Interview: Rob Halford Talks Heavy Metal Gatekeeping + Could Judas Priest Be In Stranger Things Season 5?

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This past Sunday (July 17th), marked the 40th anniversary of Judas Priest‘s Screaming for Vengeance; to celebrate this landmark anniversary, we conducted a three part interview with the Metal God himself, Rob Halford!

We talked to Halford regarding a variety of subjects; in part one of our conversation with the Metal God, we primarily focused on Screaming for Vengeance and the band’s legacy. In part two, we decided to shift gears and talk about heavy metal gatekeeping. We wanted to ask Rob about his stance on gatekeeping, and even brought up what has been going on with Netflix’s Stranger Things (how people are just discovering Metallica‘s music today). We also took the opportunity to ask him what Judas Priest songs would make for great cameos in Stranger Things season five.

Without further ado, here is part two of our conversation with Judas Priest singer Rob Halford.

The Pit: Something we love about the growth of metal is the greater diversity and inclusion the artform has embraced overtime. Though, there are still issues with gatekeeping to this day. Like recently, there are folks just discovering Metallica thanks to the likes of Stranger Things; you’ll have some people who will say a person is a poser for discovering the band through a TV show (and that they weren’t around at the beginning of the band’s career). What are your thoughts on gatekeeping?

Rob Halford: I think it’s never too late to discover any musical adventure in your life, and it’s extraordinary how these phrases – “cancel culture” and “gatekeeping” – where do they come from? Who creates them? You know, is it some dick somewhere that just wants to cause trouble? I don’t know, but you don’t run away from that, you address it. I think that’s the beauty of Bohemian Rhapsody [the movie], people discovering Queen and the God-like Freddy Mercury. It’s just, with my 71 years of wisdom, we’ve just got to push away all of the interference and push away all the peer pressure, which is particularly difficult for the young people these days. It must be, I don’t know how difficult it must be. I think it is a wonderful experience for [young folks today to discover music of other generations].

There used to be a time back in the past, when, if you were a young person, you only attached yourself to your equivalent age demographic. You know, you are only associating yourself with a specific kind of musical experience of that moment, you never thought about going back in time for some music. And what I love about young people today is their capacity to ignore that and just to be drawn to the experience of music purely for its artistic merit. Just because the song was made in 1970 doesn’t mean that it is not worthy of being listened to or being discovered in 2022.

I haven’t watched the new season of Stranger Things; I’m very picky when it comes to watching things like that, I have to be back at the house in Phoenix by myself in my bedroom with the big TV on. I can’t wait to watch ’cause I love that show for lots of different reasons. There’s a great shift happening in arts and culture right now [being] driven by shows like Stranger Things. It really is doing something very special and very good for music, so it’s an exciting time.

When I stand on the stage – as I did the other day in Frankfurt – and I look out and there’s a dad with his 10-year-old son and the kid knows all the words to [our] song – I’m [like], God, I wish I had another 50 years. You know, that’s the beautiful thing about the empathy of time and distance [in regards] to the music – it shows the validity, strength, and its relevance because great music lives forever. There’s just this great attitude now to accepting that without all of the peripheral stuff, which is, like all that matters, is the music. 

The Pit: Thank you for that insight Rob. Speaking of Stranger Things – If the band was ever offered the chance to have music appear in the show – say Stranger Things season five – would you all be down for that? And what song(s) do you think would fit the Stranger Things vibe?

RH: I love the show, I love all the actors – they are incredibly talented people. There’s great directing, great photography, great set design. There is a Priest poster in one [episode]. I haven’t seen any [episodes yet, but] I’ve been told. I can’t wait to see it and go “Woo there I am, there I am!”

The wonderful thing about Priest is that this band has so many textures. There could be a scene where one of the actors is driving and they could have “Turbo Lover” in the background or “Heading Out to the Highway.” Or there could be a kind of an intense fight horror scene that has “Screaming For Vengeance in the background. There could be a confrontation going on in a scene between some of the characters and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” could be happening.

So the placement of a song – [considering] its music and lyrical message – from Priest in that series is endless. I read the other day that they are already thinking spin-offs, like [what has been done with] The Walking Dead. So yeah, I can’t be specific. My point is, I’m terrible at nailing things down. I cannot just say one thing, you know? I have to keep flapping my lips and thinking of all these streaming conscious possibilities. 

We at The Pit would like to thank Rob for his time in talking with us! Follow the link below to check out the first installment of our interview with the Metal God, and keep a look out for part three coming out soon!

‘We’re cheating death daily’: Rob Halford Talks 40 Years Of Screaming for Vengeance + Legacy Of Judas Priest