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INTERVIEW

WITH K.K. DOWNING


Interview by Jari Asell & Kimmo Tattari

Your album Painkiller just passed the 20 years mark. Let's go back in time when you finished the "Ram It Down-Mercenaries Of Metal -Tour ". You had a triumphant decade, did you have any thoughts about how to begin the 1990s?

No, I don't think so, I think as musicians/songwriters it's always a case of not being sure of what will happen until you get your teeth into the songwriting and seeing what comes out, then depending on what does, the precedent is set for everything else.

Again, like in 1980, the world was going through a lot of turbulence, especially the eastern bloc, do you think that had any effect on your songwriting?

No, not as I recall, but we were certainly very happy that things were changing and the world was becoming a bigger place not just for us but for every band.

You were obviously looking for a new drummer after Dave had announced he'd leave. Did you have a clear view on what kind of drummer you were looking for?

Yes, I think we may have had, because we kind of fancied having someone with great double kicks ability again, like Simon (Philips) and Les (Binks).

So you found powerhouse drummer Scott Travis, did he audition like everyone else? Did he already have the beats for Painkiller?

Yes, he did audition like everyone else. Whether or not he had the beats, he certainly could play what we wanted him to.

When writing songs, was your goal to produce Priest's heaviest album (that far)?

Not initially, but as the album started to grow we enjoyed the energy that we were creating. Now that we had Scott, we were sure going to see what he had in the tank.

You had a wonderful time (1979-1988) with "Colonel" Tom Allom. How did you come to choose your old buddy (Sad Wings-1976) Chris Tsangarides to produce Painkiller?

I am not totally sure, but Tom may have been involved with other things and it seemed a nice idea to meet up and work with Chris again.

Can you remember what was the difference between these producers? Was Tom more "inside the band", whereas Chris maybe as an "outsider" saw new possibilities?

Both Tom and Chris are to my mind great rock and metal producers, but as I said it was just in our minds to see what we could do with someone else.

How were the recording sessions in France at Miraval Studios? A lot of red wine was consumed I believe?

Yes, Miraval was great, It actually was a vineyard, so there was plenty of good wine on tap, but as a studio, it was cut off from everything else so there were very limited distractions – which, to be honest, is a good thing.

The guitar sound on Painkiller is pretty much top notch, was it easy to find the required adjustments, to discover the sound?

I believe that we just took our regular rigs with us, so it may have been just a good room or good mike pre amps. Also of course, it could have been the guys in the control room or a combination of everything.

The album has quite tricky guitar work, is there something you would like to underline here?

No, except that I wanted to pick up where I left of with songs like Blood Red Skies, be experimenting with more scales, and really tightening up my alternate picking.

The Reno trial came to an end in summer 1990, did that have any effect on the album?

No, the album was done and we were waiting to go on tour, it was all very frustrating.

Do you remember the first show on that tour at the Foundations Forum in Los Angeles? A bit different start, to say the least?

I think I do, if it's the one I am thinking of. It was a great gig.

The Painkiller stage set was phenomenal, a real statement in conjuction of the album theme. The support bands were among the hardest as well: Megadeth and Testament, and later Pantera and Annihilator. Any anecdotes you would like to share here?

Yes! A very enjoyable tour and memories, I speak of it quite often, in fact I was just telling some friends yesterday how we went sightseeing in Rome with Pantera to the Coliseum and places like that. We had many laughs together on that tour, I can never forget that Dime R.I.P used to go busking in the streets, I saw a piece of film once with him doing that, it was so funny, in fact I will check if I can find it on You Tube, it's a must to see.

There was so much talent in Pantera and Annihilator and they were so humble, it must have been very tough for them and all of their crews to share one bus. They used to crack us up so much when they would form a queue outside our dressing rooms in the hope that we would spot them some beers, which of course we always did. Happy days!

Priest has now announced the "Epitaph" tour, so is it time for "One Shot At Glory "? Can we expect that one live during 2011?

I am not sure but if it had been called "Last Shot At Glory" I am sure that it would be there.

K.K.'s gear during Painkiller:

50 watt Marshall heads and cabs
Pete Cornish rack effects with range master treble boost
Cry baby wah

(During this interview 12 cans of Foster's beer were consumed... Cheers!)

 


 

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