Rob HallfordRob Halford is 'Locked and Loaded'
By Naughty Mickie
Photos by Keith Durflinger

Rob Halford. The name is synonymous with Judas Priest, but the originator of metal sound has come of his own. Halford is back in the mainstream with "Resurrection," an awesome release harkening back to the days when rock was hard and music was tough.

I'm sitting with a steaming cup of coffee and pecking away at my computer when the phone rings. I answer to hear the warm voice of Halford.

"I'm slowly getting my mind and body going," Halford teases.

He then describes in detail his "rock and roll morning" of sipping Starbuck's and looking out at a nearby lake. It's around noon where Halford is, in Ohio, and he's taking things slowly, as he will be performing later tonight with Iron Maiden and Queensryche.

Halford is absolutely charming as he shares good news he has just received. "Resurrection" has hit #2 in the international charts, losing to a compilation dance album. He laughs at the irony of the situation, but is pleased because this will give him the opportunity to headline shows in Europe.

If you have seen Halford's recent tour, you may notice that it is very simple compared with his previous concerts. Gone are the motorcycles and wild stage antics; only good solid metal is in their stead.

"I wanted to get back to the place where I could display all the great things that the voice can do and to show what metal represents," says Halford. "Next year I will be celebrating 30 years of head banging."

Halford started singing as a schoolboy in England. He spent time in school choirs and productions. After finishing school, he worked as a lighting technician at The Grand Theatre. But, good for us, the stage called him out from behind the scenes.

"Music was always my calling," says Halford. "I receive a lot of personal pleasure and satisfaction from singing... it is a soulful moment."

Halford never went the usual path of vocalists. He never had any vocal training, instead he created his own unique style of singing.

"It was very much a self-teaching experience. When we began, metal was in its infancy." Halford says confidently, "I was something of an innovator."

Halford takes his art seriously, though, he approaches each concert like an athlete, making sure to get plenty of rest. He also doesn't drink or use drugs. But unlike the usual school of thought, Halford has his own way of warming up his voice.

"About two minutes before I go on, I scream through the first verse," Halford admits. He explains that, for him, it is easier to sing "all out" in a high register, rather than run scales or other vocal techniques.

Off-stage, you might find it hard to recognize the "Metal God."

"Outside of music, I'm very kind of low-key, flat and boring," laughs Halford.

He has three homes- one in England, one in Arizona and an apartment in San Diego, California. He also enjoys Amsterdam, Holland.

As for Arizona, it's no secret that Halford hangs with some major players in the music industry, such as Alice Cooper, Dave Mustain (Megadeth) and Maynard from Tool. He feels quite at home in the desert, saying, "It's a very special part of America." Halford adds that he likes the scene of San Diego and has some very nice friends there too.

He likes hitting the open road on his 1981 customized Harley Davidson Lowrider, which is featured on the cover of his latest effort.

Halford shares the love of bikes with riders like me, who nod in agreement when he says "it's a moment of freedom and a part of rock and roll."

Halford also spends his time on the Internet and feels that it is a tool which musicians should employ to their advantage.

"I encourage all bands to get a Web site," says Halford.

He explains that they should take the time to post photos and their bios because this is one of the ways A&R searches for new talent. He even has a site of his own, www.RobHalford.com, which is pretty cool. You can also find some information about Halford at www.metalis.com.

Halford is strikingly literate when you speak with him. I am surprised when he admits that he hasn't attended college, but I soon discover his secret.

"I love literature," says Halford. "It's useful for lyricists and also good for the brain. I encourage everyone to pick  up a book and read."

Rob HalfordCurrently, he's reading "The Boys" by Martin Gilbert. The book is a selection of personal stories from World War II concentration camp survivors. Halford says that it's a hard read because, at times, it can be overwhelming and very emotional. He likes to read non-fiction and historical stories, interspersed with occasional "fluff," such as Stephen King.

After a long discussion of literature, we get back to music. Halford says that he thinks the diversity of the music scene is a good thing.

"I've been around so long and experience so much," Halford says. "At the end of the day, music is about deriving pleasure; it's all good."

For aspiring artists, Halford has some sound advice, "Keep it simple, have the best time you can and go for your dreams."

He continues, stating that "fame vanishes quickly. Keep a day job and persevere; show originality."

Halford went for his dreams and has had tremendous staying-power. I ask him to what he attributes his  success.

"It's remarkable," smiles Halford. "I don't want to know what it is or question it."

Halford will be on tour through spring and then back in the studio in February-April 2001 and hitting the road again by 2002. Sometime in there he will also perform at the Summerfest in Europe. But he loves being out on the road, "It's the best part of it for me; the most fulfilling."

He also finds it "incredibly rewarding" that metal is coming back. Between you and me, did it ever really go away? Either way, we can all sleep soundly tonight, because, as Halford so aptly puts it, "The good stuff's here now."

After writing this story, I had the opportunity to meet Halford backstage after his performance at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine, California. It was an awesome show where his voice hit notes that left you stunned. He was relaxed in jeans and a tank top, greeting me with sincere warmth and, true to his words, the Metal God was a quiet, sweet man who conducted himself very professionally.  I had brought him a book, "The Pessimist's Guide to History," which put a smile on his face and we chatted a few minutes about motorcycles and music. I think I have learned one more small secret about this premier vocalist-- he is a real person first.

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