Judas Priest, Lightning Strike
“It really hasn’t changed that much,” he ponders. “I won’t say it’s been done before, because you can say every James Bond film has been done before, but it’s the way you reinvent – actually, not reinvent, approach – that gives it its validity and its original twist.”
Some fans have said this sounds more socially-minded. Is it?
“We’ve been everywhere on this album, haven’t we? We’ve got flamethrowers, lone wolves, voodoo…” he enthuses. “I don’t think it’s more politically slanted – I just think people are listening closer, which is great!”
Priest’s passion and lust for life is infectious. Rob says they take very little time off, and that he gets “terribly bored” if he hasn’t got something to work on. Discovering new music keeps him inspired, and as he chats he namechecks the likes of Power Trip, Electric Wizard and Behemoth. He gets noticeably excited when he learns that Emperor – “One of my favourite fucking bands ever” – will play before Priest at Bloodstock in August.
It’s this love for music that keeps Rob young. As ageless as he seems, at 66 he isn’t as youthful as the man who held up a bank with guitars in the Breaking The Law video. But if he wasn’t feeling it, he wouldn’t be here.
“If I didn’t still love it,” he smiles, “I’d knock it on the head. I can’t wait to walk up that ramp and get onstage. Playing live is the most important thing in the world.
“Of course some nights you’re not quite on fire,” he continues. “But then I think, ‘Stop fucking moaning, you should be grateful.’ What’s not to be excited about?”
What indeed? Firepower and the future for Priest may now have the sting of Glenn Tipton’s news attached, but it’s only made the band even more determined and unstoppable.
“You should write, ‘And then he started singing, ‘Always look on the bright side of life’,’” chuckles Rob. “Which we do! It must be crap to not look on the bright side of life!”
Hello, is that adversity? Judas Priest have got a flamethrower for you.
Words: Nick Ruskell
(The above feature was originally published in K!1712 on March 10, 2018)
Firepower is out now on Columbia. You can stream it below. Judas Priest headline Bloodstock Festival (August 9-12) at Catton Park, Derbyshire. For tickets and more info click this link.