On the occasion of JUDAS PRIEST coming to Zenith, Paris (FR), we interviewed the emblematic figure of the band, Rob Halford in the tour bus. The frontman was later joined by guitarist Glenn Tipton. In a cozy and friendly atmosphere, we discussed their visit at Hellfest, their music career, the farewell tour and upcoming plans.
How was Hellfest yesterday ?
Rob : It was amazing ! We love festivals because they are a combination of talents. They are so many different performers having a great time with the audience. It’s very challenging because of that matter. It’s tremendous, it’s an excitement ! We gave Hellfest 100% of ourselves, which is what we’ve always done, consistently. And specifically for this tour, this kind of farwell tour, this celebration of our music. We kind of feel nostalgic… Last night was great. There was a lot of people. And what’s crazy is that : for a number of years, for whatever reason, JUDAS PRIEST wasn’t able to play shows in France. We were ready and willing to come play but we probably lacked of promotion so we didn’t. And strangely enough, for this farwell tour, we play 3 shows in France : last night in Hellfest, tonight at Zenith and we’ll come back for the wine festival in Colmar, which will be a first (laughs). We’ve never done a wine festival (laughs). So that’s great ! Every country is important for us. We know that we have many French fans that has been waiting for us. This is a special and exciting first to be able to play several shows in different countries.
Did you have time to watch other bands playing yesterday ?
Rob : Festivals are not really practicable, we generally get to the show a short lapse of time before we go on stage. And backstage is just crazy, crazy, crazy. I couldn’t see Ozzy. I got a text-message from him saying « Why didn’t you come see me yesterday ? ». No, it’s just crazy. We couldn’t see, but we could hear ! And the audience at Hellfest was LOUD ! Festivals are quite different from single headlining shows. We love both ! We are willing to play tonight.
This is a farwell tour. Does that mean you’ll quit making music when the tour is over ?
Rob : It’s a farwell tour, yes — but it’s not the end. There’s a little bit of confusion about the statement we put out on the Internet. Let’s clear things up : metal touring is very difficult, clock ticks and your body changes throughout the years, so yeah, we will still perform, but we just won’t be going out on these long and massive world tours as much. But we’ll still be getting together every now and again and doing a festival here and there. We won’t quit making music because we love doing it and it’s not as physically and mentally difficult as a world tour. We still feel that we’ve got something to say. We still feel that we’ve got important things to display in our music.
Have you written new material ?
Rob : Yes. We pretty much have a new album completed. All of the arrangements have been made. Many songs have been mixed already.
What can you tell us about it ?
Rob : I think — with this one, we’ll try to reinforce who we are and what we have been that people love about JUDAS PRIEST which is the big sledgehammer heavy metal riffs and the screaming vocals. Just a powerful classic heavy metal CD, nothing like « Nostradamous ». It’s gonna be a back-to-basic and very straightforward record — from ‘British Steel’ to ‘Painkiller’ to ‘Sad Wings Of Destiny’. It won’t be as complicated or as complex in the arrangements as ‘Nostradamus’ was. It would have been wrong to finish the recording side of JUDAS PRIEST with ‘Nostradamus’. We felt it was very important to kind of re-focus and put metal music right back where it belongs, along with us. It is coming out next year. It is almost completed.
What is your secret to keep going this long ?
Rob : The passion of music and the fans. Without the fans, you have no inspiration. You may have inspiration to write a song, but that song has to be shared with. The inspiration, in terms of motivation, comes back to the fans. Although all artists need to be self-determined and self-driven by their own creative needs, they also need to be looked at or listened to. Initially, you do it for your own creative satisfaction but you need to feel nurtured by sharing it.
Do you sometimes check-out the feedbacks from the fans on the Internet ?
Rob : I do, yeah. And sometimes it drives me crazy. It’s not a very good indication though. The Internet represents only a few voices. (Glenn enters the tour bus and joins Rob for the Interview.) Glenn, she was just asking about whether we read the comments on the message-boards and I said that to a certain extend, we try to avoid that because it’s only a few people who speak out. It’s only a few voices, not the voices of all of our fans. Plus it is anonymous, people love to say very negative things because they seek attention, they want to be famous in a way. The best way for us, is to meet the fans as often as we can, take pictures and talk a little bit about the music. Then, you feel it’s more real and genuine.
What do you think has been your biggest challenge or greatest achievement so far ?
Rob : Personally, what I do now is the most important thing. I mean, last night at Hellfest was an amazing show, but that’s gone now ! We still have to prove ourselves. This is what we try to do night after night, after night, after night… When we come on stage, we wanna feel like we are giving 100%, like we can put on the best performance. In the recording sense of the thing, for a brand new studio-album to come this far on in our career, I think it is a wonderful achievement. It makes our fans see what things are important to us : the passion of metal and the power of metal — is still alive inside of us and we still get a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from making metal songs, recording them and putting on a show. At the end of the day, we have always kept it simple and straight-forward. For sure there are some highlights points in our career such as our first gig, our first record, our first platinum album and such, but we don’t really think about it because — to me, everything that we have done has an importance.
Do you plan to continue working on your solo-project ?
Rob : Yeah I will, but I won’t ever sacrify JUDAS PRIEST. It will always come first !
What do you guys plan to do when the tour is over ?
Rob : Have a rest, have a little vacation… We gotta finish this new record too !
Thanks for your time.
Rob : Thank you.
Glenn : Thanks.