Recently, Chad Bowar of About Heavy Metal recently conducted an interview with JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
About Heavy Metal: How is "Nostradamus" coming along?
K.K. Downing: We are working on it day and night. It's going really, really well. It's a long project in terms of the length of music. It's over an hour and a half of music, so for that reason alone it is going to take us a bit longer to pull it together. But hopefully we can offer something unique and wonderful to the world. We're totally into it. We promise the fans we'll get it to them as soon as we possibly can. We'll get a PRIEST tour together as well.
About Heavy Metal: Are you and Glenn (Tipton) doing the production on the album?
K.K. Downing: So far that is the way it seems. We've been working hard, pretty much nonstop. That's not to say at some point we might bring someone else in, but we'll see what we need. If we think we need to, we'll certainly do that. But I think between Glenn and I we've got an awful lot of experience. It's sounding really good. It's the closest guarded secret in rock and roll at the moment. It's a bit different than the work we've done previously. We're looking forward to exposing it as soon as we can.
About Heavy Metal: Obviously writing lyrics is different on a concept album, but is writing the music any different from a regular album?
K.K. Downing: I think there are a lot of the usual ingredients, but with a bigger spectrum of sound with a bit of a classical element and more orchestrated sounds, which can be extremely heavy if used right. Hopefully it's going to be pleasing to a lot of people, and that's what it's always been about. We've always tried to widen the audience of rock and metal and make it more credible to more people, and hopefully we'll achieve that goal with this project.
About Heavy Metal: 30 plus years into your career is it easier or harder to write songs?
K.K. Downing: I think the sponge is always being squeezed harder. When will we run out before we are just duplicating what someone else has done? The answer to that is in the combination of what people have to offer in the band. Five individuals when we come together creates something unique. When we will run out of ideas is a very good question. Hopefully not until this record is done! (laughs)
About Heavy Metal: What do you think are some of the most underrated Judas Priest albums?
K.K. Downing: I think they are all underrated. I think everyone who's never bought a PRIEST album should go out and buy one, and follow that up by buying every other one as well! It's fair to say that even with as long and successful of a career that PRIEST has had, we still have a long ways to go to be comparable with a lot of bands that have gotten a much bigger audience, whether it's QUEEN or GUNS N' ROSES or METALLICA or AC/DC. We are not considered underground by any means, but PRIEST is still climbing the ladder in a lot of respects. For that reason I think we're still doing it. We're still hungry. It would have been great to have been a LED ZEPPELIN, where your first album is bigger than sliced bread. The good thing about PRIEST is that we've always been building and hopefully getting better. But then again, we're not over and done with yet, while a lot of those other bands are.
About Heavy Metal: What are some of the biggest changes you've seen in the music industry over the years?
K.K. Downing: I heard an interview with Robert Plant on a radio station not too far from me, and he reminded me of something. When we first started to write music, every time we composed something we had to play it a million times so we wouldn't forget it because we weren't able to record it. That may sound weird, but it's true. We would sit there in a room and play song ideas over and over again. And then the next day we would have to remember them, because we didn't have the facilities to record the ideas. That was true in the very early days. Then we got a little cassette recording machine with a little microphone, and then we were able to record it. In addition to the technology changes and the internet, there have also been musical changes. I've been around long enough to witness the evolution of rock music and metal music from the '60s all the way to the present time. I've seen lots of waves of different trends. In metal the big change was from the end of the '80s early '90s when it was classic or pure metal changing to the newer metal. Whether it changes back remains to be seen. The good news is that a lot of the great veterans are still around, like AC/DC, IRON MAIDEN, etc. We're still hoping for a massive revival of the brilliant '70s and '80s. That would be pretty cool.