Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing's new band KK'S PRIEST will co-headline next year's edition of the Alcatraz open air hard rock and heavy metal festival, set to take place August 11-13, 2023 in Kortrijk, Belgium.
Downing announced the group's appearance at the event via a video message posted to his social media earlier today. He also promised that there would be "lots more gigs coming your way."
Downing is joined in KK'S PRIEST by former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens (vocals),along with guitarist A.J. Mills (HOSTILE),bassist Tony Newton (VOODOO SIX) and drummer Sean Elg (DEATHRIDERS, CAGE).
KK'S PRIEST's debut album, "Sermons Of The Sinner", was released 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 '80s.
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.
In a recent interview with Ernest Skinner of Border City Rock Talk, Owens spoke about the status of the sophomore album from KK'S PRIEST. He said: "I have one more song, I think, to finish. But they're mixing it and doing it as I finish these songs. So it's gonna be fairly close. It's really moving along really good. And it's really good too. I like it better [than the debut LP]. It's a little heavier, a little edgier on the vocals — and even music, I think."
As for a possible release date for the new KK'S PRIEST album, Owens said: "[K.K.] wants to get it out pretty soon. 'Cause I know we wanna do some touring. So I know he wants to get it out."
Last month, Downing told Danny Stoakes about KK'S PRIEST's upcoming LP: "It's imminent, for sure. Everything's gonna be sticky-taped and glued together, and we'll fire it out very soon. It's more than well on the way; we're in the mixing process."
He continued: "It's great. I can't wait. It's so frustrating. You just want it out now. But it will happen. So I'm looking forward to that."
Downing was reunited with JUDAS PRIEST for a performance at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony on November 5 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.
A little over a year ago, Downing said that he had no problems with fans making comparisons between PRIEST and KK'S PRIEST. "It's absolutely fine, because it's who I am and what I am and what I do and how I do it," he told Brazilian journalist Igor Miranda. "It's too late to change; I can't change. I can't go out and buy different guitars and different amplifiers and start to write differently and think differently. I have to do things the way that I like them to be done. And that's what I did in JUDAS PRIEST for all those years to the best of my ability. But even now that I don't have to consult with anyone else, really, then I feel a lot more freedom to be able to do this.
"I think I can do what I do better now than I did before, if that makes any sense," he continued. "Because I'm working and writing and putting things together for me — and, obviously, of course, the rest of the members in [KK'S PRIEST] as well. But I was on my own, for the most part, in the lockdown doing this. But there was a lot of things I wanted to say and get off my chest.
"The [KK'S PRIEST] album's full of emotions, sentiments and messages and also rejoicement. It's a lot of things, all in one package. And it was very important for me to be able to express myself through this album.
"I know that people will make comparisons, but that's fine. I either succeed or fail, like everyone else in life. But I'm a fan of this wonderful style of music, and if I like it, I'm hopefully sure that the fans will like it too. And I really hope they do. And I'm very much looking forward to the feedback from everybody all over the world.
"Towards the end for me in JUDAS PRIEST, it wasn't as energized as it was in former years, and I missed that. I remember the days when Rob [Halford, PRIEST singer] used to come offstage and he used to empty his boots out, and the water — which was sweat — used to just pour out of the boots. And it was the same for all of us. It was like we ran a marathon or something. So, hopefully we deliver that up. So I'm looking forward to doing that. I'm definitely gonna do my best, put it that way."
In September 2021, Owens said that there was no competition between JUDAS PRIEST and KK'S PRIEST. "I don't think we look at it [like that]," he told The Rock Experience With Mike Brunn in an interview. "There's one JUDAS PRIEST. They're JUDAS PRIEST. If [K.K. and I] wanted to take that angle, we would have called [our new band] KK'S JUDAS PRIEST. But I think fans are happy 'cause they know they do have two things that are the same vein, and they have K.K. back. I went nowhere — I've been putting music out like crazy — but they have Ken and I back together again. So there's no competition. I mean, how awesome would it be if we do shows with them? I don't care. I really don't. I love the guys in PRIEST. Rob's [Halford, PRIEST singer] my idol. And Richie [Faulkner, PRIEST guitarist] and I are friends. But this isn't a competition. We're not trying to make it a competition or another JUDAS PRIEST. That's why we put an album out first; that was the difference. If we were trying to make it that, we would start touring right away, doing the back catalog."
Asked if KK'S PRIEST is really open to touring with JUDAS PRIEST, Tim said: "I'm open to anything. I've never burned bridges. From the sounds of it, it's never gonna happen. 'Cause it never happened with me. I tried to get BEYOND FEAR to support JUDAS PRIEST on tour. Wendy Dio was my manager, and they were, like, 'Absolutely not. You're not gonna support us.' But we're all friends. I mean, I'm speaking for me — I'm not speaking for Ken. But, yeah, listen, I always look at it as how much fans would love stuff. How cool would it be if that happened?"
Photo by George Chin
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