Oh Judas Priest, Judas Priest, Judas All The Way

The Fashion Victim

Radio Metal: You recently created your own line of T-shirts. Can you tell us about the genesis of this idea?

Rob Halford: The fans have called me “the Metal God” for many, many years. They see me on stage, wearing all the different costumes that I put on display. I’m a metal singer that likes to keep changing his looks, and I just thought a long time ago that it would be an opportunity to take that type of dynamic, that excitement and energy and visual, to see what would happen if it was put into a clothing line. Through a company within Metal God Entertainment, which we created about a year or two ago, I collaborated with Mark Sasso, who is an illustrator and graphic designer in New York City. He took everything about what I do as a metal performer, and then he created the visuals in his mind. Then we discussed what could be presented in the T-shirt apparel. That’s where it all began, it’s a combination of different elements coming together. I think now we have 13 or 15 T-shirts that are available at the Metal God shop on the Internet. They’re here for all the metalheads to check out, so they can see if they might be interested in some of the things we’re doing there.

Is there any link with your musical universe or is it a completely different project, aimed at a larger audience, and not only the fans of ROB HALFORD and JUDAS PRIEST?

Everything that I do is, in essence, for the fans that support me. It’s always first and primarily the metal fans. They have been generous and kind enough to follow the work I’ve been doing as a metal musician for almost four decades. It’s their generous time and dedication that helped me to do that I’ve tried to do, all things connected to the metal experience. Having said that, I think that heavy metal is an open door for everybody. They might be curious about the music we enjoy in the shows, the music we go and see together. I think it’s very easy to be converted into a metalhead, if you want to discover the ethics and rules of this wonderful style of music.

In any case, if the colours and patterns are any indication, you seem to want to get away from the traditional imagery of metal…

The great thing about heavy metal music is that is comes in various guises – you’ve got classic metal, death metal, retro metal, grunge metal, black metal, speed metal… I think each of the subgenres of heavy metal have their own tye of aesthetics, in terms of visual. What I’m trying to do is cover a bit of everything. Take a T-shirt like the Cerberus T-shirt, the three-headed dog with the big teeth: that could mean one thing to one type of metal fan. Then take the Metal Goddess T-shirt for girls: that could mean something completely different. I’m trying to cover everything in terms of visuals for the T-shirts, trying to do a bit of everything for everybody’s tastes.

Would you like to extend this project to, say, a whole line of clothes?

If it’s possible, yes. We’re a young company, we have a long way to go. We’re beginning in a very stable manner. It would have been easy to try and to everything at the same time, and I think it would have been a mess. It wouldn’t have been the way I like to work. I like to focus on one idea and get the maximum out of that idea before I move on to the next possibility. T-shirts are a pretty straightforward, acceptable way to introduce the possibility of where we might go in the future.

Metal God Records has been created recentely. As of now, it’s mainly promoting FIGHT and/or your solo albums, but I guess you’re planning on getting new bands on this label. What will be your editorial line, so to speak?

The doors are open now, anybody can submit CDs, DVDs, whatever they want. It took us a while to put all the pieces into place. It’s like a factory, like a conveyor belt of ideas before you put the CD or the DVD in its final packaging. There’s a lot of intensive creativity. It’s not just yourself, you have to make a connection with an outside source to manufacture the CDs, print the booklets… Many parts of the machine have to be worked in together. I think we’ve come to the point now where we can show that we can make good products, as we call it in the music business. Now the doors are open. We’re a small, independent metal label, that will deal exclusively with metal music in all its different styles. If anybody’s listening right now that might be in a metal band looking for a label, please consider Metal God Records. You can easily find out how to get in touch with us by going to robhalford.com. There’s information there regarding where you can send your stuff.

Bands nowadays tend to do everything themselves, distribution and communication included, so the future of record companies seems a little uncertain. Don’t you think it was a bit risky to create one at such a difficult time?

No, I don’t think so. I think you can face difficult times, and then overcome them. I’ve always been a very optimistic person. I think the value that I bring is the brand name: the Metal God is known around the world. As you said, it’s very easy for bands to put together a website, be their own label… But there are thousands and thousands of bands doing that. I think what I can do is give you an opportunity to get into the spotlight, to use my name and all the things I’ve tried to do in heavy metal since it began forty years ago.

« I tried to do everything for my fans that show me as the person I really am. When I’m singing these songs with these strong messages, it’s a way for me to express myself. I’m not trying to convert anybody, I don’t have some kind of an agenda. I’m just talking about things that are important to me in that one part of my life. »
Winter Songs was released a few days ago. You’ve been quoted as saying you always wanted to release a thematic album revolving arond Christmas This theme was already central in one of the singles from FIGHT. Can you tell us about your connection with Christmas?

Like a lot of metalheads, I think it’s a special time of the year that we all like to enjoy and celebrate together, with our families and our loved ones. We all get together at the dinner table, enjoy each other’s company, we have stories to tell and plans for the future that we want to make. That’s always associated with music of some kind, in the background or whatever. It’s the same for me: I’ve always enjoyed the experience, and in my own interpretation it’s an opportunity to make a connection with metal and rock. I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time, as you said, and now it has come true.

Religion and metal do not exactly get on very well, and these two worlds seem to find it difficult to communicate. Are you trying to rebuild a dialogue through this album?

Firstly, I would disagree that religion and metal don’t go together. I don’t think that’s true, I just think that it’s not very much talked about. Some people think that certain elements of metal convey a dark or evil side of things. I think it’s unfair to paint everybody in a bad light. Millions and millions of metal fans have some kind of faith they believe in, it’s just that we don’t talk about it very much. It’s time I made that side of my life open to my fans. I tried to do everything for my fans that show me as the person I really am. When I’m singing these songs with these strong messages, it’s a way for me to express myself. I’m not trying to convert anybody, I don’t have some kind of an agenda. I’m just talking about things that are important to me in that one part of my life.

I heard Winter Songs was supposed to contain only nine songs. It is said you added one song because you hate the number 9. Is there a reason to it? This is question 9, by the way!

That’s an interesting way people look at the things I talk about. I’m just more comfortable with 10, and I think the fans are too, cause that means they get one more song! I don’t like odd numbers, I like even numbers. It’s probably part of a deep Freudian, psychosis thing with me! I don’t like the number 9, nor the number 7 or the number 5, I prefer 2, 4, 6, 8, 10!

Do you still feel the need today to explore the influences you could not use in JUDAS PRIEST’s music, like for example the electro/industrial influences of 2WO? Can we expect any side projects from you in a near future?

No, I’m very happy with where JUDAS PRIEST leads me in metal. We’ve been reunited now for a long time, and everything I do first and foremost is for JUDAS PRIEST. But I still enjoy the opportunities to experiment and to create some things in music that I need to do as a solo performer. That’s the whole aspect of what anybody does as a musician: you’re open to all the possibilities. That’s important to me and I’ll keep doing it.

Speaking of JUDAS PRIEST, you recently played British Steel in its entirety on your American tour, to celebrate the album’s 30th anniversary. How did you live this experience? How did the audience react?

Everybody will be able to judge the reaction when we release the DVD in the spring of 2010, which is the official 30th anniversary of British Steel. It was an incredible experience to play that music live. All music is like a time machine, it takes you back in time, and that’s what it did for a lot of the PRIEST fans, who have been supportig us for many years. It’s also an opportunity for the new metalheads to see JUDAS PRIEST for the first time and see what we look like, how we sound on stage, playing all that great music from that great record. British Steel has become a very classic release, it’s part of the history of heavy metal now. All in all, it was just an amazing experience.

Do you think you will do that kind of thing again with other symbolic JUDAS PRIEST albums?

Yes, but I think we might be too old to do it! We might be dead by the time we com to some of the records!

What type of evolution can we expect from the successor of Nostradamus? Have you already begun to work on it?

We’re having a band meeting in England this Christmas, and we’ll make decisons about what we’re gonna do in 2010. Then we’ll tell all our fans what the plans are gonna be, we’ll make a press release on the JUDAS PRIEST website early next year. At the moment, we don’t really know what we’re gonna do.

Rumour has it that you’ll appear as a guest on the next AVANTASIA album. Is that true?

No, that’s just a rumour.

What are you going to ask from Father Christmas this year?

I’ve been a lucky guy, I have a lot of things in my life that have made me happy. I suppose I could always do with a new leather jacket! A new heavy metal leather jacket would work! You know, I’m just happy to look forward to the annual visit of the heavy metal Father Christmas, and just enjoy the whole experience. Like I said, for me it’s just about being with my family and my friends, and I think that’s the same for all metalheads around the world. So I just wish you all a very great heavy metal Christmas, and a strong 2010. I hope we can see each other live in concert some time next year.

But do you think you deserve a present from Father Christmas ?

No, because I’ve been very bad (laughs)!

Phone interview conducted in November 2009

Transcription by Saff’ & Izzy

Official ROB HALFORD website: http://robhalford.com/[/urlb]


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