything disrespectful to Judas Priest. The phrase “made of metal,” that’s always been in my mind, in my vocabulary. I’ve always said I feel like I’m made of metal and that’s why my fans call me the Metal God. I’m not Gene Simmons but [laughs], [with me it should be] trademarked and registered, that phrase made of metal. It should have Made of Metal with a little TM and a circle around it. Because I think it can be valuable to me in my business ventures with the label and the T-shirt company. But it makes sense, doesn’t it? I’m not being audacious, that’s not part of my makeup. But it just made sense to say that’s what this record is. It’s made of metal.
Do you find it hard to break away from Judas Priest with your solo music?
I’m lucky I got a fairly wide range of what I can do with my voice. But it still belongs to Judas Priest. My voice belongs to Judas Priest and it always will, as it should. It’s like when you hear Robert Plant singing, Oh, that’s the Led Zeppelin dude. If Bruce Dickinson did some solo work, Oh, that’s the Iron Maiden dude. If Vince Neil did some solo work, Oh, that’s the Mötley Crüe dude. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to worry about. It’s just an instrument, and you use it as best you can in the places that you need to.
What did you do differently with Halford than with Priest?
I write lyrics differently, just because I can’t sing about me being clean and sober for 25 years [“Twenty-Five Years”] on a Priest record. That would be completely wrong. And the other songs, like “We Own the Night,” anything that has a really personal, intimate type of reflection, lyrically, would be out of place in another place. Besides that, I think we’re just a band that has our own take on what we do with the metal we write and perform live. I think if you see us live, as hopefully you might get a chance to see when we come through, it’s great man.
Any plans with Priest?
Yeah, I was talking to Priest’s management the other day. We had a chitchat about things. We’re putting together some shows, we’re going to be booked out extensively through 2011 and most of ’12. We’ve got some other things poking around in the fire. And we will be disclosing those through the website. Look for that in December.
Have you been looking forward to your tour with Ozzy?
I think it’s pretty special. We’ve done the Ozzfest together, but we’ve never done a tour like this together. It’s going to be a pleasure for me to play for his audience. ’Cause it’s primarily Ozzy’s audience. I’m the opening act, and it’s great. Forty years later, I’m an opening act and I fucking love it, because there’s nothing more rewarding than going out and doing your best to win over a crowd and make new fans. Forty years later, I still get the biggest kick out of making new fans. And so that’s the rush and the buzz for me. Me and Ozzy have known each other forever. We’ve had similar lives. We’re good friends—we’re not intimate friends, like we hang out together at dinner and things like that. But I think there’s a strong mutual friendship that you get just as musicians. I think it’s going to be pretty cool. The Canadians, especially, are building it up as the Prince of Darkness and the Metal God. That’s pretty cool. It sounds like a fucking movie or something. Or a kind of crusty law firm. Osbourne and Halford. You need to litigate? Call Osbourne and Halford. Funny. I’ve been looking forward to it. I was with Geezer the other day on VH1, and we were just talking about what we do. And he said it’s a lot of fun. And I said, “Geezer, when I stop having fun I ain’t gonna do this anymore.” ’Cause you gotta enjoy, don’t you? You gotta enjoy anything you do in life, but particularly music. ’Cause music is an extension of your soul. So anyway, we’re going to have some fun together and I’m really looking forward to it.
Interview by Kory Grow