Exclusive: Judas Priest's Rob Halford on calling Arizona his home, career goals & more
Formed in 1969 in West Bromwich, England, Judas Priest has sold over 50 million albums to date. Still playing arenas and major festivals around the world, Judas Priest's most recent studio album -- 2018's Firepower -- is considered to be the finest album from the British musical legends in years, with recent honors won from the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards, the Metal Storm Awards, and the Planet Rock Awards; Firepower would ultimately land in the "top 5" of 17 different countries.
Currently the quintet -- as comprised of vocalist Rob Halford, bassist Ian Hill, drummer Scott Travis and guitarists Andy Sneap and Richie Faulkner, with recurring tour appearances from guitarist Glenn Tipton -- is in the midst of yet another world tour. The North American tour of the moment kicked off at Hollywood, Florida's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on May 3rd and is scheduled to run through June 29th at Las Vegas, Nevada's The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford by phone about the upcoming tour, future career goals and more. Highlights from the interview are below, while the full chat is scheduled to appear on a future episode of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast. In the meantime, tour dates and more Judas Priest information can be found online at www.judaspriest.com.
Where are you calling from today?
Rob Halford: I'm calling you from my beautiful home in Paradise Valley in Phoenix where it's just 100 degrees... It's been interesting to go through the last few weeks. Here to go from chilly, chilly nights... And now we're working to triple-digit time, so I'm about to leave shortly and head over to Florida and and escape the desert for a bit...
I remember seeing video of you singing the national anthem at a Diamondbacks game around 20 years ago. When did you first move to Arizona?
Rob Halford: Oh wow, yeah. That's so cool that you asked about that, Darren, because let me think... I remember how quickly that came about but it was a very special special moment, wasn't it? That venue is phenomenal. I've been there [in Phoenix] for years. The Diamondbacks are doing pretty good at the moment...
It's a magical place for me, it's a bit like my heavy metal Shangri-La... I saw on the news last night that Maricopa County is the largest growing county in the United States right now, and that's quite spectacular. I can sense that when I drive around town in 2019, as opposed to 1981, you can tell the vast difference. It's a great place, a wonderful place... I'm what we call a "desert rat." So I split my life between the two places and I love to be in Phoenix when the opportunity arises.
You're not the only heavy metal legend or hard rock legend that lives around that area. I believe Dave Mustaine is around there and I know Alice Cooper grew up around there. What is it that you think that that attracts you know the hard rock legends to specifically the Phoenix area?
Rob Halford: Well we're a simple commute to Los Angeles... We are literally in the middle of a desert and there's just something very attractive about that. A musician's creativity, I think. It's hard to describe but the great state of Arizona is a beautiful place. I mean, you get in the car and drive a couple of hours north of there and things start to cool down as you get into the high country... up to Flagstaff, Prescott, Sedona, the beautiful Grand Canyon. It's just got a lot of things going for it in many many ways.
But yeah, there's a thriving community here musically and otherwise. So it's still got a little little bit about what's left of the embodiment of the Wild Wild West. There's very little of that left in the United States that I remember when I first came here in the late 70s. So yeah, good things happening in Phoenix right now .
So in closing, Rob, any last words for the kids?
Rob Halford: Oh yeah. Keep listening to metal (laughs) -- it's the best feeling in the world. It's just a thrill. And if there's any young musicians or any kind of musician, if you've got the opportunity to be in any kind of band at any kind of level, cherish it, because it's the greatest thing in the world. Being in a band and jamming together in a rehearsal room, or the next level when you're playing to a bunch of people who have come to see you, it's brilliant, it's beautiful. I send my good wishes to all of my fellow musicians, wherever they may be.