Halford’s happy if you ignored the music but bought the t-shirt
Rob Halford and Judas Priest are chasing a fashion firm for illegally using the cover design for classic album Screaming For Vengeance – but that doesn’t mean he underestimates the power of visual art.
In fact, the frontman’s all in favour of people wearing clothes featuring bands they’ve never heard.
Gap were last month in the spotlight after Priest fans noticed a t-shirt design bore more than a passing resemblance to the metal eagle graphic on the 1983 record.
Halford tells The Quietus: “It’s very naughty of them. They shouldn’t have done that and we’re investigating that right now, because that’s intellectual property rights. We were never asked, neither was our label.
“Having said that – it’s brilliant, isn’t it? To think that something 30 years later is still striking enough to be a fashion moment.
“It’s a bit like when the vodka people did the British Steel label. The thing is with artwork is that I don’t think that you can underestimate its power. Like, you’ll see somebody walking down the street with a Cannibal Corpse T-shirt on – if you say to them, ‘Oh, I love that band,’ they’ll go: ‘What band?’ You say, ‘The t-shirt.’ They’ll probably say, ‘Oh, I just like it!’
“I think that’s great, because you’re making a visual, emotional connection with people. That’s what Screaming For Vengeance is doing all these years later.”
Priest’s eighth album recently received the deluxe remaster treatment. It’s their biggest-selling record and the one that broke them in the US, thanks to the surprise popularity of hit single You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.
Halford says: “We put it towards the end of the record because it was one of the last songs we wrote. It got picked up by some radio stations in the States, unbeknownst to the record company – they were pushing Take These Chains.
“If we’d really believed it was going to be special we’d have stuck it up in the first two or three tracks, which is what most bands do now. You’ve got to catch everybody’s attention – it’s got to all be happening in the first two or three tracks.
“It just took on a life of its own. I think that’s what’s made us feel really affectionate towards that song. Even now when we play it, it still does the business.”
Its success gave rise to one of Priest’s more unusual cover version experiences, when crooner Pat Boone recorded it for his 1997 album In A Metal Mood.
Halford says: “As an exercise of what a good song stands for and represents in terms of possibility, I think it was amazing.
“I should keep quiet and do this myself – but if somebody put together, like, Ace of Spades, Run to the Hills and other great metal tunes, and gave them the big-band treatment, I think it would make for a really entertaining record.”