Interview: Rob Halford

The Metal God comes to Minneapolis.

by Conrad Schoenleber

WHAT: Rob Halford and Ozzy Osbourne

WHERE: Target Center âÄì 600 1st Ave N.

WHEN: Sun. Dec 12 âÄì 7:30 p.m.

COST: $29.50-$79.50

                                Rob Halford has been a contributor to the metal scene for the past 36 years, and at the age of 59, heâÄôs still touring full time. With a new album released on Oct. 5, Halford continues to release music that stays true to his metal roots. His Minneapolis show with Ozzy Osbourne will be the last of a nationwide tour. A&E got a chance to talk with the Judas Priest wailer to discuss touring, self-consciousness and the standoff nature of the metal community.

HowâÄôs the tour been going?

This is the third time weâÄôve gotten to go out, actually, in the US and Canada. ItâÄôs been tremendously rewarding connecting with the fans who have been supporting us. I couldnâÄôt be happier than to be with my mate Ozzy.

WeâÄôve known each other for years and I think we appeal to a similar kind of metal head. When I come see you in a few days, all my Halford fans will be waiting to see the band play and my Priest fans will be there. You come off stage and you just feel well done.

ItâÄôs been said that metal, like much of rock âÄònâÄô roll, is a dying genre.

I donâÄôt agree with that. I think itâÄôs just changed its shape a little bit like it does every decade. IâÄôve been involved with rock âÄônâÄô roll in all of its many descriptions for nearly 40 years and IâÄôve always been excited to see what comes around. Why are people saying that? ThatâÄôs quite a big statement.

When you talk about rock âÄônâÄô roll and artists that define it, we come up with the same specific names. You, Ozzy, Slash, etc. The same bands are defining a type of music that is still very popular now. DoesnâÄôt that seem stagnant?

I think thereâÄôs a lot of exciting things going on, theyâÄôre just not in the big arena settings like they used to be. In the old days, record companies and radio stations would dictate what fans would be listening to and checking out. ThatâÄôs completely changed now. To some extent thatâÄôs a good thing but some great things happened with the labels.

The agents, managers and promoters put together some fantastic things. The labels just donâÄôt have the money now to put together and stage a gigantic act. It will be interesting to see how after this whole thing plays out what will be the next huge thing.

The metal scene and fan base is notoriously standoffish, why do you think that is?

ItâÄôs because itâÄôs very extreme. Music is not different from a lot of things in life. If your knee-jerk reaction to something is, âÄúI donâÄôt like your music, I donâÄôt like your t-shirt, I donâÄôt like your hairstyle,âÄù you put up a wall trying to fight that indignant rejection, and I think thatâÄôs the type of reaction that metal creates, just because itâÄôs a particularly niche type of experience.

Personally I find it very enjoyable. You canâÄôt push it aside just because you donâÄôt like it.

YouâÄôre regularly referred to as a metal god. Does that ever make you feel self-conscious?

My fans take that term quite seriously, so I do as well. From their point of view itâÄôs an acknowledgement of what they want to call me, because of what IâÄôve achieved. It probably makes me work harder than anything else. I canâÄôt go around thinking that thatâÄôs who I am, but itâÄôs always in the back of my mind and it makes me determined to do the best I can do with my music. When I walk out on stage I donâÄôt want to disappoint people. ThatâÄôs your obligation as a musician to go onstage and give people what theyâÄôre entitled to, and to some extent, what they expect.