by Scott Roos
"So I'm heading out to the highway
I got nothing to lose at all
I'm gonna do it my way
Take a chance before I fall
A chance before I fall!"
- Judas Priest
It was the words to this brilliant track by Judas Priest that blasted through my truck speakers as I pulled out of my driveway the morning I moved away from Yellowknife. Never say never, but their was an air of finality to the whole endeavor. It was a literal leap of faith as I had zero contacts in my new home of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. I had no employment opportunities. All I knew was that myself and my family were done with the Northwest Territories. It was time for a change.
I've always been particular about having the right song for the right occasion. After thirteen years of ups and downs north of the 60th parallel, "Heading Out to the Highway" seemed to fit the bill perfectly. We had just spent a grueling summer trying to prep our house for sale - selling large pieces of furniture for a fraction of what they were worth (whelp!), painting cabinets, painting the skirting, painting all the walls inside our home, cleaning every nook and cranny, replacing our fridge and stove, repairing and fixing things that needed fixing, packing the remainder of my belongings (the ones that didn't go in the moving truck which was interesting in and of itself as I ended up having a giant pink stuffy ride shotgun with me, but that's another story), and not to mention the actual selling of the home itself. I had spent the past month alone in an empty house. I need to get to Prince Albert to see my family again. I took a deep breath. This was it. This was all she wrote. It was 5:30 am and pouring rain. Nothing but me, the highway, and Judas Priest.
I've spent quite a number of moments in my life similar to this one. To be honest, I think we all do. And, of course, knock on wood, but things seemed to have worked out for me okay in Prince Albert. Actually, until COVID 19 happened, my time in Saskatchewan has been great! I literally had a teaching position locked down within three days of me arriving. I had to work my way up the ladder in the journalism world but after a few months I resumed my podcasting and was writing articles as a freelancer for the Prince Albert Daily Herald. 2019, actually, was probably the most prolific year I've ever had as an armchair rock journalist with approximately a dozen shows that I attended including, wait for it... Judas Priest. Coincidence? I think not. Divine act of providence? Maybe. Poetic justice? I'll take it.
At the very least, it was Judas Priest's appearance at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, in June of 2019, that sort of gave me closure to my move. Somehow, I managed to hustle my way into an interview with "the metal god" himself, Judas Priest frontman, Rob Halford. Did I ask him about the song? You bet I did!
"It's a great song about freedom, it's a great song about self-empowerment and self-determination and self-belief, "Halford told me at the time. He also said that they would make sure that they played "Heading Out to the Highway" at their show in Saskatoon - which they did!!! I'll keep telling myself that they added that song to their setlist because of me. Haha!
To make a long story short, I'm super pumped about offering to you our all metal/hard rock issue of NSMZ. We're sort of calling it "March Metal Madness". Most of my own personal experiences as a journalist are actually within the genre of metal. But, to put things in a more deep perspective, everything... All of this in our zine, every single article, is the result of a collective leap of faith. It's the result of each of the writers on our team believing in something and the countless hours put into seeing it through.
As Halford said me me that day, "I think we might be as much of ourselves by the amount of effort that we put in... we're always heading down the highway, and the highway never ends."
At NSMZ we continue to work hard to give exposure to a lot of acts in Saskatchewan that are on that highway. In truth, it's a symbiotic relationship between journalist and artist. We need each other. We are on that highway together.
Thanks as always to those bands and artists for being part of the journey that allowed this issue to come to fruition! And extra special thanks to you, the reader, for being with us on our journey every step of the way.
(managing editor, NSMZ)
*Rob Halford photo by Deanna Roos of Contingent Colours Photography
*All other photos by Scott Roos