Rob Halford of Judas Priest.
At the age of 66, Rob Halford is still hell-bent on the leather.
The British frontman and his bandmates of the most legendary heavy metal band Judas Priest are back with their 18th studio album, entitled “Firepower,” and they couldn’t be more pleased to be reunited with fans on the tour.
“I am very excited and excited to spread the gospel of the Priest,” Halford told Fox News. “This is the epitome really of everything that we live and breathe in the heavy metal scene. To Judas Priest together? It is a real adventure and we always feel excited when it is time to create a new record.”
However, the strong group is offering a different message for the avid followers and curious listeners alike. Instead of “Breaking the Law,” their new single, “Sea of Red” honors the lives that were lost in the first world War.
“It looks really in the spirit of love, the conquest of everything,” explained Halford. “That may not sound very heavy metal, but it embodies a strong passion I believe is not in heavy metal… it commemorates the ultimate sacrifice of the people who were there.
“This overwhelming relief of love to conquer any kind of difficulties and setbacks in life. That love is forever, even with people who we lost in the physical world. So, I’m speaking of a piece of the heart… The lyrics take you on an incredible journey. It is a fantastic song in the elements of a classic heavy metal ballad.”
The rocker insisted Judas Priest still thankful for the support they received from the fans. And while Judas Priest was ever the target of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) for their texts, list them in 1985, the “Filthy 15” of artists that should be banned, the group is full, and over the years, and their followers remain loyal.
“I have lived long enough to see the meaning of all this and everything we have gone through in the past few decades,” said Halford. “Now, a number of parents are likely to allow their children to leave. And it goes to show that, fortunately, common sense prevailed. We are a rock ‘n’ roll band that plays heavy metal music. Our intent is to give you a great night out and offer the best times that we have with our music.”
New song, directions are not the only difference audiences will notice. In February, The Guardian reported lead guitarist Glenn Tipton was a step back from performing after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Singer Rob Halford (L) and guitarist Glenn Tipton of the British metal band Judas Priest on stage at Globen Arena in Stockholm on 28 February 2009.
The 70-year-old has lived with the early stages of the degenerative disease for ten years and the disease progression has made him not able to play with the group the more complex material.
“He’s as good as everyone is fighting and is strong in the fight of the challenges that Parkinson’s disease brings into your life,” said Halford. “For years, Glenn has been writing, recording and exploring the world, not let Parkinson’s disease get in his way as a musician. And it’s still the days that we had to make the very difficult choice of him to abandon the idea of the world tour.
“Parkinson’s disease is a worldwide disease, and I think he is sending a signal of resilience, optimism and hope. You should try to be as alive as you can for the day to day of living with the condition… We do it together.”
Halford, for his part, says he takes songwriting duties very seriously, even if the recipe for a hit has proven to be “paper, pencil and a good Thesaurus.”
“I still think we have a lot of the intention behind our music in terms of the messages that we throw out,” he said. “We are not a band that a kind of political attitude. That’s not what we’re about as a Priest. But we are observers of what is around us in the world.
“If we talk about the ‘Firepower’ we talk about the fire and the power of heavy metal to prevail and endure difficulties. ‘Children of the Sun” is, to some extent, on climate change and the ecosystem… We want to deliver a message to the people without being too much of a teacher.”
Judas Priest may go as far back as in 1969 and have easily the inventor of the look of its genre, churning out head-to-toe leather, but they are still waiting to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. At the end of 2017, Halford announced Judas Priest did not have enough votes received to make the cut.
“It was a thrill to be nominated,” said Halford. “We appreciate and understand what it represents to move in that large setting… will send a wonderful signal to the people. And the fact that we are not making? It was a little disappointing. And we feel heavy metal should be represented more in the Hall of Fame. But I think we will eventually. We will. The next time around, fingers crossed, we’ll make it to the hallowed halls and they will find a place on the shelf to convert Judas Priest.”
And while Halford is gearing up to hit the road again, he looks just as forward to eventually return to the same place he has called home since 1981.
“In the first instance, Phoenix was just a vacation spot for me,” said Halford. “I love heading to the desert. I don’t know what it is. I can’t describe it. But it just connects with me… And by the time we reached the beginning of the years ’80, after a tour, I wanted to put down some roots.
“It can be a pretty extreme place. Phoenix in the summer? That is a heavy metal challenge… It is blazing hot in the summer and it is quite a testament of endurance… But the whole thing of life in the desert is a great joy for me.”
When in Phoenix, Halford gives the preference to escape in the desert and the mountains for the return to his hometown, where he asks Alexa to play classical music or the blues.
And are still growing leather collection? Halford urged Judas Priest’s youngest child, the 38-year-old Richie Faulkner, should not expect an inheritance any time soon.
“First, I am a much bigger man than Richie,” he said, laughing. “And second, they must be disinfected, at the end of each trip. So I don’t think he would like my stuff a lot… And I do my usual this year. I will have more costumes than Cher.”