Judas Priest haven’t cycled through as many musicians as some other metal bands have, but they did go through a few lineup changes and were in the market for a new vocalist in the mid-’90s. Devin Townsend was actually asked to audition to be the group’s singer, but he turned down the offer and explained why in a new interview.
Of course, Rob Halford has been mostly known as Priest’s vocal powerhouse, but he left the band for just over a decade in 1992. Tim “Ripper” Owens fulfilled the vocal duties for a time after Halford’s departure, but during this period Townsend was approached to audition as their singer.
“Technically, yes, it happened, but it wasn’t like they were knocking down my door. They were basically throwing out a blanket for a bunch of singers – Warrel [Dane] from Never againmyself, a few other people,” Townsend recalled The SDR Show.
“But I also remember thinking that singing was what happened to me because of my involvement Steve [Vai], because I never really set out to be a singer,” he continued. “I learned to sing because I was a guitar player. Most of the singers I auditioned for, I didn’t relate to.”
Townsend’s plan at the time had been to learn to sing until he found a good fit, but it eventually became just his gig, in addition to playing guitar.
“But as a result of that, the technique that I had was so worn out that I had come to a situation with that level of expectation, to sing like Rob Halford… dude, I was going to be crucified.”
Watch the clip from the interview below, and further down the page, listen to Townsend’s cover of Priest’s “Sinner”, which appears on Tribute to Judas Priest Volume II: Delivering the Goods album.
Halford reunited with Judas Priest in 2003 and they have been going strong ever since. From now on, their next scheduled performances will take place in the spring in Europe with Ozzy Osbourne. See dates and get tickets here.
Why Devin Townsend turned down the offer to audition for Judas Priest
Devin Townsend, “Sinner” (Judas Priest cover)
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