If you think Judas Priest is riding quietly or comfortably through his final years, well, as the song goes, you’ve got something else to come.
The iconic British heavy metal band have been celebrating their 50th anniversary, amid Covid disruptions, since 2019. They are also working on a new album, the follow-up to 2018’s ‘Firepower’, and next month the band will receive an award of Musical Excellence from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during its annual induction ceremony. On top of that, leader and self-branded metal god Rob Halford will be releasing a second book in a few weeks.
So things are still moving in Priest’s world, and we found a happy Halford, 71, more than willing to handle things via Zoom from his home near Phoenix…
*Since the fall tour is “the final leg of Priest’s 50th anniversary tour of North America”, according to Halford, the band “overhauled the setlist extensively”. This includes some songs the band haven’t played in decades as well as a determined nod to the 40th anniversary of their double-platinum hit “Screaming For Vengeance” and hit “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.” “. “We’re going to be playing some songs by ear from ‘Screaming For Vengeance’ – not exclusively from that album but also stuff that was floating around it. We’ve been jamming to a lot of stuff, so it’s really new and fresh because so many people have seen us pass before.
* On November 1, Halford will release “Biblical: Heavy Metal Scriptures,” a sequel to his 2019 memoir “Confess.” Written with his “Confess” collaborator Ian Gittins, Halford says he wanted to take a different approach to his musical experiences. “It’s kind of like a 101 of rock ‘n’ roll and metal. We’ve used the Holy Bible as a model, with its revelations and temptations and this, that and the other and we’ve just gone through all of these different aspects of life in rock ‘n’ roll and metal – managers, agents, promoters, tourist buses. It’s full of the usual anecdotes and funny stories and so on. I think there are a lot of ideas, especially maybe for younger bands or anyone interested in what goes on behind the leather and metal curtain. It was a joy to get together.
*Four days after the book’s release, Judas Priest will receive a Music Achievement Award at this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony to be held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and will be filmed for broadcast later on HBO. “When you look at the talent roster in there, it’s absolutely extraordinary,” Halford says. “Being a part of this is like, wow… And glory hallelujah, there’s another metal band now. This is the blessing we’ve all been waiting for. I think it validates the true musical journey that has been on Judas Priest since ‘Rocka Rolla’ (in 1974). We’re a band that’s taken you through so many different dimensions of metal. We’ve always called ourselves a classic metal band, but we’re a hard band to pin down. minute we can be your ‘Turbo Lover’ and then we can be your ‘Painkiller’, and how amazing it is for a band to really seek out those opportunities in the heavy metal genre.
* Priest will perform at the ceremony, reuniting with former members such as drummer Les Binks and estranged guitarist KK Downing. But Halford expects it to be a happy night along the way. “They have every right to be part of the event. I am very happy for everyone. There is no bitterness. There is no angst. There are no such things lying around. If there is, you have to push it all away. You need to put it aside and just understand, accept and respect this wonderful opportunity and what it means in terms of recognition and celebration… I just want a selfie with Dolly Parton!
* Halford says Judas Priest has “so many memories of playing in Detroit,” but the one who stays with him is a ghost he says “still haunts me at the Fox Theater. Every time I play there, I have the distinct smell of people smoking on my face. I always run to my (security) guy and I’m like, ‘There’s someone smoking! This is supposed to be a non- So they’re going to check and there’s nobody smoking, but it happens two or three times during the show. So there’s a smoking spirit at Fox, every time we play there. But I I’m good with it. I’m strongly into all that spiritual stuff, so I welcome it – as long as I know what’s going on.”
Judas Priest and Queensryche perform Saturday, October 22 at the Masonic Temple Theatre, 500 Temple St., Detroit. Doors 6:30 p.m. 313-548-1320 or themasonic.com.