Richie Faulkner has dismissed K.K. Downing's insinuation that producer Andy Sneap was covering Glenn Tipton's parts on JUDAS PRIEST's new album, insisting that " Tipton and JUDAS PRIEST would [never] do anything to undermine the integrity of what they've done for the past 50 years."
Two weeks after Tipton announced that he was retiring from the road due to his battle with Parkinson's disease, Downing released a statement in which he said that he was "shocked and stunned" that he wasn't approached to rejoin the band and suggested that Sneap's "contribution to the new JUDAS PRIEST album was much more than just as a producer."
During a brand new interview with Let's Rock, Faulkner — who replaced Downing in PRIEST in 2011 — responded to the former guitarist's statement, saying that Glenn "was a thousand percent" involved in the making of "Firepower", "like he always has been."
Asked about Downing's comment regarding Tipton's contributions to "Firepower", Richie said: "I don't think that should even be a question in anyone's mind. I don't think Glenn Tipton and JUDAS PRIEST would ever do anything to undermine the integrity of what they've done for the past 50 years or what the fans have given to them for the past 50 years. So, in short, Glenn Tipton played all these parts on this record. That's kind of the last word in it, you know what I mean? Not that it's my word, but that's the answer and that's the truth."
He continued: "I know Ken [K.K.] insinuated that [Sneap played guitar on the album], and he's kind of backtracked just a bit and said that that's not what he meant, but we all knew what the insinuation was. To be honest with you, it's all a storm in a teacup. I think the main thing here is that… we've got a great album ready to be released, and that's what we're focused on. And Glenn was a thousand percent of that, like he always has been."
On the topic of how he and Sneap plan to divide up guitar-playing responsibilities on the upcoming tour, Faulkner told Let's Rock: " Andy will be doing most of Glenn's parts and for the classic songs, I'll be doing K.K.'s parts, and the newer songs, my own parts, which is technically the same as we did on the 'Redeemer [Of Souls]' tour. I'll be taking some of the load off of Andy, some of the solos and stuff. But for the most part, he's going to be playing most of Glenn's stuff."
Richie added: "It's gonna be interesting, and Andy has said as well that he's by no means the new guitar player, he's filling in for Glenn, he's flying the flag for Glenn and helping out PRIEST. And I think that's a noble attitude for someone to have, you know. They don't want to come in and take over. They want to come in a provide support for their heroes.
"[Glenn] was a hero to me. He's even more of a hero now, knowing him personally. And it's the same for Andy. He loves Glenn, he loves the band and he's there showing his support. And if and when Glenn comes back, or if he chooses to come and do some songs with us, Andy 's gonna be more than supportive to have him out there. It's a noble attitude to have and an attitude that makes you realize that you've got the right guy."
Downing issued a follow-up statement at the end of last month insisting that he never meant to imply that Sneap handled Tipton's parts during the making of "Firepower" and claiming that "parts" of his original comments were "regretfully misinterpreted."
"Firepower" will be released on March 9 via Epic.
The North American leg of the "Firepower" tour will kick off on March 13 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and will wrap on May 1 in San Antonio, Texas.