Melvins' Buzz Osborne Interviews Judas Priest's Rob Halford | Revolver

Melvins' Buzz Osborne Interviews Judas Priest's Rob Halford

Famous fan quizzes Metal God on new autobiography 'Confess'
buzz osborne rob halford SPLIT, Travis Shinn
Rob Halford photography by Travis Shinn

"Judas Priest has always been one of my favorite bands," Melvins singer-guitarist Buzz Osborne enthuses. "I think Unleashed in the East is the greatest metal record of all time."

Knowing of his fandom, when Revolver was offered the opportunity to interview Judas Priest's Rob Halford about the iconic singer's new autobiography, Confess, we thought it would be fun to have Osborne do the honors. The Melvins frontman, who recently released his second solo album, Gift of Sacrifice, jumped at the chance — and was not disappointed by the experience. "I thought Rob was extremely nice, very helpful and patiently answered all of my questions," he reported to us after the dream-come-true convo. "I'd love to get a personally autographed copy of his book."

As for that book, its title, Confess, is no hyperbole: Halford bares his soul across its 368 pages, openly discussing everything from the ups and downs of Priest to his struggles with his sexuality and drug addiction. Osborne appreciates the singer's brutal honesty. "I thought the book was great," he says. "Rob didn't pull any punches and he didn't leave anything out. I thought that was very courageous of him."

Read Osborne and Halford's chat below. Gift of Sacrifice and Confess are both out now.


BUZZ OSBORNE How are you?

HALFORD I'm doing great, thanks. It's good to speak with you.

OSBORNE I'm very excited to talk to you. I can't believe it. It's amazing.

HALFORD It's happening.

OSBORNE The man who owns the copyright to the words "Metal God."

HALFORD Somebody had to do it. It might as well be me.

OSBORNE That's right. That's right. Well, first off, I read the book over the weekend. I loved it. I was very excited to learn a lot of the stuff that was in it. It seemed like a major accomplishment and a huge undertaking for you. I was wondering how long it took you to do it, and what it was like to go through all that stuff. It's a lot of stuff to remember and to live through.

HALFORD Yeah it was a lot of work. A lot of mental work, and I was steered through it very professionally by Ian ... My relationship with [co-writer] Ian Gittins has become very strong. He was just the right man. I didn't know this but he had approached our management a few years ago for the opportunity to do a book with me and it took forever to make it happen. Turns out he's a local guy from our neck of the woods. It's just remarkable. He knows where I'm from, knows my town ... that was very comforting for me to have a chap that knew what was going on, because we talked about everything, as you pointed out, Buzz. Yeah, I mean, it took about 40 hours of nonstop talking, I mean, not nonstop but, spaced over a number of weeks in my kitchenette. Forty hours of really digging deep through every aspect of my life. It was fantastic. I really enjoyed the whole experience. It's a bit like making an album really — when it was concluded I felt very satisfied and relieved that we got the job done.

OSBORNE Forty hours of interviews basically?

HALFORD Yes. About 40 hours.

OSBORNE Wow. Now, was he asking you questions or were you just talking?

HALFORD You know, actually, Buzz, we got through most of the questions, but we still have a ton of stuff left. And like any book, books get edited for all the correct reasons, so we still have a ton of material left over because once you get me talking it's difficult to shut me up… once you set me on a thought, or an incident, or a moment I can just keep going. It's a just a conscious or subconscious stream that starts happening. And the digital recorder is recording, and that's how we did it. We just talked and talked and talked.

OSBORNE Did you sit with him and decide which stuff you were going to edit in and out of the book?

HALFORD Like anybody who writes a book, this is a new experience for me. I thought everything that was coming out of my mouth would be used, and some of it for the right reasons were put to one side. I think it definitely helped the book move along and not get too stuck in the mud. And as a result of that, I'm pleased that you enjoyed it, Buzz. You know, because, I don't know, this is a book and I don't know what the reaction's going to be, but so far, the feedback makes me feel good. I'm looking forward to having it get out in the public and letting everyone else have a look.

OSBORNE I thought it was very heartfelt and very real. And I thought you got into a whole lot of stuff that a lot of people would have left out, which I thought was really courageous. Hats off to you for that! One of my favorite things that you did not leave out was the glory hole Texas truck stop 1970s stories.

HALFORD You know, here's the thing, Buzz, I didn't want to write a book that was salacious, or had titillating stories just for dramatic effect. These things happened, and I think that the way that Ian took me through those episodes in my life gave the book more life. I mean, here's the deal, it's Confess. What does "confess" mean? Confess. I think that the balance between the darkness and the lightness and the deep stuff and the fluffy stuff is beautiful. I mean, I'm very, very pleased that it came out with that type of emotion as you finish the last epilogue part. I'd like to feel that as a reader you feel that you had a good read more than anything else. And that you know more about me, or rather you know more about me than you thought you knew.

OSBORNE Yeah, absolutely. I read it in two sessions all the way through. It's really great.

HALFORD Wow. You must be a fast reader because when I did the audio book, that was a slog.

OSBORNE Oh man, that must have taken more than 40 hours.

HALFORD ... It's one thing to read a book, it's another thing to talk it out loud, because you have to convey the emotion, and then you're reading the book, and reading these words off the page. It was quite difficult in parts. Especially some of the darkest parts, to get through that stuff and speak it out loud. The audio is also strong. It's a good thing to listen to.

OSBORNE I'm really glad that it's you that's reading it. I think people are really going to enjoy the fact that it's actually you that's talking.

HALFORD Yeah. They offered me the opportunity to bring in a voice actor, but they wondered if I would consider doing it myself because they felt that it would make the story stronger and the honesty conveyed even deeper, so I said, "Yeah, I'll do it." I've used my voice professionally so it's the traditional way of doing it.

OSBORNE As a fan, it makes it way better. Way, way, way better — way more personal, and I think that's important.

HALFORD That's good. I'm glad my sore throat is worth it.

OSBORNE I also really liked in the book, you talking about Unleashed in the East, and I mean, this honestly and totally, I think Unleashed in the East is the greatest heavy-metal record ever recorded. Ever.

HALFORD Wow. That's quite a statement. That's amazing.

OSBORNE I really liked the fact that you didn't have any problem talking about how you re-recorded the vocals. That doesn't bother me in the least. I just think that's an unbelievable record.

HALFORD Well, you know, It was a difficult choice to make. We were all in the room together in Ringo's place, looking at each other and listening to the horror that was coming through the speakers from my performance in Japan and I just said, "Guys, I know this is crazy, let me just walk into the living room, give me the mic, and I'll sing the stuff — no breaks, no edits ... I'll be with the band, close my eyes, and I'll be in Japan, in Ringo's house, and I'm going to do the show from there." And that's what I did. The live performance in essence is just the same as I would do it onstage. Everybody's performance on that particular record is coming from a very special place.

OSBORNE I will never tire of that record. I've been listening to it since it came out. I listen to it all the time. When I told my wife I was going to do an interview with you, she said, "You've been a fan of his, literally for as long as we've known each other."

HALFORD [Laughs] It's a good thing, it kept you together. The thing about music, Buzz, I mean, I love that record. But to see you feel so strongly about it, with so much emotion. That's wonderful, because when you're a musician, and you probably relate to this being a musician yourself, when you're done and you've played, you really have no idea how that music is going into people's bodies and going into their souls, spirits, whatever ... This is the most incredible thing about music. It's one of the most powerful things in civilization, the power that it has is phenomenal. So it's just wonderful to hear you say how Unleashed in the East has touched you in that way.

OSBORNE It's an unbelievable record. I love your choice of covers on there. I was really happy to find out, in the book, how you guys did "Diamonds and Rust," how it was introduced to you and you guys took it and made it your own. And I liked how you met Joan Baez and got her approval for how she really liked the cover. I thought that was cool.

HALFORD Yeah! It was so sweet. Like a lot of professional people that have had the good luck and fortune to have a long life in music, you generally find that pretty much all of us have that attitude of being grateful and having an appreciation of each other. That one moment meeting Joan was a very important one for all of us in the band because you don't know, your music is such a personal possession, and this might sound nuts, but it is, and you don't know how your reference to it is going to be taken. In this case, Joan gave it the two thumbs up.

OSBORNE It's such a great cover. It's so amazing. Also "Green Manalishi," which, I was wondering, did you ever see Peter Green play? You guys must have been fans of that stuff ... You did such a great version of that, as well.

HALFORD We were big fans. He was a phenomenal guitar player, Peter Green. It's sad that he passed recently. The music from these greats will live on forever. He was an innovator. The way he played his guitar and the way he wrote those songs. Ironically, he was from the Midlands, you know. The origins of Fleetwood Mac come from pretty much the same location as my roots. We never had the chance to meet up, the stars were never aligned. As far as making covers, it's important to really work to give a cover the respect that it deserves, but also to show the reason why you're making this cover, which is to give it a second identity. And so the two identities of those particular songs, "Diamonds and Rust" and "Green Manalishi," are just great examples of what you can do with a great song and any kind of interpretation.

OSBORNE OK. I have to ask you have you ever seen the documentary, Heavy Metal Parking Lot?

HALFORD Yes indeed. I've seen it numerous times. In fact, I've also seen the newer version, where they actually hooked up with some of the people from the original doc. It's a great little microcosm of the kind of society, the love and the passion fans have for you and your band no matter what band it might be. It's very very valuable and it's a great little reference to show again, the strength of having a fan base ... You can't exist without your fans, no matter what band you're in. And so, I love that, it's great.

Buzz, it was a pleasure speaking with you. I wish we had more time. All the best my friend. I hope to see you when we come back to your neck of the woods.

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