Guitarhoo!: What led to the formation of JUDAS PRIEST?
Downing: As I have said many times, JUDAS PRIEST were a very fine blues band led mainly by Al Atkins, but after tragically losing their guitarist, they disbanded. I auditioned for the job, but I wasn’t a blues player. Later, Al was at the rehearsal rooms and saw what me, Ian Hill and drummer John Ellis were doing. Al consented to joining so, JUDAS PRIEST #2 was born. Al was excellent as he never tried to push us in the blues direction but instead got right on board with us, going forward to the new direction we were pursuing.
Guitarhoo!: Was JUDAS PRIEST referred to as a heavy metal band since the beginning, if not what genre title was the band associated with?
Downing: To start with I think we were known as progressive blues, then progressive, then rock, then hard rock, then heavy rock, then heavy metal. All in a space of about five years.
Guitarhoo!: On the last JUDAS PRIEST album, “Nostradamus”, it’s nothing like anything the band has put out before. The lush textures, epic symphonic arrangements interwoven with the metal groovin’ guitars, and a concept theme about 16th-century writer Nostradamus. Who in the band initiated the concept and direction of this album?
Downing: After we discussed things, we all felt that it was an opportunity to get a lot more out of our system. I think we were also quite excited to be able to show we were musically more proficient than some people thought.
Guitarhoo!: How long did you work on the album from beginning to end?
Downing: I think it came together quite quickly considering the size of the project. Not sure how long it took exactly.
Guitarhoo!: Do you have a home studio? Can you give us a rundown of some of the gear you prefer to record with?
Downing: Yes, I do most of my work at home. I think I’m like a lot players who change gear every year as we are all trying to get things better and better. I can’t remember being ecstatic about any of my sounds when recording. Yet, when the album is finished I am often delighted on how good it is.
Guitarhoo!: After being one of the founding members of PRIEST and having a long successful career with the band, you retired in 2011. What brought about your decision?
Downing: There had been an ongoing breakdown in working relationships between myself, elements of the band and management for some time.
Guitarhoo!: Looking back at your career so far, what are some of your fondest memories?
Downing: I can’t really list the highs or lows as there have been too many to mention. Except for getting to where I am, and it is all thanks to the loyal fans.
Read the entire interview from Guitarhoo!.