Well, I spoke too soon, as my first piece for is up.
I really liked working on this article, as it really took me out of my comfort zone - I know nothing about motorcycles, and I don't think I have ever been on one. But it was fun being able to talk to Judas Priest's Rob - which I waxed poetic about last year. I also spoke to Six Feet Under's Chris Barnes, whom I now wish I could have asked a few more questions, as he is a pretty interesting guy. I was a bit fearful of asking him about Cannibal Corpse, but wanted to chat about his 'interesting' lifestyle - he has radically changed from how he used to be as the singer of the legendary Florida - based band. What is it about Florida and death metal, anyways? I'm thinking of Glen Benton from Deicide.........
One of the problems with working on a specific topic and not a standard artist profile, is that you are left with a ton of interesting information that you know will never make it into the piece. Initially, I was only allotted about 10 minutes with Halford via his publicist - which stretched to 40, as he allowed me to ask him some personal questions for my book - there was a ton of interesting stuff about his love for motorcycles, how they became a symbol for Judas Priest's stage shows, and their iconic status in American culture:
On the stage bike: “ I only ever brought out onto the stage which is about 20 feet. Prior to that, I used to ride that bike around the parking lots at venues. Unfortunately I had a few incidents that cumulated in that they took the keys from me and wouldn’t let me ride it again. Plus I was like an insurance hazard. And after chasing after fans in their cars, didn't help, so I was banned from having the keys to the stage bike."
Motorcycles + Judas Priest = Metal: "The whole association with motorcycles and Judas Priest goes back to “Hell Bent for Leather” - wwhenever that song was written......When we were touring in England, we thought that it would be cool if we could bring the bike on stage when we did the song, as it seemed like the right thing to do. So when we would go to a city we would ask one of our crew to see if there were any motorcycle guys or girls that had parked their bikes and could we use their bikes and give them a couple of T-shirts, or buy them a drink and that type of thing.
"When we got to America, we basically asked our management company to contact Harley Davidson and told them what we wanted to do. They were really excited about the association of their bikes with this heavy metal band from the UK. They gave us the 1981 low-rider for a dollar. Prior to that, they would give us Harley's and then we would give them back at the end of the tour. The official one that you see now, which has been customized - the frame, the wheels, the engine all the internal stuff are the original components. So we have had that bike since then."
Motorcycles = American Culture: "In my mind, in talking about the United States, it’s all about Harley Davidson. There has just been this ongoing relationship in rock and roll with Harley for as long as I can remember. The roots of motorcycles and rock n’ roll culture goes back all the way to Marlon Brando in that movie “On the Waterfront.” I think that it is still relevant in today’s rock world. I’ve seen guys like Avenged Sevenfold in other metal bands that are using bikes on stage. The Motley Crue boys are using bikes in their videos. We are using bikes in our videos but Harley Davidson is the most important brand for us. They are American and the represent America, even though for awhile Harley's were made in Japan, which was a bit unusual but eventually they moved back to the States where they belonged.
"Harley’s are the perfect American motorcycle to be associated with rock n’ roll music. And I’ve always said that the Harley's are synonymous with heavy metal because like heavy metal, Harley’s are big and loud and brash and they smell and they piss some people off, and they have all the same attributes that heavy metal does. So It’s a very close correlation between rock n’ roll, heavy metal and motorcycles. It’s the independence, the rebel streak – all of those are attached to being on a Harley."