When it comes to heavy metal, one of the pioneering “rock gods” is Judas Priest lead singer Rob Halford. These days, he has his own clothing line and is helping new generations find music through games like Activision’s Guitar Hero and MTV Games’ Rock Band. Halford also starred in his first videogame last year, playing General Lionwhyte and The Baron in Tim Schafer’s Brutal Legend. We talked to him about those roles, and what role videogames play in the music industry today.
GamesRadar: How did you get involved with Brutal Legend, which is really the first game that has embraced heavy metal music in a unique way?
Rob Halford: The story goes that [Tim Schafer] was looking for larger-than-life characters in the metal world. He was familiar with my work on stage and in video and because of my association with certain songs like The Ripper and The Pain Killer and The Saints and All The Sinner, where you kind of take on the persona of the character in the music. I guess he felt that I was a contender, so we got together and we talked and I wrote some of the script and there you go.
I was behind the mic playing what initially was the one role with General Lionwhyte and then we had so much fun together that he said one day he fancied me being The Baron. So I have two roles in Brutal Legend. The game’s incredible… it’s very, very fresh, and very original looking. It’s like nothing else out there. I think it’s like the music industry, where there’s a lot of talent and we’re all fighting – sometimes against each other – in the stream, but the ones that have the goods seem to forge ahead.
GamesRadar: Can you talk about how music does play a unique role, because the entire game is about metal music?
RH: It is, yeah, and it matches absolutely perfectly. I think if you’d have tried to throw Jay-Z in the mix it just wouldn’t connect because it’s just all the elements of metal. It’s just all this power and strong visual and things getting blown up and things getting chopped to pieces. It’s drama and it’s screaming and it’s yelling and it’s just all this energy and dynamics so the visual is an absolutely perfect blend for the music that’s associated with the different levels that you’re going through. It’s a perfect combination of the two.
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