Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Ken “K.K.” Downing was recently interviewed by the “Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon” podcast. You can now listen to the chat using the widget below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the deterioration of his relationship with JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Glenn Tipton:
Downing: “I think everyone will know that’s been in a relationship, whether it’s husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend, business relationship… Essentially, this was a business working relationship, but it was also… I think the problem wasn’t just business, it was artistic. ‘Cause music is kind of a bit like that, [and] artists can be a bit more temperamental about their craft and things. A bit different to — I don’t know — if you work in a bean factory or something like [that], and that’s your business. So lots of ingredients, really, come into play. Music and creativity is very subjective and can be very opinionated. So you have all of those ingredients to deal with. Let me start by saying that both myself and Glenn have said before… When I first started speaking about the mutual respect — and that will always be there; I will always have the respect for… Let’s just take Glenn now. Obviously, we worked and played together — not just musically; we would go out socially when we were on tour, playing some golf, tennis, chasing girls — whatever we did — drinking beer, everything happens. An we did a lot of work and a lot of stuff together, but, really, in a band, there’s lots of kind of common denominators, really, with let’s say four or five guys in a band. As much as you like to prevent and avoid a pecking order formulating, maybe it does. And as much as you like to avoid the guys that don’t have particular egos — we’re happy for nobody to have an ego — but you can’t stop these things happening; it does happen. And I think that that’s probably why an awful lot of bands do part ways — because things like that rear their ugly heads. But in PRIEST, I think it’s fair to say that it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as other bands and other people that I’ve seen. But was it there? I think it was. [It’s] something [that] is inherent — you get people in bands, you get more flaccid characters and other people [who are] more domineering. And that’s what happens. In any business relationship, you get this one-upmanship — ‘Oh, I wrote this song,’ and, ‘Oh, I wrote that song.’ All that matters, really, is the band — it’s the band’s song and the band perform it. Because at the end of the day, nothing is more important than the band name JUDAS PRIEST — that is the star, that is the superstar… Yes, I think it’s true to say that some bandmembers will play a bigger role in achieving that goal, but at the end of the day, what is very special is the name: ‘JUDAS PRIEST are appearing…’, ‘JUDAS PRIEST are playing at…’ And it’s not ‘K.K. Downing is playing at…’ or Glenn Tipton or Rob [Halford] or Ian [Hill] or Scott [Travis] — it’s the band. And so that democracy is something I’ve always been a great believer in and that equality is something that I always aspired to have in JUDAS PRIEST. So, yes, when one of the bandmembers said, ‘I wanna do a solo album. I wanna sell my own t-shirts. I wanna do this,’ for me, it doesn’t work as well for me. I always kind of said, ‘That’s absolutely something I’m never, ever gonna do,’ and I never did it. And I’m proud of that, because I gave everything to what I thought was important all of the time. If I had songs that I thought were worthy of recording, then… Because I don’t wanna record any song that’s not worthy of JUDAS PRIEST recording that song… Anyway, that’s just where I’m coming from, and that’s what… [For] me, as an artist, it goes back all of those days creating and dedicating myself and everything I did to JUDAS PRIEST, that was more important than anything to me — people’s perception and people’s acknowledgement of JUDAS PRIEST as the archetypal heavy metal band, and that’s what I’d like us to be remembered as.”
On whether he would consider launching a new musical project or if it’s JUDAS PRIEST or nothing” for him:
Downing: “I think it probably is PRIEST or nothing for me, because that was my whole life. And I’m not young enough, and I think… Can I use age as the biggest excuse? Maybe I can, maybe I can’t. The guys out there are waving their arms and shouting at me. But to start over, so to speak, is never something that I’ve kind of wanted to do, because when you’ve kind of spent all of your life building up to working your way up to playing these gigs in front of these people in an abundance, it’s harder at a certain age to wind the clock all the way back and make that start again. And I think that the efforts, really, especially with the songwriting and ideas and recording, I would probably just think, ‘Shit, I wish this could be a JUDAS PRIEST song.’ So there’s lots of things that go through my mind. So I’ve just been doing an awful lot of things [since my departure from PRIEST] — trying to help some new bands. I’m always trying to stay in touch with the fans, whether it’s interviews, doing a book, whatever. It seems that I’m always kind of still there; I don’t feel as though anything has been amputated from me, really, in respect to the fans, the industry.”
K.K. announced his retirement from PRIEST in April 2011. He has since been replaced by Richie Faulkner, who was once the guitarist in the backing group for Lauren Harris, daughter of IRON MAIDEN bassist Steve Harris.
Downing‘s autobiography, “Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest”, will be released on September 18 via Da Capo Press. The book was co-written by the Scottish author and journalist Mark Eglinton, whose previous collaborations include “Official Truth, 101 Proof” with Rex Brown of PANTERA and “Confessions Of A Heretic” with BEHEMOTH‘s Adam “Nergal” Darski.