KK Downing har fått tillbaka suget att skapa ny musik och under nya bandnamnet KK’s Priest släpper de idag sitt debutalbum Sermons of the Sinner. Det känns lite konstigt att skriva debut i sammanhanget då KK varit med i Judas Priest i drygt 40 år och all den erfarenhet som alla andra bandmedlemmar sitter på. KK har även fått med Tim Ripper Owens på sång, vilken känns som ett solklart val då hans röst passar in i KK’s musik och att de samarbetat tidigare under två plattor med Judas Priest. Jag ringde upp Ripper för ett snack om Sermons of the Sinner och lite om Judas Priest.
Hey Tony, how are you bud?
It’s all good. KK’s Priest album new album, right? The start for you for all this was the gig 2019 where you played with KK. How did all this feel for you?
Well, it really was… I mean, you know Ken had done that. He did play Bloodstock before that with Ross The Boss. He did a little guest appearance on there and I think that’s what started getting the juices flowing again so somebody else came up with the idea to do this KK show and it was KK, Dave Ellefsson and Les Binks and AJ Mills and me. I think he was like “This is awesome man, I’m ready to do it again!”. But I think the official what happened officially was when Priest said “Listen, we do not want you involved with the 50 anniversary at all”. I think that’s when he was like “You know what? Let’s get a band together and do a record!”. I think that’s what really got it ’cause that show was a blast. It went really well. We had a good time and the fans were crazy good.
So did you get to just get some material from Ken that you could start to look at right away?
Well, he called the beginning of 2020 and said “Listen, are you interested?” I said “Yeah!”. So he was already writing material and he might have been before that. But I know he and AJ was writing then and I was on a tour with The Three Tremors and we were playing in Birmingham I think. And so Ken said “Hey, I’m gonna come and play you some of these songs I got. I’ve been writing, you know, and AJ have thrown down some vocal ideas!”. It’s funny because it was KK and I out in the parking lot in front of my hotel in his car listening, you know, listening to this music like old times. I felt like I was a teenager again, like cranking up the jams in the car. KK was just like “Check these songs out!” and I was blown away Tony, I really was blown away. I thought “This is exactly what Ken should do!” He’s writing just like KK Downing, you know. I heard these songs and I was like this is what you need to do. It’s heavy, it’s KK Downing heavy metal, so we started hearing it. So that’s how it was. And then I went home and he sent me some other ideas and and then I flew to England at the beginning of March and got out of there right when covid hit. So I mean I was flying around the country when all hell was breaking loose. I went over there and laid the vocal tracks down and it was great.
Yeah, I heard that you actually recorded it at Kens house and you stayed in a cottage nearby. Was that like a main decision to keep it simple and a little bit of a family vibe with you guys?
Well, it’s definitely with me. He offered me to do it a different way. You know he’s like, “Hey, we can go to the studio.”. I think a lot of stuff was recorded at Steve Harris Studio, I think, I can’t remember. I’m not sure what studio things are recorded in. The bass player – he’s an engineer and producer and stuff. So he was like “We can go to a real studio in London and we could do this, or we could stay here.” and I’m like “Well, let’s stay here ’cause I am all about comfort. I’m all about staying in the cottage and record at your house and take our time.” You know if I don’t feel it, I don’t feel pressured to sing it. It doesn’t matter that we’re somewhere else and I like the home friend vibe. And you know what? I got that vibe when I joined Judas Priest. That’s the kind of vibe they gave me. Anyways, I mean we were at a real studio when making the Demolition CD. I recorded it at Glenns House, so I actually stayed at Glenns. We recorded there. I liked the home vibe and that’s I’ve learned to just set up and this is how I like to do it, even if I go to expensive studio. I’m like “Put the microphone in the control room with you guys. I will stand there and sing because I can look at the control. You know I can look at the screen. I can see what’s going on and you guys are right there and it’s just kind of nice. Pour me a cup of tea and let’s go!”
Do you do the final take there as well? Doesn’t that mess up some kind of the sonics or and stuff that’s needed?
No, not anymore. These vocals sound fantastic inside. It’s some of the best sounding vocals ever did was on a record I did called A New Revenge that I did it a couple years ago and it’s straightforward hard rock kind of record. I did the same way in LA at Lai, recorded it at Tommy Hendricksons House. Tommy is the guitar player for Alice Cooper and I was standing right there in front of the Control Board. You know you could put a little pop screen to the mike and then you could put like a little foam kind of soundproof screen up, but you don’t even have to do that nowadays due to the mikes and the technology and the way things are. I like a little bit of airiness of the room in there, you know, sometimes it adds a natural little bit of a natural reverb kind of thing. But it’s different nowadays, sometimes you’ll want it. I think speaking and some other parts you might want to do that. I’ve recorded so many records like that now. But like I said, you put this little foam soundproof screen in front of you.
All right, talking about the band name. You know everybody thought like KK:s Priest was a kind of stepping into Priest and it’s kind of source. But now that we heard the songs, it’s completely different and something more in there that is being incorporated. More like into a KK:s Priest experience than just looking at the past and the obvious connection with you.
Yeah, I think the last thing Ken would have wanted in his mind was making people think that this is another Judas Priest. I mean that first of all you would try to go after the name Judas Priest and take it yourself. I guess I don’t know but I think as a marketing standpoint and as a management and everybody around him, I think that you have to capitalize on this now with the name in general, but I mean listen, you know none of us are getting any younger. I loved how you just said that because it’s a different experience. It’s a KK experience and he took that Priest name is in there because that’s in it. That’s all he knows and you know it’s not KK:s Judas Priest. It’s KK’s priest. I mean there’s another Priest fans out there, nobody going after them. I mean, you know, I’m gonna imagine it’s a pretty common name. But yeah, I mean it’s KK’s thing I gotta be honest. I think the worst part KK worried about was putting his name in it. Now, I’m not joking, I think when we talked about if I like the KK’s thing in there. He was worried about that. He’s like “I might take that out of there someday. I don’t like KK’s name in there”. I mean, he’s gotta do something to market it and to get the right fans and his fans. And you know it is what it is. I mean you know what it’s. It’s stirred some controversy and that’s a good thing sometimes. I mean people don’t like the name. I totally understand. I understand people like it. They think it’s silly. I get it. But you know what? Heavy metal has things that you have the freedom to do whatever you want, and silly things is done in heavy metal a lot.
You know that kind of cheese in there is a little bit of binding stuff together, which is kind of in the in the past. And it is coming back again and stuff like that and it works now when you have that fresh tone of everything else that’s coming in. And that’s what I can hear as well. When you hear these new songs it’s almost like some of the solos back from the 70s and some is like in in the now and the same thing is going on with the riffs. So it it’s kind of a great blend of everything that he got into those songs there as well.
It’s funny you say that because I keep saying. When people say “Hey, that sounds like Judas Priest!”, I said “Well, I think it sounds like KK Downing.” I mean, he wrote that style of music. In his career for 40 years, he was a major writer. Now you know exactly what KK was writing in the band ’cause this is how he writes. You said you hear 70 stuff. That’s funny, I totally love that you said that as well because you know, like the end of The Return Of The Sentinel it reminds me of something from Rocka Rolla. I mean, the way he’s playing his guitar and it’s like holy crap, this is what KK has done his whole life and so now he’s writing exactly like KK Downing wants to write.
It’s liberating to feel that it’s kind of a freedom that comes with everything as well. And I mean with you in the mix from the beginning it feels like you also had your own flavor to put into everything as well. So it must be liberating to be in on the process from the first KK:s Priest album. I mean you have that freedom and it feels like it’s much more unbound for some reason.
I mean, I’m not really sure how how I’m supposed to explain it. It does, and you know all are such great friends in the in the band we have such awesome guys. I think the thing is, KK knows how I sing and I love when someone says to me, “Yeah well, I heard Sermons Of The Sinner. You sound like Rob Halford Mike.” Can you stop saying that – I’ve been singing for 30 years now and I’ve been singing like this for 30 years. Even before Judas Priest, I don’t sound like Robert. I mean, I’m sorry I sound like Tim Ripper Owens and that’s what’s great about doing records with someone like KK because you’re just like we went in there and just busted it out. I gotta tell you another thing though, AJ laid down some guiding vocal lines. And man, can he sing. I was like I said, “If I ever have a cold I’m having AJ sing.”. So we have a backup.
It must be good for backup vocals as well.
Yeah, yeah it is. There’s a freedom to it. I think most people who are are smart enough and just don’t want confrontations and just hate things. I think most people that will listen to it would would be like that. It sounds like KK. To me you nailed it being free in writing just like KK Downing wants to write.
Is that the playground only for KK or can you contribute songs as well? I know you play the guitar and and write some parts yourself as well.
I write songs and I play a little bit, I wrote the songs on half the song music on Beyond Fear and I wrote on my solo record. But I try to leave it up to the professionals. And I’ve been surrounded by a lot of good professionals, so you know, I’m like I can grab the guitar and and play Living After Midnight or something like that. I’ll leave it out there but the freedom is nice and it’s nice for me to vocally get up there and do what I do. You know it’s it’s the good thing about my voice is I can sing just about any style. Sing from a death metal growl to a high clean note to raspy. You know, the older I’ve gotten the raspier my voice is. I have a little Ronnie [James Dio] deal, it comes out of me sometimes. That’s how my voice is, but I get to do whatever I want in a band like this and it makes it nice.
I actually took a note on that before, I wrote like this “versatile/can sing anything”.
I kind of pride myself on that. It gets a little harder when you get when you get in your mid 50s. When people say “What’s the hardest Judas Priest stuff to sing?”, and I’m like “My stuff!”. Because you know what happens is when you tour singing Sermons Of The Sinner every night is going to be tough, because you write to your ability and you try to stretch the limit, and Rob did that a lot too and Rob would be smart enough to throw in songs like Breaking The Law and Living After Midnight. You know to give yourself a break. I don’t have a lot of breaks, you know there’s not a lot of breaks on a lot of stuff. I do a lot of singing in my home studio for a lot of bands all over the world and one minute it might be a softer song, and next minute it’s like a heavy metal opera, so it’s it’s really fun to just do whatever you want.
OK, here’s an idea for you. Ask KK to write an instrumental for next time because it sounds like there is one in all that material as well. So then you can have a little bit of a break.
You know what? I think we should ask him to write 2 instrumentals that way. Haha. We need it. I’m all for instrumentals.
You said you are little bit of older now, but are there any type of music or techniques that you wish younger Tim would have grasped?
Well, I think you know it’s funny ’cause if you look back you probably had more of a voice. Your voice was in better shape when you’re younger and I could probably do anything all the time. Now it’s not quite the same voice, but it’s a better voice because I learned probably when I was younger to sing. I didn’t have the the, the raspiness or the lowness sometimes. Some of the under I didn’t layer as much or use the death metal undertones kind of underneath something to be hidden in the background, like on like on Jugulator. You come into your own vocal. You start singing and you realize “I like this kind of stuff!“. So I have this midrange natural voice and that’s why I always say when the Ronnie deal thing comes in ’cause people like, hey that part kind of reminds me of Ronnie Dio. I’m singing like this for years. But you know now I’ve gotten older and it’s got more character in it. I loved Rob and Ronnie and Jon Oliva because I liked the character and their voice they would sing in characters at times so I wish I would have had a little bit of that grit in my voice. I guess nowadays I wish I had a little more of the clearness that I had way back so I guess it’s even.
It was mentioned that that you will be bringing back some Jugulator and Demolition songs into the sets as well. I revisited Jugulator today actually and there are a bunch of good songs there, but Demolition is one of my favorite Judas Priest albums. Hell Is Home and Nothing In Between, Machine Man and all those songs. And there’s good dynamics in that album, even a little bit better than on Jugulator, so I’m really looking forward to hearing much more of those live.
Well, I agree too. My favorite album is is Demolition as well. Maybe my favorite song is… I love Bloodstained a lot. I love when I play it live solo and probably with Ken we’re going to do the same thing with KK’s Priest. We’ll do One on One for sure. And then we’ll do Hell Is Home, probably we’ll probably do Burn In Hell, but I I mean, yeah, Demolition. In Between, Hell Is Home, Lost And Found… I mean, there’s there’s so many great songs. You know a song that’s overlooked a lot for the for the classic Judas Priest fans is Machine Man. I can’t believe the classic Judas Priest band would be like “Machine Man – this is rocking!”, but yeah, I sing Hell is home all the time. It’s always like I said One on One and Hell Is Home are always in my sets.
Jugulator and Demolition – that era with Judas Priest and now working with KK. What is the major difference? Or is it the same good vibes or is it more freedom now or what is the main difference?
I mean, I think the main difference is that the the writing is KK’s. You know the thing about Judas Priest is that they always changed with time, they listened to things. They changed – every record was different except Screaming For Vengeance and Defenders Of The Faith. Every record was different, they changed their identity a little bit. It still sounded like them, but they always changed it I think. Ken just said to himself, “I’m writing like I’ve always wanted to write!” so I think that’s what’s there. Also, it’s easy. I always had an easy time with with Judas Priest in the studio and hanging out. It was such a family and friendship kind of thing. And it’s the same now. It’s nice because it’s exciting to watch KK. I gotta admit that excitement was there when I recorded with Judas Priest ’cause they were doing something they wanted to do. But Ken’s like “I got a point to prove!”, you know, I think everybody now might realize he was a pretty major part of Judas Priest. He was writing riffs. That guy was writing this stuff. So you know when you hear it that’s it’s a cool thing, so it’s exciting to do it.
KK put in a little bit two months of extra tweaking due to the COVID situation. What tweaks was done to the album?
It was kind of funny ’cause fortunately my mic here at my studio matched up well to the songs we were changing. I’ll tell you a big tweek. This is the biggest tweek. The verses of Sermons Of The Sinner were actually raspier. They were raspier, they were high at the same note, but just a raspier kind of a note. And then Ken said “Hey, why don’t you try that with cleaner notes? Try! Let’s hear what it sounds like cleaner.”. And it was kind of cool ’cause it changed it, made it different. But there was parts were I changed the vocal line. We changed some lyrics around a couple songs. He changed the structure of the song, added a part and moved some parts around. It’s funny ’cause you get used to hearing something, so there were a couple songs where I was like “Oh man, I love that song how it was.” but ’cause you hear it for so long, but yeah, that’s what happens. You sit there and you, you can’t do anything but listen to the songs and make them better and that’s what he did. He made all his songs better.
So if I look at the artwork and listen to the music, it feels like everything is tying things together with that theme as we discussed with all the details, which comes in the songs and in in the packaging as well. So it feels like there’s something along there as well.
Yeah, he’s incorporated a lot of things, from fans, personal, and the style of music. It’s all kind of incorporated into this like we are the ones doing this. It’s for the fans, so all the songs and all of the artwork and all the things that are happening, there’s a big circle of of those things. You know we’re the Sermons Of The Sinner. You hear the record and hear songs like Brothers Of The Road or even Sacerdote Y Diablo, or you know, Metal Through And Through – all these songs are are intertwined with that, you know.
Yeah, so uh, I know that the KK wrote the majority of all of the lyrics, right?
Yeah, so if you’re looking at the lyrics, who is the sinner?
Well, I guess it depends on someone but. Everybody is going to look at that different. I think KK is gonna slowly let these things out. I think that’s the whole goal about this that he’s gonna let you know. It’s all gonna piece together where you see in the video. You’re gonna see all these things kind of come together. It’s great because it’s not something that you just release it and boom, it’s out. There’s still a story to be told with everything.
Yeah, exactly. So that that’s what I feel as well, it’s kind of a thing that intertwines everything together. So it’s kind of not just “Here’s a bunch of songs” it’s a lot of thought behind. I really want to have the full LP album and just open up and and go through stuff to get the whole picture, and along with the videos and stuff and live of course.
What is the happiest moment that you have experienced on the road?
Oh, I’ve had I’ve had so many. I, you know, I’ve never had a lot of disastrous ones, I mean. You you know one of the coolest moments for me was when I played my hometown. The first show with Judas Priest and MTV came out and was videoing it. My family and friends were out there, and my parents have always been supportive and they were always supportive of me doing doing things like that music. I think that was probably the coolest moment ever was being on stage. There’s a thing on MTV that you can see on YouTube where the video is and where I like blow a kiss to my family. I think that was great looking at my coworkers and my family and my friends and it’s like this surreal wall of happiness. I always talk about Judas Priest that people might look at it negatively and it’s not negative. It’s just that Judas Priest doesn’t talk about my era of Judas Priest, it’s kind of hidden. My records with them aren’t out there, but I have nothing bad to say about Judas Priest and my time with Judas Priest and and the guys and the management.Everything was so good. We got along so well so I have nothing but amazing memories. You know it’s just great times.
First Judas Priest album that you heard and your favorite Judas Priest album right now?
My first Judas Priest album I heard was Screaming For Vengeance. I mean, then I realized I heard them before, songs on the radio and stuff. My favorite Judas Priest album right now is Point Of Entry. Strangely enough, I’ve I’ve been loving listening to Point Of Entry lately.
Turning The Circles, is one of my favorite songs as well.
So that album – a Lot of people don’t like it. They didn’t like it at that time ’cause it went from, you know British steel, which was a straightforward raw kind of record to Point Of Entry. But Point Of Entry, I love the vocals and also the mix. I love the record.
Yeah, so thank you so much Tim. And I really hope that that we will see you live soon. Also, good luck with The Three Tremors and that Pyramid Project.
I’ll see you hopefully on the road. Make sure you yell at me when I’m on the road.
I will do so. Thank you Tim, thank you so much.
Alright buddy, thank you. Bye bye, thanks Tony.
SKRIBENT: Tony Asplund (email@example.com)
INTERVJU: Tim “Ripper” Owens (KK’s Priest)
AKTUELL MED: Nya skivan Sermons of the Sinner
SKIVBOLAG: EX1 Records