Q&A: Rob Halford of Judas Priest
The colorful frontman talks about his new clothing line and his feel-good holiday album. Honest.
During his main gig as lead singer for metal masters Judas Priest, Rob Halford prowls the stage in black leather and wails about Jack the Ripper. So no, he’s not the first dude you’d think would record a holiday album — or design t-shirts.
But that’s exactly what he’s doing. Halford’s Metal God Apparel line will launch in Spring 2010 with a collection of 13 rock’n’roll t-shirts. Don’t worry, headbangers, the tees are plenty evil looking.
You can get your Halford fix before that though. On October 29th, the iconic frontman will release his first solo album in seven years, Halford 3: Winter Songs (Metal God), a collection of holiday-themed originals and Christmas classics like “Oh Holy Night” and “Come All Ye Faithful.”
We’re not making this up.
Halford spoke with SPIN during a recent stop in New York City.
What would the Rob Halford who recorded (1982’s metal classic) Screaming for Vengeance think of the Rob Halford of 2009, busy designing t-shirts and recording holiday songs?
I think he’d be happy to know he got this far virtually unscathed. I’ve got a lot of scars but I’m still in pretty good shape. I don’t think much has changed in terms of what I am and what I get to do in this wonderful life. I’m still excited by a lot of things and get to act on them.
Have you always been interested in designing clothing?
Everything that you’ve seen me wear over the years comes from sitting down with the people who make my clothes and putting the designs together. I’ve always been interested in clothing. I’m not a fashionista, but I enjoy wearing cool clothes so it seemed like a natural thing to do. It’s also a good extension for my Metal God production company. We want to be a broad-based platform for all production ideas — whether it be music or DVDs or clothing.
Was it difficult to avoid the cliché of heavy metal style? Stuff like pentagrams and gothic lettering?
We want to provide something that everyone can relate to. Tremendous amounts of forethought went into the launch phase, so the imagery carries a rock and roll spirit — it’s edgy, it’s exciting to look at, it’s vibrant — but the appeal is broad-based. We want to be very mainstream.
So there are no plans to put out Rob Halford-brand leather chaps?
Who knows?! In my gay world it’s all fashion. [Halford came out in 1998.] It’s all what are you wearing? Where are you going out tonight? Blah blah blah. I don’t mean that to be stereotypical! Anything’s possible though.
Tell me about the holiday album. You’ve wanted to do this for a while?
Putting this side of me onto an album is something I’ve wanted to do forever. When the idea first came out, it wasn’t like, “Let’s do ‘Do Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’.” No, I’m not going to do that. We been very selective in picking some beautiful, timeless classics and giving them some great heavy arrangements.
So ideally, you’d like the album to be playing on Christmas morning when the kids wake up and open their presents?
That would be a joy. People like Bruce Springsteen and George Michael have done great things with Christmas music and and I would love to be in their company. When the songs finally hit, I think people are going to be surprised.
Last question: How much living after midnight do you still do?
[Laughs] Not as much as I used to! I fall asleep watching Turner Classic movies at three o’clock in the morning.