recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford
. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.Ultimate-Guitar.com
: What prompted you to record a Christmas album in "Halford III: Winter Songs"
Well, I'd never done it before, so that was the main reason. Where I am
in my metal life, I just look for things that interest me, and try to
find music that I haven't explored previously — "Winter Songs"
was a chance to do that. It's that time of the year as well, being a
Brit, even though this record is for everybody around the world, and
for all different faiths and everything. We all like that time around
December; it means a lot to a lot of people, and it certainly means a
lot to me. I was able to find time to record "Winter Songs"
, and there you go. The album's all ready, and about to launch.
Have you heard the first two tracks, Robert
: "Get Into the Spirit"
and "We Three Kings"
, yeah. Halford
: "Winter Songs"
is a little bit more than that, but with the first couple of tracks, I
just wanted to send out a signal to metalheads that it is a record for
metal fans more than anything in the world. The album goes off into
some really cool, different places musically, and is a really
interesting record to listen to.Ultimate-Guitar.com
: Was "Winter Songs"
in the works for quite some time? Halford
: No, not really. In "Winter Songs"
liner notes, it says that the album was put together over 2008 and
2009, but that doesn't mean it was a two-year project. The record was
just bits and pieces like a jigsaw puzzle coming together. I've been
out on the road with PRIEST
for almost the last two years, so it was a case of finding time for me to record my vocals. Also, the rest of the guys in the HALFORD
band had to find time in their busy schedules as well, and more
importantly, we just had to find the right material. I wasn't going to
record "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
(laughs) — that's
already been done to death. I just wanted to find songs that were not
overly popular, songs that could take the right kind of treatment in
the arrangements. Trying to get the right things together was just a
long process, but in the end, "Winter Songs"
is seven songs that have been rearranged and produced by Roy Z
and myself, and then three original tracks that we've put together. I've been listening to "Winter Songs"
off and on since it was finished about a month ago, and I try to listen
to it with an open mind, even though it's a music project that I'm
close to. I think "Winter Songs"
is great, a really, really
nice record — if nice is the right word. The album is just for the
experience of this time of year, and is like everything you do. When
people hear the music, they'll make their decision on whether they're
going to like it or not, but I feel good about it. I feel really good
about it. Ultimate-Guitar.com
: Do you feel that people can listen to "Winter Songs"
all year round then? Although the two songs I heard, "Get Into the Spirit"
and "We Three Kings"
, are Christmas
songs, you can listen to them whenever really, and they still sound really good. Halford
: Yeah. That's a cool... Yeah, why not? Some of "Winter Songs"
tracks specifically use the Christmas time reference, but there are
others that don't have that. On its musical merits, there are some
songs that you could enjoy at any time you wanted to enjoy them. Having
said that, my specific intention was to make a record that you could
enjoy at that time of the year, and enjoy year after year. That comes
from my background, when you think about it. I don't write music that's
disposable, or has a short shelf life so to speak. I write music that
you can enjoy, and take with you wherever you go, depending on whatever
mood you're in. Having said that, "Winter Songs"
is a holiday release. Ultimate-Guitar.com
Is there a reason why you opted to cover lesser known tracks, as
opposed to opting to cover more obvious tracks? Like, I don't know, "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"
or "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer"
and all those type of well-known Christmas songs? Halford
: Yeah. Those songs are fun, and they're lightweight. They create a certain kind of emotion, but I wanted "Winter Songs"
to just be a little bit deeper. There's a couple of cool tracks on the album, like "When Christmas Comes for Everyone"
I was totally thinking of the U.K. time. There's a very exclusive
British vibe that you get around Christmas, because that's what I am.
I'm a Brit, and I carry that in my blood. To me, that song is a very
British feeling, sounding track. Another one, called "I Don't Care If It's Christmas Night"
, was kind of inspired by the Chuck Berry
type of experience, and the way that Chuck
has written his music over the years. I just went into that frame of
mind. That song tells the story of how you're struggling to get home in
time to be with the family at Christmas, and you can't cos the
weather's f****** ***t. You get stuck in traffic, and all that kind of
thing. I think that's another dilemma we all have - last minute
Christmas shopping (laughs). It drives you mental. But how can I put
that into a song? That's the message of that track, but some of the
other material is quite big; big guitars, big drums, and big choral
voices. All the other material has some very, very strong moments
: Were there any songs recorded for "Winter Songs"
, but left off the final track listing? Halford
: No. In fact, we were listening to the nine completed tracks, and I said to Roy
, "We need another track. I don't like this number nine. It just feels wonky to me. I think we need another track". Roy
agreed, so I picked up a guitar, and went into the studio. Half an hour
later, I came up with this song which turned out to be quite strong,
actually. It's called "Light of the World"
. We then had our ten
tracks, so there was nothing left over. It was all used up. I had such
a great time, and so much fun recording "Winter Songs"
was no stress, and no pressure. I had such a really cool time recording
the album that I'm already thinking of maybe recording another one next
year. "Volume 2". If you search, there's a lot of material out there. Ultimate-Guitar.com
: What do you feel the future holds for the HALFORD
will always be the band that leads me in my life, but I still have that
streak of creativity that I need to find an outlet for. That's what the
band provides me with. I don't think PRIEST
could've done this Christmas'y kind of record — it wouldn't have been right, because that isn't what PRIEST
is about. My solo activities allow me to do that, and anything else
that I might choose to do in the future. It has to be useful, Robert
. I can't just go banging out songs that I can do with PRIEST
— what's the point? I need to be able to find music and songs that need
a solo touch to them. I still want to explore those possibilities. The
great thing about music is you can get up any day of the week, and you
can find a brand new way of expressing yourself as a musician. It's a
never-ending journey in that respect, when you think about it. It's
just as exciting for me now in PRIEST
as it was when I first
started in metal, and it's just as exciting for me now with the solo
ideas that I've got swirling around me. I haven't lost that passion.
I'm fifty-eight, but I still have that streak of creativity in me, and
determination, to keep working into the metal future.
Read the entire interview from Ultimate-Guitar.com