K.K. DOWNING Details How Recent Show With DAVID ELLEFSON, 'RIPPER' OWENS And LES BINKS Came Together

November 10, 2019

Prior to his November 3 performance in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom with MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson and his former JUDAS PRIEST bandmates Les Binks and Tim "Ripper" Owens, guitarist Ken "K.K." Downing spoke with Metal Talk. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On how the Wolverhampton show came together:

K.K.: "Dave and myself, we had a mutual friend. There was some talk about, 'Dave is coming to the U.K., and then he's off to Switzerland and Italy, I think.' He comes over almost once a year and does kind of a 'Basstory' thing for musicians and stuff, and he brings a band with him and plays some MEGADETH stuff and some other bands — he used to do some [IRON] MAIDEN stuff and stuff like that. Lots of people have been asking me — he said, 'Would you play a few songs with us?' It's not something I want to make a habit of, really, even though I did it once before. I suggested, 'Have you got a gig in the Midlands?' He said, 'No — just one lined up for London at the moment.' I said, 'You have to come to the Steel Mill, which is a venue I'm involved with. It's a big venue in Wolverhampton, which kind of covers all the Midlands, if you like.' That ball started to roll, and then, because he's pretty good friends with Ripper as well, as lots of people are, I said, 'What if I ask Ripper to come over?' I finally said, 'That'd be great if we do that. Who could we put on the drums? I can give Les Binks a call.' Things started to take off from there. I said, 'If that's going to happen, you can't just bring Ripper over all this way to sing a few songs. We'll do a full PRIEST set'... We had a couple of rehearsals. Les came up from London, and we had a couple of stand-in guys. It sounded fantastic already even before the other guys [got] over here."

On the Steel Mill:

K.K.: "Lots of fans see me at the Steel Mill when I go and see bands — SKID ROW, UGLY KID JOE or whoever it is. They say, 'K.K., when are you going to get up there and play for us?' I said to the guys at the Steel Mill, 'If you're going to do this, I don't want to be charging the loyal supporters of the venue a premium.' I said, 'Let's do a rock bottom-priced ticket. We did do 200 VIP tickets at 20 pounds, but they sold out in two hours. That took us completely by surprise, really. General admission [was] just 10 pounds. It's a big venue — holds about two and a half thousand people, all standing. It's absolutely a great venue for what we do [in] our genre of music. It's absolutely ideal, because it's an independent venue. It doesn't have that sterile feel that lots of present-day venues have. It has a bar [that] lasts until 5 in the morning, which is good... When I was growing up, obviously I wanted to be a musician. Every venue, every pub, every club, everywhere was a gig. It's kind of all changed now. I think that before the Steel Mill opened up, all there was, let's say, in the city of Wolverhampton was stuff that we'd run by the Council. You get herded in at 7 o'clock, and you're herded back out at 10:30. It goes by so fast, whereas the Steel Mill, it's completely different. It's a big, meandering-type of venue — lots of different rooms, outside areas to smoke in. It's really, really cool. We've got great plans for it... We've got lots of bands coming through now. It was a bit tough to start with, because lots of agents have this kind of relationship with venues and conglomerates. Obviously, you've got the big Live Nation, who do a fantastic job, but it's difficult to book bands [as an independent promoter]. But the venue's very well established now with lots of people coming through, and lots of bands [are using the venue for] production rehearsals. DRAGONFORCE have been just doing pre-tour rehearsals in there. We've got lots of things going on... One of the big reasons I got involved is lots of bands, we're trying to give them a leg up to give them a support slot and stuff like that."

The November 3 show was just Downing's second public performance since leaving JUDAS PRIEST. Earlier this year, he made a guest appearance during ROSS THE BOSS's set at the Bloodstock Open Air festival in Derbyshire, United Kingdom.

In Wolverhampton, Downing, Ellefson, Binks and Owens performed an 14-song set that featured a number of JUDAS PRIEST classics and rarities. Fan-filmed footage of the show can be seen below.

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