Rob Halford is not a fan of idle hands. While Judas Priest takes a short hiatus, their leading man is heading out on the 2010 Ozzfest Tour with his band Halford, sharing the stage with Ozzy Osborne and Motley Crue. Halford will be performing original music along with some songs from Rob’s Fight era and of course some Judas Priest tunes. Confirming that Halford is his priority right now, the band recently offered up their new single “The Mower”.
When he’s not holding court as the reigning Metal God, Rob Halford has his hands full with his own record label, and clothing line. I guess when you’ve been at it for over forty years, these things just come naturally. But do these extra-curricular activities point towards Halford hanging up his mic for good any time soon? Never – according to Halford “Performing is like a drug to me, I just can’t stop doing it.”
TWRY recently talked to Rob about Ozzfest, being on the other side of the record business with his label Metal God Records, and of course the late, great Ronnie James Dio.
Interviewed by: Roger Scales
Let’s start by talking about the brand new Halford single “The Mower”. Was this song left over from the initial Halford run from 2000-2002 or is it a brand new song?
It’s fairly new. While I’ve been back with the band that still leads me in my life, Judas Priest, the guys in the Halford band (especially guitarist Roy Z and lead guitarist Metal Mike Chlasciak) have always been sending ideas back and forth to each other with the notion of putting together some new material. Roy Z is in LA and Mike is in NJ. “The Mower” came together in the past year or so. Halford is definitely a collaborative effort between all of us and each of us has an equal say in the final outcome. So when the opportunity arose this year to do some more work and reconnect with the band, “The Mower” was the first song that was nearly complete so it made sense to release it as the first new single of 2010. It is by no means a direct reflection of the rest of the material. In fact it’s probably the most extreme piece on the record. The rest of the new music is quite different.
Will you have the same touring lineup in 2010 as you had on the past Halford tours supporting Resurrection (2000) and Crucible (2002)?
The latest lineup is one fans will remember – Roy Z on rhythm guitar, joined by Metal Mike on lead guitar, Mike Davis on bass guitar and Bobby Jarzombek on drums and of course myself on vocals.
It must be tough to pick a set list every night at this point in your career? Can the fans expect to hear material not only from Halford but from Fight and Judas Priest as well?
The majority of the set is Halford material because that’s the whole object of the exercise; to connect with the music that you are responsible for. It’s a simple approach really and I think the fans expect that. At the same time we have had the opportunity to look at some of the songs from those two Fight records. It’s amazing that those two Fight records (and also the first two Halford records) are still very active in the online music circuit and you’ll still hear those tracks on Sirius XM radio and other satellite metal outlets. War of the Words (1993) especially, boy that record keeps popping in and out of the top 100 iTunes metal charts. As an artist, often times you don’t have control of what your music is doing and where it’s going and how people are reacting to it. So there will be some Fight tunes here and there in the set. If you want Priest then wait and get the real deal in 2011. We will be coming back to Boston probably sometime next year.
Will there be a Halford IV and if so when can we expect it to be released?
We are trying to get an exact release date but probably sometime in October 2010. We know that it will happen sometime in that month. You think I’d know by now because I AM the label!! (laughs) We have so many of the final pieces to put together before we head out on the road for Ozzfest in a couple of weeks so it’s still a work in progress. Like most record labels we have to work feverishly to make sure we meet our drop date and get the album out on time. We should have an exact date in a few weeks.
Speaking of the holidays, last year you released a holiday album. Did you ever consider playing any holiday shows in support of Halford III: Winter Songs?
The thing about that Roger is that I have no expectations now. I never take anything for granted. I’m always very grateful to the reaction and the response that the fans give me, because rock n roll is still chaos. That’s what it was always meant to be and will continue to be. It’s not like it’s a secure job by any stretch of the imagination. You never know what’s going to happen next. So when I released that record, which by the way was somewhat self indulgent really, because it was my feelings expressed musically for that time of the year. I honestly had no idea how it would be received and on the whole it was very strong and positive. I did imply that I would like to do a follow up this year to Winter Songs but I don’t think it’s too practical with the schedule ahead of us. But we are mulling around the idea of playing a handful of dates just playing that holiday music exclusively. I think it can be done. As soon as we have confirmation we will post the dates on the Halford website.
Your label, Metal God Records, has done quite an amazing job reissuing several of your past projects including Halford and Fight. It appears that you have taken a very active role in making sure the fans are getting what they ask for and the label has done wonders in “Deliverin’ the Goods”. Your thoughts?
Thank you Roger! Again running the label is such a different world than creating the music. You really have to be able to as you say “Deliver the Goods” by making sure your physical product is superior to most and most importantly that the material is in demand. Which fortunately is still in high demand in my world. We are always trying to go the extra mile with whatever we put out and I think we have proved ourselves with some top notch reissues, live material and bonus tracks.
Is Metal God Records in active pursuit of other bands and projects to work with?
All the time. I always take every opportunity to let everybody know the door is always open. Send us your packages and we will listen to it. It takes a lot of time and that’s the difficulty in today’s music world of “I want to be famous now!! I want a reality tv show now!!” But that’s not the way it works. Everything takes time even though it appears that an act or performer just appears out of nowhere. All the great things in music have had a lot of care and attention put into them before they have been exposed to the general public and we are no exception. I come from a background of being with labels that nurture and put a lot of time and effort into the creative side of the band. We will do the same.
You keep a very active schedule of touring and recording and now label honcho!! How do you keep it from becoming too overwhelming?
I’m blessed to be surrounded by really talented people that have the same goals as I do. They have excited me and they all believe in it like I do. They all want to see something good come out of it at the end of the day. It’s not “Rob Halford” it’s “Halford” and I just have the greatest set of people around me at this time.
What is your fondest memory of Ronnie James Dio?
When you were in Ronnie’s company he always made you feel special. He always talked about what you were doing, what was happening in your life, wow what a great record you just put out or man what a great tour you just came off. He was so selfless and that will be his legacy; a really loving and caring person. I still can’t believe he’s gone. That’s the way it is in rock n roll. You see people and every now and again and you expect to see them every year or every two years time. Fortunately we have Ronnie’s music which will live forever but I still am having a hard time comprehending that I won’t see him at a show, or backstage or at the hotel just catching up. For the fans he was like a friend; he didn’t have the rock n roll arrogance that some performers do and he made all the fans feel special like he was your friend.
Beyond the confirmed Ozzfest dates in August will there be any additional touring in 2010?
Yeah, we have a calendar with TBC all over it and TBA all over it! So those wheels are in motion. Once we get the exact dates we will update the Halford website. We are planning on remaining active right up to the holiday season. Getting Halford back together has been kind of a surprise (a blessing really) with Judas Priest essentially taking a year off after being out on the road fairly consistently for the past eight years. I was just real fortunate that this was perfect timing (in a sense) to reconnect with some of the ideas that have been brewing for the Halford band. It keeps me active. I can’t stand not doing anything, it drives me nuts! Here I am back out on the road again with some new material on the horizon.
Rob is there anything left for you to accomplish as a performer, singer, songwriter?
Hell ya! Why else would I keep doing what I’m doing? Performing is like a drug to me I just can’t stop doing it. I’m always thinking about the next song, or the next show or the next record. I’m sure there will be a time when I will have to hang up the microphone but I have never felt the need to walk away. I can’t walk away from it. I love being on stage. I love to write and sing that side of me hasn’t lingered one bit since I started my career almost 40 years ago. I never thought at this point I’d still be in the business but I’m extremely grateful to the fans for keeping me here. I expect to stay in the metal mix for as long as possible.
Good luck on the road Rob and we’ll see you in Mansfield MA on Aug 24 the day before your 59th b-day!
Cheers Roger. The Ozzfest tour is going to be a fantastic lineup. Spread the word to all the metal maniacs to join in on the fun!
14 – San Bernardino, CA – San Manuel Amphitheater
17 – Tinley Park, IL – First Midwest Bank Amphitheater
19 – Burgettstown, PA – First Niagara Pavilion
21 – Hartford, CT – Comcast Theater
22 – Camden, NJ – Susquehanna Bank Center
24 – Mansfield, MA – Comcast Center