Andrew Catania of All That Shreds recently conducted an interview with former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
All That Shreds: Comparing [longtime JUDAS PRIEST singer] Rob [Halford] to [former JUDAS PRIEST frontman] Ripper [Tim Owens], who do you feel is a better fit for PRIEST?
Downing: "When Ripper joined the band... We would have to say that, physically and technically, Ripper was a better singer than Rob, because Tim was always in tune, he was always in key. I mean, Rob was good. Rob got better after he started to wear in-ear monitors. But Tim was stronger. He still is. I mean, the guy is a powerhouse. But the thing is that the tonality of his voice is not Rob's, and I guess that's what the [PRIEST] sound is. That's why it had to come to an end. We would come offstage. Tim would absolutely murder the show, and we would still come offstage and the fans would be saying, 'Oh, yeah, yeah. I enjoyed the show. But when's Rob coming back? Is Rob coming back?' And it was hard. And it must be hard for those guys [in PRIEST] out there now, [hearing fans say], 'Is K.K. coming back? Is Glenn [Tipton, guitar] coming back?' It must be tough for them."
All That Shreds: What were the events that led up to Rob coming back to PRIEST?
Downing: "It's a long story. Sharon Osbourne rang up one day and said, 'Hey, what's happening with Rob? Is he back in the band? Because I want you to do the Ozzfest and I'm gonna pay you a lot of money for doing it.' And that didn't happen the first time around. But then another year or so went by, and kind of the same thing happened again. But by this time, we'd done 'Demolition', and things seemed to be on the decline for us. The venues seemed to be getting worse. And eventually, I took part in the 'Demolition' album, but I wasn't happy. Glenn said he wanted to produce the album and stuff like that. It was all getting a bit funky, so I walked away from it for a while, but I came back and put as much into it as I could."
All That Shreds: So, basically, it was a money thing that got Rob back? Would you say that that's fair [to say]?
Downing: "No. No. I just think it's the fact that… [It was] what the fans wanted — it was fan demand, really. And I couldn't see that getting any better, really. Because everything that the band had done before Ripper seemed to be getting more and more popular, having more acclaim, like the 'Painkiller' album. The 'Painkiller' album wasn't very big when we first released it; it was just medicore. But it started to gain momentum year after year, and it started to become a big album. And the fans wanna hear the band, the original bandmembers."
All That Shreds: Ripper said he'd like to go back and re-record "Jugulator" and "Demolition" as he feels PRIEST is trying to remove any mention of his involvement with the band. It's hard to find "Jugulator" anywhere and "Demolition" is more available. Would you participate in the re-record with Ripper?
Downing: "It would probably be legal reasons [why they are not widely available], I think. Somebody actually must own the rights. But it's worth finding out, because one thing is for sure, between me and Ripper, if nobody owns the rights to them, then we'll start producing them and marketing them. I'd be happy to do that. I'll do some research and find out who owns the rights to those albums. But somebody [must have acquired] the rights, I'm sure."
Read the entire interview at All That Shreds.