K.K. DOWNING 'Didn't Really Feel' As Though He Had His Fair Share Of Lead Guitar Work In JUDAS PRIEST

July 7, 2021

In a new interview with Sonic Dorms, former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing was asked if he ever considered making his new band KK'S PRIEST a one-guitar outfit instead of hiring another musician to play guitar in the group. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "That's so strange you mention that, because I could have gone that route, couldn't I? It never entered my head. I've gotta be perfectly honest. [Laughs] Why didn't it enter my head to do that? I mean, we [JUDAS PRIEST] were a four-piece back in the day with myself, Rob [Halford] and Ian [Hill] and John Hinch, and with Al Atkins we were a four-piece. It never entered my head, strangely enough. But it would have been an option. I could have been the sole guitar player; yes, I could. But, obviously, I always knew that I would be playing some stuff from the past, and I would want to do that. But I still could have done solos for both guitar players; that wouldn't have been a problem.

"But I'm very, very happy, 'cause A.J. [Mills, KK'S PRIEST's other guitarist] is — obviously, I love him, he's great, and we can do all of these, I was gonna call it trickery, but cool guitar things together. And when you do some of the stuff that we do, that we've done on the album, in quite an abundance, it is fun, and it's gonna be very cool to play this stuff, just as it was in JUDAS PRIEST. And myself and Glenn [Tipton, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist] did some of these really cool kind of dual-guitar parts and trade-off stuff and all of that. And I always did like that and, obviously, it was a concession of mine to bring another guitar in prior to the first album, to get our teeth stuck into these really cool things.

"The two-guitar-player thing generally came across as quite kind of commercial and kind of a bit lightweight with the harmonies," Downing explained. "And I say that in the nicest possible way, because WISHBONE ASH was a great — not a favorite band of mine at the time. I was probably listening to the GRATEFUL DEAD and the JAMES GANG and different guys. [There were] lots of dual guitar players in the States, [but] not so much in the U.K. I always thought there was an option to do a heavy version of a two-guitar band, so I wanted to research that. And that's what we did, with myself and Glenn."

Downing also talked about how he and Mills split the lead guitar work in KK'S PRIEST and how it differs from the arrangement he had with Tipton in JUDAS PRIEST.

"I think there was a bone of contention that crept in, really, over the years; I didn't really feel as though I had my fair share of lead work [in JUDAS PRIEST]," he said. "And I should have, really, because, obviously, I can do this stuff. And on this [KK'S PRIEST] album, it's inundated with what I like to think is a lot of cool guitar work, but it's kind of more evenly shared out between myself and A.J., because that's the way I like to be. Because when the audience see a band, they don't just wanna see a guitar player and a support guitar player. They wanna see two guys that can really rip it up together, that have lead capabilities. So that's what happens on this record, and that's what will happen live."

KK'S PRIEST's lineup is rounded out by former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens, bassist Tony Newton (VOODOO SIX) and drummer Sean Elg (DEATHRIDERS, CAGE).

KK'S PRIEST's debut album, "Sermons Of The Sinner", will be released on August 20 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records. The LP's first single, "Hellfire Thunderbolt", was released in May. The title track followed last month.

Downing left PRIEST in 2011 amid claims of band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance. He was replaced by Richie Faulkner, nearly three decades his junior.

In 2018, Downing revealed that he sent two resignation letters to his bandmates when he decided to quit JUDAS PRIEST. The first was described as "a graceful exit note, implying a smooth retirement from music," while the second was "angrier, laying out all of his frustrations with specific parties."

Downing later said that he believed the second letter was "a key reason" he wasn't invited to rejoin PRIEST after Glenn Tipton's decision to retire from touring.

Downing's autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", was released in September 2018 via Da Capo Press.

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