JUDAS PRIEST's RICHIE FAULKNER Wasn't Nervous About Replacing K.K. DOWNING
January 17, 2016
Metal Blast recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
Metal Blast: When you joined JUDAS PRIEST for the "Epitaph" tour, you kind of came out of nowhere. People were surprised when you were announced as K.K. Downing's replacement, with only some of them knowing you from your work with Lauren Harris. How was it for you to go from a minor act like that to suddenly jump into this massive legendary band?
Richie: There are parallels and differences. With Lauren, we were on a few tours with IRON MAIDEN, WITHIN TEMPTATION and others. The IRON MAIDEN tour, especially, was a big one, so we got used to playing big stages and big audiences, so from that respect I knew what to expect. PRIEST didn't want someone who was too well-known; they didn't want someone who had been in five or six bands already and who had been around the block. Although they wanted someone who was relatively new, at the same time they wanted someone who they knew would respond well on stage, someone who knew the life on the road and the experience of the big stages. Fortunately, I was in the right position; I had been all over the world, I had played big crowds, but was still relatively unknown, so it sort of ticked all the boxes for what PRIEST wanted. Part of being with Lauren Harris was that people don't know who you are, and yet you have to get out there and play in front of thousands of people. It's almost like a positive fight, getting people into your music. We learned that from Steve Harris [IRON MAIDEN bassist and Lauren Harris's father], who told us that back in the day they'd go out with bands that they weren't matched with, because he liked the idea of getting new fans. I took that message to heart; you have to get out there and prove to people that you're good and that they should listen to you. It was the same kind of dynamic in PRIEST, in the sense that I was the new guy. I had to almost convince people, the fans, that I was able to do it and that the band had made the right decision. It was a healthy point to prove; trying to show them that you're on their side, that you're part of the family. The difference between the two was, obviously, that JUDAS PRIEST is one of the biggest heavy metal bands in the world, as well as the originators of heavy metal. Things work differently on this level, since people are there to see the band, you're now the headliner.
Metal Blast: For better or worse, with bands like JUDAS PRIEST or IRON MAIDEN fans tend to be quite possessive or protective. Considering that you were replacing someone with a trajectory like that of K.K. Downing; were you nervous? Were you concerned about how people were going to react?
Richie: It wasn't really a concern, no. You can't let that get in your way; you've been given an opportunity. There will always be people out there who don't like you and who'll prefer someone else. That's the beauty of music; we've all got our own opinion. There was some skepticism, of course; after 40 years there's a new guy showing up, so people feared the worst. I think that's healthy, since it showed the passion that the fans had for the band. They cared so much that they are skeptical. It was the same when Rob Halford left. If they didn't care, they wouldn't have an opinion. I understand. I was the same when Ritchie Blackmore left DEEP PURPLE or Michael Schenker left UFO. But I was given an opportunity for which I had worked really hard, and which I was ready to grab by the horns. I knew the band, I knew what they stand for, and I know what K.K. stands for. They've always stood up for what they believe in, even in the face of adversity. If there was ever going to be any adversity, they were the guys I'd be learning from. K.K. was one of the teachers of that philosophy; people might not like you, but you go out there and do what you do. If I had doubted things in any way, being nervous or doubtful, I don't think I would have been honoring that tradition of heavy metal and JUDAS PRIEST. I knew that I could do the job, so I didn't want to let nerves or doubt get in the way. I just took the opportunity and it seems like it was the right approach to take.
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