KK Downing

KK Downing

No matter what has been done or has been said, KK Downing will always be part of JUDAS PRIEST as far as I am concerned. Of course I have no insight of what has happened between those gentlemen that put Heavy Metal in capital letters almost 50 years ago, and I only speak as a fan. With this in mind, I felt extremely honored to have KK on the other side of the phone line to discuss the upcoming 'MegaPriest Fest' live show on November 3rd in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom, and of course the name JUDAS PRIEST came up... Have a look below what was discussed.

KK Downing

Good evening KK and welcome to METAL KAOZ! How are you?
I’m good, thank you Dimitris. How are things in Windy City?

Everything’s fine. Let’s get things started because I know you have more interviews scheduled for today. So, how did you come up with the idea for the ‘MegaPriest’ show?
I think David Ellefson was coming over to the UK to play a show in London with his band, as he has done that before, and then he’s going to Italy and Switzerland I think. He said to me “will you play a few songs with us?” and I said yes. He’s playing one show in London and I said “I have a venue, a really cool venue in the Midlands, in the Birmingham area. So, do you fancy to play a show there?” And he said “yes, cool”. And then he said “if we’re gonna do that, maybe I’ll bring Ripper over” – because they are good friends – and then I said I’ll give Les Binks a call, to play the drums and it all started from there really. And yes, it turned out to gather a lot of interest, lots of journalists are coming to the show, so we are really looking forward to playing a full repertoire of PRIEST classics.

That’s awesome! And since Tim will be singing, are there any plans to include songs from either “Jugulator” or “Demolition” albums?
Yes, absolutely.

Great! Now, you’re kind of making me feel bad that we cannot make it to the show.
(laughs) Yeah! There are some people coming from Japan just for this.

How many songs have you prepared for this?
It’s a full set really so, you know. We haven’t conclude how many we will include exactly, but we’re talking about a full show.

Are there any JUDAS PRIEST songs that you would like to play live but for whatever the reason you never got the chance to?
Yeah, I think we’re gonna play one song but I’m keeping the setlist a secret but we’re gonna do a song I always wanted to play and never, ever played. Nor JUDAS PRIEST have ever played it before.

Awesome! And then, considering like you said the response this event has gotten so far, have you discussed at all booking more shows with this setup?
Yes, possibly. The show is just two weeks away now, so we’re gonna do the best we possibly can and then it depends how everyone feels after that.

So, do you think there is any farfetched chance to see you live here in the States?
Well, if the decision is [for] next year, and if I am not able to rejoin JUDAS PRIEST, then there is no reason why I shouldn’t really take a band out for my own celebration I guess.

That would be interesting. Although I didn’t want to ask that, are you still open to join JUDAS PRIEST?
I’ve always said I’ve offered to sit down and discuss any issues or matters between us. But that offer hasn’t been accepted as of yet.

Fair enough. And before this event, you joined Ross The Boss on stage at ‘Bloodstock’ and did four songs; so, how was that experience? Did that show rekindle your interest to play live?
It was good to get up there, you know, and play. I’m very lucky really; I can get on the stage and play in front of so many people, for the first time after ten years! That’s very good! But the reception was great, so obviously my first and probably my last time will always be JUDAS PRIEST because really was my creation and I spent a lifetime building that brand, that legacy, and the repertoire of songs. And now. I’m not really a beneficiary of all that which seems to be wrong, but I quit the band, and for a good reason I walked out of the band at the time. I had a good reason to. There’s always two sides of a coin and there’s always two sides of an argument, just like with a husband and wife, or boyfriend and girlfriend and any relationship. People reach a boiling point and I stand fast that I had justified cause to quit the band for the reasons I’ve given in my book and in many interviews. I felt it was not a democratic place to be and democracy is the only way to rule the world, as far as I’m concerned. I mean, it should rule everybody’s business really, whenever are partners involved. In a band everybody should have a say because we are all part of the same band.

Absolutely, however you do raise a point, and a question that I had in mind for quite some time now; can a band really operate with democracy? I mean, at the end of the day, someone needs to have the last word, right?
Well, I’m still of the opinion “if you’ve got five people, then there’s always a vote to be had, isn’t it?” Because everybody’s opinion is valid. You know, what we do, as musicians and artists, is very subjective. I mean, you can’t always say that you are right and certainly you cannot say that you are right all the time so why should one person have the casting a vote all the time. If you got five people, then the rule be a majority, three to two, or whatever, should work. Everybody’s entitled to a vote, and to an opinion. As a respect to your fellow band members, you have the duty to the band to listen with respect to people’s opinions. And it’s when that process doesn’t happen, it becomes a problem.

Yes, I definitely see what you’re saying. What I had in mind with zero experience in being in a band was about the songwriting process, for example; let’s say that you have written a song, so you have an idea how you would like that song to be like. So, if you have a couple of people voting against you (we’re talking about your creation here), that maybe strange, right? Because, like you said, it’s in the eye of the beholder, it’s a matter of taste. So this is where I was trying to lead with my question.
Yeah, yeah. I think the thing is if somebody puts a song forward, then there’s a vote from everyone. If they think that that idea is good enough and worthy of taking it further then this is what should happen. You have to look to the majority really. Often we’ve recorded songs or even albums and it wasn’t right for the fans – we should have probably do more research and involve the fans. There is no reason why you can’t involve ten or twenty or thirty fans to the studio and listen to the songs and get their opinions. Because sometimes, as musicians, we can be really too close to the music and we can be really quite blind, you know.

At some point, yes, I believe you can become blind, I understand that. If you’re working on an album for six months, for example, I understand that. So, what are your thoughts about writing and releasing new music?
Well, I think the thing is first and foremost I guess I always thought I would always at some point have again a position back in JUDAS PRIEST and write with those guys. If that’s not the case then may putting together a band and write music will happen in the future. I think the band, JUDAS PRIEST, has a big decision to make; whether include me or exclude my. However, time is moving on and I cannot be expected to wait around forever while they make decision. As far as I am concerned everybody in the band at the moment acknowledges the fact that I should be there, expect one person.

Having seen JUDAS PRIEST recently and liked the show, I have to admit that I really miss you guys and I'm talking about you and Tipton, so I definitely see what you’re saying.
Yeah, did you see that JUDAS PRIEST has been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for next year?

Yes, I have.
Everybody who has been nominated, including me, is of great importance in that band, right? At least in the Media's and the fans’ eyes, I guess.

Absolutely. Almost speaking of history how did it feel writing your autobiography?
The time was really right as I am getting older and you never know what is around the corner. So, I wanted the fans to get to know me a little better because they know of me.

How was the experience of doing so? I mean, we are talking about 40 years of history…
Yeah, the book could have been much much bigger but, you know, it had to end somewhere. But maybe there is second book farther down the line.

What I missed from ready the book was more details about the music making or what happened when the band was working on that album and so on.
Yes, I could have gone into more details but I was afraid that the book may end up being too long. Rob [Halford] is doing a book as well, so this leaves much to be told from the other guys, I guess.

When do you think was the best time period for JUDAS PRIEST as far as song-writing goes?
That’s a good question, Dimitris; we used to do two albums every year in the late '70s, so I would have to probably say the '70s and the... [interrupting himself] I don’t know, it is hard to say. But I would say the last '70s and early '80s because we were so prolific and were pumping out albums pretty fast. After that, it all started to slow down. I would say “Stained Class”, “Killing Machine”, “British Steel”, you know, “Point Of Entry”, “Defenders Of The Faith” and “Screaming For Vengeance”...

All the good stuff…
We were on fire, mate (laughs)!

Thank you very much for your time, KK. I hope we will see you again live here in Chicago.
Yeah, I hope to come back in Chicago and visit the Water Tower again. Ok, buddy, have a great weekend.