That Rob Halford guy really gets around. On October 12, when the first of the Chilean miners was being rescued after 69 days underground, the self-proclaimed “metal god” was in Japan, touring with his quintet Halford.
“I had a couple of days off,” he recalls, on the line from San Diego, “and much like the rest of the world I was glued to the TV screen, watching that human drama unfold. I actually saw the first guy come up to the surface, and as soon as I saw that I thought, ”˜Oh great, it looks like they’re all gonna get rescued,’ so I went and had a bit of sushi.”
Ten days later Halford’s globetrotting ways had him playing for the metalheads of Santiago, Chile. It was definitely time for a shout-out to the miners, so Halford told his producer-guitarist Roy Z that he wanted to dedicate a song to them.
“We quickly put together an acoustic version of ”˜In the Morning’,” he says, “which is a very plaintive love-song kind of thing, but I think it reflected on what those guys—and their families and everybody in general—experienced. So as the first encore we came out and sat down with an acoustic guitar and played it, and the crowd went nuts, you know.”
Halford won’t be offering many plaintive love songs when he plays Vancouver as the opener for Ozzy Osbourne, though. He’ll be focusing on melodic metal tunes from the new Halford album Made of Metal, which aren’t that far removed musically from what he was doing with his other band, Judas Priest, during its early-’80s heyday. But instead of Priest’s K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, he’s got Metal Mike Chlasciak and the aforementioned Roy Z bringing the six-string noise.
“I love lead-guitar players,” he raves. “I always found the lead guitar to be a tremendously exciting instrument. And much like Priest, I’ve got two players that are very different to each other, because they both have their own ways of interpreting what they want to put into a song.”
Judging by the sound of Made of Metal, Halford’s passion for the ear-busting art form hasn’t diminished much since he first strapped on the studded leather in the ’70s. And he tends to agree.
“I’d say it’s as strong as ever, quite honestly. I still feel as passionate—more so when I’m actually singing. I think the relevance of it all makes clear sense when you’re actually performing live in front of your fans.
“Some adjustments do take place, obviously, as you get older,” he adds, “but I’m pleased to say that as I head to my 60th year next year, I’m still on top of it as much as I was when I began.”