Devin Townsend: Why I turned down JUDAS PRIEST singing audition | Revolver

Devin Townsend: Why I turned down JUDAS PRIEST singing audition

Prog virtuoso reveals why he didn't want to fill Rob Halford's shoes
Devin Townsend live 2022 getty 1600x900, Sergione Infuso/Corbis via Getty Images
Devin Townsend
photograph by Sergione Infuso/Corbis via Getty Images

Years ago, it was revealed that prog virtuoso Devin Townsend once turned down an audition to be Judas Priest's new singer. In the late Nineties, Rob Halford had been out of the band for several years, and the NWOBHM titans put out a call to a number of vocalists to try and field a new frontman — a job that ultimately went to Tim "Ripper" Owens in 1996.

On a new interview with the "The SDR Show," Townsend divulged the reasons why he didn't follow that offer to potentially fill Halford's shoes, which would have seen him fronting one of the most legendary metal bands of all time as a mid twenty-something. 

"Technically, yes, that happened, but it wasn't like they were knocking down my door," Townsend said of the Judas Priest offer, as transcribed by Blabbermouth. "Basically, they threw out a blanket thing to a bunch of singers — Warrel [Dane] from Nevermore, myself, a couple of other people. It [came in the form of] a letter with the [Judas Priest logo].

"Unleashed In The East [Judas Priest's 1979 live album] was the shit for me, and so to have that was… But I also remember thinking that singing was this thing that happened to me because of my involvement with Steve [Vai], because I never really set out to be a singer. I learned to sing because I was a guitar player and most of the singers I auditioned, I didn't relate to.

"So I thought, 'Okay, I'm gonna learn to sing until I don't have to fucking sing anymore. And then, here we are, so many years later, where it's kind of my deal. But, as a result of that, the technique that I had was so shoddy that had I gotten to a situation with that level of expectation, to sing like Rob Halford — dude, I'd be crucified."