Ex-JUDAS PRIEST Guitarist K.K. DOWNING: I'm Very Grateful And Respectful To My Bandmates'
Corey Gorechrist of the ”Fantasm” podcast recently conducted an interview with former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On his difficult childhood upbringing:
K.K.: ”I think one of the main reasons I wanted to do the book [Downing’s just-released autobiography, ’Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest’] was to try to give everyone an insight as to how things really were. You never really do know. I think the thing is, I wanted to say, that, yeah, there was a lot of turmoil and friction in my family, it wasn’t normal up until the age of 15 when I left home. Now that I’m out on my own, I’ve known there’s lots and lots of people out there who suffered as kids growing up. Unfortunately, lots of us are born into families like that where there’s lots of hardship and stuff. But it was worth mentioning so that people know that, really, if you dig deep and get yourself sorted, like I did, then there’s something good out there; you just have to go out there and find it. And I think my message is that, do what I did, everyone, if you’re in that situation — just escape. Set your wings and take off, really. Don’t think things are going to improve because they’re not going to improve. You’ve got to go out there and mix with normality. It doesn’t matter if you sweep the streets or clean toilets, put a roof over your head, just mix with normality and find out what it is what you wnna do with your life. That’s a pretty important part of the book for me.”
On PRIEST going up against punk music in the late 1970s:
K.K.: ”Even when you’re successful, you’re going along and gaining momentum, and then, before you know it, something like that happens — the new wave and the punk thing. It hits the U.K. like a mega storm, and you start to feel a bit threatened — that there seems to be disinterest in rock and metal suddenly and everything is new, and will we die out? You feel a bit threatened. I swear that there’s only PRIEST and UFO that actually toured the U.K. in those years, ’77 and ’78, whenever it was, at the height of it all. And there were so many rock musicians that jumped ship, and before you know it, they’ve got these new wave haircuts and makeup and clothes and things, thinking they had more of a chance of making a living doing this. I thought it was tough, but I’m glad we came through that.”
On the recording of 1981’s ”Point Of Entry” on the heels of the success of previous year’s ”British Steel”:
K.K.: ”It’s quite difficult. PRIEST has always been a band that’s been pretty versatile, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. In our eyes, we were just trying to gain as much momentum and popularity as we could and bring as many people into the fold of rock, which was… We were now a metal band, and the message was there’s lots of good stuff here in this camp for everybody. Because it was such wonderful times, really. We were fortunate — I’m very fortunate — and I do say it, that I was born when I was to have witnessed the evolution of music of all genres, really. We’ve been there to observe and to be able to judge and to make preferences. And just think of all the wonderful concerts that I’ve seen that people in the future will never, ever have the opportunity to see. I mean, I saw VAN HALEN opening up for BLACK SABBATH in my hometown on the first VAN HALEN [record]. I mean, gigs like that, you just can’t… Even if those guys were to get together and do it again, it wouldn’t be the same. [I’m] just so fortunate to have been a part of it as well — I’m so, so lucky. And irrespective of anything that happens, I’ll always say that I’m very grateful and respectful to my bandmates, and we had a long journey together, a long career and we were very successful, and what we did together has become historical. And I hope in the future that people will look back, when people think of heavy metal, they’ll think inevitably of the band JUDAS PRIEST.”
On his career as a musician:
K.K.: ”I think that it’s such a long time, isn’t it? Some 40-odd years — four decades or even more. Making that journey, things change. You change as a person. Lots of things change in the world. I particularly remember the ’80s and mid-’80s were the fun times, the golden age, as I call them, because so many bands were coming to town, there was a feel-good factor, it seemed like the economy was pretty good. I mean, there was a different band coming through your town, to the arena, every week, a great bill, whoever it was. Everything seemed to be music, everything was happening. You walk out into the street and cars are just pumping music. It was just very, very comforting and a great time for everyone.”
K.K., who is a founding member of the British heavy metal legends and was part of the group since 1969, announced his retirement from PRIEST in April 2011.
He later shot down as ”inaccurate” reports that he left JUDAS PRIEST because he chose to concentrate on running the golf courses on his property.
This past February, Downing said that he was ”shocked and stunned” that he wasn’t approached to rejoin JUDAS PRIEST following Glenn Tipton’s decision to retire from the road due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease.
”Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest” was released on September 18 via Da Capo Press. The book was co-written by the Scottish author and journalist Mark Eglinton, whose previous collaborations include ”Official Truth, 101 Proof” with Rex Brown of PANTERA and ”Confessions Of A Heretic” with BEHEMOTH’s Adam ”Nergal” Darski.