Judas Priest, Rob Halford Interview – Getting Personal in ‘Confess’

2020-09-29

Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford discusses "Confess" with Anne Erickson in this featured interview.

Rob Halford – Story by Anne Erickson, photo by Larry Rostant

Rob Halford of Judas Priest joins Anne Erickson to discuss his new memoir, “Confess,” and what it felt like to open up on the set in this in-depth interview

Rob Halford is one of the greatest voices in metal music, and while he’s a regular on the world’s stage, he hasn’t really let the public inside the ins-and-outs of his life story– until now.

Halford releases his debut autobiography, “Confess,” today (Sept. 29) via Hachette Books. The book is filled with riveting, in-depth stories from Halford’s personal and professional life, starting from his days as a young boy in Britain through playing sold-out arenas and amphitheaters across the world in Judas Priest, as he still does today.

Halford spoke with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio/Publications about “Confess,” what it felt like to open up completely during the writing process for the book, the genesis of the title and more. Read the full interview below, listen via the YouTube player and hear it via the Audio Ink podcast on Apple Podcasts here and Spotify here.

For information on how to find “Confess,” visit the Hachette Books website.

Anne Erickson: Rob, great to speak with you. Congratulations on the new autobiography, “Confess.” I have an advanced copy and read the whole thing, and it’s an incredible read.

Rob Halford: That’s wonderful. Thank you so much. I’m glad you were able to get through it from the beginning to the end, because it’s quite a journey, isn’t it?

It is! It really is a journey. Have you always wanted to write an autobiography, or was this a newer desire?

I would say probably from when I was in my 40s until now, there have been numerous publishers that have approached me to do this kind of a book. I had always said, “I’m not ready yet. I’m not ready yet.” Because my feeling about this kind of experience as a book is that you really only have one go at it. As I am about to turn 69 in a few days, and I’ll soon be 70, I think that we’ve come pretty close to everything that’s happened in my life. I still like to feel that there are other great things that are going happen, but as far as the actual important keys and components and kind of the building blocks of a person’s life, I think now is the time to do it. This is why we waited until 2020 to make the confession.

Was it difficult to open up and get personal in this book, or did you find it natural?

Once you become clean and sober, and if you can still maintain that, and I have been able to, one day at a time for 33 years now– I think it is, 35 years. You become an honest, open person. You don’t lie anymore. You don’t hide anymore. You don’t have secrets. There’s no way I could have written this book when I was a drunk– when I was a drug addict. There’s no way. Well, I could have, but it would have been a mess!

Some of it was very simple and easy. Some of it was quite a difficult. But, the most important aspect of this book for me was to speak out and talk out about as much of my life as I could remember, and as much of my life as Ian (Gittins) wanted to get out of me, and I think we were able to achieve it.

In what ways was writing “Confess” cathartic?

Oh, extremely, extremely. I mean, I remember the last day that I did a big, big discussion with Ian, and then had a final cup of tea and a biscuit (laughs)… and a lot of great things being in there and thinking, wow, we can’t wait to see the manuscript and all the text and everything coming together, and it’s in editing and making sure everything, the ts and dots and so forth. And then, he left, and I went back and sat down in my kitchen. And I thought, that’s it. I’m stumped. I’ve kind of said everything that I can remember in my life. It’s a lot of stuff, you know. It’s a lot of things. A lot of things! So, to me, this is a little bit like being on the psychiatrist’s couch. It’s very much the like laying on the couch and just spilling the beans.

I mean, talking about absolutely everything. Some of it funny, some of the shocking, some of it traumatic. We’ve covered every aspect of an emotional journey in my life. I would like to feel now, having read the book a few times myself, that there are parallels for a lot of people in some of the experiences that I’ve been through. So, the, “Oh, that’s happened to me. Oh, yeah, I know how that feels like. Oh, yeah, I’ve been there.” In some of the relationship aspects– particularly relationships, because relationships are what drive us in so many, many ways. No matter what we do in life, if we’re lucky enough to be in a relationship, we can relate to some of these stories within “Confess.” So, incredibly cathartic. Some of it frightening. Some of it kind of, “Oh, should I have said that?” But, a true confession doesn’t hold anything back, and that’s what we’ve done here.

Do you think you might have another book in you down the road, maybe another kind of memoir or something else?

Yes, I think so. I think so. There’s an idea that’s already brewing after this experience. I don’t know what it will be, but there’s an idea that’s kind of buried in a stage right now. And, it depends. I have no idea how this is going to go. It’s like, when you make a record, you have no idea how it’s going to be accepted. No idea. And I’m sure, this is the first time I’ve done anything like this. It’s like virgin territory for me. I don’t know people are– I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m excited. I’m also a little bit scared. I’m ready for the whole– new experiences really interest me, and I can’t wait to get the feedback for “Confess,” in however shape or form that might come. I’ve already been getting from some of my friends like yourself who have said that it’s a good read. And what I mean by that is not flippant. A good read is a good read. I think a good read is a great thing to say about a book. So, we shall see. But, very cathartic, yes.

I can tell you, people are going to love it. So, you don’t have to worry about that. People will find a lot of value in the book.

Why, thank you. You made my day.

Did you discover anything new about yourself as you were writing this book?

I’ve been very lucky, as far as being able to get through some extremely difficult parts in my life and by the grace of God to go on, quite frankly. Some of it’s cute. Some of it’s, “Oh my God, what did he just say?” And “Is that me?” and “I can’t believe I did that” and “I can’t believe that happened to me.” And, that’s coming from me. Yeah, it’s been a bare-bones, meat-and-bones, what do you have left of the metal skeleton?

What was your favorite part of this whole creative process for “Confess?”

Just watching it build, like a record. Like making a song. Because Ian didn’t go in a chronological sense. He went everywhere, which was great. Also, a bit confusing, because one day, we’d be in the ’50s, and then we’d be in 1990, and then we’d be in 1970. It was just remarkable the why that he steered through the decades of my life. Just the simplest things, like singing that Scottish lullaby. That’s like a touchstone for me, just that one little story,

Going around the class and singing to all the kids in school. Just one of many, little beautiful things that sparkle, as compared to some of the black holes that we get sucked into and dive into. (Laughs) … I’m just so thrilled about the content of this book, because it’s so pure and it’s so honest and it’s so real. It really has what confessing should be about. I’m not a Roman Catholic, but I understand the ritual of confession and the way it’s supposed to make you feel afterwards. It’s like having a burden lifted from you, and to some extent that’s the way it made me feel.

I actually thought about the whole confession thing when I saw your title, “Confess”- the Catholic thing.

Shall I tell you the story of where that came from? I’ll give you an exclusive, Anne. It comes from “Game of Thrones.” It comes from “Game of Thrones,” season eight, I think, season eight. And Cersei is in jail, and the matriarch nun of that jail keeps coming into her and looking at her and she just goes, “Confess. Confess.” Do you watch “Game of Thrones?”

I don’t, but now I’m going to have to look up that episode!

Oh, well! (Laughs) So, I’m watching that with Thomas, my other half, because we were mad on “Game of Thrones,” but I’m watching that, and I said to Thomas, “You know what she just said?” And he goes, “Confess.” I said, “That’s going to be the title of my book.” That’s where it came from. It was the perfect, perfect, simple statement, because it’s so loaded. It’s such a powerful, powerful word. Just thinking of that word and what can come from it, and I thought, that’s it. That’s the simple, “Confess.” And, of course, the cool thing about kind of rubbing up against Judas Priest- Judas Priest, confess, you know? So, there you go. That’s where the title came from.

Thank you so much for taking the time, Rob. Is there anything you’d like to add? This was wonderful.

That’s beautiful. I’ve really enjoyed the interview. I wish– we didn’t have much time, but it’s been a lot of fun, and we got a lot of work done in 15 minutes. Thank you for looking after me with your show. Maybe I’ll see you when Priest gets back out on the road next year. Thank you, Anne!

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