Richie Faulkner says that "it's a disappointment more than anything" to see Kenneth "K.K." Downing making derogatory comments about JUDAS PRIEST in the press.
Ever since the release of his autobiography last summer, Downing has been taking jabs at his former bandmates, saying that he left the group in 2011 over band conflict, shoddy management and declining quality of performance. PRIEST's founding guitarist also said that he was "shocked and stunned" that he wasn't approached to rejoin the outfit following Glenn Tipton's decision to retire from the road due to his battle with Parkinson's disease.
Asked in a new interview with Boston's WAAF radio station how it feels for him to see Downing saying so many negative things about PRIEST and Faulkner's position in the band, Richie said (hear audio below): "It's a disappointment more than anything, to be honest with you. I'm a great fan of Ken's; I'm a great fan of what he's done. I'd love to hear him play some guitar and put out some music, to be honest with you. It just seems that, unfortunately, a lot of what he's involved in at the moment is bits of information in interviews. I'd love to hear him play guitar again, to be honest. It's disappointing more than anything. We try not to get involved in it. We're out on the tour, putting out new music and playing new music for the fans from a legacy that he helped create. So any sort of backstabbing or any sort of negativity that gets thrown at the band is just disappointing and unnecessary."
Faulkner went on to say that he understands why Downing's comments generate so much attention on social media and various music news web sites.
"Our focus is what we're doing today — sending the message to the fans; the new fans, the old fans, new songs, old songs, creating a path for the future, not only for us but for metal and the next generation," he said. "That's what our focus is, and it should be. There's an outlet, obviously, for everyone, both good and bad, and it's a great thing, depending on where you stand on the subject matter. It's great to have a voice like that, but sometimes people lose their focus and pay more attention to that. But we don't really say a lot about it. As you know, I responded recently, 'cause it was a personal thing, but we don't tend to do that. We just get our heads down and do this."
Earlier in the month, BLABBERMOUTH.NET published an interview Downing gave to Germany's Bleeding4metal.de in which K.K. said that it "seems wrong" that Faulkner and drummer Scott Travis "are not officially members of JUDAS PRIEST as they are on a wage."
The next day, Faulkner released a statement disputing Downing's comments, insisting that he hasn't been a salaried employee for the past seven years and slamming his predecessor's remarks as "an attempt to devalue my and Scott's position in the band."
Last year, Downing said that he felt like he was "being cloned" when he first found out he was being replaced by Faulkner.
Downing, who announced his retirement from PRIEST in April 2011 after nearly 42 years in the job, admitted to the "Appetite For Distortion" podcast that he was taken aback when he first saw his replacement.
"Richie, as far as I know, is a nice guy and obviously an excellent player," Downing said. "I was a bit disappointed when, basically… I think the idea was to replace me [with a lookalike], so I did feel as though I was kind of being cloned. But I'm not sure that was exactly fair to Richie. I mean, I could be off the mark here, but I think Richie had the right to bring himself to the stage with his own… portray his own image and ability to play the instrument the way that he does. But it is what it is."
He continued: "When Glenn [Tipton] retired from touring [last year], the same didn't happen — obviously, [Tipton's replacement] Andy [Sneap] doesn't look anything like Glenn; he doesn't wear the same clothes, the red pants, guitars or anything like that. So I don't really know what's going on. But it is what it is."
Despite his initial reservations about Richie's visual appearance, K.K. never questioned Faulkner's playing ability, saying: "I know Richie is predominantly a Les Paul guy and he's looked up to Zakk Wylde, Randy Rhoads, Michael Schenker and players like that. That's what he says. I don't recall me being cited as an influence on Richie when he was in his young days. But it is what it is."
Downing's autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", was released last September via Da Capo Press.