Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford just returned to his Valley home—his “heavy metal Shangri-La”—after a European tour. He’s exhausted, but ready to talk.
“I’ve been getting over my jetlag,” Halford says. “That’s what you live with in rock ‘n’ roll. I’m an insomniac on top of all that. It’s one of the things you have to deal with for this line of work, but it’s all good.”
Halford, who moved to the Valley in the early 1980s, is ready to play Comerica Theatre in Phoenix on Tuesday, April 24, during his Firepower tour.
“I always look forward to touring,” Halford says. “It reaffirms my commitment. It’ll be great to play the Comerica and then go home and sleep in my own bed.”
One person will be missing on the Firepower tour. Guitarist Glen Tipton recently told his bandmates that he couldn’t tour due to problems related to Parkinson’s disease.
“We’re still filtering our emotions,” says Halford, whose mother died from complications of Parkinson’s. “It was a very brave decision Glenn has made. He has some difficulties in accessing some of the material needed for this tour.
“I think that because of the positive messages Glenn has sent out, he’s something of a rock ‘n’ roll heavy metal hero. He’s been living with Parkinson’s for 10 years now. Anything of that nature is a personal condition you deal with. He feels now is the time to step forward and say what was right for him.”
Tipton appeared on the 14-track Firepower, which debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. It marks Judas Priest’s highest debut. As for the theme, Halford described as a statement on the world.
“We have our feelings about what’s going on around us in the world, what affects us mentally, like what we had in Florida again,” Halford says, with the emphasis on “again.”
“As an older metalhead, I’m more inclined to share my feelings now. There’s some reflection going on with respect to what’s been happening not only here but worldwide on Firepower.”
Next year marks Judas Priest’s 50th year in music. Formed in 1969, Halford calls the milestone “quite a remarkable achievement in rock ‘n’ roll.”
His lifestyle in the Valley isn’t very rock ‘n’ roll. In his time off, he lounges at home. He’s reading The Philosopher’s Flight, the first book written by Tom Miller.
The last thing he wants to do in his time off is jet off on vacation and stay in a hotel room.
“I don’t want to see another hotel,” he says with a laugh. “I like to hike. That’s one of the things about being a singer: You have to keep in reasonable shape for breathing and stuff. Right now, I’m waiting for the hype about Black Panther, so I can see it at the AMC.”
Judas Priest w/Saxon and Black Star Riders, Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, 800.745.3000, comericatheatre.com, ticketmaster.com, 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, tickets start at $53.