BY: JIM VILLANUEVA
Rob Halford, the legendary Judas Priest frontman and iconic high priest of heavy metal, will practice what he preaches and teach his disciples what he knows best at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp August 4-7 in Hollywood. Along with three of his bandmates, plus a plethora of additional rock gods, Halford will help mold wannabe rockers into future hard rock heroes. Forget parental guidance, at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp would-be future evening stars will get guidance from a man who has a PhD in RnR.
Hello Jim. I’m doing very well. Whereabouts are you today?
I am in Sacramento, or as we like to say it, Sacrametal, California!
(Laughs) Yeah, that’ll work! Well it’s good to be connecting all the way from my kitchen in England. It’s good to be back with you again. Thanks, Jim.
Well let’s jump into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp. This will be your second doing this. Who do you believe is the prototypical person who signs up and attends the camp?
Well it can be anybody, really, Jim. That’s the joy of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp. You don’t even have to be able to play an instrument because we will teach you. If you can’t play bass [Judas Priest bassist] Ian [Hill] will teach you. If you can’t play drums [Judas Priest drummer] Scott [Travis] will teach you and so on and so forth. So that’s one of the extraordinary things about the camp; it’s a lot of great things besides the opportunity to hang out with your favorite bands. We welcome everybody – it’s an open door – it’s an open audition, if you wanna call it that (laughs), and that’s what makes this event so special.
You mentioned teaching, so what are your duties as camp counselor trying to teach “Metalogy 101,” if you will, and trying to mold the next Metal Gods?
From my perspective as a singer, I want you to just let go; I want you to just be the Metal God, be the Metal Goddess that moment that you’re onstage with Priest, and in the process going up to that moment, learning your technique, learning your style. We’ll get that out of you, we’ll help you find your own voice, in that respect. From a singing point of view, look, everybody can sing, and we will take what you have and we’ll do our best in the time that we’ve got to fine tune it and get you in the best shape possible to scream along with Priest. I love that, as a singer, to stand next to somebody that’s singing their heart out and displaying their own vocal abilities – that’s really special. It’s the only opportunity that I get, ever, to be this close and to be a teacher in that respect.
Thank you for the perfect segue to my next question, Rob, because I was gonna ask what you get out of this four-day experience?
Well it’s the emotional side of it for me because you’re meeting people from a different angle, in terms of the fans. Obviously a lot of fans will be attending the “Hell Bent For Hollywood” event, so a lot of these Rock ‘n’ Roll campers are Priest fans and they’ll be getting close to us one-on-one, rather than the other type of situation where, unfortunately because of time constraints, it’s a quick handshake, a couple of words and a picture and we don’t see each other again. So this for me is just a chance to get a little bit deeper, to get a little bit closer to our fans in this way, which the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp provides. So, it’s that, and just the satisfaction of having your own little bit of input to give all the attendees an opportunity to do something really very extraordinary. It’ll be a whirlwind, because I know that’s what it was like in [previous camp] in Vegas. It’s so fast-moving, it’s very intense, but it’s so much fun. You make a lot of friends that you never met before in your life. You take it home with you. From an instrument, musical point of view, you suddenly say, “hey, you know I’m gonna go home and keep playing as a drummer,” or “I’m gonna go home and learn some more guitar.” So there are lots of things that kind of spin away from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp and it’s a joy to be back into that environment once again.
Yeah, we’re gonna be climaxing the “Hell Bent For Hollywood” Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp 2016 at the Whisky A Go Go! Wow, what a place! This building is legendary for rock and roll, and I haven’t been through those doors for a very long time, so it’ll be a treat for me as well as everybody else to be back inside that building. And I’m sure we’ll be soaking up some of the residue (laughs) of all of the hundreds, if not thousands, of musicians and millions of fans that have gone through those doors. It’s gonna be a real treat to be in that particular building. So yeah, Jim, as you say, all guns blazing! That’s the crescendo; that’s the moment we all break the law and leave after midnight together for this special night.
The Whisky A Go Go sits right in the heart of the Sunset Strip – the infamous, I should add – Sunset Strip. Do you have a favorite memory or two of your time spent there?
Well, a lot of blurry memories (laughs)! You know, when you’re a musician, those early years are very much like a trial by fire and a lot of them are a kind of blurry memories (laughs). I remember staggering back from the Whisky to the Sunset Marquis (hotel) on more than one occasion (laughs). But you know, that’s the joy of being a musician, in those early years, especially, and the thrill for a band like Priest to be in Hollywood and to be at that extraordinary venue at that time about our career was a dream come true. Even now, for a lot of musicians, getting to Los Angeles and playing one of the venues is still very potent; it’s still very powerful. And so I’ve just got a lot of good memories from that venue there.
A lot of history there.
Of course we lost Lemmy not that long ago. He was a Sunset Strip staple. Do you have a fond memory of him?
Yeah, too much to say in the time that we’ve got, Jim, but as I’ve said before, the great thing about music is that it provides us with an eternal memory of fantastic, legendary, iconic rock and rollers like Lord Lemmy. So when I hear “Ace of Spades” on the radio, or any of the other great Motorhead songs, it’s keeping his spirit alive and keeping the spirit of Motorhead alive. It was just an honor to know the man, as a fellow musician and as a friend, and I’m sure that the fact that we do have the music, we’ll keep him with us forever.
Yeah. I’ve got just a couple more for you, Rob, and again thank you very much for your time today. Why do you think established stars like yourself, Paul Stanley who’s involved, Gene Simmons who’s also been involved many times, Tony Iommi and on and on – the list is long – why do you think these big rock stars are willing to give of their time to fulfill the rock and roll fantasies of your fans?
Well in a simple way it’s just giving back. We know what it’s like to be a musician right from the get-go; right from day-one. We know what that feels like. We know the struggles that you go through, we know the ups and downs of being a musician; either in a band or as a solo artist. We’ve lived – we’re still living that, to some extent. So there’s a common bond there; there’s a thread, there’s a lifeline to each other through the simple joy and pleasure of what music gives us. And so all the people you’ve mentioned are good friends of mine, and I think that I would like to feel I’m speaking for all of us when I say what I’ve just said, you know, that this is just a way of saying, “Hey, you put us where we are and we wanna show you some of the journeys that we went on are very similar together.
I had the pleasure of speaking with the great Don Felder of the Eagles recently, and he will be one of the counselors in a different session of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, and I asked him the same question and he said the same thing, basically: it’s giving back.
Yeah, absolutely. If you can do that wherever you are in your life I think it’s a great thing. It doesn’t have to be music; it can be anything. Life is a beautiful gift and whatever you can give back you should try and do it.
And no greater gift than the gift of music, I would say.
Beautiful! Thank you, sir.
Thank you, Jim.
It’s always a pleasure, Rob. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to say hi face-to-face again sometime soon.
Very good. Thanks for everything. All the best now, bye bye.