Judas Priest’s Rob Halford: The New ‘Joker’ Movie Will Be ‘Mind-Blowing’
Rob Halford was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The Metal God discussed the ongoing success and touring behind Judas Priest's 18th full length album, Firepower. The singer also offered an update on guitarist Glenn Tipton, who has courageously battled through Parkinson's Disease and is already at work on the new Priest material.
Speaking about the inspiration behind the cinematic nature of his lyrics, Halford cited film and literature, expressing excitement over the upcoming Joker movie starring Juaquin Phoenix. Collaborations have also been a notable aspect of the singer's career in recent years, and he stressed the importance of supporting modern heavy metal artists.
Check out the full chat below.
We're back to talk about the Judas Priest dates, the Firepower tour 2019. Judas Priest has already received numerous accolades over the course of your career. What makes the popularity of Firepower even more special to you?
Well it's inspiring you know, it's motivational. I think all musicians feed off that. We have the glorious fans that look after us and give us our lives you. We've just been seeing this coming forward since the Firepower release and it seems to be amplifying itself as we move ahead and that's great.
All these wonderful things that you read about – the love for this band and the songs that we make and the great moments we share with our metal maniacs all over the world. It keeps the fire burning more than anything else, and as we've said many times, it's all about keeping the faith keeping the faith of heavy metal music and Priest is still out there holding the torch for heavy metal wherever we go.
Glenn Tipton suffering from Parkinson's Disease really resonated throughout the metal community. How has Glenn being so forthright about his health affected your admiration for him?
Well this is so typical of Glenn. He's such a brave guy and for anyone you know that's going through this challenge in life it's generally kept within the family because it is cruel, it's very cruel, but Glenn saw this opportunity being the great man that he is to share this message that he's putting out to the world.
You are able to live with Parkinson's and function and still do what you look to do or to be at a different level. Right now Glenn is putting riffs together for the next Priest album — I know that's what he's doing back in the U.K. and that's what he's about as a guitar player, a musician. This song that we have, "No Surrender," became Glenn's anthem — never give up. It's not only about Glenn and his Parkinson's but whatever challenge you face in life, it's a strong message.
We love Glenn and I'll send his feelings from you guys to the metal community. Glenn knows what's going on he's aware with the social media as far as the great things that are being sent to him so that's beautiful to talk about Glenn at any moment. He's doing well.
Lyrically your songs often tell stories with a very cinematic quality. Where does that theatricality have its roots with you?
Well I love movies. I love movies. I just saw the new trailer for Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker that is going to be mind-blowing. I'll be first in line to see that and then The Avengers. I love all that larger than life stuff as well as the more intimate movies. That is kind of a different scene. So for a lyricist as well reading, I'm still a bookworm [laughs]. I just finished re-reading J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye — what a great book that is.
So for a lyricist, you can never get enough ammo you can never get enough information —never enough stories and visuals and life experiences. All of these things can be taken and put into words communications that's what we look to do in Priest. Certainly, those big landscapes and visuals like "The Sentinel," which I believe are bringing back for this third leg. I love to take those words and try and put pictures in your mind as you're listening to the music that's one of the many attributes of Priest that we've loved to have fun with.
You've always been very aware of new generations of bands, collaborating most recently with In This Moment and Five Finger Death Punch. Why is the connection between current and classic so essential to metal?
Well I think you keep shaking things up and I think you keep showing the strong love and bond that we have amongst fans. New and vintage, new and classic I don't know how to describe it. A band like Priest is a relevant band you know and I think that when our friends from other bands approach us to collaborate, it's just a wonderful gesture.
That side of who we are and what we represent, it's not really limited to the time frames of existence we're just here. We're in the now we're thinking about the future and I think that's really important to any band to be immersed in what you do creatively at this moment believing. So have your eye on the horizon to what we might be able to do next.
Judas Priest is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the formation of the band. Rob, what feelings of nostalgia come with that sort of celebration?
It's just full of wonderful memories right from those very early days, particularly here in the United States. When Priest first came out here in the mid to late '70s, it was a dream come true for a British heavy metal band like Priest. And I dare say it's the same for any band that comes to America. America is still this great melting pot of music that musicians thrive to visit and to establish themselves and get a foothold and a fanbase.
So, yeah, those early days with Priest coming over here and opening up for Foghat and Molly Hatchet, 38 Special, quite a lot of memories just there alone. That wonderful moment that we had opening for Zeppelin at Day on the Green in the Bay area, which was quite a game changer for Priest on the west coast of America. Full of wonderful memories. We live with that, when you walk out onstage, as we're about to go back to a lot of these wonderful places in America on this coming tour, on the final Firepower leg.
When you get to a city like Los Angeles or Atlanta, Denver, Miami, Seattle, New York City, Portland, it seems like Priest played at just about every place in the United States because when we first came out here, we would play for months and months and months at a time. We wanted to spread the gospel of Priest through all four corners of the great United States of America. So that's what we do now.
That's why it takes us three legs to get through to so many places. Every city that we come into, as I'm looking out the bus window and I see the profile of the downtown, it has a memory of relevance and it's just something that you cherish and you're grateful to metal maniacs for keeping it alive and so strong.
It has been a banner year for Judas Priest. In what ways has the reaction of Firepower invigorated your creative spirit for whatever comes next?
Again, just to reiterate this feeling of there's something more to be done, another metal song to be made, there's another metal album to be created, and more touring around the world to be accomplished.
I think it's vital for any band to have that going for them at any level. At any level. It doesn't matter where you are. It's especially important for new bands. That's why we must always go out and see music live. A live performance from any band is or any artist is really vital to sustaining them. Once you're in front of your fans, the feedback, the energy, you can't talk about it enough. It's the lifeblood to your existence. All of those dynamics are a part of what we're still experiencing with Firepower.
Rob, anything else that is to come in the upcoming months, aside from touring? Last time we spoke - you mentioned you were going to write a book. Has that started?
I think I spoke to you firstly about that because we have a great relationship, Jackie. Slowly but surely it'll be coming together. Here's the thing, I said that before, I want it to become right. I jokingly said, it's probably gonna be more Lord of the Rings in three volumes because so much has happened to me in my life. I want to get it all down before I start to forget it. I'd like to feel it's gonna be a real slow tell-all book, that contains a lot of stories that people are not aware about.
You've known me forever, Jackie, I try to live my life as real as I can, but there are some things that have happened to me that maybe of interest to people and I think you have to draw your fans to your life in a book sense, so yeah - it's going to happen [laughs]. Definitely.
Rob it is always such a pleasure to catch up with you, I really appreciate you being on the show again.
Jackie, it's a blast. Thank you so much. It's all about Priest, metal maniacs. It's always a thrill to speak with you guys.
Come and check out Priest, we're shaking up the set. We've got songs in the new set list like "(Take These) Chains" - I don't think we've ever played that live and if we have it's been forever. "Out in the Cold" I don’t think we've played that song since the Turbo album. Probably bringing "The Sentinel" back, what else? "Traitors Gate" probably. "Necromancer"...
I'll tell you Jackie, it's wonderful having all these metal albums. It's incredibly difficult trying to put the set list together. At the same time, it'd be alright if we could do "Breaking the Law," so that's on the list. [laughs] We're mixing it up. New show, new stage set, new everything so come and check it out. It's Firepower, and you can hear all about it. Thank you, Jackie.
Thanks to Rob Halford for the interview. Get your copy of 'Firepower' here and follow Judas Priest on Facebook. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show here.
Judas Priest + Uriah Heep 2019 North American Tour Dates
May 03 - Hollywood, Fla. @ Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
May 06 - Nashville, Tenn. @ Nashville Municipal Auditorium
May 08 - Atlanta, Ga. @ Fox Theatre
May 09 - Biloxi, Miss. @ Beau Rivage Resort & Casino
May 12 - Washington, D.C. @ The Anthem
May 14 - Huntington, N.Y. @ The Paramount
May 15 - Huntington, N.Y. @ The Paramount
May 16 - Uncasville, Ct. @ Mohegan Sun Arena
May 18 - Albany, N.Y. @ Palace Theatre
May 19 - Albany, N.Y. @ Palace Theatre
May 22 - Milwaukee, Wis. @ Riverside Theater
May 23 - Milwaukee, Wis. @ Riverside Theater
May 25 - Rosemont, Ill. @ Rosemont Theatre
May 28 - Austin, Texas @ ACL Live at The Moody Theater
May 29 - Austin, Texas @ ACL Live at The Moody Theater
May 31 - Dallas, Texas @ The Bomb Factory
Jun. 01 - Little Rock, Ark. @ First Security Amphitheater
Jun. 03 - St. Louis, Mo. @ Stifel Theatre
Jun. 05 - Colorado Springs, Colo. @ Broadmoor World Arena
Jun. 08 - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan @ SaskTel Centre
Jun. 10 - Lethbridge, Alberta @ ENMAX Centre
Jun. 11 - Edmonton, Alberta @ Rogers Place
Jun. 13 - Dawson Creek, British Columbia @ Encana Events Centre
Jun. 14 - Prince George, British Columbia @ CN Centre
Jun. 16 - Kelowna, British Columbia @ Prospera Place
Jun. 17 - Abbotsford, British Columbia @ Abbotsford Centre
Jun. 19 - Airway Heights, Wash. @ Northern Quest Resort and Casino
Jun. 21 - Kent, Wash. @ Accesso Showare Center
Jun. 22 - Portland, Ore. @ Moda Theatre of the Clouds
Jun. 24 - San Francisco, Calif. @ Warfield Theatre
Jun. 25 - San Francisco, Calif. @ Warfield Theatre
Jun. 27 - Los Angeles, Calif. @ Microsoft Theater
Jun. 28 - Ontario, Calif. @ Citizens Business Bank Arena
Jun. 29 - Las Vegas, Nev. @ The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel
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