Eighteen studio albums and almost 50 years into its career, Judas Priest has as enthusiastic and vibrant a following as ever.
It's no small feat, and it didn't come easy; Judas Priest is the longest-working, recording and touring heavy metal band of all-time.
Frontman Rob Halford and guitarist Richie Faulkner braved a blizzard to drop by Q104.3 New York's "Out of the Box" with Jonathan Clarke the morning after their band's Newark, NJ, concert in March.
"The biggest rush in the world is to be in the car and then your song comes on the radio," Halford tells the show. "It's just the biggest thrill. It's a buzz, man."
Halford and Faulkner discussed their latest hit album, Firepower, which debuted at #1 on the U.S. Hard Rock charts and at #5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
"This is a testimony to our metal maniacs, our fans, here in North America...particularly in this instance," Halford says of the album's success. "It just shows you this incredible heavy metal love affair that continues to thrive."
Indeed, while some of Judas Priest's contemporaries have retired or long-since faded away, the band remains strong, even after guitarist Glenn Tipton stepped aside from full-time touring this winter due to complications from Parkinson's disease.
The Newark show proved to be a special one, however, as Tipton returned to the stage to perform with the band.
"We've always said that due to Glenn's situation, he would be stepping down slightly from touring, but he'll be back at some stage," Faulkner explained. "And in true, Glenn Tipton hero form, there he was at the Prudential [Center], in front of all the metal maniacs and they went absolutely ballistic. We went straight into 'Metal Gods,' which is pretty fitting."
Halford has long been one of heavy metal's most vocal advocates. He says the worldwide metal community is strangely close-knit.
"There's this great connectivity," Halford says. "The driver who took us to New Jersey, we were sitting in the back and talking to the guy. He said, 'I saw you guys play at the Palladium in 1978, opening up for [American glam rock band] Angel. Who knew? But this is the reach of Priest in this beautiful country."
And even after 18 studio albums with Judas Priest and many more with Fight or under his own name, Halford still enjoys music every step of the way—whether he's hearing his song on the radio, meeting fans or seeing Judas Priest somehow get bigger than it's ever been 49 years on.
"This is a big, to a certain extent, surprise," Halford says of Firepower's massive debut, "that a band of Priest's legacy status can still be embraced by the Active Rock radio community."
Watch the full interview above.
Get all of Judas Priest's tour dates here.
See your name in Judas Priest's iconic font logo here.
Check out the official music video for Judas Priest's new song "Lightning Strike" here: