K.K. Downing is a legendary name and figure in the history of metal. He helped found Judas Priest some 50 years ago and scaled the heights of rock ‘n’ roll as that band developed through the ‘70s and finally achieved its signature sound in 1980 with the groundbreaking album “British Steel.” Downing’s rough and tough solos (and dual fills with fellow guitarist Glenn Tipton) were a feature of Judas Priest’s presentation. And for years, with many changes in musicians, the Downing and the band maintained a place on the Mount Rushmore of metal.
But in 2011, Downing quit. He said there were several reasons for the split, especially a breakdown of relations between various band members, management and him. In spite of that, Downing remained open to a possible reunion, but and an invitation never came, not even when Glenn Tipton stepped out from the rigors of touring. During that decade, Downing did some guest gigs with various musicians, but nothing solid or permanent.
After years of quietly enjoying life away from the rigors of the road and intense studio recording, Downing emerged again on stage in August 2019, and in 2020 he formed a new group, K.K.’s Priest, which featured former Judas Priest members Tim “Ripper” Owens (vocals) and drummer Les Binks – later replaced by DeathRiders/Cage drummer Sean Elg due to a hand wrist injury. And rather than simply relying on his past successes and going on the road performing classic Judas Priest songs, the renowned guitarist did what he has always done – make new music.
Their new album, “Sermons of the Sinner,” is due out on August 20, and is a record that celebrates Downing classic metal roots and encourages us to cherish those iconic pioneers whom we still have with us. The album cover features a mysterious figure robed in a monk’s habit, whom Downing slyly states may or may not be him, holding a book of sermons. He says the “sinner” in the title refers to his famous solo in that classic song of the same name and also reflects his sense of alienation from the groundbreaking group that he helped create. “The whole concept is the fact that I continue proudly to be who I am and what I am and do what I do,” declares Downing. “It’s been nearly 10 years. I’m back making music.”
With his usually gentle and talkative demeanor K.K. recently spoke with Sonic Perspectives contributor Rodrigo Altaf about his new band and album, as well as life in Judas Priest. Listen or watch their conversation below and remember to subscribe to our podcast in any of the several platforms we publish them in, to listen and be notified about new interviews and contents from the world of music.