K.K. DOWNING: TIM 'RIPPER' OWENS 'Is The Best Metal Singer; He Has The Best Voice On The Planet Today'

October 15, 2023

In a new interview with Japanese music critic and radio personality Masa Ito, former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Kenneth "K.K." Downing spoke about his current band KK'S PRIEST in which he is joined by another ex-JUDAS PRIEST member, singer Tim "Ripper" Owens. Regarding whether his approach to writing music and performing with KK'S PRIEST is the same as it was during his long tenure with JUDAS PRIEST, K.K. said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Yes, it's the same. I'm the same — the same, the same ears, the same mind, the same desire for the music and the passion for heavy metal. And I'm proud of all of the fans and everything that we've created on this massive lifetime journey. Masses have been there with us — all of the fans, in Japan and the rest of the world, have been on that journey. They've seen it all evolve from nothing into something fantastic. I have the same amplifiers, the same guitars, the same equipment. I produce the same sound. I am the same person. I can't change. Nothing can change that. And my writing style, everything I do, it's no different. It's just a variation of everything else. The songs, they're different songs, but everything is the same. To me, it's the same. I think, yeah, a lot of what I do now could be on 'Stained Class' or 'British Steel' or 'Painkiller' — it all has that synergy. It's got to, because I am the entity from beginning and I'm never gonna change. The only difference is now I'm playing with different guys. And I'm really, really happy."

He continued: "I do believe that Ripper Owens is the best metal singer. He has the best, best voice on the planet today. He's even better now than he even ever was. He's great, and he needs to be acknowledged as that. And that's why with this band, we all have the platform to continue something, hopefully, that will continue and be well respected and certainly something I think the fans will really enjoy the genuineness and the legitimacy of what we do."

As for whether KK'S PRIEST will continue to play JUDAS PRIEST songs in its set, K.K. said: "Yes, I'm gonna play songs that I wrote on stage because I like them, I'm proud of them, and I think the fans like to hear them. I think they like to hear me play the original version of 'Victim Of Changes' or 'Breaking The Law'. I think they like to hear a guitar player with the guitar sound, with the fingers that created those songs. I think that's a nice part of it. Maybe one day we'll play all KK'S PRIEST songs. I don't know. I just think we shouldn't think too deeply about anything. We've just gotta put a setlist together. We'll go out there and play songs and enjoy it. And the fans will be with us. And I'm very much looking forward to playing many, many more shows for everyone around the world."

KK'S PRIEST played the final its five-date U.K. headlining tour this past Thursday night (October 12) at O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. Fan-filmed video of the concert can be seen below.

The "Priests, Killers & Witches" tour kicked off on October 7 at O2 Institute in Birmingham. Special guest on all dates was former IRON MAIDEN vocalist Paul Di'Anno who performed a full set of classics straight from the first two MAIDEN records, and opening up the bill was BURNING WITCHES.

KK'S PRIEST released its sophomore album, "The Sinner Rides Again", in September via the Austrian rock and metal empire Napalm Records.

Joining Downing and Owens in KK'S PRIEST are guitarist A.J. Mills (HOSTILE),bassist Tony Newton (VOODOO SIX) and drummer Sean Elg (DEATHRIDERS, CAGE).

KK'S PRIEST's debut LP, "Sermons Of The Sinner", arrived in October 2021 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records.

Downing spent four months writing and recording "Sermons Of The Sinner" and, along with new ideas, he even resurrected a few archived riffs from the 1980s.

K.K. formed KK'S PRIEST after JUDAS PRIEST turned down his offer to rejoin the band for their 50th-anniversary tour. It followed a couple of celebrated stage appearances, first with former MANOWAR guitarist Ross The Boss in the summer of 2019, then with a one-off lineup that included former MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson and former PRIEST drummer Les Binks later that year.

Downing was reunited with JUDAS PRIEST for a performance at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony last November at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

PRIEST received the Musical Excellence Award at the event, which honored Eminem, Dolly Parton, DURAN DURAN, Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar, EURYTHMICS and Carly Simon in the Performers category.

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 2019, Downing said that he reached out to JUDAS PRIEST about taking part in the band's 50th-anniversary tour but that their response was that they were not interested in including him in the celebrations.

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.

Owens joined PRIEST in 1996 and recorded two studio albums with the band — 1997's "Jugulator" and 2001's "Demolition" — before PRIEST reunited with Rob Halford in 2003.

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