Feed On Me... K.K. Downing Speaks Out.
Judas Priest are without doubt t the greatest and most influenced band in the ‘Heavy Metal’ band on the scene, who have influenced the likes of ‘Primal Fear’, ‘Slayer’, ‘Metallica’, ‘Pantera’, and just about all of your favourite bands. With the release of the bands new studio album ‘Demolotion’ the band have embarked on their world tour were Jason Brown speaks to K.K. Downing about what has been happening in the ‘Judas Priest’ camp and what the future holds for the band. The band are also planning on return to the shores of the UK in December for a one off show on the 19th December at the ‘Brixton Academy’. Be there or be square!!! In the meantime check this interview and support real Heavy Metal music!!”
Hi Ken, it is great to meet you again. My first question is, has the fans and the Press accepted ‘Ripper’ into the band as the new vocalist?”
“Well Jason, that is a good question? Well been a musician and not the press and the media it is a tough question to answer, but I think above everything that the new album ‘Demolition’ will consolidate his position in Judas Priest, were people would think it was going to be a one hit or miss wonder with the ‘Jugulator’ album.
Having said that, Ripper has been on two albums now and I think that will put peoples minds at rest in one way or another”.
So how successful was the ‘Jugualtor’ album for the band and what sort of press reactions did you get for that album?
“I guess it was kind of satisfactory and a couple of people said that there was not enough guitar playing on the record. Nobody really knocked it as such and as far as a Heavy Metal record goes it is a pretty tough album and the success of that album depends on what territory we are talking about.
The album did exceptionally well in places like Japan, Spain, Germany and a lot of the European countries. America was rather disappointing but then again we were with a small label ‘CMC’ and since then we have parted ways with them and are now signed to ‘Atlantic’ records in the USA”.
Was the tour for the ‘Jugulator’ album a success too?
“Well it was for us, because we were let out and we were hungry to play again after been locked up for 7 yrs. We enjoyed every show and Ripper is a great singer & he sings in tune with the rest of the band. We played everything from a 1000 seats to some rather massive gigs”.
As we are talking about the tour for the ‘Jugulator’, I would like to ask you why you only played 2 UK shows, why was that?
“Well I think it was down to the promoters really. For instance, we played in Glasgow last night (13th June) and I heard that we have not played there since 1988. So when you think about it 13 yrs is a long time, but we are playing more shows this time around. At the end of the day it is up to the promoters. The Heavy Metal fans that will come tonight and for every show are dedicated die hard fans. Let’s face it, the UK has a tendency to follow trends matter what style of music it may be, like ‘Grunge’ etc... and there ready to accept it. Fuck that man!!! The media are always looking for something new”.
What was your reaction to the support band at that time ‘Gorefest’, did you like them or not?
“Well we got on very well with them, but yet again there was a conflict of musical opinion. The record company and promoters think it was a good idea to have 2 different styles of Metal music on the same bill. To be honest I think that because Judas Priest have been around for 30 yrs or so and because we are older musicians they tend to forget that when we are out there performing we perform just like we did 20 yrs ago. There’s no difference, as we are not hobbling around the stage on fucking crutches - ha!!
So a lot of people tend to think why not stick a younger band on the stage with them to bring the younger generation in. I do not think it is a good idea in a way because people pay to see the main band and they expect to see a band in the same vain of musical style, not a Death Metal band. So I think it is unfair for both bands really.
That is why on this tour it is much better because we have 2 styles of Metal music in the same vain. I mean for this UK tour the promoters wanted to have ‘Cathedral’ on the tour with us, but I do not think it would of gone down to well. I think that ‘Savatage’ are more to the fans liking as they are in a similar vain of style for the Judas Priest fans. When people pay good money to see a show they expect to see a good support band. I am the same to be honest”.
Now let’s move away from the tour of the ‘Jugulator’ album, now could you tell me if you are happy with the European and Japanese labels that you are signed too?
“Well we have recently changed the Japanese label to ‘JVC’ and so it remains to be seen how well they perform to the true Japanese tradition. As for ‘SPV’ they are covering a lot of areas in Europe and I think they are doing a good job. Actually they wanted us, not us wanting them and they are not skint flints neither and they take good care of us with promotion etc...”
Do you still have ‘Priest Music LTD’?
“Yes we do, it is a safe guard for everything really”.
So how did the deal with ‘Atlantic’ records come about?
“I am not really sure to be honest. I think that ‘CMC’ kind of called it a day, and our manager has a lot of contacts with a lot of record companies. ‘Atlantic’ were very ego to help the band, and so we will have to see what happens with them”.
Has any other labels of recent approached you since you signed to ‘SPV’?
“I think that it is not a good idea to poach anybody or word gets back and I think that they could play the same game if they wanted too”.
Did it ever cross your mind that you would be signed to yet another major label?
“Well at that time of signing with a smaller label no!! I think after a while we realised that we had made a mistake and so we needed a bigger label behind us”
Are you aware that most bands write most of their material whilst on tour? So could I be right in saying that some of the material for the ‘Demolition’ album may of been wrote whilst on the ‘Jugulator’ tour?
“No I do not think we wrote any melodies or anything like that whilst on that tour”.
So how long did it take to get the ideas for the new album together and also was there a lot of preparation involved for that album?
“I think it took quite a long time to prepare the album and I guess a lot of things happen when you get older with family’s etc.. It is so difficult to please everybody in the band, so we had to rehearse a lot”.
Where did the ideas come about, were they done in your own studio or in Glenn's?
“Yes it was the same old thing really. Everybody puts ideas together and then we all get together and knock them about a bit to see what we come up with”.
As you are promoting the new album ‘Demolition’, how did the title come about and were there any other titles in mind?
“Yes we were thinking of other names, but we asked ourselves ‘Has everything been done’? So we realized that everything had been done, so we came up with the name that would be mainstream in a way that everybody could relate to. So we thought of calling the tour ‘Demolition’ tour, and the name of the album seemed to be perfect for the album, as well as the t. shirts.”.
So who did the art work for the album and were there any other covers in mind for the art work?
“It was done by the same artist who did the ‘Jugulator’ album. I’m not sure if we had any other covers in mind”.
Does the art work reflect in the bands music?
“I think it pretty much does reflect in the bands music with the art work. I think it is a pretty heavy album and I also think it has a lot going for it really”.
Who wrote the lyrics and music for this new album, was it the whole band or Ripper and Glenn?
“I think that Glenn was responsible for most of the lyrics and Glenn and myself worked on some of the musical arrangements”.
How do you see these songs on the latest album as a progression from the last album?
"I would have to say overall that it is more of a 2001 sounding album, do you know what I mean?"
No I do not know what you mean Ken, please explain?
“Well I think you can distinctively listen to records and somebody played you a ‘Judas Priest’ record and even if you were not a fan you could probably say that it sounds like a record from the 70’s or something in the 80’s - 90’s. I think that the new album is moving along with the technological help that you can get from today’s equipment.
It is like every time you go into the studio, things have been up-dated so quickly, like the last album was done on ‘DAT machines and now there done on ‘Radar’ and that is why it sounds totally different from the ‘Sin After Sin’ album”.
So the new album was recorded by Sean Lynch and Glenn Tipton, so where was it recorded? Was it recorded in the same studio where you did the ‘Jugulator’ album?
"Well yes some of it was recorded down there like the drums and the rest of the album was done at Glenn’s studio, as he has a new studio which is a separate part of his house”.
So how long did it take to record this album and are you totally happy with the end results?
“Well Jason, it actually took a long time to record. I would have to say that an album is never finished and there are always things that you can always improve on, but we will just have to see what the end result is. I know that Glenn wanted to play a bigger roll on this record, so I guess a lot of it will be on his shoulders. He wanted to have a crack at producing the album. We have been in a lot of studios throughout the years as you can imagine. I actually do a lot of my stuff at home”.
Briefly could you talk me through the songs on the new album? Also could you tell me why you chose the song ‘Machine Man’ for the single? Also were you happy that ‘Machine Man’ was a single?
“Well the label chose the song ‘Machine Man’ for the single. I would have to say that ‘Bloodsuckers’ and ‘Metal Messiah’ are my 2 favourite trax on the album. Also ‘One On One’ is also another killer track. I really can’t talk you though the songs as we would be here all day, sorry, but most of them were wrote by Glenn and myself”.
After listening to the album for the first time I was a little disappointed as I thought it was going to be a step up the ladder from the ‘Jugulator album, instead it has seemed to of gone a step down or in a different approach, why was that? It certainly is not the easiest album to listen to by far, do you agree?
“Well we always move the golf post’s with our fans and we always change things around. I agree that it is not the easiest album to get into and I think any die hard fan will have to listen to it a few times before it all becomes clear to them.”
When the single was released did you not have a say in what song you wanted to have released as the debut single?
"No not really because we put it out there and we assume that the record company talks between each territories as they are all different from one another and they came up with ‘Machine Man’ and I really do not know why? With the American label they were talking about releasing the single ‘Feed On Me’”.
I presume that you will be recording a promo video, if so will it be for ‘Machine Man’?
“You know Jase, we have not even thought about it yet!! We have been so busy with the album and the tour and at one point we said we have to make a video. Even if it is going to be a live video mixed in with some tour action then it would be great, what do you think Jason? It would be also cheap to do as well (Laughing) I think it would be great!! Don’t be a bunch of cheap skates -ha!!”
So are there any songs from the new album that you particularly like and dislike and why?
“Well Jason, I think the 2 outstanding trax for me are ‘Bloodsuckers’ and ‘Metal Messiah’. I do not have a least favourite track., they are all good songs, but the 2 already mentioned are the ones I like the most”.
Are you influenced by the Industrial type bands such as ‘Fear Factory’, as this album has that mechanical sound in one way or another?
“Well I have no Industrial influences that is for sure. I think it is a more modern day sounding to the ‘Judas Priest’ sound. Do you remember when we recorded the song ‘Metal Gods’ when you had that mechanical at the start of the song. Well I think we have taken that vibe a step further”.
Ok Ken, what do you think to the tribute albums that are kicking about, like the ones on ‘Century Media’ and ‘Dwell Records? Is it the ‘Industrial’ album I sent to your manager?
“It was you Jason that sent it to them!! Fuck man it is weird!! Thank’s a lot for sending it over. I have that CD at my house and the bands on it are not Industrial at all. They are fucking Glam Rock bands like ‘Fasterpussy Cat’ and bands like that”.
I don’t know what you think of it Ken, but I think it is a disgrace to ‘Judas Priest’, I gave it 0/5 that is all it is worth.
“You are probably right Jase, it’s fucking madness!! How can anybody think that it was a good idea? Well they sold one copy because you bought it and sent it to our management (Laughing)”.
Let’s move away from ‘Judas Priest’ just for one moment. I would like to ask you what you think to Rob solo album ‘Resurrection’?
“Well I think it was a much better attempt than any of the previous albums he has done as a solo artist. I think it is more on course to where he should be now”.
Are you happy to be on talking terms with Rob and what do you think about the rumours of Rob re-joining the band once again? Does this make Ripper feel uncomfortable with the whole situation?
“Well I think that Rob has a fan basis were they would like to see him back in ‘Priest’. There are a lot of people out there who like to start off rumours because that is what they want. There will be people who will be reluctant to change. It is like when Jimi Hendrix got rid of the 2 white guys and replaced them with 2 black guys, it was not the same and I did not want that because there was a spark with Jimi & Mitch & Noel. I love Jimi Hendrix music, he’s my hero!! As for Ripper, I do not think it worries him about been kicked out of the band, because he has the confidence and comforts from within the band and he also knows just how good he is”.
As the band have just started touring for the new album, how well is the tour going so far?
“It is going really well so far actually. I think that this is a bit of a test to fly there and play here for that amount of time etc...”.
Briefly could you talk me through the ‘British Steel’ DVD & Video you are putting out?
“Well you know the company ‘Classic Albums’? They are part of ‘Eagle’ records and they are putting a documentry out about that album. They have interviewed Ian, Glenn, Rob and myself as well as Tom our producer. It turned out really well actually.”
As we are talking about videos, I also understand that there will be a movie about Ripper before he joined ‘Judas Priest’, is this true?
“The film company made a film and it was about Ripper at the beginning, but now it is not!! I think that when we told them that they were going to betray us we told them that we wanted to be involved and we wanted paying for it to be fair. They kind of changed the story somehow so they did u-turn and changed the story line”.
Just before we come to the end of the interview, I would like to ask you why CBS have re-released the whole back catalogue of your albums and re-mastered them with bonus trax. Also what do you think to the re-releases?
“I’m not sure how it came about, but we came aware that we had not re-mastered all of the albums. Jayne I think had spoken to the label about re-mastering them and I think the whole idea came from there. I think they turned out really well actually. I think with today’s technology they sound louder with more balls, but all of the characters are still there. As for the bonus trax, we were asked if we had any un-released material that we never used on any of those albums, which we did and so we decided to put them on the re-releases”.
Well Ken it has been a pleasure to meet you again, take care and best of luck with the album and the tour. Do you have anything to say to the readers and your loyal fans?
"Yes thank you to all our fans out there. We hope that you like the new album and I hope that you like the shows we are doing. Also thanks for the interview Jason, It’s been great to meet you again and best of luck with your zine”.
“Note from the Editor: Special thanx to Jayne Andrews & Simon Porter & Carl Miller for all their help and support in arranging the interview. Also thanx to the ‘Metal Gods’ themselves for been such a cool bunch of guys - No Rock Stars here!!, You rule!!”