By: Tracy Forsyth-Lundy
Although Rob Halford is always going to be known best as the lead singer for legendary Heavy Metal band Judas Priest, he also have a strong solo career outside of Judas Priest. On September 27th, 2010 his brand new debut album ‘Made of Metal’ was released and is blowing the Metal world away!
Produced by Rob Z. and recorded during 2009 and 2010, ‘Made of Metal’ is absolutely packed with lyrics and music written by Rob Halford himself. In a press release Halford was quoted saying “It is probably the most personal release of my solo career; in terms of my writing and performances.”
This past month I had the pleasure of sitting down with the God of Metal himself to discuss the path to this album, the content of the album as well as his personal feelings about the entire experience. I have to admit, it was an interview I have waited for my entire writing career, and was blown away by his sincerity, kindness and total honesty.
TFL: Hi Rob!
RH: Hi Tracy! I hear it’s a brisk 40 degrees there today!
TFL: Yeah, we have 2 cm of snow on the north side of the city this morning.
RH: Well I tell you, something; we’re going to be melting everything when we come up there with Ozzy!
TFL: Oh yeah! I can’t wait Rob! You know I’m SO excited for the release of your new album Rob I really am.
RH: Thank you very much, thank you.
TFL: When ‘Nostradamus’ came out I hit the floor! I was just awe struck by it Rob, it’s a masterpiece for Judas Priest, it really is. I actually got to see you when you came through Calgary on the Monsters of Rock tour.
RH: Oh right! Yeah that’s right, that’s the last time we were in Calgary.
TFL: and it was with Ozzy!
RH: Yeah! Well this time we will be inside the building not outside. We had a great time & the fans were so responsive, we had a wonderful day out of course we’ll be replicating that when we both come up to see you in November.
TFL: You’re known as the Metal God Rob.
RH: Yeah, the fans call me that yeah.
TFL: Is that a hard name to live up to some days?
RH: I take it seriously & it’s a fun name. It comes with a little bit of something extra which means that you know, I think more about what I do as far as variety with recording and performing on stage. It’s a great mantle you know to be called, that the fans have given me. It makes me do a better job I think.
TFL: Your new album ‘Made of Metal’ is being released on September 27th, which is coming up really fast here! You have 14 new songs, how long did you plan this album?
RH: Well, like I said it’s a bit of a story. When I knew that Priest was going to be taking a year off, I thought well I can’t do that I can’t take a year off. I don’t think I’ve had a vacation in about 30 years, I would just get bored sitting on a beach & it would drive me nuts. So I thought well here’s an opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done for several years & that’s to put the Halford band back out on the road. Once the promoters heard about that my agent started to confirm venues, then it was just a real sense of of creativity and I just got very excited about it, and generally when I get excited about something all the ideas just started to flood out and that’s what happened with the music. The 10 or 11 tracks I composed myself came together in about 2 weeks & it’s crazy the way that the music was just pouring out so to speak. We immediately went into kind of demo stage as we call it and I brought Roy down to San Diego, we went into a room at a studio we use called Signature Sound and that was it. We put the plot down, it was a very quick album to make really and I think you can sense that because the songs are…some of them are a bit adventurous musically but the vast majority of them are full of things that I love about Heavy Metal. That’s all about the riffs, guitar licks and melodies and about the vocals. So those things generally should be fast and spontaneous that’s the way I work.
TFL: Is it difficult to get your creative side away from the Judas Priest mentality when you start to work on another project?
RH: I don’t really know, I mean I think these songs are just everything that I love about Heavy Metal. Some of the attitude of the songs have a very kind of a classic vibe about them you know like ‘Hell Razor’ & ‘No Tomorrow’ they to me have got this fantastic kind of 70’s bluesy metal type of thing that came out of the UK. Then songs you know, that are later on in the record like ‘I Know We Stand a Chance’ & ‘We Own the Night’ are kind of New Metal; I don’t know what it is but it’s a little bit of textures from more of different places. You know, I don’t really think about it that much I just write what makes me feel good and I think that’s the best way to do it.
TFL: Rob I think that’s why your fans respond so well because we have an idea of what to expect; not to bring ‘Nostradamus’ back in but I wasn’t expecting THAT Rob. You really caught me with that one.
RH: (laughing) Yeah that was a REAL masterpiece wasn’t it! That was a very complex piece of work, it took a tremendous amount of effort and energy from a lot of people besides the band to make it happen.
TFL: Now ‘Made of Metal’ was released on your own label Metal God Records, is life as a musician easier when you own your own label Rob?
RH: Ummm, I would say it’s about the same really in terms of what you need to do as a record label to bring a piece of product out in to the music arena. There is a standard set of things that you have to work through to make the final product happen. Of course, when you have your own label you probably do have the luxury of a little bit more control. Well you do have more control (chuckles) you have total control really but at the same time the essence of what the label is about is pretty much the same no matter where you go. It’s a great feeling, I put this label together certainly not for myself; I put this label together as a small independent Heavy Metal label that will be promoting and help new talent to grow. We’re still a baby label and we’ve got a long way to go yet, at least we’re making stuff that people can see & feel and go ‘Oh yeah it’s real’. We’ve got a number of items out there and I think people can see that we’re real and credible; you can believe in us and we’ll do a good job for you if we make a deal.
TFL: Well, you may be a baby label but the owner has a pedigree so that speaks volumes.
RH: Wisdom is important in the music business.
TFL: Wisdom AND experience. With wisdom comes the experience and you can sit with some of these rookie bands and say “No, sorry mate that’s not going to fly and let me tell you why” and they can listen to you & understand because you’ve been there done that and got the t-shirt.
TFL: So if they don’t want to believe you, then perhaps they don’t belong on your label.
RH: It is all very much a belief system; everybody has to believe in each other and support each other & give it 100% you can’t afford to slack off.
TFL: Does it irritate you when bands approach you and say “but we are a metal band” then you listen to their music and go “NO! you’re NOT Heavy Metal…you’re maybe Classic Rock or Hard Rock you are NOT Heavy Metal”. Do have problems with bands like that?
RH: Ummm, no not really. I think that, you know there has just been a show on here on a network called VH1 called 100 Greatest Artists of all time.
TFL: Yeah, I saw that!
RH: Ok, well I was one of the guests on the panel and I was picking all these different bands that I like & they were working through this list of 100 musicians. Before they went to a break, they said ‘when we come back we’re going to talk about one of the greatest Heavy Metal bands of the ages ‘Van Halen’; and I thought…wait a minute I don’t really think Van Halen is Heavy Metal. Van Halen, who I love is more like Hard Rock.
TFL: Are you completely involved with merchandise & artwork for your albums? Are you 100% involved?
RH: Yes! I’m the thumbs up guy…or the thumbs down guy.
TFL: So when you go in do you have; I don’t know if you’re like me Rob but when we renovate in our home I can look at my Husband in an empty room and go “this is what it is going to look like, this is how the room is going to flow” and he kind of looks at me like I’m on glue because it’s bare walls.
RH: (laughing) Well that’s because you have a creative mind and I think that’s how we are as creative people. We have foresight and foresight is a very valuable thing when you’re a creative person. If you’re working with people that can understand that great things can happen.
TFL: Now you’re doing 12 cities with Ozzy, 8 of which are Canadian. What is it about Canada that keeps bringing you back?
RH: All of the Metalheads! There are so many Metalheads through out all of Canada that personally don’t get enough quite frankly I think more people should make an effort and visit. Canada isn’t just about Toronto and Vancouver, so Ozzy thought about that and wants to take his show to as many of the Canadian Metalheads as we can find.
TFL: Going back a few albums there is a track ‘Forgotten Generation’ that sticks with me for many reasons. Now that’s the beautiful thing about lyrics, they can be interpreted in many ways, was this written towards your generation, a specific generation or is just a generic ‘here it is folks – take it as it is’?
RH: I think I’m trying to talk to everybody that feels that you know; I look back at my generation from like the 60’s and that was a pretty important generation culturally as much as everything else in the world was in a really crazy stage in the 60s & 70s. Yeah, it was probably selfish like you seen but I’ve become an older person and I’m very lucky because of what i do and there are people you see walking down the street and you would never think that they are a Metalhead. So I’m addressing people like that, I’m just saying we’re here..don’t ignore us..we’re here & don’t forget it!
Such honesty as well as experience and wisdom truly does make Rob Halford THE Metal God indeed! I could have chatted with him for hours, he has such diversity in his conversation and knowledge of so much more than just music and it’s an interview I will remember for my entire life.
‘Made of Metal’ is not just a title to his new album, it truly is his way of life and we thank you Rob for your decades of passionate music, powerful lyrics and immaculate vocals! All hail Rob Halford!
Head out to your local music store, jump online & do what you do to get his fabulous new album ‘Made of Metal’ it’s money well spent rockers!
Many thanks to Rob for spending time with us at Backstage Live Magazine & we wish him all the best on his tour and with his new album. FULL HORNS UP!!