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Interview With K.K. Downing

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Chad Bowar: 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.

It seems like bands are under a lot more pressure today for instant success. Would Judas Priest have been given the chance to develop as you did if you were first signed in 2007?
That’s a good question. The industry has changed dramatically. In the old days you would go on tour to sell records. Most bands didn’t make money on tour. You put all the money into production hoping you’d have a hit record and make some money from it. But now it’s turned around. Now the industry is suffering from downloads and things like that. You make the records so you can go on tour, which is a turnaround. I don’t know if Judas Priest would have been in a position to make those extra records, but I certainly do know a lot of bands now don’t know if they will be able to make that follow up record to their first record. I see a lot of that going on.

I was reading in your Wikipedia entry that your house in England, Astbury Hall, is also a bed and breakfast. Is that true?
No. That is quite ridiculous. I live on my own in a very large house, but I love it. I bought it because it’s in a secluded location and I like to make serious amounts of loud noise. I can really turn up my Marshalls really loud in this place. It’s a big old Victorian house. Everybody said I was mad when I purchased it. It had some land with it, and I bought all the surrounding land, about 450 acres. Now it’s about 720 acres. I do have permission to eventually convert it to a hotel and leisure complex. Maybe when I struggle to get up these four flights of stairs, who knows? For years when I was a struggling musician I lived in just one room, so it’s good to have a house with a recording studio and gym and everything I want. So it’s not a bed and breakfast, but if anybody wants to come and stay, they are more than welcome!

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