Richie Faulker says that he “not quite sure” why K.K. Downing believes he should have been asked to rejoin JUDAS PRIEST following Glenn Tipton‘s announcement that he would no longer be touring with the band.
Two weeks after Tipton revealed that he was retiring from the road due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease, Downing released a statement in which he said that he was “shocked and stunned” that he wasn’t approached to rejoin the band and suggested that Andy Sneap‘s “contribution to the new JUDAS PRIEST album was much more than just as a producer.” His comments appeared to get a rise out of singer Rob Halford, who fired back that “a lot” of K.K.‘s statement was “completely superfluous” and dismissed as “a thousand percent false” the idea that Tipton didn’t personally lay down all of his guitar work on “Firepower”.
Downing later walked back his comments, saying that he only meant to say that Sneap probably not only produced “Firepower” “but also contributed song ideas, riffs and licks, lyric ideas etc. Even George Martin, I believe, provided much more for THE BEATLES than just the role of a normal producer,” he explained. “An extra musician in the studio, like the aforementioned talented producers, really does bring a great benefit.”
Tipton, who is now 70 and has performed on every PRIEST album since the band’s 1974’s debut set, “Rocka Rolla”, is not quitting the band, but simply cannot handle the rigorous challenges of performing live. Joining PRIEST for its current dates is Sneap, who is also known as the guitar player in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrashers SABBAT.
During a brand new interview with the Goldmine magazine podcast, Faulkner was asked about Downing‘s comments and the circumstances that led to PRIEST‘s decision to enlist Sneap for the “Firepower” world tour.
“There’s lots of reasons why Andy makes sense [as Glenn‘s replacement on tour],” Richie said. “I saw the statement [from] K.K. And the general consensus seems to be that K.K. left. As far as I’m aware, the band gave him a grace period and they wanted him to come back and they wanted him to stay initially, and he didn’t want anything to do with it. So why the band should ask him to come back, I’m not quite sure what he thinks. But there’s lots of different facets that go into these sort of decisions, both to get Andy in and lots of other things. There’s a lot of personal reasons — all those sorts of things. It’s not as clear cut as the Internet has you believe. There’s a lot more that goes into it, and I think people understand that as well, if they gave it some thought. But, you know, we’re forging forward.”
Richie also talked about the fact that PRIEST didn’t announce Tipton‘s retirement from the road until a month before the launch of the “Firepower” tour.
“On the Internet, you get people saying, ‘Oh, why didn’t they tell us earlier on? I already bought my ticket.’ Well, if you think about it, the reason we didn’t say anything earlier was because Glenn was fighting it until the last minute,” Faulkner explained. “He was going through it and he was giving back a thousand percent with this disease for the fans. And it was at the last minute in rehearsals where he had to put his hand up and make one of the biggest decisions in his life. And music aside, tour aside, it’s hard to look over and see your brother suffering, health-wise, like that. Forget the music and forget the tour, [our] brother [was] struggling and it was hard for us all to see. So we knew he was struggling with it on [the] ‘Redeemer [Of Souls]’ [tour], but he pulled his stuff together and he got better. And it was great, and we encouraged him, but this time was a bit different. So we all got in a room together. It was all very close, very intimate, very heartfelt — it was emotional, as you can imagine. But it was a band of brothers, and we’re all behind him, and we can see the fans are too. There’s been an overwhelming sense of love and support for Glenn. And that’s the great thing about the Internet — you can get that connection straight away, and people can voice and show their love for that sort of thing. It’s a great thing.”
Downing announced his retirement from PRIEST in April 2011.
Faulkner was once the guitarist in the backing group for Lauren Harris, daughter of IRON MAIDEN bassist Steve Harris.
PRIEST bassist Ian Hill recently shot down the possibility of Downing returning to the band, explaining: “He retired seven years ago and he made it clear at the time that he didn’t wanna come back. So I’m surprised that he’s saying that he was surprised that he wasn’t asked. I think we all thought he probably would have been surprised if we had asked him.”
In his original statement, Downing said that he knows “now more clearly than ever” that he did the right thing by leaving the band when he did “as it seems that my time spent in the band, and my value in terms of crafting its huge legacy, was and is unappreciated by more than one member.”
“Firepower” was released on March 9 via Epic.
The North American leg of the “Firepower” tour will wrap on May 1 in San Antonio, Texas.